Iconic Australian musician Paul Kelly will play special shows in Launceston and Devonport as part of a regional tour spanning most of Australia.
Kelly was originally scheduled to only appear at a one-off show in Hobart before COVID-19 threw his plans into pandemonium, but he said since he was in Tasmania he may as well make hay while the sun shines.
Due to the volatile nature of the pandemic, details have only been released a week out from Launceston's Albert Hall show on July 27 and Devonport's Parnaple Arts Centre on the 28th with tickets set for sale this Friday.
Kelly was no stranger to Tasmania, having put together a slew of performances in the Apple Isle over his near 50-year career, but it was a special connection to the island that grew before he even knew music was going to be his thing that endeared the state to him.
"My longest and best friend I met in Hobart in 1974, John Kingsmill ... it was a pretty formative time for me," he told The Examiner.
"It was really when I started writing. John was a writer and he was someone that took writing seriously, so he had a big influence on me like that.
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"I started writing sort of prose poetry, but it took a couple of years before I wrote a song. I guess I was getting serious about writing from being in Hobart and Tassie then."
It was in Hobart that same year Kelly played his first live performance, though it was a far cry from what has filled some of the world's grandest halls since.
Instead it was a musky upstairs open mic night at Salamanca Place that the insistent reverberations of the famous Paul Kelly were first heard in public ears.
He played two songs that night then did not return to the stage until two years later instead trekking his way around Tasmania before returning to the mainland where his career took off.
"I was travelling around different parts of Australia and ended up in Tassie for a bit ... I was 19-years-old, I'd been playing guitar about a year, I hadn't really written any songs yet, but I was learning songs," he said.
"There was a small place at Salamanca that had an open mic night ... that was the first time I ever played in public."
While Kelly does not remember the performance as a train wreck, it did end up being the start of an instant path to his stardom - that came two years later after returning to Adelaide.
In the meantime, Kelly trekked his way around Tasmania, collecting thoughts and developing a mind that has produced some of Australia's most iconic ballads.
From Hobart he travelled to Savage River where he worked at the bustling iron mine, then it was onto the remote North-West town of Montagu.
While once he had departed Tasmania it became little more than a stepping stone on the enchanting path his career followed, he said the flitter of a memory or the name of a friend in the state meant locking up the latest North-West shows was always on the agenda.
Kelly also had a connection to Tasmania's North-East through emerging Tasmanian band Luca Brasi.
One of his most iconic songs, How to make gravy, was covered by the St Helens quartet to wide acclaim - even from the man himself.
"I like those guys. I love my songs being covered. I like for them to have a life outside of my rendition ... I thought theirs was really good," he said.
Kelly and his band members' current 'On The Road Again' tour had encountered some speed bumps, but he said he was happy to be able to add the extra Tasmanian shows to the schedule and help fill a sorely missed hole in the favourite part of his job.
"[Last year] was really tough for all of us - me and the band. We had plans to record and we couldn't even visit each other for long period in Melbourne last year. We couldn't even go and play music with each other in a room together, and that was the thing I missed the most," he said.
"It's not just the people on stage, it's all the people that help us put the shows together, they were struggling for work ... so it was pretty dark days in Melbourne last year.
"But we got through and that was the reason for a long regional tour this year, the plan was to get everyone in work and everyone back together playing again.
"We thought we were just doing everything possible to keep playing and we're in a position to be able to do that, to announce some shows and sell some tickets and keep moving. So we'll keep going as long as we can."
Tickets for the Launceston and Devonport shows go on sale Friday at 12pm via frontiertouring.com/paulkelly.
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