My call up to military service in April 1966 ended my involvement in bands in NQ. I hated the Army. However, I continued to play while in military service in Sydney and Canberra. In the early 1970s I returned home to Townsville. Music, people and interests had changed.
Figure 1: The Townsville Folk Club 1972. On stage Keith Ross Banjo, Michael Byrnes Guitar, Terry Byrnes Guitar singing Salty Dog.
A colleague Keith Ross introduced me to ‘Bluegrass’ an interest I continue to enjoy and play when possible. Keith called me over to his house one night to meet another 'Good' banjo player. I met one of the best musicians and nicest persons ever put on this earth. Terry McCarthy played, with excellence, most bluegrass instruments but excelled at the 5 string banjo. Keith built his own banjo (and case) from scratch. It was great job and the instrument served him well. He did a lot of the work under our house in Rowland Street, North Ward and at times sounded more like he was constructing a submarine. Keith left Townsville and formed a band in Brisbane called HillTop Hoedown. I last heard him playing at Dreamworld.
It is extremely unfortunate that Terry is now deceased. However, I have treasured memories of the time we played in the 'BlackRiver Bluegrass' - with Terry, Ray LeFeuvre, Jack Rush, John Sinclair and many others over the years.
Figure 2: The first time BlackRiver Bluegrass played publically. The Charters Towers Counrty Music Festival, 1974. Terry McCarthy Banjo, Mandolin and Fiddle, Jack Rush Guitar and Vocals Michael Tracey Bass Guitar and Jenny ......? Fiddle.
Centred upon Terry's deep interest and knowledge in this natural music style we had many great night playing and singing and learning at his home. We drew our music from The Carter Family, Bill Monroe, The Staley Brothers, Doc Watson and tried to emulate their playing. At home the group consisted primarily of Terry, myself and Ray LeFeuvre. However, Jack Rush, The great organiser, had a fervent interest in playing publically and we all ended up at the Charters Towers Country Music Festival.
While filling out the entry form for the Festival it was noted that participants needed to have a name for their 'band'. Of course we did not. Jack took control and said 'Terry you live and play at Black River; Why can't we be The BlackRiver Bluegrass.' And so this band now had a name. The 'The' was later dropped from the name and when we played we played as BlackRiver Bluegrass and joining Black and River together to match Bluegrass.
Figure 3: Terry McCarthy and Michael Tracey.
Equipment: Vega Banjo, McCarthy Fiddle, Fender Dreadnought, Bass Cello (at rear), Fender Precision Bass, Gibson Thor bass amplifier, Ibanez Artist Mandolin, Ibanez Artist Banjo and Gretsch Chet Aktins 6120.
Figure 4: Playing Orange Blossom Special; the Opening number for the Charters Towers Country Music Festival. John Minson 2TM Tamworth, Terry McCarthy Fiddle (McCarthy Fiddle), Michael Tracey Guitar (Fender Guitar) and John Sinclair Bass guitar (Fender Precision).
Figure 5: Terry McCarthy Fiddle (McCarthy Fiddle), Michael Tracey Guitar (Fender Guitar) and John Sinclair Bass guitar (Fender Precision).
(To be Continued)