Carolyn is steeped in the music of the black American tradition. As well as solo appearances and her own jazz band, she performs, tours and records extensively with local and international blues, jazz, gospel and rock‑n‑roll outfits and performers.
The Stompin’ Rhythm Aces
Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out
(From There’ll Be Some Changes Made, 2019)
Carolyn currently heads up the jazz band The Stompin’ Rhythm Aces. Drawing from a wide variety of styles – traditional New Orleans and early blues, boogie woogie and jump swing – this band puts a refreshing new stamp on jazz.
Carolyn recently travelled to New Orleans, where, along with the culture, art and food, she soaked up the music of the French Quarter, Crawfish and Jazz & Blues Heritage Festivals. This trip inspired her to produce her own album, There’ll Be Some Changes Made, to take the listener on a journey through the streets of this amazing city.
While saluting the music of traditional jazz the album adds the distinctive flavour and feel of the Stompin’ Rhythm Aces. Engineered by Phil Punch, the whole album was recorded live – including the vocals. Phil made sure the musicians were free to explore, connecting with each other spontaneously, and resulting in a true representation of the authentic blues of this energetic band.
The band is made up of Jimmy Fletcher on drums, Ed Rapo on bass, David Ridyard’s reeds, Greg Englert on trumpet and Cameron Jones on guitar.
Plans are under way for a second album in 2020.
Solo Piano Work
Carolyn is currently playing at The Ferryman restaurant in Davistown, where she often has musicians and singers drop in to perform with her. With its intimate atmosphere, this setting allows her the freedom to explore jazz’s richer colours and textures and the space to tap into the deeper veins of the idiom.
(From Hipsister, 2011)
Carolyn met Narelle Dawson when she moved from Sydney to the Central Coast in 2001. Together with Jill Tweedie, the original blues singer with The Foreday Riders, the three formed Hip Sister. The girls sang harmonies and explored some of Carolyn’s original material, like Live it, Sometimes, Willy Mae and The Pines Stomp. Narelle added a country flavour to Carolyn and Jill’s rootsy blues and the girls were an immediate success, supporting international artists such as John Hammond and Charlie Musselwhite. Between 2014-16 they performed at The Basement, Camelot Lounge, The Brass Monkey and the Lizottes restaurants.
Carolyn and Narelle were also a part of The Last Waltz Tribute Band, showcasing the legendary final concert of ‘The Band’. Carolyn took on the job of covering all the keyboard parts, which included the music of Bob Dylan, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, Doctor John, Neil Young, Emmy Lou Harris, The Staples Singers and Joni Mitchell.
The Jive Bombers
The Pines Stomp
After leaving Lonesome Boogie in 1999, Carolyn played with The Jive Bombers, a very popular swing outfit on the Sydney dance scene. This highly professional band gave her invaluable experience playing jazz festivals (Mackay, Manly and Morpeth) as well as rock festivals like Winter Sun on the Gold Coast and the Chrome Festival at The Entrance, NSW.
Ba Be Le Ba Boogie
(From Swinging Jazz Portraits, 2005)
In 2004 Carolyn and Nikki Doll, lead singer of the Jive Bombers, were invited to perform at the Wagga Wagga Jazz Festival’s Gospel Service. Here she met Carol Ralph and Kate Dunbar, which heralded a return to more traditional jazz and a foray into gospel music. Carolyn continued performing with Carol at various festivals and she played on Carol’s Swinging Jazz Portraits album.
Takin’ a Backseat
(From Herding Cats, 2017)
Carolyn is often invited to play and record with different blues and jazz bands. She was a special guest with The Foreday Riders 30th and 50th Anniversaries, and appeared on two of their albums (Herding Cats 2017 and Blues Reform School Live at The Basement). She has also performed with The Hippos, JR and the Jewel Tones, The Groove Kings, The Lemon Squeezin Daddies and Mama Jane’s Blues Band. Carolyn’s original song, Takin’ a Backseat, was recorded by Kathi Lecordia for the Bridgetown Blues Festival in WA.
You Don’t Know
Keep It To Yourself
Burn Right Outta Here
(From Hey This Is Our Town, 1998)
Growing up in Sydney, Carolyn started formal piano lessons as a child and played in all genres, from classical to folk to pop. She was especially influenced, though, by Chicago blues and early boogie woogie, and by her early twenties she was playing around town in a variety of jazz and blues outfits.
In the early 90s, she was one of the main drivers behind the band Lonesome Boogie, playing pubs and clubs and the festival circuit, including the East Coast Blues & Roots Festival in Byron Bay, Woodford Folk Festival, Lithgow Blues Festival, Thredbo Blues Festival, Southern Cross Festival in Narooma, Goulburn Blues Festival and the Manly Jazz Festival.
Lonesome Boogie made two recordings – Grinnin’ and Pickin’ (1995) and Hey This is Our Town (1998), on which Carolyn’s famous piano boogie The Pines Stomp was first recorded. Carolyn continues to wow audiences with The Pines Stomp and it remains one of her most requested tunes today – see the Jive Bombers video above.
“…there are very few pianists who are equally at home in the New Orleans Jazz and mainstream idioms as well as the funky stuff like Professor Longhair…”
－ Mike Tovey, musician
“…she looked sensational and played magnificently. So elegant… a very special event”
－ Michael Watson, WIN TV Melbourne.
“She makes Jazz rock! Here on the Central Coast we have been privileged to enjoy Carolyn ‘Pine Cone’ Packer featuring with a number of bands, including her own aptly named Stompin’ Rhythm Aces. You may start out tappin’ your toes, but her Honky-Tonk and Boogie-Woogie will soon have you stompin’ your feet. Her robust piano playing and vibrant vocals will get you bouncin’ along. Carolyn gives the keyboard a complete workout. Glad to see this long overdue CD…I’m sure Clarence [Pinetop Smith] would approve.”
－ Rod Gale, Secretary, CCLC Jazzleague Gosford
“Sitting here listening to Carolyn Packer’s Stompin’ Rhythm Aces album exceeds all my expectations. Not only has she got great musicians behind her, but also the recording is tops – very professional. I love hearing Carolyn play, but this CD is going where I put my music I can’t be without.”
－ Leonie Galton, Vice President, Sydney Jazz Club 2019
There’ll Be Some Changes Made – Carolyn Packer’s Stompin’ Rhythm Aces
Herding Cats, Blues Reform School Live at the Basement – Foreday Riders
Live it, Live at Patonga (DVD) – Hip Sister
Jazz Portraits – Carol Ralph
Freshly Squeezed – Lemon Sqeezin’ Daddies
No Relation – Finn
Hey This is Our Town, Pickin’ n Grinnin’ – Lonesome Boogie