Nashville Soundcheck

GUITARIST Mark Moffatt brought some interesting gear home with him to Brisbane after spending time in London in the early ’70s. Among it was a pedal steel guitar. And some very loud guitar amps. That pedal steel, the classic country music instrument, was a pointer to the path that would eventually take him to working as a producer in Nashville, where he still resides. One of the guitar amps had another role to play in music history. Moffatt was working as an engineer in a Brisbane studio when The Saints arrived to record punk classic (I’m) Stranded in 1976.

When The Saints’ guitarist Ed Kuepper plugged into Moffatt’s amp, the wonderful buzzsaw sound created helped make one of the most influential records of all time. Moffatt, originally from Maryborough, returns to Brisbane for the first time in decades for next week’s Bigsound music industry conference. ‘‘By the time I arrived in London the blues boom was a bit passe and the Telecaster was becoming king, everyone was twanging,’’ Moffatt says.

That inspired his interest in the kind of music that these days is called Americana. Moffatt the musician — he played in bands including the Carol Lloyd Band — would give way to Moffatt the record producer. His career took him to Sydney and Melbourne, where he worked on recordings such as Yothu Yindi’s Tribal Voice and Mondo Rock’s Chemistry. ‘‘The records I really value are the ones that opened doors and did something first rather than the big hits like Anne Kirkpatrick’s Out of the Blue,’’ Moffatt says.

Moffatt moved to Nashville in 1996 and produces artists such as Australian husband and-wife duo O’Shea. He is heavily involved with the annual Americana festival in Nashville and will tell Bigsound delegates there’s more to Nashville than commercial country and big hats. ‘‘Nashville is within 500 miles of 70 per cent of the population and it has become become the hip, affordable touring base for a lot of indie bands, and people like The Black Keys and Jack White have studios there. ‘‘I want to break down the stereotype of what Nashville is. It’s an incredible resource centre for music, full stop.’’

Download the article from The Courier-Mail Thursday, September 6, 2012: Nashville Soundcheck, with Mark Moffatt