NEWCASTLE muso Roy Payne had never seriously considered a solo career. The multi-instrumentalist – who has most recently fallen in love with the accordion – has been playing baritone guitar in former Cold Chisel member Don Walker’s touring band since 2006.
The opportunity to play with Walker arose after he was invited to audition at the renowned musician’s Elizabeth Bay home.
“I just played some baritone and they basically just started laughing,” Payne said. “ I thought, this is embarrassing. I found out it was because they enjoyed it so much, it was just the right feel.”
It was while on a regional tour with the band that the opportunity to open for Walker came up.
“I got a chance once, and he loved it,” Payne said. “From then on for the next three years I was the opener for the Don Walker show.”
Payne began his career as a drummer at about 16 years old, but quickly switched to guitar. He now also plays mandolin, various slide guitars, lap steel and pedal steel guitars and accordion.
“Accordion is my latest thing, which I love,” Payne said. “There is all the folky stuff from English to Irish to German to Europe, Russia, South America,” he said.
“I personally like the way the Creoles play it in Louisiana. It’s basic and rural, but when I listen to it it’s like there is hidden rhythms in it, the way they play it.
“I was looking for tunes for my first album, old melodies to get inspiration from. I had just discovered YouTube, I’m a Luddite. And I saw this video of this little accordion, and it played this little tune and it bit me straight away.
“I had a little accordion, more of an ornament, I picked it up and messed around with it, and thought ‘Man, this is my mid-life crisis right here.’”
As well as solo work, Payne also plays in several bands: The Toni Swain Band, Don Walker and the Suave F****, The Big Island Express, Big Daddy’s Cajan Blues Party, and Roy Payne and his Hillbilly Bop Safari.
He plays a custom built, double neck guitar in Hillbilly Bop Safari.
His first solo recording The Florence Special, featuring 10 tracks and a ghost track, was released in 2015.
“I guess you could call it roots music, but in a sense some of it is a little folky,” he said.
“I play a bottleneck slide-guitar in open tuning and I play chords on that too, so it’s a little bit different not what you would normally play on it.”
Payne has a new recording in the pipeline which he expects to release this year.
“It goes from folky picking stuff to darker blues, a bit melancholic.”