Highly acclaimed alt-folk sibling duo The McMenamins are proud to announce a high profile national tour to celebrate the launch of their stunning fourth album,

Sand and Stone. The tour - which stretches from Melbourne to The McMenamins’ home region of Cairns, Queensland and across to Fremantle in Western Australia - will also include the duo’s debut at the Byron Bay Bluesfest.

"We’re very excited," says one half of the duo, Fleur McMenamin. "It’s such an honour to be playing at Bluesfest because of the amazing calibre of the other artists in the line-up. It feels like a real acknowledgement of our music and a kind of validation for all of the work over the years." And that it is. In fact, the duo was invited to perform at Bluesfest after their showcase last year at Brisbane’s BIGSOUND music industry conference. The McMenamins comprise Fleur and her brother Simon. Since they started working together a decade ago, the pair have crafted an extraordinary repertoire of melodically bold and lyrically affecting music, memorably described by music mag Rolling Stone as "rock-solid folk".

The duo’s fourth album

Sand and Stone is due for release in March and contains 11 new songs. "The album is built around expressions of our experiences over the past three years," says Fleur. "That includes stories about our families, our travels, what we’ve seen and what we think about the world and the human condition. The songs are heart-felt expressions of how we feel. I guess we are lucky to be able to express ourselves through music."

Critical acclaim came thick and fast for The McMenamins from the moment their self-titled debut album was released in 2005 and was followed by a whirlwind national tour supporting heavyweights Missy Higgins, Ben Lee and Ray LaMontagne, which put them in front of crowds of as many as 15,000. Momentum only increased with the release of follow-up,

In This Light in 2007, and saw them invited to showcase at the prestigious Canadian Music Week in Toronto, which pushed their music into the North American market, while back home they were tapped to support homegrown alt-folk superstars The Waifs.

The contrast between the sibling’s idyllic quiet home life in Far North Queensland and their musical commitments became sharply defined in 2010 when third album,

Long Time Gone, set tongues wagging and feet tapping in folk and roots circles around the world. In the last 18 months they have completed two tours of the USA, including an Official Showcase at the Folk Alliance 2012 in Memphis Tennessee, performances in Nashville, Oregon and Austin Texas, along with extensive appearances on US TV, college radio play and campus shows. For Fleur and Simon, life involves striking a delicate balance between the private and the professional, the local and the global.

"In some ways it can be difficult," says Fleur. "I live in a rural community [Babinda], so there’s a lot of travel involved for performance and management – and a lot of time online. Mostly, though, I feel like it is a good balance. We feel very connected to our community – there’s a strong sense of place, and of pride in where we live, and where we come from. I think our music reflects that."

Indeed a sense of being anchored, of having firm and sustaining roots, forms much of The McMenamins’ music. It is a sense that extends beyond mere geography and extends into time. "I’m inspired by the concept of young and old," says Fleur. "I am always aware of the people who came before us, and the ones who will come after us. I want to be present now, but I also know we are a product of the past and a part of the future."

In Australia, The McMenamins have shared stages with a dazzling array of luminaries, including Angus and Julia Stone, Jason Mraz, Toni Childs, Kate Miller-Heidke, Tim Rogers and Bertie Blackman. They were also invited to perform at many of the country’s most popular festivals, including Woodford, Tamworth Country Music Festival, Festival of the Sun, Peats Ridge, Nannup, Sydney’s Great Escape, and Brisbane’s BIGSOUND. In 2011 their song

Umbrella Town – about Babinda – won them a Queensland Music Award, while 63 Years took out the Oz Song International Songwriting Competition’s Folk and Country category.

The McMenamins’ national tour kicks off in March to launch the new album

Sand and Stone. All the venues announced so far are large, serious music rooms – which pleases Fleur no end. "We’ve really tried to get into some more fitting venues for our music on this tour," she says. "I’m really looking forward to playing these rooms. Some of our music is really intimate and we’ll be able to play those songs this time around – I feel like we’ve well and truly paid our dues belting it out in corner pubs."

Sand and Stone is released on Friday 8 March 2013 through MGM.

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