Terry Bennetts

TERRY BENNETTS – MY LIFE (SO FAR)

I was born on the 8th of June 1950 and raised on a Dairy/Sheep/Orchard farm in Kendenup in WA’s South West to Bill and Mavis with two older brothers and a younger sister and brother. We were a very musical family and every one of us kids played an instrument from accordions, piano, guitars and drums. Every once in a while dad would get a rush of blood to the head and he would bring out his mouth organ, banjo mandolin (Which I still have) and accordion and play up a storm then put them all away in the cupboard again until next time. My Granddad and Nana also lived on the farm a short walk away and they were also into music. Granddad had a beautiful tenor voice and Nana played the piano very well and would play the old traditional music as well as the modern music of the day.

My dad was a tough bushman and was pretty hard on us boys but instilled into us a work ethic and honesty that has served me well throughout my whole working life. We all worked long hours on the farm and when the school bus dropped us home mum would make me a vegemite sandwich and a cup of milo then off to work. I would chop a load of wood for the fires, check my rabbit traps and then go and help milk the cows and it was usually dark by the time we arrived home for tea. On the weekends we would be picking apples and stone fruit or be shearing sheep or doing a hundred other jobs that always needing doing on a farm. About the only time we had off was to either play footy in winter or tennis in summer, both of which I loved playing and was reasonably good at.

My musical journey started when I was around twelve when mum took us all into town to see Slim Dusty. I had no recollection of ever seeing a guitar before that time as we had no TV and no one we knew had one so I was in awe of this man playing and singing and was equally taken in by Barry Thornton picking away as well. The next day I went into dad’s workshop and cut a piece of plywood into the shape of a guitar and would pretend to play it and sing my heart out to the open paddocks much to the distress of our livestock. At thirteen for Christmas my folks bought me an acoustic guitar which I played every spare moment I could and dreamed of one day being on stage playing and singing. My first guitar hero was Hank B Marvin so I would pick a few of the Shadows tunes (Badly) and also learnt some chords so I could sing along to songs I heard on the wireless. My first time on stage was when I was fifteen and played a couple of songs at our end of year school social with another class mate. I remember one of the songs being ‘Wooden Heart”

 

At fifteen I left home and moved to Perth to start my electrical apprenticeship and being a very shy country lad back then I was totally daunted by being away from family and familiar surroundings but things turned around when I joined a band just before turning sixteen. My guitar playing and singing improved greatly in that first year and so that was the beginning of nearly twenty years of playing in various bands with some fine WA musicians. I can still remember the very first tune that we learnt in the first band and that was the Shadows ‘Apache’ which I still play to this day and recorded on my ‘Guitar Picker’ Album.                                                                                                                                                                         I started writing songs pretty much as soon as I started with the guitar but I didn’t think they were very good but I persisted and wrote quite a few in those band years and they were always 100% country songs.

I started taking out Jenny in my old FJ Holden when she was fifteen and we married and had four beautiful children, a boy and three girls who are all good singers/musicians and songwriters so the music will carry on down the family.

When I was in my mid thirties I stopped playing in bands to concentrate on our electrical contracting business but continued to play the guitar, sing and write songs but things turned around for me in 1998 when I entered a Country song and my one and only Blues song into the WAMI Music Awards and both were nominated and I won the Blues Song of the Year. Up to that time I had felt my song writing was passable but that win gave me a belief that I could be a genuine songwriter.

Then in 2001 I picked up Best WA Country song at the Boyup Brook festival and I had to get up on stage for the first time in about fifteen years and sing the winning song to a huge audience which was pretty nerve racking for me. After the awards I was asked to perform at a few venues but coming from a background 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 I also won the song writing again that year. So that was the beginning of the Terry and Jenny duo and 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 I signed a contract with a Tamworth Publishing Company and we were very proud to then have our songs recorded by other country artists and to date the tally is over forty songs. We had always had a recording studio at home and in 2005 we produced and recorded 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 seemed to like our West Aussie brand of Bush Ballads. 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.

In February 2012, myself, Evan Platschinda and Ginger Cox played together for the first time 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 near Perth, Evan lives in Victoria and Ginger hails from Broome in the Kimberley but we still managed to get together many times a year to do our band shows until recently when the virus cut that short.

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

I did very little musically for a while but then I was asked by my fellow ‘Band of Mates’ Evan and Ginger if I would produce and 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 did 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 a 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 in 2014 I 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 many 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. Our biggest success was for ‘Station Minderoo’ which Dale took to number one on the charts and we picked up Best Bush Ballad and Song of the Year at the 2019 TSA Awards. Dale also had a lot of success with a song I wrote with Keith Jamieson called ‘Slim Dusty Rose’.

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 ‘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, Evan Platschinda and myself and the success of it took us all be surprise and it was very quickly decided to hold another in 2017 with the best of the West country artists and Bush Poets and some artists from the East as well. We will be holding our sixth Nambung Muster in October 2021.

‘Salt Of The Earth’ has been very well received and picked up quite a few Instrumental and Song writing Awards including the Australian Songwriting 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 very large spare room where I have moved my recording studio into and recorded my first Instrumental Album ‘Guitar Picker’ and released in 2018. We are blessed to have some of the best musicians in Australia living in the West notably Ian Simpson on Banjo and Dobro, Lucky Oceans – Pedal Steel and Mark Donohoe on Bass to help me out on the recordings. The ‘Guitar Picker’ Album was a huge success for me as a lot of folks had been asking for an Instrumental Album for some time.

In between recording Albums we go touring and spend at least three months every year travelling and taking our music to the Pilbara and Kimberley which holds a very special place in our hearts and we have written many songs inspired by the people and the land up there. A good chance to catch up with my old mate Ginger Cox and play a few shows together as well.

In 2020 whilst in lockdown I finished recording my latest Album ‘A Fortunate Life’ and had immediate success with my first single release ‘Welcome to Australia’ spending three months in the CM Charts with six in the top ten but fell just short of reaching Number one. I was pleased to get two TSA nods and have three Bungendore nominations so we will see how we go with it.

2021 has seen the music industry ramp up a bit here in the West so looking forward to getting out and playing a song or two and hopefully we will get some of our festivals back on track as well.

All in all life has been pretty good to me with a lovely wife and family and good mates and as long as I can still write a song and pick on my guitar then hopefully it will continue down that track for many years to come.

 

 

Copyright © Terry Bennetts Music