In a eucalypt thicket on the edge of Torquay – the out-of- Melbourne surfing Mecca that constantly makes the list of world’s ‘best small town tubes’ – the home of singer/song-writer Xavier Rudd can be found…but not easily. As you’d expect of one whose fame frequently incurs the intrusive fan, the preservation of privacy relies on some serious off-road routing. For those not familiar with the sounds or success of this indie performer, made legend by simultaneously playing up to six of his 30 instrument armoury on the world’s music festival stages, Rudd is at-home famous for flouting the diktats of a prescriptive music bizz and still making it big. But he’s also an on-the-rise star in Europe, the United States and Canada, where his unique blend of Aussie earthiness and folksy blues (gorgeous Weissenborn steel guitar swirls grounded by rumblings of didgeridoo) have earned him a fan-base that includes fellow grass-roots artists Ani di Franco, Jack Johnson and Ben Harper. You could call him a musician’s musician who, though lacing his lyrics with reflections on racism and the environmental crisis, and adding his voice to public rallies that oppose the development of the world’s sandy spots, loathes the tag ‘celebrity activist’, preferring to describe himself quite simply as a vegetarian and a “full-time bare-footer” (he owns not a single pair of shoes).
But when the bare-footed Rudd, opens the door and ushers this first-time guest into a entry cavity sculpted with the cosseting crudity of a cave, before leading the way into a mud-lined living and dining space served by a house-heating Aga style cooker and presided over by two worm-eaten sentries that were once supports for the Geelong pier, I think maybe he is the real deal. The ensuing roll-call of in-house systems confirms it.