Terry Bennetts

I was born on the 8th 0f June 1950 and raised in Kendenup in WA’s South/West on a Dairy/Sheep/orchid farm with two older brothers and a younger sister and brother. Life on the farm was hard work but the home was always full of music with my dad Bill playing the squeeze box, banjo mandolin and harmonica and us kids all learned to play instruments from guitars, piano accordion, drums and piano. As with most farms everyone pitched in and had their jobs to do from milking cows, picking apples, chopping wood, shearing etc and along with those jobs I also helped with feeding the family by catching rabbits everyday which also fed the farm dogs.

I was fascinated with the guitar and I even went into my dads workshop and cut a guitar shape out of plywood and would pretend to play it. Then one day Slim Dusty came to play in the town hall and I couldn’t take my eyes of the fella picking on his guitar (Would have been Bazza) and I knew what I wanted to do. I then hounded my Mum and Dad to buy me a guitar and was given one for Christmas at the age of thirteen and fell in love with it and played it every day for as long as my fingers would let me (the callouses soon built up). My early guitar hero was Hank B Marvin and soon learned to play a few Shadows tunes and also learned some chords to sing along to. I started to write songs at fourteen but had to admit they weren’t all that good but it set me on a course for my future song writing.

As I had two older brothers I couldn’t stay on the farm which was a bitter blow to me for all I ever wanted to be was a farmer so at fifteen I left home and travelled four hundred K’s away from home to start an electrical apprenticeship. I joined a band soon after and played all sorts of music over the next twenty years from Rock and Roll to country and started writing a lot over that period which were only ever country songs or instrumentals.

I met Jenny (who was a work mates little sister) when she was thirteen and I thought she was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen (though a little young for a sixteen year old) and I started taking her out in my old FJ when she had just turned fifteen. We were married when Jenny turned nineteen and before we knew we had a house full of kids with a boy and three girls, all blue eyed, blonde headed and I have to say life was pretty damn good to us back then. We started an electrical contracting business when I was twenty nine and that soon built up to three business’s so life was very busy and I didn’t have time to play in bands anymore but still continued to play my guitar and write songs.

In my forties the song writing seemed to really take off and I was continually coming up with new songs and started entering them into competitions and won my first award in 1998 for best WA blues song of the year (which was a surprise for I only ever wrote one blues song). Things changes a lot for me when I won Best WA Country song at the Boyup Brook festival in 2001 and I had to get up on stage for the first time in about fifteen years and sing the winning song which was pretty nerve racking for me. After the awards I was asked to perform at a few venues but coming from a back ground of always playing in bands I was not comfortable being on stage singing by myself and that is when Jenny asked me if we should do it together. I jumped at that as Jenny always had a beautiful voice and was a natural harmony singer so we performed together for the first time at the Boyup festival in 2002 where we also won the song writing again that year. After that we bought a PA and started doing some local gigs and expanding our song list doing our own songs and Bush Ballad covers and we also made a five track demo CD to sell at the gigs.

We continued to do very well at the song writing awards and in 2005 we released our first commercial Album ‘The Soldier With His Banjo’ and were very surprised at how well the CD was received by the public and also by the radio  stations  all over the country who played our songs. The Album won best Australian EP and the title track took us to the Golden Guitar Awards in Tamworth 2006 for the Bush Ballads category finalist. We didn’t win but a week later Jenny won Best Female vocalist at The Bungendore Bush Ballad Awards which was a huge thrill for us both and an award Jenny always cherished. By this time we had sold off all our business’s and we decided to concentrate on our music and started touring and taking our music to the rest of Australia. We released ‘The Good Old Days’ in 2006 picking up multiple awards and then released ‘Songs Of Our Land’ in 2008 to equal acclaim with four entries into the TIARA awards winning the Bush Ballad Section and three WA awards for Best Single and Album plus Best Male artist. As well as recording our songs on our albums we also gave many of our songs to other country music artists to record as well which was a something we took a lot of pride in.

In 2009 after a five month tour of Australia with Jammo and Alisha we came home to the news that the melanoma that Jenny have cut off her in 2006 had flared up again and I lost my beautiful darling girl on the 8th of April 2012 which was the saddest day of my life.

In 2013 I was asked by Evan Platschinda and Ginger Cox if I would record another Album each for them in my Red Dog Recording Studio so that got me back into recording mode again and after releasing those two CDs I decided to start work on a new recording for myself. I had a lot of songs that had been kicking around for some time that I and also Jenny had written so I chose nine vocal and three instrumental tracks and then on ANZAC day 2014 I released my ‘Mateship’ Album and am very pleased with how the CD has been received around the country by the radio folks and in general. The instrumentals are doing very well for me with picking up the Best Instrumental at the Gidgee Coals Bush Ballad Awards in Nov. 2014 and then immediately after that finding out that the track “Riders of the Kimberley” has made the finals in the CMAA Golden Guitar Awards. So I headed off to Tamworth in Jan. 2015 for another round of gigs by myself and also with the Band of Mates.
I didn’t win the Golden Guitar but picked up some Instrumental and Song writing awards so didn’t come away empty handed from Tamworth.

Although I mainly write by myself I also teamed up with a mate of mine Keith ‘Cobber’ Lethbridge who is an exceptionally talented Bush Poet and we have had a lot of success with the songs we have written together picking up song writing awards and also having other artists recording our songs as well. Dale Duncan recorded ‘The Old Camp Oven’ and in 2016 took it to the top of the CM Charts where it stayed for three weeks so thanks to Dale. Dale also had a lot of success with a song I wrote with Keith Jamieson called ‘Slim Dusty Rose’ which also went to number one on the CM Charts.

In August 2015 I proposed to Virginia Hansen in Broome and we were married on the 12 of December 2015. A week before that we headed off to Sydney for the Australian Song writing Awards where I picked up Best Instrumental award for ‘Riders Of The Kimberley’ and shared a best live performance award on the night as well. The ASA certainly know how to put on an awards night and we came away with some great memories.

I had been working on a follow up album for some time and released ‘the ‘Salt Of The Earth’ in July 2016 and had the official release at the first Nambung CM Muster in October that year. The Nambung Festival was started by Station owners Brian and Gloria White and Myself and Evan Platschinda and the success of it took us all be surprise and it was very quickly decided to hold another in 2017. We had Jeff Brown and a host of WA artists and bush poets and the 2017 festival will have Tom Maxwell and Laura Downing.

‘Salt Of The Earth’ has been very well received and picked up quite a few Instrumental and Songwriting Awards including the Australian Song writing Awards again for Best Instrumental with ‘Turquoise Bay’. On a personal note I sold the Bush property in Gnangara where I had lived for over twenty years and Virginia and I bought a home in Kallaroo which is near the beach North of Perth. It has a big spare room where I have moved my recording studio into and as I write this I am about three quarters of the way into my first Instrumental Album.

In February 2012 Myself, Evan Platschinda and Ginger Cox played together for the first time as a band at the Boyup Brook CM Festival and the different vocal and guitar styles all worked very well together so the ‘Band Of Mates’ was formed and we have been touring the country and playing at festivals ever since. We still perform as solo artists as I live in Perth, Evan lives in Victoria and Ginger hails from Broome in the Kimberley but we still manage to get together many times a year to do our band shows.

 

Copyright © Terry and Jenny