Born in the inner city (once) working class Melbourne suburb of Collingwood, Bruce Hearn has been a singer/song writer with the iconic Melbourne ska band, Strange Tenants, since 1981, with a back catalogue of 8 albums and tours with international acts including U2, Paul Weller’s Style Council, UB40 and with reggae legend Jimmy Cliff on a tour of the UK in 2014. Their legacy, particularly their commitment to social justice messages through their songs has recently been acknowledged with the release of a 2018 book ‘Strange Tenants: The Godfathers of Australian Ska’ and a 2019 documentary film ‘Strange Tenants: Ska’d For Life’, which has been receiving terrific reviews at film festivals around the world.
For many years Bruce has also performed and recorded as Hurricane Hearn, playing a mix of original and classic blues, performing alongside New Orleans legend ‘Lazy’ Lester in Barcelona, and more recently with Canned Heat.
Despite years of performing with bands however, at heart, Bruce is a singer/song writer, as well as an accomplished guitarist, banjo and harmonica player, and 2020 sees him announce himself as a genuine force to be reckoned with on the world folk music scene, with the release of not one, but two double albums of classic and original folk songs. His debut solo (double) album ‘The word is the music the people are the song’ comprises one album of ten original songs and a second of classic folk songs. The original songs demonstrate the depth of his and his brother Ian’s, song-writing prowess. Rich and varied in their flavour, they have an authenticity and emotional depth, rarely heard in today’s largely superficial music scene.
The 2nd album comprises ten covers of the folk songs which most influenced Bruce growing up in the 1960s and 70s, songs which still resonate as being as relevant today as they were when first written. Bruce doesn’t simply cover, but rather interprets these songs, previously recorded by his musical heroes, including Woody and Arlo Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Christy Moore, Tom Paxton, ‘Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Peter La Farge
2020 also sees Bruce release a ‘live’ double album of one of his sell-out ‘Woody Guthrie: Songs of Freedom’ concerts. With twenty tracks in total, this album "Bruce Hearn and the Machinists, Live at the Athenaeum, A Tribute to Woody Guthrie" also features performances by folk legends Eric Bogle, Margret RoadKnight, Jan ‘Yarn’ Wositzky, Kavisha Mazzella, Mic Conway, Kerri Simpson and others, including the thirty strong Victorian Trade Union Choir, promises to be an historic record of Australian musicians commemorating the humanity and musical genius of Woody Guthrie.
In all of Bruce's diverse musical ventures one thing stands out, his commitment to having something to say. As he says "if you don't stand for something, you stand for nothing"