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Growing Independence

Growing Independence

Who: The Waifs
Where: Civic Theatre
Author: Jade Lazarevic
When: Wednesday October 1, 2003

THE WAIFS are living proof that with a bit of hard work, your efforts can pay off.

For more than a decade, the Australian folk trio has worked its way up to become one of Australia's most successful independent acts.

It has released four albums through its record label JARRAH which it co-owns with fellow musician JOHN BUTLER and the past year has been a dizzying whirl of overseas touring.

According to the band's JOSH CUNNINGHAM, who completes the line-up alongside VIKKI and ANNA SIMPSON, working independently will always remain a focus.

``We have worked hard for everything we have achieved,'' Cunningham said.

``It's very satisfying to feel that you have actually accomplished the things that you have on your own merit and we're pretty passionate about remaining independent.

'' In the past 12 months, Cunningham has seen the fruits of The Waifs' labour well and truly ripen.

In early 2003, the band supported folk legend BOB DYLAN on a six- date Australian tour and he was so impressed with the group that he invited them to support him on his US tour.

The invitation was gratefully accepted by the trio, particularly by the Simpson sisters, who grew up teaching themselves to play Dylan's classic THE TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGIN' on guitar.

The Waifs left Australia in April and have since been based in the US, fleeting between tours with Dylan and festival appearances throughout Canada and the UK.

One of the shows scheduled for the tour was to take place at the HAMMERSTEIN BALLROOM in New York City but the show was cancelled due to the massive blackout that hit the US.

``We were in New York City for three dates and it was the third night when the blackout happened.

``We were all sitting around waiting for the soundcheck and everything went black.

``It was a bizarre experience and a lot of people were panicking but once they discovered it was a blackout it became kind of exciting.

'' Although The Waifs' performance for the night had been cancelled, they presented a smaller scale show when they jammed into the night and entertained stranded guests at their hotel.

``It was also an advantage to take the night off and catch up on some much- needed rest.

'' As regular fixtures at many of Australia's music festivals, The Waifs also make it a priority to structure their international tours around festival dates.

Highlight appearances in 2003 have included the CAMBRIDGE FOLK FESTIVAL in the UK and a third appearance at the NEWPORT FOLK FESTIVAL in the US.

After leaving Australian shores in February, The Waifs will make a long- awaited return to home soil this month to complete a 13-date Australian tour which will arrive at CIVIC THEATRE NEWCASTLE on October 1.

Cunningham said the band had found time to work on new material and fans can expect some new tracks to be slipped into the set.

``There are some new songs in our set that weren't on our last album, so now is the time to start playing the songs live and get them worked out before we head into the studio.

'' Following the release of the band's fourth album UP ALL NIGHT, which has gone platinum in Australia, Cunningham said The Waifs have a number of new releases planned.

``We're looking at bringing out a live record in the next few months and we will probably return to the studio mid- year or late next year to do a new album.

'' The Waifs return to the US for a short tour before moving on for a European tour to support Dylan again.

``This year has been amazing but just being able to tour internationally has been a highlight in itself.

``It is very satisfying to go around the world and play your music and have people enjoy it.

'' Tickets to The Waifs at Civic Theatre are on sale from TICKETEK on 4921-2121 or the theatre on 4929-1977.

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