People and Places
04/09/2018
Music-loving tradie builds a career on the side by Kate Sears

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Although Josh Burr studied carpentry, works as a subcontractor, and spends his weekends bartending in Mornington, his passion for music keeps his energy surging as he picks up a third gig, sharing his stellar voice and guitar sounds with Mornington Peninsula music-lovers.

“I taught myself how to play guitar,” said Josh. “I used to just sit down and sing along while trying to figure out the chords.” 

The Mount Martha resident is dedicated to writing at least one song a week. He regularly has after-work jams during which he’ll strum his guitar until he finds a decent chord progression, and then he improvises some lyrics until he finds a catchy line or ‘hook’, which he then proceeds to base the rest of the song around.

And his career highlight to date? He got to perform on Fox FM’s World Famous Roof Top for Tradi-oke (tradies singing karaoke) with Fifi, Fev and Byron. Josh rocked up not knowing what to expect and had a great time bonding with like-minded music-loving tradies, and then Brendan Fevola showed up with some beers. After sinking a few beers to kill the nerves, Josh was on stage dancing — awfully, he admits — to George Michael’s Faith.

“I was having too much fun,” he said. “After leaving and visiting a pub I got a call from Fox FM to say that they’d like me back at the station by 8am. I planned to spend the night in my car but the carpark was locked. I had nowhere to sleep. So, long story short, I bar-hopped and had one of the craziest nights I’ve ever had before returning to the station sleep-deprived and a bit hungover.” Oh, and he won the Tradie-oke, picking up $5000 and a drill set to, you know, pursue his other gig.

Already snowed under with commitments, he’s taking it a step further and working with Whitehorse Lane producers on his first studio recording. There will be five tracks on the album, and three will feature his lyrics and vocals. Josh plans to release an EP towards the end of the year too. While there’s a lot of hard work to be done in the meantime, he’s so keen to see the results of all of his efforts.

His acoustic cover of How to Save a Life by The Fray gave us chills. Josh told us that he loves performing it because The Fray have a certain tonality to their vocals that he enjoys imitating. You’ve just got to experience it for yourself. And if you’re a music-lover you’ll agree that live music is like nothing else. “I think that when you play live you get to put more raw emotion behind the songs you play, plus there is nothing like a crowd singing along or dancing to what you are playing,” said Josh. “I just love performing, especially to supportive people.”

You can catch him at Gods Kitchen in Mornington or Nature Bar Café in Frankston. Follow Josh and melt when you hear his vocals on Instagram at @joshuajamesburr

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