The Centralian advocate Fri 20 Jun 2014
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FRIDAY JUNE 20 2014 NEWS 35 V1 - CAVE01Z01MA THEY are the music men ... and they can play. From Daly Waters to Darwin, Katherine to Kings Canyon and Mataranka to the Memo at Tennant, travelling entertainers are turning on the charm and tunes to woo waves of weary wanderers. With lives packed up in big old buses, well worn RVs or old Kombis the musicians making their living in the Territorys outback drinking holes and tourist hot spots are plentiful. But many are doing more for the NT than filling a rustic old pub with a tune or two. Rod Dowsett, 51, rolled into Kings Canyon Resort with his wife, Shelly, in April and will stay until October to play to crowds at the venues outback barbecue each night. Theres no shortage of selfies being taken by grey nomads of the rugged man with a mane most blokes half his age would be proud of. Yep. They like Dowsetts music. They liked it before they got to Kings Canyon. For some, it is why they are there. Theres been people here saying they have seen me in Tamworth, Dowsett says. Weve had some people say they have followed us out here. Wherever we play, at the country music festivals, we promote where we will be travelling to because theres a lot of people travelling around who sometimes choose a destination because they like the person playing there. Dowsett has been travelling and playing seasons at outback destinations full time for the past four years. Its a great way to travel around the country, he said. Ive been all over except for Tassie and WA. Its good fun but hard work too. We broke down at the Rock a couple years ago and that hit us hard. It cost $4000 just to tow the bus into Alice to get it fixed. Up and down the track, musicians mostly those with a big brim hat and country flavour are playing to crowds of travellers. Much loved, singer song writer Ted Egan has been showcasing his musical abil ities up and down the track for 50 years and said it was exciting to see new and upcoming talents doing the same. I love performing for Territory audiences because most of my songs are about Territory people, he said. It really is pleasing to see young song writers doing their own songs and presenting them in such a professional manner, including Aboriginal artists who are more often than not performing their songs in their native language. For an old chap, who dare I say started this movement, its nice to see it progressing. Close to home performer Barry Skipsey regularly belts out tunes for local and international audiences of up to 100 people at the MacDonnell Ranges Caravan Park. Every night is different. I can often have a complete room where 50 people are in my audience, and only two of those are Australian myself included, he said. I play for a couple of hours at night, which leaves me with the rest of the day to enjoy my passion as a photographer. They look after us, feed us, water us, provide us with a music room and pay us to sing our own songs. It really doesnt get much better than that. Alice Springs bands are also making their way up and down the track, including Nokturnal an alternative Indigenous group formed in the mid-90s. Mr Skipsey said of the bands vocalist Damien Armstrong: I have only met him a few times but hes a lovely guy and a very talented musician. There are always new musicians putting up their hands and coming through. Country roads carry a tune across the Outback Travelling muso, Rod Dowsett in front of his bus at Kings Canyon Resort where he is in residence until October. Picture: PHIL WILLIAMS Theres a lot of people travelling around who sometimes choose a destination because they like the person playing there. M U S I C I A N R O D D O W S E T T Centralian Advocate editor BRYAN LITTLELY finds some fine tunes being belted out along NTs beaten tracks Damien Armstrong Barry Skipsey back in 1992
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