Gut Bucket Jug Band
Gut Bucket Jug Band
Performers above: Brent Davey, Tony Dunn, Colin Stevens, Rick Ludbrook, Bruce McNicol, Ron Davis
The Gutbucket Jug Band was formed in about 1964 by Colin Stevens, Rick Ludbrook and Rick Amor, three teenagers with a shared passion. Their love of roots music, especially of the Jug Band variety inspired them to emulate and invent their own takes on Jug classics, played by such bands as Gus Cannon's Jug Stompers, Memphis Jug Band, Dixieland Jug Blowers and many others. Arguably the first jug band in Australia (please correct me if I'm wrong), they hit the folk scene and jazz scene simultaneously as Jim Kweskin's music O/S was making the genre popular as well. Colin played mandolin, harmonica, kazoo and vocals, Rick Ludbrook 12-string guitar and vocals and Rick Amor guitar. The latter left the band when he won an art (travelling) scholarship from the Victorian National Gallery and put his musical career on hold to pursue his art. Shortly after, Tony Dunn on jug joined and Brent Davey on banjo.
Ron Davis joined as a washboard player until the band realised he played fantastic guitar. Bruce McNicol joined as well, violin, guitar, washboard and vocals. The dates when members joined and the comings and goings of various band members are a bit hazy but the group played to loud acclaim during the 60's/70's, doing the pub, club, festival, uni, protest rally, folk and jazz circuit. Marni Sheehan, guitar, mandolin, vocals and Teana (Tina) Schifferle, washboard, vocals, joined Col, Brent, Tony and Ron in 1968/9 and when Ron moved to Sydney with his work, Rick Amor rejoined as one of the new guitarists. Romance blossomed and Rick and Teana married.
A recording was made at East Studios during this time and this has now been converted to CD. Bits and pieces of tapes have come to light over the years and have been saved to disc. (If anyone has any audio/visuals or knows of any early recordings of Gutbucket the band would love to hear about them.)
Janie Conway took her two younger brothers, Mic and Jim along to a concert at the Kew Civic Centre in about 1965 and inspired by the raw, gutsy blues of Gutbucket and other roots music they heard, they formed the Jelly Bean Jug Band which later became Captain Matchbox. Mic invited Gutbucket to join the Jug Band Orchestra at the T.F. Much Ballroom where jug bands from all over Australia took part. It was an experience we will all fondly take with us to the Whispering Gums Retirement home for old musos!! When the curtains parted the packed ballroom exploded with applause, cheers, whistles, stomping etc. And as the After Dinner Moose, Peter Lillie, tapped his baton to bring the orchestra to order the crowd hushed. With a classical Beethoven intro on piano, we erupted into 'Who Walks In' and the crowd went wild!! Fantastic!
When the band split up in about '71, Col, Rick Amor and Ron were joined by guitarist extraordinaire, Jeff Burstin (his first band - later to play with Joe Camilleri, Vika and Linda, Sam See), Mark Keating, drums and John Child, vocals, percussion. They played electric blues ie. 'Jumpin' Jack Flash is a Gas Gas Gas' and called themselves 'Gutbucket'. Tony and Brent joined (not 'formed' - see Bob Elliston's comment below) a band called the Panton Hill Umbrella Club, with 'Speedy' Hampson, Paul Tarrant and others.
When Victoria celebrated its 50th Jazz Convention in 1995, Tony Dunn called Gutbucket members together again to reform for the occasion and the band slayed them in the aisles. Gutbucket are still alive and well and playing/recording better than ever. Col, Tony, Brent and Ron have been joined by Tim Shaw on reeds and Ken Farmer, washboard/percussion. Though I don't personally play with the band any more, my feeling is that they should and will be recognized by the National Folk Festival and Port Fairy in a tribute concert as significant founding members/performers of such events. If anyone would care to comment, please do so.