For our final music chat in support of Triple R Radio's Radiothon, we sat down for a cuppa with local musician Ben Mastwyk. Ben is a psychedelic country rock musician, who regularly plays at some of the inner north’s classic saloon/ Americana bars like The Gem, Lulie Tavern and Old Bar. His music has been featured on Triple R’s Twang many a time, and he’s even been known to occasionally host country music shows on community radio. We spoke to Ben about his experience with community radio, both as a musician, and a listener.
"I’ve lived in Melbourne all my life and growing up with fairly young, cool parents who were involved in the music scene, Triple R was always on. From as early as I can remember it was the soundtrack to our lives. The familiarity of the voices, and the soundbites were really comforting to me as a child. Mum’s favourite artist was Lucinda Williams, but we also listened to Nick Cave, Paul Kelly and the like. My stepdad was playing in a band so he was really on top of what was going on musically, like when Nirvana first came out, and there was always a range of great records being brought into the house as a kid. When we weren’t listening to records, Triple R was always on. It was very much a period of discovery; finding new artists, but Triple R also kept us informed in a broader sense - culturally too. Pre-internet it was how you’d hear things going on in the underground scene; like arthouse films and other creative events. Triple R has always, and still now turns me on to new artists, it’s probably where I get most of my listening recommendations from, and find most of the bands I go and see and listen to now.
Community radio is hugely beneficial to the local creative scene and musicians. What’s great about Triple R is that you’ve got support of all of these different cultures and styles of music. So for me in the country music scene, there’s Twang, which has been on air over 20 years. It supports my shows, informs me of bands coming out and releasing music, and I think its hugely responsible for the fact that Melbourne has such a thriving country scene. I’d almost go so far as to say that if it weren’t for Triple R and community radio, we wouldn’t have that scene at all.
For me as a local emerging musician, Triple R and community radio gives me access to a platform and community that allows me to build my career from the ground up. If it weren’t for that access, it’d be really hard to make a start, because commercial radio is full of gatekeepers and doorways and is very hard to break through. Being able to be involved in the country music scene, have my music played, spoken about and shows promoted means a lot to me. If you’re in Melbourne and into a certain genre of music, you’re listening to the show for that certain kind of music, and just as I’m getting my information about what’s going on that way, so is everyone else who’s into it. And so as a musician, you very quickly get to see who’s in that world, and I think most listeners would agree that community radio is providing them that information and access to their interests. What’s cool about Triple R is even if you don’t know anyone in the scene or have any connections, you can walk into the station and give them your record. It’s pretty unique, and Triple R is definitely a massive part of the reason why Melbourne is so cool.”
Ben's top three album recommendations:
Gene Clark - No Other
Flying Burrito Brothers - The Gilded Palace of Sin
Emmylou Harris - Wrecking Ball
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