"The ABC Book of Australian Country Music is a comprehensive list of all Australian country music artists who are active and successful in country music or have made an indelible impression on the Australian country music scene."
Firstly, as this is the Cowboys In Cyberspace column, let’s look at the way technology has advanced. Back then, I lived in the town of Wellingborough and wrote on a Dragon 32 machine – yes 32kb of memory, probably less than a modern day toothbrush – plugged in to an old television set. The word processor program had to be loaded in via a standard audio cassette at the start of every session and the article stored to another tape. Printers were rare, so I would catch a train, cassette in hand, to the neighbouring town of Kettering where a computer shop would make a dot-matrix printout for me, for 5 pence a page. I would then place the pages in a stamped envelope and send it by air mail to Tamworth to arrive a few days later. This time around, I can email my contribution directly from my laptop to the Capital News office in the blink of an eye. You can read the original article, at www.bobhowe.com/writer/uk85.html
Featured then was
SARAH JORY, a young lady who had already represented Britain at Scotty’s International Steel Guitar Convention in St Louis. Barely sixteen at the time, Sarah, ‘Britain’s Princess of the Pedal-Steel Guitar’ was about to become the youngest musician to appear on the main stage of the prestigious Wembley Festival. She went on to become Britain’s premier country act, winning Female Vocalist and Entertainer of the Year countless times! Fast-forward to the present, and for over three years now, Sarah has been touring the world as steel player for Van Morrison, a gig she describes as “amazing”.
The Wembley Festival is sadly no more, but a number of smaller regional festivals continue, along with the major ‘Americana’ festival that, like many similar European festivals, celebrates not only the music, but also other aspects of American culture, particularly automobiles. Some magazines have disappeared, but the mainstream Country Music People, Cross Country for the clubs and the alternative Maverick, report on the country and roots music scene. Radio coverage has diminished and CM television is almost non-existent, save for the cable station Rural TV which includes old American country music shows in between its mainstay of farming and tractor programs. Line dancing became a huge phenomenon in the UK, taking on a life of its own, outside and larger than the country music scene. Dancers still inhabit the country music clubs, catered for by DJs in the breaks and during the bands they happily recognise which dances fit the beat, even for songs they haven’t previously heard.
In the 1985 article I was pictured as a member of Barbary Coast, the band that also backed Frank Ifield for many years…
The BARBARY COAST Band in 1984
L to R: Bob, Bugsy, Robbo, Basil, Cozy
The BARBARY COAST Band 25-year reunion at the
Great North Country Music Festival near Castle Barnard, County Durham.
Watch a song from the reunion here:
L to R: Bob, Bugsy, Robbo, John, Cozy
This time I’m seen (below) in the NICKI GILLIS UK Band which also featured Barbary Coast drummer Cozy Dixon (front right) and Dave Clemo on bass (far left). Barbary Coast (the line-up that included me) enjoyed a 25th anniversary performance at the Great North Festival in Durham, prior to Nicki’s concert set.
Here’s a song from the last night of the tour…
Nicki was touring the UK country circuit as the current Frank Ifield International Spur Award winner and taking the audiences by storm! Her daily blog reveals more and you can find it via www.nickigillis.com.au
Bob talked to Barbara Morison on 2SER 107.3 FM about this month’s column and more…
Until next time, happy surfing!