music / Columns

Jam Central Station: Xavier Rudd

November 10, 2018 | Posted by Jeff Modzelewski



Xavier Rudd is one of those artists that has been around so long he can be easy to overlook. If you’re familiar with his work than you likely are a big fan but, if he’s just a name that you’ve heard, you might pass him by. That would be a big mistake. Rudd is one of the most unique and exciting live acts today. Although he’s been around over 15 years and released 9 albums, he’s still only 40 years old and is constantly looking for new styles and inspiration. So what is it that draws so many fans to this Aussie?

Rudd was musical from an early age, learning to play multiple instruments as a child. Along with more traditional instruments like guitar and clarinet, Rudd took up the didgeradoo, learning the circular breathing process necessary to play the instrument by practicing on a vacuum hose. He spent time in Fiji after graduating high school, and returned to Australia at 19 and almost immediately started playing music. He formed Xavier Rudd & The Hum and began playing in both Australia and Canada. His early music showed the beginnings of the diversity he would incorporate into his music throughout his career, mixing acoustic rock with elements of jazz, blues, and native Australian and American elements.

By 2003 Rudd began perfecting his one-man-band style of performance. He played guitar, didgeridoo, harmonica, and various percussion instruments, putting them together in a solo live performance. He released his first live album in 2001, his first solo album in 2002, and his major label debut in 2004. He did almost all of the work on his albums by himself, often recording the main tracks live with very little overdubbing.

Rudd would continue regularly releasing live and solo albums, becoming one of Australia’s most prolific musicians and securing numerous ARIA nominations. By 2008 he began working with other musicians and developing an updated sound that included electric guitars and more drums. The sound was prevalent on Dark Shades of Blue and Koonyum Sun, although Rudd went back to a more acoustic, solo style on Spirit Bird.

In 2015 Rudd put together a new band dubbed The United Nations, featuring musicians from around the world. Nanna was a much more diverse album than Rudd had previously done, and he had no problem stepping back and allowing the band to lead the music. Rudd’s live performances continued to shift during this time as well, as he spent less time in his “one man band” setup and more time working with a full band on stage. Rudd would still play guitar, didgeridoo, and percussion simultaneously, but he didn’t have to do everything himself. His music continued to have a heavier edge to it, and the world music and reggae influences continued to blend with the rest of his music. His 2018 release, Storm Boy was a solo release, inspired by a 1976 film of the same name, showing that he can continue to pull influences from anywhere and everywhere.

While Rudd’s studio work is solid and worth listening to, he truly shines in a live setting. He’s constantly doing something, and often more than one thing at once. He seamlessly moves from playing solo to bringing his band in for support. And the energy he sends out from the stage is palpable. It’s no surprise that, once someone sees Rudd play live they want to see him perform again and again.

It looks like Rudd has a long career still ahead of him. He could easily go on to become one of Australia’s most prolific artists, and he has worldwide appeal. He’s built some great relationships in various musical communities and used his music to promote social awareness. He’s done all of this and has not come close to becoming stale. Nearly 2 decades of music is a tremendous accomplishment, and it doesn’t seem like Rudd is going to be done any time soon.



FloydFest announces initial lineup
FloydFest 19 “Voyage Home” will return to Floyd, VA on July 24-28. The initial lineup includes some heavy hitters in the headlining spots. Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band and The String Cheese Incident will both venture to this spot for the first time. Other artists include Brandi Carlisle, Tyler Childers, Margo Price, Fantastic Negrito, Keller Williams Grateful Grass featuring Love Cannon, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Acoustic Syndicate, Jon Stickley Trio, and many others.

moe.down set to return
After a hiatus, moe.down is scheduled to return in 2019. The moe.-centered festival will take place at Snow Ridge Ski Resort in Turin, NY from July 4-6. Moe. will perform seven sets throughout the weekend, and other artists will be announced.

Keller Williams announces Keller in the Caverns
Keller Williams will bring a variety of his projects to Pelham, Tennessee on June 21-23. The event will feature multiple Keller performances each day, including Pettygrass, More Than A Little, Grateful Gospel, as well as standard Keller shows on Friday and Saturday.

Wanee will not return in 2019
The Wanee Festival will not take place in 2019. Citing the fact that the normal weekend for Wanee is also Easter weekend, the festival announced they would not take place at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in 2019. They left the door open, however, that the event could take place at a different location.

Lettuce add dates
Lettuce continue to add dates to their Vibe Up tour. The band now has dates scheduled into March.

January 10 Rochester, NY—Anthology
January 11 Boston, MA—House of Blues
January 12 Saratoga County, NY—Upstate Concert Hall
January 13 Burlington, VT—Higher Ground
January 15 Indianapolis, IN—The Vogue
January 16 Detroit, MI—Saint Andrews Hall
January 17 Pittsburgh, PA—Rex Theatre
January 18 Hartford, CT—Infinity Hall Hartford
January 19 Brooklyn, NY—Brooklyn Steel
January 22 Harrisburg, PA—Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts
January 23 Cleveland, OH—House of Blues
January 24 Covington, KY—Madison Theater
January 25 Nashville, TN—Marathon Music Works
January 26 Atlanta, GA—Center Stage Theater
February 15 Fort Lauderdale, FL—Revolution Live
February 17 Pensacola, FL—Vinyl Music Hall
February 19 Memphis, TN—Minglewood Hall
February 20 Oklahoma City, OK—Tower Theatre
February 24 Aspen, CO—Belly Up
February 25 Aspen, CO—Belly Up
February 27 Salt Lake City, UT—The Commonwealth Room
February 28 Las Vegas, NV—Brooklyn Bowl
March 1 San Diego, CA—North Park Theatre

Yonder add dates
Yonder Mountain String Band added a new month-long run of dates through mid February.

January 10 San Francisco, CA – The Independent
January 11 Crystal Bay, NV – Crystal Bay Club Casino
January 12 San Rafael, CA – Terrapin Crossroads
January 13 San Rafael, CA – Terrapin Crossroads
January 16 Bend, OR – Midtown Ballroom
January 17 Seattle, WA – Showbox Presents at The Market
January 18 Sandpoint, ID – The Hive
January 19 Missoula, MT – The Top Hat
January 20 Bozeman, MT – Rialto Bozeman
January 31 Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel
February 1 Saxapahaw, NC – The Haw River Ballroom
February 2 Knoxville, TN – Bijou Theatre
February 6 Augusta, GA – Southbound Smokehouse
February 7 Richmond, VA – The National
February 8 Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse
February 9 Nashville, TN – Cannery Ballroom
February 10 Charleston, SC – Music Farm
February 13 Jacksonville, FL – 1904 Music Hall
February 14 Orlando, FL – The Beacham
February 15 Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Culture Room
February 16 St. Petersburg, FL – Jannus Live
February 17 Key West, FL – COAST


Strings & Sol
December 7-11
Puerto Morelos, MX
Yonder Mountain String Band, Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, Leftover Salmon

December 12-16
Puerto Morelos, MX
The Disco Biscuits, STS9, Umphrey’s McGee, Lotus, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Ghost Light

Winter Wondergrass Vermont
December 14-16
Stratton, VT
Railroad Earth, Infamous Stringdusters, Keller & The Keels, Fruition, Billy Strings, Kitchen Dwellers, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, Rumpke Mountain Boys

Tropical Throe.down
January 10-14
Runaway Bay, Jamaica
moe., The New Mastersounds, Big Something

Jam in the Sand
January 15-19
Runaway Bay, Jamaica
Dark Star Orchestra, The Wailers, Green Leaf Rustlers

International Incident
January 25-28
Runaway Bay, Jamaica
The String Cheese Incident, Keller Williams

Panic en la Playa Ocho
January 25-29
Riviera Maya, Mexico

Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds Riviera Maya
February 15-17
Riviera Maya, Mexico

Phish in Riviera Maya
February 21-23
Riviera Maya, Mexico

Winter Wondergrass Colorado
February 22-24
Steamboat Springs, CO
Trampled by Turtles, Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, Fruition, Billy Strings, The California Honeydrops, Della Mae with Bonnie Paine, Jeff Austin Band, The Shook Twins

Winter Wondergrass California
March 29-31
Squaw Valley, CA
Greensky Bluegrass, Trampled by Turtles, Leftover Salmon, Sam Bush Band, ALO, Fruition, Billy Strings, Jeff Austin Band, The Travelin’ McCoury’s

Bender Jamboree
April 11-14
Plaza Hotel & Casino
Las Vegas, NV
Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, Leftover Salmon, Keller Williams, Billy Strings

Sweetwater 420 Festival
Centennial Olympic Park
Atlanta, GA
Widespread Panic, The Avett Brothers, Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, Rebelution, Moon Taxi, The Claypool Lennon Delirium, Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass, Turkuaz

Keller in the Caverns
June 21-23
Pelham, TN
2 Keller Williams performances as well as Pettygrass, More Than A Little, and a Grateful Gospel Brunch

July 4-6
Snow Ridge Ski Resort
Turin, NY

Lockn’ Festival
August 22-25
Arrington, VA

FloydFest 19 “Journey Home”
July 24-28
Floyd, VA
Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band, The String Cheese Incident, Brandi Carlile Tyler Childers, Margo Price, Fantastic Negrito, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Keller Williams’ Grateful Grace featuring Love Cannon


Thanks again for stopping by. I’ll be back next week with more jam. Until then, check me out on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute concert announcements. Until next week, Jam On!