Jim Conway

World-recognised harmonica player

Jim Conway is acknowledged as a highly accomplished harmonica player whose distinctive style is well known to blues, jazz and country music enthusiasts.

Jim was a member of the Conway Brothers Hiccups Orchestra from 1984–1988 and toured the U.K. in 1986, appearing at the Edinburgh Festival, the Capitol Music Festival and the Newcastle Festival. In 1988, the Conway Brothers appeared at the Houston International Festival, World Expo 88 and the Perth festival.

Jim joined the Backsliders in 1989, touring nationally at festivals which include the Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne festivals, Womad, the East Coast Blues Festival, the Port Fairy Folk Festival, and the Gold Coast International Jazz and Blues Festival. He has twice been a judge at the Hohner Australian Harmonica Championships at the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Apart from four successful recordings, including two gold records with Captain Matchbox, and an album with The Conway Brothers, Jim co-produced two of the Backsliders albums: Sitting On a Million and Hellhound.

Jim is a sought-after session musician and has recorded with numerous artists including Shane Howard (Goanna Band), Colin Hay (Men At Work), Jon Lord (Deep Purple), Bob Brozman, Slim Dusty, Jan Preston, Tim Gaze, Dutch Tilders, Anne Kirkpatrick and Pat Drummond. His extensive career includes national tours with American bluesman Brownie McGhee, The Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band (with brother Mic), Circus Oz and The Backsliders.

Jim has also composed, produced and recorded music for a broad range of film and radio projects, including the Kennedy Miller telemovie The Riddle of the Stinson and the comedy feature The Honourable Wally Norman. At the Sydney Paralympics Opening Ceremony Jim performed a piece of music specially written to feature his harmonica playing. He also co-produced several of the Backsliders’ albums.

A documentary film celebrating Jim’s contribution to Australian music was screened on SBS Television in July 2000. The film won a silver medal for Best Independently Produced Documentary at the Chicago International Film Festival. In 2003 Jim was also awarded the prestigious Centenary Medal in recognition of his contribution to the Arts.

In 2006, Jim started to focus on his own band, Jim Conway’s Big Wheel, which had already achieved a high level of success within the Australian music scene since its inception in 2002. Big Wheel’s first CD Little Story was nominated in the Blues & Roots category for the 2004 ARIA awards.  Since that time, Big Wheel has toured extensively, playing at the Port Fairy, Wangaratta, Bellingen and the Narooma Music Festivals.


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