14 August 2016

Have We Met? The Buckleys :: Musicians

Musical talent runs deep in the Buckley family. Mick, Sharon and their four youngest children have recently returned from the USA, where their family band, The Buckleys, played shows in Nashville, wrote songs with Grammy-nominated country music songwriters, and met with record labels.

They played at the famous Bluebird CafĂ©, on the same stage where Bob Dylan and Taylor Swift have trodden. “For them to get invited to play there, that was cool, man,” says Mick.

Sisters Sarah and Molly are out in front on guitar, mandolin, ganjo and vocals, while brother, Lachlan, plays bass and dad, Mick, keeps time on the kit.

“We’ve been around instruments our whole life,” says Molly. “We’ve always been writing songs,” ads Sarah. The US trip was a dream come true for the girls, who love country music. 

“When I was 12 years old, I was going to get to Nashville by the time I was 16," says Sarah. "So everything in the last 4 years has been leading up to that.”   

Lachlan prefers ‘70s and ‘80s rock and roll over country, but he “does what we tell him to”, jokes Sarah. Mick starts singing a Deep Purple riff in solidarity and Lachlan just laughs.

The kids’ orientation towards country music wasn’t accidental. Mick wanted them to have a broad knowledge of the different types of music out there. “I don’t like doof parties and all that sort of stuff and drugs that go along with them,” he says. “So I thought, the furthest away from that you can get is busking on the street at Tamworth.”

The band went to the Tamworth Country Music Festival to busk, and ended up in the grand final of the busking competition, playing on the main stage to thousands of people. Since then they’ve gone from strength to strength, appearing on the bill at festivals up and down the east coast, and winning song-writing accolades in the USA.

Mick was brought up in the traditions of jump swing and 1940s boogie woogie. “I had six sisters, and my dad and my uncle played boogie woogie New Orleans piano. Apparently I used to sit on their knee and all my sisters used to sing in the lounge room in north Sydney,” he says. He got taught a few chords on the piano and the rest is history.
Mick has had a successful and varied musical career. He’s played in bands since high school, and has been a professional musician ever since. He spent several years as the drummer for the legendary pub rock band, The Radiators, touring constantly. “Playing 6 nights a week, full houses everywhere. 1980s A Grade rock and roll, really crazy stuff,” he says.

Apart from those rock and roll days, most of the music Mick plays is grounded in jump swing. “You go out and play all sorts of stuff, but it’s always based on that,” he says. “It’s all about entertaining. Smiles on dials,” he grins. It’s how he turned himself from a drummer into a solo pianist playing in clubs around Sydney. 

“I knew how to play rockabilly piano. There was a job going at Penrith Panthers Leagues Club for $350 a night playing a grand piano. So I got that job, wearing a suit and tie. I had an hour’s worth of material, and I needed 4,” he chuckles.

That led to Mick joining the Yee Haa Boys, a country swing band who had several hits and top ten country singles with songs he had written. These days Mick has a number of ensembles that keep him busy: a big band, two duos, a jump swing/rockabilly band and solo work, as well as the family band.

“I like to keep local, because as soon as you start playing on a bigger level you’re touring, and I’ve done that all my life,” says Mick. “All that glitters isn’t gold. I’d prefer to be doing what I’m doing.”

For Mick, that means playing shows up and down the North Coast and in Queensland, and coming home to Clunes in between, where he’s now lived for 18 months. Sharon is a midwife by day and band manager by night, or maybe that’s the other way around. “That’s the big achievement, keeping everyone happy,” says Mick. “We came to Clunes, and everyone is happy.”

At the moment The Buckleys are busy working on some more songs for an album (they’ve got an EP already), as well as co-writing songs with songwriters in the USA. 

They are also looking forward to playing at the Mullum Music Festival in November this year. It’s shaping up to be a good year, and Mick is enthusiastic about what’s coming up. “I can’t help but bloody get excited about it!”

2 August 2016

Have We Met? Thomas Rehbach :: Educator, carer, hitchhiker

Thomas Rehbach has been a preschool educator, an administrator, a respite carer, a teacher, a courier, a soccer coach and referee. He’s lived in the area long enough to see kids he’s taught now becoming parents and teachers themselves.

Tom was born in Australia to German parents and grew up in Rosehill. At age 9, Tom and his brother went to live at Dunmore House, a boys’ home in Pendle Hill. 

“We got into enough trouble that we had a choice to go to one of two boys homes,” Tom says. It’s a time he remembers favourably, being part of a large family unit with children of all ages. “I think that was the best thing that ever happened to us. I don’t hold any animosity towards my mum for making that choice.”  

17 July 2016

Everybody needs good neighbours

Neighbours. You can’t really choose them, but you can choose your neighbourhood. You can try to surround yourself with like-minded people, with those who share your same values or mowing habits, but in the end it’s still a bit of a lottery.

Where we live can affect so many things besides which corner store we frequent, or where our kids go to school.  It can determine our level of community interaction, who our children play with and how many lemons we don’t need to buy. It can even shape our notions of hospitality and how we welcome others into our world.

Sometimes I don’t want to be a good neighbour. It’s not that I want to be a bad one, I just can’t be bothered being a good one.

28 June 2016

Have We Met? Jim Richardson :: Teacher, Librarian, Environmentalist, Volunteer

The son of a dairy farmer from McKees Hill, Jim Richardson started his education at a one-teacher school at Clovass. Since those early years, he has been fortunate enough to take advantage of the educational opportunities that came his way. They eventually led him out of rural New South Wales, to the city, and the wide world.  

Fast forward to the 1970s, and Jim was a scholarship student at university in Armidale. Originally aiming to become a marine biologist, Jim realised he wanted to be involved with education, so decided to become a science teacher instead. 

10 May 2016

Have We Met? Nikky Morgan-Smith :: Artist

Nikky Morgan-Smith lives in Eureka in a house tucked away on the side of an overgrown gully. It’s the house she grew up in, where her parents still lived, until Nikky and her then six-month old daughter, Morgan, moved back from Melbourne about 9 years ago. “We moved in and when it was apparent that we weren’t going to move back out, they moved out”, Nikky says, smiling.  Her parents now live in another house on the family’s 50-acre property, while Nikky and Morgan share the old house with their menagerie of dogs, cats and birds.

25 April 2016

Girl Vs Internet Logins

In the battle between saving the forests and saving my sanity, there can only be one winner.

At last count I have about 25 online accounts of varying kinds. Each has their own web address, client number, username, password, secret question, mother’s shoe size, wizard’s spell to be chanted at midnight under a full moon.

In an effort to save trees and, while they’re at it, shift responsibility, companies are constantly pushing us to access everything online. Sounds good in theory, everything at your fingertips. In reality, you’re in password hell.