Xavier Rudd's new album Nanna a tribute to grandmothers
YOU wouldn't think any gig would make Xavier Rudd nervous.
After all, Rudd has a prolific international career performing in front of countless thousands of people, has received a number of Aria nominations and produced hugely successful albums.
Put him in front of his grandmother, who he calls Nanny, and a few elderly women in a Victorian nursing home, however, and you may have a different story.
"I went in and played some music for her (Nanny) just recently," Xavier said.
"It was actually nerve wracking … one of the most nerve wracking performances I've done … for the council of grandmothers."
This lightness of spirit pervades all of Xavier's stories about Nanny and it becomes obvious that his relationship with his grandmother is not only a great source of love for him but also a great creative influence.
Describing her as a classic, a great poet and quite an eccentric lady from Colac in Victoria, Xavier said Nanny came from an Irish potato-growing family.
"She'd throw the mash across the table. She wouldn't walk up to you and serve it up, she'd flick it. She could flick it from two metres away and land it on a plate, leaving a caterpillar trail behind.
"She had a catholic background but was quite an open woman for that generation, non-judgemental. Being the artistic, ope- minded kid that I was it was nice to have that from my grandparents."
Xavier's latest album pays homage to grandmothers everywhere, in both earthly and ancestral form, and is aptly named Nanna.
"It's something that I've always wanted to do … put together a big band like this, it was a dream, but the timing had to be right," he said.
Assembling a veritable United Nations of predominantly indigenous musicians to form a nine-piece roots, reggae band, he says the style is very much its own thing and not like any other reggae.
The band, Xavier Rudd and the United Nations, places Xavier as the front man and features guitar, bass, drums, horns, percussion, keys, flute, saxophone and backing vocals.