Willie and the Correspondents appearing at …




“We’re Free We’re Rolling”

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‘The songs are intelligent, original ballads delivering compelling commentaries on life, love, death and politics.’

Canberra Times

New Album – “We’re Free We’re Rolling”

This third album brings together new songs written over the past few years and re-recorded versions of several previous songs. We tried many of them out at the National Folk Festival in 2023 and at the Tathra Pub, a favourite venue, and they got a great reception. Several were recorded live at Smiths Alternative in Canberra. We hope you like them.

All the songs have been written by Hugh Watson and Matthew Herbert with input from other band members Philip Williams, Peter McDonald and Greg Turnbull. The mastering was completed by Matthew Herbert over many hours.

You can find the album on Spotify, Apple Music, ITunes, Amazon, IHeart Radio and YouTube Music as well as other outlets.

Here’s a clip of the lead song: We’re Free We’re Rolling
We’re Free We’re Rollin’ Live – YouTube

For more information on about the genesis of the songs read on…

1. We’re free we’re rolling (Words Hugh Watson, Music Matthew Herbert) A conversation heard on a train between two recent inmates inspired this song.

2. Take your chances (Words Matthew Herbert and Hugh Watson, Music Matthew Herbert,) A great Matthew riff on the steel guitar during one of our legendary Tuesday nights produced this song.

3. When the circus came to town (Words Hugh Watson, Music Matthew Herbert) A memory from childhood resurfaced when the circus rolled into Merimbula.

4. The Battler (Words and Music Hugh Watson) This song was originally written for a cabaret show called “Figments and Ligaments” performed in Canberra in 1985 during the World Cup Athletics. It recalls Hugh’s childhood memories of the Bega show and Jimmy Sharman’s Boxing Tent.

5. Poetry in Texas (Words Hugh Watson, Music Matthew Herbert) This song was inspired by a Scandinavian poet talking on Radio National about a visit he’d made to the town of Poetry in Texas, (U.S.). We thought we could swing it to Texas, Queensland.

6. Feeling Lucky (Words and Music Matthew Herbert) Matthew researched his family history on the Monaro to produce this evocative song.

7. Dear Leader’s Country Band (Words Hugh Watson, Music Hugh Watson and Matthew Herbert) The antics of the late North Korean Leader Kim Jong Il produced this song late one night. It’s always a crowd favourite.

8. A little rain must fall (Words and Music Matthew Herbert, Vocals Madeleine Herbert) A series of personal challenges produced this lovely song, beautifully sung by Matthew’s daughter Madeleine.

9. Absent friends (Words Hugh Watson, Music Hugh Watson & Matthew Herbert) A song for all those who serve; written about Hugh’s father Robert who fought in the Middle East and the Pacific.

10. Doesn’t anybody care about the country anymore – Live (Words Hugh Watson Music Matthew Herbert) Country towns are dying, hospitals are closing, the trains have stopped coming and farmers are committing suicide. This song was recorded live at Smiths Alternative in Canberra.

The Band

“Take your Chances” is the second album from the roots-country-folk band that calls Hall Village in the ACT home. Like their first album “Writing on the Wall”, ‘Chances’ is very much guitar-led music. And the guitar playing throughout is very tasty in all its forms – acoustic, electric and slide. Throw in exquisite mandolin, classy piano, ukulele, pianola accordion, harmonica, drums and banjo and you have a polished album that is sprinkled with musical surprises.

While ‘Willie and the Correspondents’ has been around for several decades and recorded two albums as West Texas Crude, the band has developed a new and more engaging format drawing on the multiple experiences of the band members as well as their musical talent.

The band is Matthew Herbert (lead vocals, guitar, banjo, ukulele, mandolin), Hugh Watson (vocals, guitar), Philip Williams (blues harp, vocals), Greg Turnbull (drums, vocals) and Peter McDonald (bass).

“Take Your Chances” is a good album that ventures close to great the more you play it”

(Canberra Times)




Our latest video released in 2020 “We’re Free, We’re Rollin”

And more of our recent videos …

The Music



Most of the songs on its first album, “Writing on the Wall” were written between 2004 and 2010 by Hugh Watson and Matthew Herbert. There are a couple of old ones as well. In general Hugh writes the lyrics and Matthew the music then Matthew shows his multi-talented musicianship by playing many of the instruments. Stephen Webb brought his extraordinary drumming skills to several songs and Phillip Williams can be heard harmonising and playing blues harp in a couple too.

Their songs include ballads about Hugh and Matthew’s home town of Bega including “The Battler” about Jimmy Sharman’s boxing tent and “Jimmy’s not coming to school today” about the exploitation of Aboriginal kids in Bega in the 1950s and 60s. Another ballad tells the life of Hugh’s convict relative Hannah Railton, while “The Rain” relates the struggles of Australian famers in drought. “Dear Leader’s Country Band” is a funny song about Kim Jong-Il and his antics.

“Wish I’d Known”

“The Battler”

“Jimmy’s not coming to school today”

“Writing on the Wall”



“Take your chances” was launched to a full house at The Abbey in Canberra in August 2012.

“Take your chances”. A great Matthew riff on the steel guitar during one of our legendary Tuesday nights produced this song.

“Better Days”. Matthew was inspired by the courage of two family members to overcome adversity to write this beautiful song.

“A thousand orphan hands”. Matthew visited an orphanage in Thailand in 2010 set up by a guy for orphans from the Tsunami. That visit inspired this song.

“Afghanistan”. A U.S general said in a radio interview “Well Pakistan’s
unstable and Afghanistan’s next door.” Some justification! This powerful song is Hugh and Matthew’sresponse.

“Kumbaya Girl”. (Words Hugh Watson, Music Matthew Herbert, 2010) Hugh was annoyed by politicians abusing the term “kumbaya” in negotiations after the 2010 election but thought this would put the term more in context.

“Songs of the Somme”. Inspired by a WWI diary from a relative and a visit to the Somme, Hugh drew on words from Villers Bretonneux gravestones to write this ballad and Matthew matched it with a moving tune.


Willie and the Correspondents
PO Box 82
ACT 2618 Australia

E info@westtexascrudemusic.org

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