Coloured Lights - Guitar
Destiny - Guitar
Drag Queen - Guitar
Feel The Beat - Guitar
First Class Ticket - Guitar
Forgot My Words - Guitar
Georgie - Guitar
If Only - Guitar
Nanny State Madness - Guitar
I started my musical journey at the age of ten. My parents bought me a guitar and sent me to the Beresford’s School of Music, in suburban Miranda, Sydney. That was a mile and a half walk each way from my home in Yowie Bay. I suspect their objective was to get me out of the house . I confounded this notion by returning home from each lesson and actually practicing my guitar! Next thing I knew my bedroom was relocated to the workshop shed at the back of the property! I played songs like Mame, Never On A Sunday, and Little Brown Jug ad-nauseam to my dog, a totally captive audience who endured his suffering bravely, without complaint.
My search for a more appreciative audience began and nothing has much changed since! I took some Flamenco lessons from a year 12 boy as I entered high school. My influences at that time were Cat Stevens, Peter Paul and Mary, and of course Simon and Garfunkel. I played barely recognisable covers on my then new nylon stringed Yamaha.
But I suspected there was more, and after discovering Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton , John Mayall, Jimmy Page, and later John McLaughlin, Phil Manzanera, Lee Ritenour and Larry Carlton, I decided that I needed to go electric. My first electric guitar was a bright red Klira semi -acoustic with two pickups and a truly horrendous action. I later advanced to a black Les Paul copy, realizing that even if I didn’t have the experience , I at least needed a decent guitar to get anywhere near what those big boys were playing.
My first Joining an 8 piece jazz band, going by the name Berrima Klink, was an interesting experience. Most of the gigs were Latvian weddings and Baltic balls organized by saxophone player Arnie Tillers. The combination of quicksteps, foxtrots, pride of Erins, shuffles and jazz tunes combined with Beach Boys hits were generally well received by the guests , increasingly so as inebriation increased in the course of the evening. Most notable memories were ambitious attempts at reproducing Guitar Boogie Shuffle and Pipeline, where Arnie featured on baritone sax. I later came to know that Arnie was younger brother to world renowned artist Imants Tillers. Small world!
About five years ago the Eden Community Gardens Project started a monthly market and it has been great to stage manage and support the talents of a variety of musicians and poets, most notably Phil Geers, Corine Masliah, Peter Skelton, Archie Bishop and David O’Connor. Supporting Corine at the Nethercote Music Factory has also been fun.And of course I’m still playing acoustic guitar in church with the lovely talents of Janice, Pam, Allen, Myfanwy, Pete and Robyn.But apart from the odd jam, my faithful telecaster has remained somewhat neglected until a former high school and workplace colleague etc…………. collaborative musical experiences involved playing songs like Michael Row Your Boat Ashore , Sounds of Silence, If I Had a Hammer, As Tears Go By, Scarborough Fair Canticle etc. in an after church fellowship coffee shop. We formed bands with electric keyboards and guitars and played to audiences, wherever we could. Bass players and good drummers were scarce commodities. Getting gigs such as the local Girl Guides Christmas party seemed a pretty big deal in those days.
In my search for a guitar that would make me sound better I went to a Hurstville music shop and looked at a Fender Telecaster . My mate had a Stratocaster so I hoped they would be somehow related. The shop attendant asked if I would like to play it. I said that I would. The rest is, well, as they say , history. I knew I had to have it, despite not really knowing its pedigree, although I vaguely remember it being played by big names. The price was $200. I paid half and my parents paid the other half for my 21st birthday in April 1975. I have had countless offers for it, both before and after it being run over, in its case, by a friend’s VW beetle. It has since been valued at over $5,000 !
By now my interest was in Rhythm and Blues with a touch of Funk. I gigged with a Sydney band called Cascade, with mates Sid [flute] and Ray [guitar and vocals] and band leader Mal. We even had a rhythm section! Mal had a distinctive and somewhat Ian Anderson styled voice. Needless to say Jethro Tull was an influence along with Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Jackson Browne. Cascade went on to record three albums with session musicians and consequently some of us left. A new band was formed called "Zarman and the Zits" led by Ray Handley, doing covers and originals written by Ray, two of which were recorded to a single in 1980.
A former high school and workplace colleague Neil Porter recently invited me to come on down to a “Sesh” at the Pambula Beach Garage Band “Shed”. I went along and was warmly welcomed. We got along just fine, despite the extraneous “noises” that often emit from my amp and guitar. Neil advised me to seek professional help, and I hoped he was talking about my guitar and amp! Well that has been acted upon now and I’m having fun working on originals and covers with a bunch of diverse and passionate musicians only 20 mins drive from my home in Kiah!
Here’s to many more great afternoons in “The Shed!”
Editor’s Note :
Neil and Steve have been mates for decades. They worked together for about twenty years at Eden High School. Whilst there they played together (very briefly!) in a "schoolies" band along with PBGB Family Member Garry Carson Jones.
Not only that, Steve and Neil went to the same school – Port Hacking High. Coincidentally, so did PBGB Family Member Kevin Breeze.
The PBGB Family tentacles continue to spread ! Local musicians beware !
Steve’s musical background, in his own words.......................take it away Steve...................
I moved South. I supported the local Eden Singers at cabarets, all the while looking for a spot in a bluesy band. Recent years have provided welcome invitations to play with long standing friend and musician Steve England who has a loyal following in the Blue Mountains. I’ve had many enjoyable times [ some of them musical!] with Steve, his brother Phil, and their friends up North and occasionally down here on local turf.