Folk, Blues and the Emergence of ‘Ghostgum’.

It’s my first night ever at The Phoenix in Canberra although I have heard a lot about it as a venue since I’ve been here. Tonight there are four acts on the billing so it’s going to be a full night!

I’m sitting at a table with my drink in my hand perusing the environment and taking in the ambiance of a small but chatty crowd. The walls are blackened, the chairs and eclectic mix – in fact I was sitting on a small church pew, there’s a pool table not far from me and I feel quite serene and time rolls on.

There is movement on stage and I see a young female/male duo adjusting stools and mics and preparing themselves to deliver the opening set…Jamie and Kial take their place and Ghostgum have arrived!


I know them to be a folk/blues duo and it comes as no surprise when Kial takes the lead with a mellow instrumental introduction to the first track. Inclusive in his delivery are some pretty authentic sounding beats produced by the percussive effects on his guitar body. The mood in the room has gone quite quiet apart from a few whispering punters, the focus is on Kial.

Jamie begins to add vocally to the track and her voice reminds me of the likes of Jewel and Birdy but yet has it’s own identity built throughout her performance and I’m less inclined to compare. Jamie’s vocals are stripped back bare and she seems fragile however at the end of this track we dispel the fragile ideal as she announces that she is nervous and this is only their second time performing…so perfectly natural in this circumstance!

The set moves through some great original compositions and when Kial contributes vocally we hear a contradiction to Jamie’s in that he is strong and raw with a smoky textured tone. Blended together both voices compliment each other and provide a smooth and dynamic sound.

While I’ve been contemplating my thoughts on Ghostgum I’ve neglected the punters and now I see that they are glued to their chairs and fixated on the stage in front of them. There’s no more whispers save ordering a drink and it’s as if they are in a trance like state. Indeed I can relate to this as I too have been held captive by Ghostgum.

The set ends with an original track -‘Home’. For me this is the best track of the set as Ghostgum have settled into a groove from which they can exude a warmth and a confident yet a subtle vocal and instrumental.

The room erupts in clapping breaking the silence that fell before and Ghostgum are well proud as they should be. I take the time to introduce myself and garner some more information about ‘Ghostgum‘ from Jamie and Kial:-

Ghostgum was formed in 2018 and both Jamie and Kial are the songwriters for the duo. Their next gig will be one that both excites them and tests them as they play support for Phil Jamieson (Grinspoon) at the Vibesfest in Goulburn, NSW. 

Whilst this gig was a small intimate one it’s sure to pale by comparison to the festival so we’ll be talking to Jamie and Kial again real soon for some feedback on their experience.


(Feature Image by  Tim Floyd: )

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