John Butler Trio
Born in California and an Australia emigrant at 10, John Butler became a professional musician through fairly unorthodox channels; namely that until the age of 18 he wanted nothing so badly as to be in the army. After a serious sit-down with his dad—who explained to him that wars were “never about democracy but resources”—he literally changed his tune, turning to busking in 1996. He credits his dad for his longstanding passions for social justice and the environment; the musical passion is all his own.
As a man driven by passion and principle, Butler has never wavered in the creation of roots music that is by turns intense, moody and full of joy. His musical weapon of choice is 12-string slide guitar; with it he creates shimmering soundscapes that form a lush counterpoint to his lyrical intensity, sensitivity and sense of humour. In one moment he mourns man’s inhumanity to man; the next he’s spearheading a joyful zombie dance party. Butler is committed to always choosing trio members that best serves the music he’s currently writing, and over the years the line-up has shifted regularly, with an alumni that has grown to double digits.
Butler began as a dreadlocked busker; nearly 20 years on, he has several ARIA awards under his belt and is one of Australia’s most successful independent artists. Not content with just those accomplishments, he uses the band as a springboard for his other passions, diverting ticket and album sales into causes ranging from indigenous health to carbon offsetting, and his own grant program (co-founded with wife Danielle Caruana, better known in musical circles as Mama Kin) that supports social, cultural and artistic diversity in Australian society.