Learning Experience 1

Thank you for visiting the learning experience 1 page. As previously mentioned, this activity is part of the Popular Music unit and will be a musicology-based experience with a focus on the Australian popular recording artist John Butler. We will delve into some history about Butler, facts and stories about his career and students will then answer quick questions and a short quiz with questions relating to both what is written here and information they can obtain from a list of resources.

Let’s begin.

John Butler was born April 1st, 1975 and is an Australian American musician/songwriter who has is the frontman for the John Butler Trio and written a number of hit singles such as ‘Zebra’, ‘Something’s Gotta Give’, ‘Funky Tonight’ and ‘Better Than’. While Butler has lived in Australia for the majority of his life (first residing in Fremantle in where he formed the JBT) and is classed as an Australian artist, he was actually born in Torrance, California in the United States.

Butler began learning the guitar at age sixteen and was then given his late grandfather’s 1930 Dobro guitar. Pictured below is an example of a Dobro guitar.

Butler began performing by busking around Fremantle where he honed his craft and experimented with different styles of music such as Celtic, Indian, Bluegrass and folk which can still be heard, albeit much less, in his more mainstream music today. A major inspiration for Butler was another Australian musician, Jeff Lang’s use of open tunings on the guitar which allowed him to play in and use those other styles of music.

In 2002, Butler and some partners formed the independent record label Jarrah. This label releases all of the John Butler Trio recordings and albums by another Australian act, The Waifs.

To date, the John Butler Trio has released five studio albums: John Butler (1998), Three (2001), Sunrise Over Sea (2004), Grand National (2007), April Uprising (2010). The release of Three thrust John Butler and his band into the Australian consciousness and marked the point whereby every album they released from there went Platinum in record sales. This spike in popularity could be attributed to Butler beginning to play a more accessible, popular and catchy style of music around the time of Three and most notably on Sunrise Over Sea. These two albums marked a shift in Butler’s music where he moved from long, improvisational pieces with occasional vocals into popular music.

Butler himself changes the trio every few years to keep things ‘fresh’. Members of the JBT over time have included Nicky Bomba (current), Byron Luiters (current), Shannon Birchall, Michael Barker, Gavin Shoesmith, Rory Quirk, Jason McGann and Andrew Fry.

Activity 1

Watch the video clips below and, writing in your work book, contrast and compare the John Butler Trio’s earlier and later music styles.

‘Revolution’ (2010)

‘Ocean’ (Recorded 1998, performed 2005)

Activity 2

The link below will take you to the short quiz that you are required to complete. Some questions refer to information that is written on this page while others will require you to search using Google.

John Butler Quiz


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