Xavier Rudd: Deep Roots

By: Ann Svilar

Xavier Rudd
"My music was always my own little world, and I've just sort of built on that world," says Xavier Rudd. A more organic Keller Williams, Rudd's often one-man show is a world of many loops and layers. He stomps on a box, plays acoustic guitar, taps on a drum and breathes into a didgeridoo, all at the same time. In demeanor, Rudd sings and speaks with the sensitivity of a man who has traveled and seen a lot.

Physically, Rudd looks like the quintessential white Australian surfer-boy: blond, tan and with a laidback presence that comes from the beach. He bares a lack of arrogance on stage that translates over into conversation. He carries a thick Australian accent and uses words like "fella" regularly.

To understand why the multi-instrumentalist has chosen a life of music one must trace his roots. He lists as inspirations in his musical journey Aboriginal culture, trees, Australia, his home, surfing, people, and, repeatedly, his family. Rudd's career was originally fostered by his wife Marci, who encouraged Rudd to start playing live. It is her faith that eventually sent him out into the world as a touring artist. "For the last eight years, she has been my solid partner in life," Rudd says. "I didn't have a lot of confidence and she encouraged me. My core is at home and my roots come through. I'm always searching for those same connections and trying to understand those connections."

The didgeridoo, also called the yidaki or yidarki, is possibly the world's oldest wind instrument. It originated amongst the indigenous people of Australia, and Rudd plays three yidakis hollowed out by termites that are mounted protectively in a row in front of him onstage. Rudd brings his native instrument to a predominantly Caucasian, mainstream audience here in the U.S. Opening for Dave Matthews Band and making friends with Jack Johnson hasn't yet made Rudd a household name, but it has recruited a portion of their fans. He now plays 1,000-3,000 person venues and sells out places like San Francisco's Fillmore.

Xavier Rudd
Such exposure has the potential for his special instrument to be exploited or watered down, but Rudd plays with deep respect for the people who have come before him. He's been playing the didgeridoo since he was young, but five years ago he was adopted as a "skin brother" by a "spirit player," a big deal in Aboriginal culture. While Rudd plays his own music and not the traditional rhythms, he says their spirit moves through the instrument.

White Moth (released June 4, 2007 by Anti- Records) is Rudd's fourth album, and the third to be released in the States. Lyrically, it is a compilation of music that speaks about environmentalism, his family and Australia's indigenous people, including guest vocals from Aboriginal singers. Rudd says, "All the songs tell stories."

"Land Rights" is a story about a sacred space in Australia, Mt. Nhulun. Nhulunboy is the port town where the Yolngu and Macassan traded back when there was a land bridge between Papa New Guinea and Australia. In the '60s Europeans began a mining operation on the site. Up to that point the Aboriginal people were mellow and peaceful. In the '60s, the Yolngu people stood with spears in hand at Mt. Nhulun in defiance of the European's mining operation, marking the first uprising and opening the door to many other uprisings surrounding land and their rights. Rudd wrote a song about the event after visiting the mountain and feeling the spirit there.

They said this our home
These are our rights
Ooooh, this is our home these are our rights
Country it was taken
Land, our God
Spirits were crushed
The language that was silenced
Still free to be past
The cup that was empty is slowly filling up
So we can pull together show our children in this time
You see, 'cause this our home, these are our rights

A sad song titled "Anni Kookoo" follows "Land Rights" and closes White Moth. Anni Kookoo was the sister to an "Aboriginal fella" who is Rudd's friend. Anni Kookoo died of alcoholism last year, a common illness amongst Australia's native population. Rudd's friend asked if he would write the song, which was a challenging proposition because he doesn't usually write along these lines. He attempted the song and says, "The spirit flowed out of me."

The Fillmore, January 9, 2008

Xavier Rudd :: 01.09.08 by Oz McGuire
As the show opens, a mini movie begins. First, a screen of leafy trees is projected onto the stage's backdrop. Then, there are people, faces, scenes, some unsettling. I hear what I think is chanting, but there is no one onstage. Words like "drugs," "war," "destroy," "vanity" and "terrorism" flash repetitively in this little movie. It is a message before the show begins. I can feel the floor bouncing beneath me. I hear the anxious chatter of the people next to me, lighters clicking, people screaming, and then finally, the awakening sounds of a didgeridoo.

There is an unbridled reaction to Rudd as he opens the show with "G.B.A." from 2004's Solace. He is swallowed by his instruments. "I know, I see, I feel and yes, I fear it everyday," he sings. The movie is still playing behind him, faces flashing, words repeating. "It's such a shame that all this shit exists, here on this Earth, this magical place," he comments.

The images behind him turn into surfers, then swirling strings of pearl necklaces and what looks like patterns I've seen on rugs in New Mexico. A guy next to me starts to scream, which turns into the growl of a bear, like he is calling to his totem animal. He doesn't stop until well into the first half of a two-hour show. His date joins him, calling out like a wolf.

"Lots of spirits in there," Rudd says about The Fillmore. "I felt it the last time I was there, too." The lights go from red to white and sometimes green. "I'm doing fine," sings Rudd. Songs like "Food in the Belly," "Flames" and "Twist" soon follow. The room has a tropical mugginess.

During the encore Rudd plays Bob Marley's "Redemption Song," pulling himself out from the pile of instruments he's typically encased in. Rudd tilts his head up towards the ceiling, and then looks out at the crowd. He smiles.

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[Published on: 1/17/08]

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moecheeseplease Thu 1/17/2008 07:51PM
+5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


nice. but this man should not be compared to keller. xavier owns keller

Chaloupka Thu 1/17/2008 09:17PM
Show -3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
anonymous starstarstarstarstar Thu 1/17/2008 09:57PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


To all,

As I compose this memory in an e-mail- my heart and soul are filled with joy- tears fall like a gentle rain. This was such a healing moment for Barry and I: letting go of Kaile in the physical dimension has been a challenge. Kaile was pure love- "a vibrational energy field" that we deeply miss.

Meeting these magical musicians and sharing our story was like being in that loving "vibrational Kaile energy" once again. Here it what I recall-( a little "star struck" and trying to remember to breathe can impair ones memory):

Thomas, Orpheum Presents GM graciously gave us the opportunity to express our gratitude to Xavier with a gift - a bracelet made by a Ugandan women/beadforlife.org.

The vibrational energy during the show was, as always with Xavier, pure sun-like energy- (if I were to spontaneously com-bust at one of these shows- I would not be surprised- and what a good way to go). Barry and I camped out and managed to be front and center for the show- seeing, hearing, feeling this energy up front was mind expanding, heart throbbing, soul gripping joy!!

The show began with Mishka- a solo acoustic performer with lyrics that transcend the physical plane- songs reminding us of the journey to balance the physical with the divine/sacred aspects of living as a human being. His lyrics are conscious expanding and pure. With eyes often closed, tapping into energy within- he gave us love via music. Thanks Mishka!

And then--- Dave Tolley laid down some drum rhythms that went straight to our feet- the dancing began: Xavier entered, then took his position to "rock our soul"--

and there we were- front and center--

Barry and I danced like we were 18 years old- (later our bodies reminded us- your really are not 18). The energy was indescribable: it was energy like the sun- life enhancing, soul growing musical magic--- really it is beyond words.

Well as if this was not enough- Thomas allows us to meet these "Magical Musical Men"--------

We enter the backstage room and Xavier is seated lotus style on the floor signing a poster for a child-

Xavier has just created earth transcending vibrational energy and there he sat- present, centered, in the moment with this child. For me- the outside observer- this was

proof of who this man is- REAL!!! Not a performer- making money- getting attention for himself- but a REAL human being- grateful to the creative source for the

magic that flows through him to us--

I take a deep breathe- realizing I have forgotten to breathe for about the past 3 minutes -and ask Xavier if I may share a story. He replies "sure, I like stories". He listened so carefully to the story of Kaile's passing and held a photo of her while I spoke. He commented about her beauty and shared her photo with Dave.

Dave is just as REAL and PURE as his friend Xavier (the appreciation these two have for one another is so evident- you can feel the love they have for one another on stage and off stage).

Dave and Xavier then turn attention to Barry's shirt with all 10 dogs pictured- we explain we rescued all of them. Xavier was particularly struck by Skippy-Doo- and giggled out loud at the sound of his name. He shared he had just gotten two dogs for his kids, as he grew up with a dog and wanted his kids to have this experience.

Again, here he is- likely exhausted from giving his heart and soul without reservation at the show, traveling city to city- and he attended to our story. I can not

explain how REAL he, Dave, and Mishka seem to be. This realness shines in their music: connecting to "things" that matter- nature, earth and soul- this is their message

expressed to all who listen to their music; and, this is their life behind the stage as well-- be present, be in this moment- and they are.

Xavier commented on our very colorful African gowns and Barry's Kurt Cobain style sun glasses- he and Dave stated they had been grateful for the good energy coming from the front row- they had seen our robes and the glasses while performing. Well- believe me- the energy exchange does not seem like a fair trade exchange- they give so much of themselves- if only my dancing body could keep up!

Can you even imagine, tracking all those instruments, smiling like it is the easiest thing in the world; and, you take notice of any thing else at all- how do

they do this?? To me it is otherworldly energy- (I am unable to sing and play key board at the same time)- I am simply mesmerized by Xavier's multidimensional talent.

So, Xavier and Dave gave us an autograph on our copy of Flag Live- we exchanged hugs- they agreed to a photo- and the moment ends-

As we leave the room, we bowed- hands to heart- and gave a genuine NAMASTE to these magical musical beings1

Leaving the room, Xavier calls out "Good luck with all the dogs".

We are so grateful to Kaile's spirit, to Thomas, to Xavier, Dave and Mishka for this memorable moment and the pure musical healing potion!


Beth and Barry and Kaile and the 10 pack

Joshtafari starstarstarstarstar Thu 1/17/2008 10:05PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Great Artical! Xavier's show are one of a kind. If you haven't yet made your way out to one, I suggest front row the next time he is in town!

Peace, Love, Unity, Respect


Thanks for the picture you took with my fiance and I at WAKA!

sideslide starstarstarstarstar Thu 1/17/2008 11:01PM
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Great article! Loved the backstory/interview coupled with the show review!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Fri 1/18/2008 05:25AM
+5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

u should not compare xavier to anyone, least of all KW, its just not the same. One is full of spirit, the other, is just having fun. Xavier exudes SPIRIT. I cannot compare him to anyone, nor will I try. Kind Regards :)

tourfan Fri 1/18/2008 07:35AM
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What happened to the IMEEm stream Jambase ...? I can only seem to get a sample of the song? Anybody else? I know that I've played tracks from jambase pages before and gotten the whole track. Have you or IMEEM decided to cut what is offered? Being able to stream a full track was so nice. What's the deal with that?

keenan41 Fri 1/18/2008 08:14AM
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Imeem is hit or miss. They have a lot of 30 second clips for newer stuff. There's a decent amount of live material that is uncut.

Xavier is pretty good, however i think he was too overly influenced by Paul Simon on Food in the Belly. (not that there's anything wrong with that!) I hope to get a chance to see him soon

groovinkangaroo starstarstarstarstar Fri 1/18/2008 10:43AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I have only seen Rudd at festivals. Unfortunately the best set was Waka part two and the ginormous VIP section kept me from getting the connect I wanted. F'n VIP yupsters. But anyway, i can't wait to see him in a smaller venue. Sweet review too. His music is thick with sincerity.

ThePaste Fri 1/18/2008 11:26AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Xavier owns, i also have only had the chance to see him at Waka, he needs to tour the US more often cuz his shows are somethin special

mickrod420 Fri 1/18/2008 12:38PM
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I pick up his recycling when he comes to my town. good guy.

surlybuf Fri 1/18/2008 02:38PM
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Of the few songs I have heard. I'd say he resembles Jack Johnson more than anything.

anonymous starstarstarstarstar Fri 1/18/2008 03:40PM
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hola.....here is a link to a video from last week's xavier show in flagstaff....its ruff, but REALLY gives the feeling of xavier live....my wife and i are the ones freakin in front of the camera with the dashiki's on (the kid who shot the video was right behind us)...


freetime3 starstarstarstarstar Fri 1/18/2008 05:47PM
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Great write up!!! I have been hearin the buzz about him for a while and now I MUST see him live after reading all the testimonials from all the kind folks on here. Hopefully the summer brings him to a city or festie near me!!!

moejoerisin Fri 1/18/2008 06:15PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


a positive, inspiring voice in a world with far too few.. this is an amazing artist and a priceless gift to all of us living in this brave new world.

rdawson124 starstarstarstarstar Fri 1/18/2008 10:17PM
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this is the happiest person alive!!!!!

Buggtape Sat 1/19/2008 09:02AM
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I saw Xaiver Rudd at a moe.down jeesh years ago but wasn't really into it... I saw Keller open for Xavier at the Melkweg in Amsterdam a little more than a year ago. Since then, I'm a Rudd-a-holic. For a one man band, he's got something most don't.

tonebeach Sat 1/19/2008 11:53AM
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this guy rocks,a must see.

mattland starstarstarstarstar Sun 1/20/2008 02:00PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Xavier is WAY better than Keller.

Flat5 Sun 1/20/2008 10:30PM
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I use words like "fella" too sometimes. Guess I should go check out some Xavier Rudd!

anonymous starstarstarstarstar Mon 1/21/2008 07:58AM
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do you guys see something strange happening here?...........read practically ANY other article and there are always positive comments, but intermingled with those are flames and ridiculously uninsightful comments.........but read through all of these comments again (if you haven't) not one negative attack of any sort.....congrats xavier, it is yet another testament to your positive outlook and message!

che676 Mon 1/21/2008 09:00AM
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Xavier in Minneapolis tonight, doors at 7:30!!! Don't forget...

playfulspirit starstarstarstarstar Mon 1/21/2008 09:08AM
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Loved the credit Xavier gives to Marci- Marci thank you for sharing your husband with all of us- can't imagine the impact of touring on your life as a couple- but behind every talent is a support system- how blessed we are you gave him your support- Thanks Marci and Xavier

Flat5 Mon 1/21/2008 09:55PM
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damnt micap! my comment was meant to be ignorant and slightly negative, with a lean towards criticism of the writer! you didn't pick up on that? I guess I need to work on my passive aggression! I'm an ass, and have never heard Xavier's music, but if his old lady digs it, god bless him!

greengrass starstarstarstarstar Tue 1/22/2008 09:16AM
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Xavier played high sierra and killed it as I am sure he does everywhere.. He is so Talented finally someone with great talent to be a big fan of. I hope we all pay for his Music and Shows so that he can keep killing musically...../.

gr8fulwaggs starstarstarstarstar Tue 1/22/2008 12:23PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Don't let the Xavier/Keller comparison misguide you. Keller is good. Xavier is ridiculously amazing! Last night's show @ 1st Ave in Minneapolis was phenomenol! It was so worth standing in line in 0deg weather for nearly 30 minutes. Mishka was such a gentle, honest treat for an opener. Xavier blew the place away. I danced my ass off throughout the entire show. I even got to touch on my headbanging roots a little bit. High spirits and great songs. 4 1/2 stars out of 5.

GammaJamma starstarstarstarstar Tue 1/22/2008 04:09PM
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^what he^ said. ^

theoceanbluz starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/23/2008 07:12AM
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A rare talent, rarely seen, in these rare times.

RedHeaven starstarstar Wed 1/23/2008 01:54PM
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What irks about the Keller comparison, is they are very different in their spirit and soul. Keller is a good funky time smoking bowls at home and reflecting on the summer festin'.....Xavier is far beyond that comfort thought. Its very easy to think of the one man band dealie and compare them....when is the writer going to dig deeper into the emotion of music, not just the scaffolding? I still really appreciate an article about Xavier in jambase....cant take that for granted.

He reminds me of a more mystical nature oriented dark Paul Simon or Ben Harper.

FoolishFool starstarstarstarstar Thu 1/24/2008 10:25AM
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Keller is nothing compared to Xavier. Xavier has well written songs, great talent, AND DOES NOT LOOP ANYTHING!!!! The two are a waste of time to compare.

On another point, Rudd's shows are amazing and very personal. I highly suggest going to see him anytime he is in town. A true one man band show. Fantastic performer with a big heart.

caveman4200 starstarstarstarstar Thu 1/24/2008 01:40PM
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Caught the Xavier show in Nashville, TN last night. He had a drummer with him, never seen that past 3 times I've seen him. The show was incredible he had a lot of new fast beats and really turned it up with the percussion and as always doing things with the didge I've never heard before. Met him after the show, even nicer than you'd think he'd be, and made a point to say hi and thanks after the show and take pictures. It's an easy out to say he's an Australian Kelller, really all they have in comman with each other is they are one man bands. Xavier's songs have a real message about humanity and the world as a whole that makes you want to dance, be happy, and make a change. So if you are lucky enough to have Xavier come within a state or two of where ever you call home definately worth the trip.

Peace and Love To all in 2008, catch some good tunes and be good to each other.


anonymous starstarstarstarstar Thu 1/24/2008 03:53PM
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sounds like a lot of people REALLY DO get xavier and what he's all about.....this is good news for everyone (just some don't know it yet).....

True true treu caveman.....he's worth the trek no matter how long that journey may be

SaltyDog starstarstarstarstar Fri 1/25/2008 08:58AM
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This guy is better than that guy... that guy is better than this guy? What is better? Keller Williams is stellar. Xavier Rudd is brilliant. When you get to a certain place musically, there is no better... just different. Cheers to all who put their heart and soul into what they do.

redhed starstarstarstarstar Sat 1/26/2008 05:54AM
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I was at the same show caveman and it was badass. He sounds nothing like Keller Williams, as far as I know he didn't loop anything. Way more energy at a Rudd show as well. The Didge Shook My Spine. Come Back Soon Xavier!

n-1 starstarstarstarstar Sun 1/27/2008 09:53AM
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he almost sold out my home town, if it didnt rain on the line outside im sure he would have, the line was HUGE. he brought the house down, just a really good happy vibe.

AlexBlue starstarstarstarstar Sat 2/9/2008 09:41PM
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It's so incredibly exciting to see Xavier's tidal wave taking over the world! He is one of the most genuine people you could ever hope to meet, his hugs are warm and true, his talent is unquestionable (I much prefer "the band in one man" as opposed to the "one man band" title ... the latter conjures images of one of those guys on a street corner with cymbols attached to his knees and a monkey holding out a tin for coins ... but I mean no offense!!) and the people who are attracted, drawn in, entranced or whatever you want to call the spell we're all under, are truly blessed that this man is right here, right now, in our time. I am unashamedly obsessed with Xavier and everything he stands for ... and I'd also like to give Dave Tolley and Xav's incredible crew a big wrap - truly awesome in every way.

Ann, I really enjoyed the article, but I hope you don't mind me posting the full lyrics for Land Rights (such a powerful song ... Xavier actually wrote it on the back of his boarding pass on the flight home after being so moved by the story):

because it was sacred, because it was home

because these were feelings from so long ago

they listened to the spirits that came up strong

they all pulled together, to sing their song

this is how they did it, spears by their side

they stood on the mountain, for their land rights

all the people noticed, the movement took flight

they said this is our home, these are our rights

this is our home, these are our rights

country it was taken, land dug up

families were broken, spirits were crushed

the language that was silenced, is now free to be passed

the cup that was empty, is slowly filling up

so we can pull together, show our children it is time

you see, this is our home, these are our rights

this is our home, these are our rights

this is our home, these are our rights

(Xavier Rudd, White Moth 2007)

Peace in Unity,


bksfg4 Thu 2/14/2008 12:57PM
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I have to agree with many about Xavier and Keller muscially have little comparison. I have seen Keller 6 times and Xavier 4 times(twice at Bonnaroo)and the only comparison is their love of music and ability to get their message across in the music. Keller plays many different instruments but not at the same time. His loop style is very unique and I respect it but Xavier is a true multifaceted musician. He is able to play and keep two or three beats at the same time when most average folk can't rub their stomach and pat their head at the same time. When keller can play all his intruments at the same time then you can start comparing the two of them. Can't say I would miss a show by either when they come around the midwest. That is my only beef with Xavier. Not many trips to the Missouri area. Keller hits it once or twice a year. Gotta love that in an area where good music acts come few and far between.