I've been involved in music all my life. My father played the push button accordion, the Jews Harp, the mouth organ, the six string acoustic guitar with a steel slide as well as yodeled and sang. My Mother, as a child, won awards for her tap dancing, sang, played the piano, took part in small plays and always assisted back stage in small functions. So no wonder I had a love of music. I remember we used to sit around the piano on Friday nights, playing and singing all the old songs for example " Come Home Again Kathleen" and " The Black Velvet Band". This took place in the early sixties. There was no television or computers then.In those days sitting around the piano was total enjoyment and initiated my love of music.
I was taught piano by the nuns at my primary school. After I began to learn the drums, where in my hometown there were two local tutors who taught me as much as they knew from there it was up to me.
Quickly traveling through my music career I began singing at a school concert at the age of eight where I sang " Botany Bay", then accompanying three school mates who all played guitar and sang,accompanied a pianist playing old style dance music at the age of twelve, then with a five piece rock band playing for cabarets and local dances, then I played in a church rock band of which was the first rock band to play in a church in South Australia. In this Church Rock Band there is one feather in my cap which was we were asked to play in the Capital city of South Australia with Sister Janette Meade who was well known in Australia for her recorded hit called "The Lords Prayer". Moving into the seventies there was a three piece rock band we played in local pubs. My musical career took a stand still for twelve months where I taught drums to fifteen students which I enjoyed because when teaching you have to be capable to all the things they want to learn. I then left my hometown and moved to Adelaide where I joined a cabaret group where I gathered another few feathers in my cap by backing the well known British comedy group "The Baron Knights" and many other Australian artists. I moved into another rock band called "Stratford End" we won two local battle of the bands competitions. From rock then into Country where I was playing in various Country bands backing many Australian Country artists. Another feather in my cap was I arranged with a radio announcer in the Northern Territory through internet radio to play the group I was with new cd from here it flowed to a festival in the Northern Territory . We were flown to Darwin bussed down to Katherine to play at the festival where I knew from many other festivals "The Chambers Family" who amongst this family was a young lady "Kasey Chambers" who was due to fly to London and cut her album "The Captain" Other songs Kasey has recorded are "Am I Pretty Enough". From country to 50's and 60's Rock and Roll where I played with a six piece group for seven years again we did a few interstate festivals and cut a CD. Out of this Rock and Roll Band back to Country for a short time. I could tell you many more of my experiences in these bands but I'd like to get back to "The Essence Of Music"
My friend and his wife took my wife and myself to a Folk Festival in Victoria. There were marquees set up for competitions various stalls, plenty of alcohol ( which I don't drink) and plenty of music. The little town where this festival was being held was called "Frances" which consisted of one pub, one general store which included the Post Office, about 30 houses and a wheat silo with railway tracks beside it. The population of Frances on a good day would be at least 100. Except when this festival is on then it goes up to 5000. There is music everywhere 24 hours a day. I was strolling past the pub where in a garden was a group of musicians playing accordions, tin whistles, banjos, mandolins, a snare drum, a few violins, harps, mouth organs, acoustic guitars and Bodhrans. Not all gathered and playing at once but at times there would be 5 musicians and other times 15. They were singing all the old song reels and jigs. I sat with my wife mesmerized for the whole festival. These people weren't being paid like the other musicians they just walked up with their instrument sat down and joined in. As I mentioned previously I've played music for a long time and enjoyed it but had some trying times as well, of which I'd like to tell you about in the future, But amongst these guys it didn't matter who you were, what you played, whether you be professional or a young child with a tambourine, you can join in. The music and the way these guys sang was moving with gusto. It made me want to get up and dance and believe me, I've never felt like that for a long time besides I don't dance. But in this atmosphere I wanted to, you could feel the rush. Allow me to tell you a little secret all through my years of drumming I've never been one to crack a smile. I think because I was concentrating and I've always taken my music seriously and it's worked for me. But the music and the musicians playing and singing moved me, I was thinking to myself what am I doing, am I smiling?
I thought this has taken me back to the days where Dad was playing his accordion and Mum singing and all the songs that my family were singing these guys were playing. Its funny listening to these people play and sing has taken me full circle from singing with my family through my music career right back to being with my family singing and playing and it's only taken 45 years of my life.
I think during those few days listening to those people and seeing the enjoyment on their faces. Knowing that it wasn't arranged anyone could join. Playing the music and singing the songs. One musician would sit and play and another would leave at anytime. Bringing back memories and making me go full circle of my life with music. Having a large audience just gather around with big smiles on their faces and dancing and clapping and cheering after each song. The way those musicians were and the atmosphere that is " Essence Of Music"