This week I read of the death of Alistair Hulett, a Scottish folk singer and musician who I interviewed in the early 1990s. When I met him he sang with a Sydney based band “Roaring Jack” who played weekly at a pub in Newton (NSW). The band released two albums “Cat among the Pigeons” and “Through the Smoke of Innocence” which I played daily without fail.
I wouldn’t have a clue how many times I drove to Newton from Wollongong to hear them play live. I was at their last Newtown performance when accordion player Steph Miller left the band. I was also at one of their first return gigs, on New Years Eve at the Harold Park hotel, with Steph’s replacement alternating between accordion and saxophone. I don’t remember hearing anything about them after that night.
When I interviewed Alistair he made the mistake of playing some of his then unreleased solo album (Dance of the Underclass). Not wanting to miss the opportunity of hearing as many of his new songs as possible I definitely overstayed my welcome. The situation also wasn’t helped by the fact that he had served me what seemed to be a half pint glass of scotch during the interview.
I’ve possibly still got the tape of the interview somewhere, but as far as I’m aware the article based on it no longer exists.
Alistair was born in Scotland and moved with his family to New Zealand in the late 1960s. At eighteen he moved to Australia and started performing around the country. After his Roaring Jack days he started collaborating with former Fairport Convention fiddle player Dave Swarbrick who was then also an Australian resident.
In the mid 90s Hulett moved back to Britain where he lived, performed and recorded until his death, from cancer, in January 2010.
Several of his songs are available for download on his official website, where there are also a detailed biography and discography.