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Bridie King

Bridie King

Bridie King - Photo by Mac HoltBridie King first came to national prominence as a blues and boogie pianist with her recording of Piano Frenzy on The Hippos' album Hippocracy in 1988. Bridie studied classical piano for 16 years, including 6 years at the NSW Conservatorium of Music, and has a Master’s degree in Music (Music Education) and a Diploma in Music Education. She teaches classical, blues and improvisation on piano at her home practice. Bridie taught her Blues course at the Sydney Conservatorium’s Open Academy 2003-09.

Throughout Bridies's early childhood she was exposed to African-American music of the 20's, 30's, 40's, and 50's through her family's involvement with the Sydney Jazz Club and her father's love of rhythm & blues, gospel and traditional New Orleans Jazz. In the late 1970s she formed the band Mona and the Wail with her sister Sally King, on whose original soul and blues songs the band was centred.

In 1980s Bridie's work in her next two bands, The Ratbags of Rhythm and TheHippos, saw her touring major at major venues, including a support for RobertCray at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, making many TV appearances and recording four albums. Piano Frenzy from Hippocracy received radio and TV airplay, including weekly playing for on Channel 9, and was used in the 1990 Commonwealth Games.

Bridie has attracted many overseas performers to play as her special guests. They include Buddy Miles ( Jimi Hendrix Band), Jimmy Vaughan (Stevie Ray Vaughan and The Thunderbirds), Johnnie Johnson. and members of Dire Straits and Soko Richardson (Tina Turner's Band). Bridie was invited as special guest to play with Blues guitar legend Albert Collins at Selina's, Coogee. Albert Collins said of Bridie - "You can play and you cute too". Jimmy Vaughan made the comment - "you're really serious, ma’m’". Doug Anderson wrote in a review of of Basement gig in the Sydney Morning Herald - "The night cogged into overdrive with the arrival of Bridie King".

Bridie became a bandleader in 1997 when she formed Bridie and the Boogie Kings. They sustained a 9 year residency at the Bridge Hotel, Rozelle. Band members over the years included guitar master Ray Beadle (1999 – 2001).Other notables include guitarists Adam Pringle, Darren Jack, Steve Edmonds, and Mitch Grainger; bassists Rowan Lane, Hal Tupaia, Pat Savina; drummers Declan Kelly, Jim Finn; and vocalists, most notably Stephy Marchant (2001 –2008), also Jerome Smith and Kara Grainger.The Bridge residency was voted inthe Top 10 of Sydney gigs in 2002 by The Sunday Telegraph. The band also played at other top Sydney live Blues venues including The Basement, and hotels TheEmpire, The Unity, and The Baldfaced Stag. Bridie and the Boogie Kings also played many festivals including thoseatManly, Darling harbour, Narooma, Thredbo, Wangaratta, Glebe Street Fair andthe Melbourne International Women’s Jazz Festival. A writeup of the 2000 Wangaratta festival in the national paper The Australian claimed that ‘nothing beat the Blues and Boogie of Bridie King’.

In July 1999 Bridie recorded her first CD under her own name, titled My Blues. The CD attracted excellent reviews. John Shand of the Sydney MorningHerald enthused that ‘Bridie oozes vitality’ and awarded the rating of 3 and½ stars. A reviewer in the Melbourne Sun felt the music of ‘My Blues’was‘in the key of joy.’ The CD has sold 2000 copies and is on its second pressing. It has featured on the ABC shows, the Planet and AndrewFord’sprogram, and on numerous FM stations, especially on the 2MBSFM program Stormy Monday.

Bridie has also played live many times on radio and TV. In 2003 she accompanied Eric Burden on Bert Newton’s Good Morning Australia and on ABC radio. With the Hippos she performed over 10 times on TV between 1986 - 1988, and under her own name on ABC radio in 2003, 2004 and 2005, and several times on 2MBSFM, most recently in 2007.

From 2002 Bridie King researched and studied for a Music Education Master’s degree in traditional Blues and improvisation teaching methods. She graduated in 2007, and also was awarded a high distinction for her thesis and research into her students’ development in this topic. Since then she has concentrated her efforts into her busy teaching practice at home and her Blues Piano course at the Conservatorium of Sydney. However, music education has always been half of the story of Bridie’s professional life.

The other half, live performance, took a back seat during her years of Master’s research. But since 2007 she has been applying her skills in band leading and arranging in the production of her new CD ‘Way Back Home’ and in the presentation of gigs in Sydney. In April 2008 she was described as ‘a force in the Sydney soul scene’ in Fine Music magazine. That year Bridie introduced a new lineup focusing on the richness of the piano and of female harmonies with the introduction of the ‘Harmony Queens’ vocal trio, Stephanie Marchant, Narelle Evans and Karana Nepe.

In 2009 Bridie took the Harmony Queens and the Boogie Kings to several festivals, including Wangaratta Jazz and Blues, and Narooma Blues Festival, with drummer James McCaffrey and bassist Merv Sequeira . The Opera Bar at Sydney Opera House was another gig, and also the inaugural Breakfast on the Bridge event where they played on the back of a vintage truck was a highlight. The ‘Way Back Home’ CD was played on the ABC particularly the track, ‘Piano Players Blues’ on local ABC music stations nationally. The two Basement shows were played to packed houses, the first one in August was with Lez Karski and friends. The second proved to be the last of the gigs with the Harmony Queens, a great way to end a successful two year project.

A new six-piece lineup in 2010 took Bridie’s repertoire as far south as possible, in terms of Southern roots music: contemporary zydeco music, slightly rearranged, and Texan rocknroll /blues. Bridie still included her piano boogie as her strong point and has added playing Hammond organ and accordion to her instrumental output. Gigs included festivals, pubs and clubs. ‘Bono’ was added to the playlist on ABC radio local stations nationally. The Basement gig (2009) with Lez Karski was aired on ABC tv’s ‘Live at The Basement’.

For more information: http://www.bridieking.com/

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Copyright © Sydney Blues & Roots Festival 2012. All Rights Reserved.
Various Photos by Murray Foote, Paul Griggs, Craig Peihopa, Anthony Moulay and Noel Plummer.
All information on this website is subject to change without notice.