The Hobart

Local People: Jesse Higgs

by Hobart Magazine
Local People: Jesse Higgs

He’s the man behind many of Tasmania’s biggest live music events, including Party in the Paddock and Haydays. Now, Jesse Higgs has set up his own record label. We caught up with him to discuss this latest endeavour. 

Where did you grow up? I grew up in northern Tasmania, a place we call The Creek. It’s been a special place to my family, since my grandparents Dudley and Lilly Higgs moved there in the early 1970’s. From all the stories I heard about The Creek growing up and all of the legendary figures that painted its picture; it truly sounded like pioneering in the Wild West. With gun fights, car chases, bootleg alcohol (Creek Moonshine) and prominent for me – the legendary jam sessions at Grandma and Pap’s BBQs. 

Now you’ve set up a new independent record label, Secret Creek Records. Tell us about it. I’d say that music is intrinsic to my family. When my parents built the family home, the big stone fireplace was built first and then the stage was second – it’s like an altar to our church. Those legendary BBQ jam sessions with Pap’s and Grandma and growing up in studios and on tour with my parents will always be with me. Initially, Secret Creek Records is here to tell the story of The Creek and music from north east Tasmania, but in the future I can see us working with other acts outside of Tassie. 

The first release off the label is Shade Of My Soul, which is sung by yourself and your Mum, Sharyn, herself a country music star. What’s the story behind it? Sharyn Lee was at the peak of her career from 1993-2004, receiving many accolades for a decorated career, from winning rising star awards to playing tours with country music greats Keith Urban, Lee Kernaghan, Kasey Chambers etc. Shade Of My Soul was originally written in the early 2000’s, just after Mum was dropped from her record label for being pregnant with twins. It’s a vulnerable self account and a special song that has become an anthem for friends and family who know Shaz best. With the opportunity presented to Shaz to re-record the song in Nashville this year, it has taken on even greater meaning after her cancer diagnosis in 2020. 

You said Shade Of My Soul was recorded in Nashville. Why was this trip to the US special for you and Sharyn? All music lovers know the history and awe surrounding Nashville and it doesn’t disappoint. I’ve never seen so many bands performing all at once in a one square kilometre radius. But for Mum, the American south/midwest has always been her biggest dream destination. Fairly obsessed with both Elvis and Native American culture we spent time visiting Cherokee and Chickasaw Native American Reservations and of course, Graceland. We then road tripped down to Texas for some real Cowboy/gal action.

Between Secret Creek Records, Party in the Paddock, and your band, HOLiDAY MYSTICS, you’re a busy bee. How do you do it? Well, when you put it like that! Yeah, to be honest, it is a juggle, but one I’ve been working towards for a few years now. In all of these projects I have amazing partners and really fundamental teams that make it all possible. There will be a lot of work, emails, meetings, conversations, gigs, travel, a little bit of blood, sweat and tears! But also, I’ll be carving out that time to smell them roses. 

Who do you admire? People who speak the truth (always) but coat it in love and good intention. My partner Meg has this beautiful trait. For different reasons, I admire both my parents and especially – after the courage I am witnessing – my Mum. 

Favourite podcast or tv show? I’m a big lover of podcasts that give voice to the ideas and people that challenge the ‘norms’ of mainstream society. I do love a good Joe Rogan Podcast. The Aubrey Marcus Podcast is another one in this vein. TV shows – I sit somewhere between Vikings, F.R.I.E.N.D.S. and Ted Lasso

Secret vice? Bridgerton. Watching the series with my partner Meg, I don’t often get teary over a romance, but Colin and Pen! Wowser.

What are you reading now? Legacy: What the All Blacks Can Teach Us about the Business of Life and The Symbolic Meaning of The Story of King Arthur.

What was your first job? I got paid regularly at age seven for playing harmonica in my parents’ band, Sharyn Lee and the Hurricane. 

What are your daily news/social media habits? The news is notoriously depressing. I like the sport sections and prefer local magazines with happy stories, like this one! 

Your favourite place for…

Breakfast: Frankie’s

Lunch: Burgers Got Soul

Dinner: Buddha Thai

Favourite team? Geelong Cats 

Dream holiday destination? I’m going to have to see the Pyramids of Giza in the (sand) flesh.

Favourite Tasmanian secret? Tasmanian Tigers are not extinct. 

Parting words? A big wholehearted thank you to anyone who reads this and who has been to PITP over the years (or any Vibestown Productions events), to a Younger Dryas gig back in the day, or to a HOLiDAY MYSTICS or Secret Creek show coming up! You’ve helped bring this Tassie fellow’s dreams into reality. Peace and Love.

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July 2024

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