Graham Nancarrow’s upcoming tour grew out of a chance meeting at a memorial for his father, newscaster/ecologist Loren Nancarrow, who died last December.
“This lady saw us play at the Reuben H. Fleet theater,” singer/guitarist Nancarrow tells the Reader. “She set up an entire tour for me.” The tour starts off with a show in Sydney. “Then they fly me to Birdsville, which is a secluded place in Queensland where, like, 40,000 Australians go for vacation. I have 14 shows there, and then I play some shows in Melbourne. They pay for everything, and the money is good. They think I’m an American country singer. That’s enough to get you by down there.”
Nancarrow regrets he couldn’t take his five-man band with him.
“I’m sure they wish they could go...but they don’t have money to pay them, too.”
But Nancarrow, 26, is committed to his bandmates — some much older — who have steered him onto a classic country road.
“My mom and I went to Nashville. I was wondering if it was right for me to move there. We met with a couple label guys. I don’t belong there right now. But if it wasn’t for the band, I probably would have moved there.”
The band includes five veteran musicians who play in the Millionaires, White Buffalo, and Lady Dottie & the Diamonds. He says it was their idea to name the band after his last name when they formed in late 2012. “I was uneasy with the name at first. They thought the name would have a little pull. Plus, I’m the front man and the principal songwriter. They wanted me to be the face of the band.”
Nancarrow started in a punk band he formed while at La Costa Canyon High, Misled Citizen. The band moved with him to the Bay Area when he went away to college. “I got into trouble, so I dropped out and moved back home in 2007.” His next band was the rocking Big.50, which he folded when he saw the (country) light.
Although he was raised on a farm in Olivenhein “with chickens, peacocks, pigs, turkeys, cows, and horses,” Nancarrow grew up a punk surfer. “But then I discovered Hank III in San Francisco. I listened to him and all the people who he said he was inspired by. Then I sat down with [Nancarrow bassist] Joe Weisiger who inspired me and convinced me this music could work even though country isn’t really big here.”
Nancarrow is not big on mainstream country: “I look at it as pop music played with a cowboy hat. Old country is the best shit there is.”
Nancarrow will perform at Lakeside Rodeo’s Country Fest on June 21.