O'CONNELL songwriter Kris Schubert has been getting a lot of good ideas lately while he's been in his ute.
And he doesn't know what's more surprising: the fact songs are coming to him in the quintessential country vehicle or the fact he's in the quintessential country vehicle in the first place.
"I never expected to be the kind of person who owns a ute," he admits. "And I never expected how proud of my ute I would be."
It's an indication of how much Schubert's life has changed since he and partner Lian Wong made the shift from Sydney to the Bathurst region.
Another indication is Schubert's increasing flirtation with country music - or, to be more specific, a variant of it.
"What I'm really interested in is blues," he said. "And that can be lots of different things – that can be something that gets quite country in its style.
"And I suppose the longer I'm out here, the more I explore that side of it."
Schubert, who grew up in Parkes, and Wong, a lifetime Sydneysider, moved to the Central Tablelands at the start of 2014.
Almost five years later, their architectural practice is getting local work, they've got a studio set up on their block of land at O'Connell and they've discovered musical riches in Bathurst's suburbs and its rural surrounds.
"I don't know what it is; something is going on," Schubert said of the city's music scene. "A musician from Canberra told me that they regarded Bathurst as a really musical place and it was a place that good musicians came from."
Their move across the Blue Mountains was also a risk for their band The Safety Of Life At Sea, whose other members remained behind in the big smoke.
Work on the band's second album was delayed by the relocation, but eventually led to 2017's Foxy's Farm.
Trips in the ute are helping Schubert as he prepares for the recording of the band's third album, which will begin in a few weeks after the members get together for a gig at the BMEC Band Night.
Schubert said Foxy's Farm - whose joyous opening track captured the magic of New Orleans for a first-time visitor - received attention from some surprising quarters.
“We got picked up by a guy in New York who runs an online radio-type program that plays what he calls Americana music, but by people who are from outside America,” he said.
Return statements from iTunes and Spotify have also been fascinating, he said.
“You say, who’s listening to us in Japan?”
The band's third album will be recorded locally.
"The guys in Sydney are looking forward to coming out and having some quiet country time and just bunkering down and making a record," he said.
"We'll be making a start on the October long weekend - we've had that pencilled in for a long time.
"I'm not sure what will actually come of that weekend but it might just be a case of setting up for future things.”
The BMEC Band Night will be on Friday, September 28.
“The band nights have been such a great series of showcase gigs for bands with a local Bathurst connection and we’re stoked to be a part of it,” Schubert said.
The opening act will be Sweet Revenge, an all-girl rock band from MacKillop College consisting of Jenna Orpwood on drums, Ella McPhillamy on keyboard, Belle Whitwell on lead guitar and vocals and Zoe Bunyan on bass and vocals.
“We caught their set at the Bathurst Show this year and loved it,” Schubert said.
Sweet Revenge have opened for country music artists Travis Collins and Amber Lawrence and are mentored by former Toyota Starmaker winner Mickey Pye.
“I reckon they’re worth the price of admission alone,” Schubert said.
With the two band members from Sydney, a local threepiece horn section, plus Bathurst duo Smith and Jones singing harmonies, there will be nine people on the BMEC stage when The Safety Of Life At Sea play.
It can take some organisation to wrangle such a big crowd, but the effort is always worth it, Schubert said.
"Sometimes it's hard for me to keep singing and not just stop and listen to it because I enjoy what everyone’s doing so much."