“He is by far the best electric player I’ve seen in Australia and most other places, and his wife sure can sing, but she’s not as good on guitar”
- Redd Volkaert (Grammy Award Winning Guitarist).
‘He plays like ol’ Roy’
- Merle Haggard (Merle Haggard and the Strangers)
Stuart French is a bit of a demon practiser. He usually plays straight electric but recently he’s been teaching himself pedal steel guitar. “I’ve got all my gear set up in the studio, and I’ll go down and play the guitar for an hour then get out the pedal steel and play for another hour. It has reinspired me to play. It’s beautiful.”
Tasmanian-born Stuart ‘Stuie’ French got into the guitar at a young age, but he was all set to become diesel fitter until the desire to play music got the better of him. “I used to leave Tassie and go to the mainland and do little tours playing lead guitar. I met a fair few musos in the country scene, and they all lived up Tamworth way, so I moved to Tamworth. As I got better known I started touring with acts like Troy Cassar-Daley and Gina Jeffreys. Then the construction site ran out of work, and I’ve been a full time musician ever since.”
His awesome technique and laid back style has been a star combination: in the last 20 years Stuie has worked and recorded with top country artists from Redd Volkaert, Troy Cassar-Daley, Gina Jeffreys, Slim Dusty and Lee Kernaghan to Beccy Cole and more recently Leo Sayer. He’s even jammed with the legendary Merle Haggard.
Many of Stuie’s guitar heros are the great Americans: Django Reinhardt, Chet Atkins, Roy Nichols and Danny Gatton. And, of course, no serious guitar player can ignore Dire Straits.
While Stuart keeps busy playing sessions and tours, his other musical passion is playing western swing with the legendary Pedal steel guitarist Michel Rose in their band The Feral Swing Katz. Their blend of 40’s swing, classic country with a touch of jazz has made a huge impact on the Australian music market. In 2001 they earned a MO award for Best Country Band; in 2002 they added a Golden Guitar; then in 2006 the Ferals won the ACE award for Country Group of the Year.
When he’s not prowling with the Ferals, Stuie might well be singing and recording with his wife Camille, with whom he won Australian Independent Duo of the Year in 2006. Or maybe he’s just down in the studio, practicing that pesky pedal steel guitar