One World Entertainment is proud to announce the awaited return of legendary Kris Kristofferson & The Strangers to Australia. The three times Grammy winner, Rhodes scholar, actor and undisputed country music living legend kicks of his tour in Adelaide on September 17 before moving on to the east coast.
Kris will be accompanied on stage by The Strangers. One of country music favourite bands, The Strangers are best known as the back-up band for singer-songwriter Merle Haggard. Coming to Australia will be Scott Joss (fiddle and vocals), Doug Colosio (keyboards & vocals) and Jeff Ingraham (drums). Kris Kristofferson answers some questions for Hi Fi Way.
What are you most keenly anticipating about returning to Australia? When you visited Australia in 2014, you undertook a 21-date tour and played plenty of regional areas most artists don’t visit. Did you have any particular towns or cities that surprised you?
I’ve always enjoyed touring and playing in Australia. Australian audiences are special to me and we’ve had great audiences there. They’re always looking forward to us coming, the last tour was in 2014 and I think we played to full houses just about everywhere we played.
You have said in the past that you primarily view yourself as a songwriter. You obviously don’t have to keep touring – what is it about playing live and travelling that inspires you to keep doing it?
Playing with Merle Haggard’s band The Strangers, has brought new life into the tours. It’s fun for me to have a band on stage with me again, especially Merle’s band.
The last album you released was The Cedar Creek Sessions, in 2016. Do you have any plans to return to the studio?
Nothing is planned right now but that could change.
You were in your thirties before you found success as a songwriter and later as a singer-songwriter. Did experiencing success in the industry a little later than some of your peers made you appreciate it more?
I’ve always been grateful for my songwriting success, it’s what I wanted to do when I have up teaching literature at West Point to move to Nashville to be a songwriter. Most people thought I was crazy and I sometimes wondered if they were right. When I first came to Nashville, as soon as I got there I knew I was in the right place. The first time I got to Music row, I walked from downtown to 17th Avenue South. By the time I got there, I was soaking wet. It was the most exciting creative atmosphere that I’d been around. I’d always liked country music, and this was the home of it.
I spent the whole night listening to cowboy Jack Clement and I think Bobby Bare was there, and I was just head over heels. Then I got to shake Johnny Cash’s hand, backstage at the Opry, and that put the nail in the coffin right there. It didn’t look like a smart choice for several years. My family thought I’d lost my mind. But it all worked out.
What can Australian audiences expect to hear on the set list for this tour?
New songs and old songs and whatever the band feels like playing that night!
You’ve had commercial success with albums such as The Silver Tongued Devil and I and Jesus Was a Capricorn. Are there any albums you’ve recorded that you think deserved to be bigger hits?
I don’t think of songs in terms of hits. I write songs as literature. I’ve started songs very differently. Usually it’s the sensual idea of the song.. It’s the idea of it and you build around it. I’ve never, to my knowledge, started with a melody. I remember a songwriter telling me once that my lyrics were good but I was quitting after the lyric. It was good advice. I think one of the tools you have as a songwriter is the melody that carries so much emotion with it. The appeal of a song is to the emotions, to the heart, not to the intellect. If you don’t use it, you’re wasting one of your weapons to get the effect that you want to get.
You won a Golden Globe for your role in the original A Star is Born in 1976. What did you think of the remake, and I know Lukas Nelson helped write songs for the soundtrack – did he approach you for any advice?
A Star Is Born, that’s one of my favourite films. I think it gave me a chance to do some stuff I hadn’t done before. I think it holds up. It was popular with people; I can still look at it today and feel good about it. I love the remake and think Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga and Lukas all did a great job with the story and music.
Your songs have been covered by everyone from Janis Joplin and Elvis Presley to Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson – do you have a favourite cover of any of your songs?
I love all of them. For The Good Times the Ray Price song. I think that was the first I remember when he cut it. It was his first session with a whole orchestra behind him, and they had strings all over the place. I remember thinking, geez, if he cuts – well, another songwriter came up to me and he told me that. He said, your song’s on the session; mine’s the A-side, but they cut yours too. I knew immediately, if Ray Price cut it with all that music behind it, that that would be his song. It was the record of the year.
A lot of them happened around the same time there. It was real fortunate. Sammy Smith cut Help Me Make it Through the Night, and John, Johnny Cash, was doing his television show at the time and did Sunday Morning Coming Down, and used the recording from the television show. Then, Roger Miller did Bobby McGee and I never had to work again.
Interview Compiled By Rob Lyon
Tickets and further information via One World Entertainment
Tue 17 Sept – Adelaide – Thebarton Theatre
Thu 19 Sept – Melbourne – Palais Theatre
Fri 20 Sept – Shepparton – Riverlinks Eastbank
Sat 21 Sept – Bendigo – Ulumbarra Theatre
Mon 23 Sept – Ballarat – Civic Hall
Tue 24 Sept – Morwell – Kernot Hall
Wed 25 Sept – Canberra – Llewellyn Theatre
Fri 27 Sept – Sydney – State Theatre
Sat 28 Sept – Thirroul – Anita’s Theatre
Sun 29 Sept – Newcastle – Civic Theatre
Tue 1 Oct – Coffs Harbour – C.EX Coffs
Wed 2 Oct – Tweed Heads – Twin Towns
Fri 4 Oct – Toowoomba – Empire Theatre
Sat 5 Oct – Brisbane – Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre
Sun 6 Oct – Caloundra – Caloundra Events Centre