In 1982 I collaborated with brilliant Lismore born artist Paul ‘Rainsford’ Towner in staging the (for the time) outrageous avante garde theatrical experience ‘Beach’ at the unsuspecting Rochedale Theatre in Goonellabah. I had the fascinating opportunity of creating the music score and taking a lead role. A ton of white sand was deposited on the historic little stage. It only seats 88 so despite pushing the boundaries of experimental theatre - it was a stunningly atmospheric, dreamlike mime and mixed media piece, and a long way from an amateur musical - we did get enough curious punters in the door to make for an exciting audience buzz.
A ton of white sand on the stage made for the freedom of a very physical performance - you could dive like you were at the archetypal beach that was evoked in imagery and sound. Rainsford’s imagination is vivid, challenging and erotic, and strangely beautiful.
There is nothing like the atmosphere of idealism and excitement in being part of a small theatre company attempting the impossible.
Rainsford has gone on to international respect for his work with the Melbourne based Chapel of Change experimental theatre group and recently directed the stunning hi-tech 3D / virtual reality coverage of the Korean Winter Olympic Games.
Dancer Tanya Waters starred as "Innocence" in the ground breaking surrealist theatre experience "Beach", staged at the Rochedale Theatre in Goonellabah by brilliant local visual artist and theatrical genius Paul "Rainsford" Towner in the early 80s, Innocence was completely buried in the sand (it took incredible discipline on her behalf) and later would stun unexpecting audiences by emerging in a slo-mo mime / ritual birth. It was fascinating experiencing backstage for the 1st time, Tanya Waters would spend up to 1 hour being " dressed " for this scene, to become Innocence. Being smeared with vaseline and then layers of cling wrap, continuing with vaseline and cling wrap until a couple of rolls were used up. The stage lights would slowly dissolve the cling wrap, like a chrysalis !
Rainsford was on another artistic planet for the Lismore of the time. In fact probably still is - his avante garde works created under his direction with the Melbourne based experimental theatre group Chapel of Change have been acclaimed at festivals across the world, and he directed the stunning hi-tech Virtual Reality coverage of the Korean Winter Olympics.
"Barry does Byron" - Interview with Many Nolan, Byron Echo.
Forty years ago, musician Barry Ferrier rolled into Byron Bay. It was an idyllic place – with surfie bohemian types rubbing shoulders with the old school locals. Barry has been an integral part of a growing, thriving, and always-changing music and arts scene here. It all started when he teamed up with blues harp blower, and surfing legend, Rusty Miller. Barry spoke with The Echo about the early days, ahead of his nostalgic reappearance with Rusty, at the Rails, on Sunday.
What brought you to the area? Can you describe what it felt like then? Who was here, what was the vibe?
I had been living a crazy schedule in Sydney in the 70s, performing in Jesus Christ Superstar, Joseph & The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, recording a single for RCA, an album for Alberts Music, appearing on Countdown, and supporting Ry Cooder at the Palais in Melbourne. I caught a train up to Mullumbimby for a Christmas holiday away, needing a break from the rigours of the Sydney music scene. At a NYE dance at Durrumbul Hall I met the members of a brilliant early north coast funk/rock trio, The Feelers, including virtuoso American guitarist Michael Barnes (who had come to Australia with the Nutwood Rug Band). After chatting and finding out about each other, they offered me a position in the band and a room in the musician Greg Lyon’s old farmhouse at Possum Creek. I just loved the natural beauty of the region and decided to move up here to refresh myself and to spend some time writing some new music. I’m still on that holiday 40 years later!
So how did you come to be playing at the Rails as Soft Surfing? Did you do surf numbers?
Tom Mooney had just taken over the lease at the Railway Friendly Bar, then just a tiny little bar on the Railway Station where a few old-timers used to sit. Rusty built the first section of the awning, which now covers the stage at the Rails, and I believe it was Rusty who suggested to Tom to trial putting on some music. Rusty asked me to play the debut music gig in late January 1981, and he accompanied me on congas and harmonica. We played there every weekend for a few months and pretty soon there were enthusiastic crowds coming down to bop, and the new venue never looked back. We did many gigs together after that, playing the first gig at Brunswick Pub, and also the Byron Bay Markets in the park near the Surf Club. Rusty had been US surfing champion, but though he had named us Soft Surfing, we didn’t actually play any surf music, [we played] an eclectic set of originals and covers including Tom Waits’ songs and the hits of the early 80s (though we didn’t have the big hair to go with the repertoire!). Rusty always did a cameo with the Willie Nelson song On the Road Again.
What do you think is so special about The Rails?
It is a wonderful, and probably unique credit, to have hosted live music seven nights a week for 40 years, with COVID-19 being the only thing to halt the fun. Many artists gained experience from gigging at the Rails. John Butler got his start there. The relaxed, down-to-earth atmosphere and excellent food have made it part of Byron Bay’s unique identity.
What were the happening places back then?
For many years in the 80s there was only one nightclub in Byron Bay, which was called the Brasserie and it was situated in the corner of the old Woolies car park, now known as Woody’s Surf Shack. It would open when the pubs closed, at 11pm. Most weekends I would play at either the old Surfside Hotel (now the Beach Hotel), the Great Northern, or the Rails, pack up and then go on to play a second spot at the Brasserie where my duo or trio was the resident band. There used to be a queue to get in that stretched up to Jonson Street and ‘round the corner, and we would take the door price of $3. We would rage on until three or four in the morning.
What is it about Byron do you think that has this endless attraction for newcomers?
Byron Bay itself is always, firstly, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, with great surf. The early Byron surf culture was very attractive – simple, idealistic, nature-loving and carefree. The hinterlands have such a wow factor for natural unspoilt scenic beauty. The music scene began to mature and venues like the Arts Factory (now the Brewery – I played the opening gig there too) and the early Blues Fest (which I’ve played five times) were established in Byron Bay. There was also the emergence of the counter-culture movement, inspired by the Aquarius Festival in Nimbin. Byron Bay gradually developed a reputation for its relaxed lifestyle, great culture, food, and natural beauty. Some people also have a sense that there is a ‘spirit’ to this special meeting place. So many people, like me, come here for a holiday and never leave.
Tell me about you and Rusty getting together 40 years since your first gig at The Rails… how have the rehearsals been going?
Rusty and I have been friends for 40 years, and way back when we were young bucks, my dad and I helped lay his kitchen floor. We’ve had a few reunion gigs over the years, and I maintained his website for a few years, so we’ve always had a great friendship. It will be nice to acknowledge this shared time.
What should we expect for your upcoming reunion gig at the rails?
We’ll have a bit of fun playing some of my favourites, and Rusty will provide the rhythmic feel and some great blues harp. On the Road Again will certainly feature.
This project was developed with the Nguiu community, with Barry Ferrier being invited to put together a music/video component and Tracks Dance invited to devise and direct the performance aspects. The performance dealt with the issues identified by the Nguiu community that caused the high youth suicide rate in their community. Tracks directed this movement and visual performance working closely with the community and through the Xavier Catholic Education Centre Nguiu Community. Bill Davis and Barry Ferrier produced a half-hour television show that was presented on the BRACKS community TV system.
The KUKANARRI SHOW (a traditional word that describes celebrations when the whole community comes together) featured many stories from the community, including its key dreamings and creation stories, its history since colonisation and its current joys. Tracks worked with the children in the local schools and other community groups. The performance took place in an area that was both under cover and outdoors and incorporated large puppets, images and short dances.
research difficulties and health problems occuring in Nguiu
recruit directors, musical , dance and design personell
create and rehearse show. write and rehearse anthem. Create daily Television shows.
perform kukanarri Show
survey audience and senior students for reactions
cut 20 hours of video (daily television shows) into 1 hour documentary. create video of performance
Barry Ferrier, Bill Davis, David McMicken and Tim Newth, Brian Wappett,
Students from Xavier Community Education Centre, Nguiu community members
Tracks Dance 1998
Co-Artistic Directors: Sarah Calver, David McMicken, Tim Newth Administrator: Liann Stevenson, Joelene Paterson, Bong Ramillo
I think it was 1977 that I successfully auditioned for The Astounding Optimissimos in 'Paradise: Depression Style which was the first play in Australia to be directed by the acclaimed French theatre director Jean Paul Mignon who went on to great success with Anthill (Australian National Theatre). Written by award winning Australian writer Tim Gooding (famous for the film Heatwave starring Judy Davis) this was a bizaare musical which was staged at Melbourne's legendary Pram Factory, in which I playedthe piano and my character was a Peter Allen parody - I actually danced and sang "I Go to Rio". It featured Camille Gardner (a beautiful actress and singer who died tragically in a light plane accident in Byron Bay, the day after I had a reunion lunch with her in the 80s), David Price, Elizabeth Lancaster, and Bruce Keller. Through the mists of time it is hard to recall much but I remember a scene that was some kind of choreographed cross between a ballroom dancing marathon and a dodgem cars style elimination wrestling match - if you can imagine that!
I was extremely impressed by JeanPierre Mignon's dedication, insight and cast support as a director, and he worked with me tirelessly, line by line, to help motivate and add nuance to a my eccentric part in this mad cap, surrealist comedy. It was a huge flop, despite the brilliance and passion brought to the production by the ambitious director, determined to make his mark. After several nights of virtually no audiences, some of the cast staged a boycott, which enraged the fiery Frenchman who believed in the ideals of theatre - the show must go on! - and there was a very tense standoff.
During this period I became great friends with acclaimed aboriginal actor David Gulpillil, who used to frequent a nearby nightclub that the cast from this show would hang out at, after the show.
Australian vocal and nuevo flamenco trio 'Poco Loco' existed for a single tour of Norway in 2007 after a debut gig in Australia at Melbourne's Spanish Club.
Featuring Barry Ferrier - vocals and lead guitar, Billy Miller (the Ferrets) - vocals and bass guitar, Brian Watt - vocals and rhythm guitar, percussion.
In 2007, after rehearsing through the mail, a frantic face to face session at Billy's Yarraville home, and that crazy debut gig, Poco Loco traveled to the remote island of Vaeroy in the Lofoten Islands in the north of Norway to perform at the Sjyrock Music Festival. From there the travelled across northern Norway performing 28 shows.
One of rock music's most gifted singers, Roy Orbison grew up in Texas and worked in the oil fields, dreaming of music success. He was gifted with a clear tenor that soared into an angelic falsetto, later adored the world over. After a chance meeting with Johnny Cash, he was introduced to Sun Records by this new friend, and went on to enjoy a string of hits from the late 1950's through the mid–1960s. He moved between two music styles –– up-tempo rockabilly songs . . . and dramatic ballads of isolation and longing. He was a shy, staid, almost motionless performer, his mouth barely seeming to move as he sang his songs’ poignant and often painful lyrics, with his swept back pompadour (his almost white hair was always dyed black) and a mysterious aloofness behind his trademark black, thick-lensed dark glasses Just weeks before his death on Dec. 6, 1988, Roy Orbison told Rolling Stone magazine that he couldn’t sum up his life in a paragraph, but might be able to do it through his songs. "Parts of Crying, parts of Pretty Woman, too, and Running Scared. . . . Pieces of my songs would tell the story." After his career waned he made a huge comeback with the Supergroup "The Travelling Wilberries".
Johnny Cash, the Man in Black, was a singer, guitarist and songwriter whose prolific music innovatively mixed country, rock, blues and gospel influences. Born in 1932 in Arkansas, Johnny Cash grew up on a poor cotton farm and joined the Air Force in 1950. He co-founded a band following his discharge, and within a few years Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two had scored hits with songs like "Walk the Line." Cash's career was nearly derailed in the 1960s by a serious substance-abuse problem, but his marriage to June Carter and acclaimed album Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison (1968) put him back on track. In later years, Cash joined the country supergroup the Highwaymen and went on to release a series of award winning barebones solo recordings with producer Rick Rubin. He died of complications from diabetes on September 12, 2003.
Roy Orbison first met Johnny Cash when they both performed live to air at a small Texas radio station - Roy was the lead vocalist with a rising local band who had won a resident spot on the show, while Johnny was in Texas with Carl Perkins to promote his first chart success "Cry Cry Cry". Johnny heard Roy sing and was so impressed he offered to help him get in front of legendary Sam Philips, the head of the iconic Sun Records, with the aim of securing a record contract. It was the beginning of a lifetime friendship, as the two men embarked on their unique individual wild ride to music stardom. For over a half a century they experienced a parallel journey through the highs and lows, the pressures of celebrity, personal tragedy, incredible success, disappointments and falures, come-backs and Super Groups, each attaining legendary status as towering figures of popular music, remaining close friends to the end.
Both these wonderful musical talents have left us now, and, in this fantasy show, we meet our two legends in the Waiting Room at the Pearly Gates, where they discover that they each have serious misgivings about how they will be received by Saint Peter ... ...and they begin to recount stories of their lives, both men concerned at how the excesses of their youth will be measured in the Great Big Ledger of Life...
Johnny Cash was a wildman in his youth and with a deep, dark voice and a penchant for women, drugs and drinking there is no doubt he had a devil to deal with. Roy, with the voice of an angel was a different kind of man, and that contrast in singing style and lifestyle makes for a fascinating story. It is not widely known that, at the time of Roy Orbison's greatest personal tragedy - two of his three young sons were killed when his house burnt down while he was touring the UK - Johnny stepped in to help his friend who could not face returning to the scene of his loss, and he bought the property from Roy and preserved it as a tribute to these lost innocents.
In a macabre twist, Johnny later built another house on the property and it too was consumed by fire. Thus this highly entertaining show weaves together two fascinating life stories and a series of wonderful songs which are amongst the most widely know and loved hit songs of popular music history. With both performers strong vocalists and possessing unique gifts as multi instrumentalists, this show can be presented with a cast of just two - with live musical backing (no fake backing tracks) - Slim plays double bass to Barry's highly skilled guitar in the Johnny Cash songs, and Barry plays drums & keyboards to Slim's guitar in the Roy Orbison songs.
Byron Bay based musicians Barry Ferrier and Slim Pickens met in 2002 at the weekly open mic night at a hotel in the quaint rural town of Bangalow and immediately forged a friendship and creative partnership that has endured 15 years. Throughout these years they have been performing their Ry Cooder style blues and roots music together as "Slim Pickens & Dr. Baz" and in this format they have played at the Byron Bay Blues Festival, Blues on Broadbeach Festival, the Tamworth Country Music Festival and the Gympie Music Muster, as well as hundreds of shows in pubs and clubs up and down the eastern seaboard and have released two albums, "Cactus" and "Next Time".
In 2005 and 2006 they travelled to Norway to perform at two festivals and clocked up over 60 gigs there as well as performing in London and touring Northern Ireland. They have also worked together in the rockabilly showband "the Purple Drippers" performing at the Coolie Rocks Festival and the Gympie Music Muster.
For the past few years Slim and Barry have enjoyed great success with a stage musical written by Barry on the life of Johnny Cash entitled "I Hear That Train a-Comin' : the Johnny Cash Story" which has recently returned from a sell out mini-tour, including shows at Darwin & Alice Springs Entertainment Centres, and acclaimed performances at some of the biggest venues in Sydney, (and also features their talented friends Ilona Harker as June Carter and Mark Heazlitt as Luther Perkins). Barry's ability to emulate the unique deep voice of Johnny Cash is mirrored by Slim's powerful tenor that soars effortlessly to the vocal range made famous by Roy Orbison. When they discovered that Roy and Johnny were life-long friends, it was just too tantalizing not to try to put together a new show that showcased this great story and their own friendship and equally contrasting voices.
Thus was born a new musical tribute show that weaves together the amazing story of these two legendary performers in a fascinating journey through their epic lives and their repertoire of famous and widely loved songs.
"We became like brothers, right from the start..... and it stayed that way right to the end."
How many bands, duos & musical ensembles have I played in? The time when I could count them all is long past. I formed my first band at high school with school mates Michael Edwards (piano), Leo Botham (Bass) , and Roy - name eludes me now (drums). We played instrumentals made famous by the Shadows and some of my early intrumental compositions influenced by these surf guitar hits. Later I answered an ad in the local Manly Daily and, while still at school, landed a job as lead guitarist with a local rock band - I can't remember the name of the band now - and began playing at hotels while still underage, with my Vibratone guitar and a homemade guitar amp which once sent me flying across the room with electric shock. One vague memory from those teen years was supporting Masters Apprentices at Beacon Hill High School basket ball court.
I met Sydney songwriter and UK ex-pat Roderick Morgan during my first year at the University of Sydney, who was a big influence on my songwriting and we began jamming together. I still jam with Roderick four decades later when I visit Sydney. I was about 19 when I bought a Burns Bison from Roderick's friend Keith Grey. I was asked by a guy in my psychology class at uni to play at a concert at Hyde Park - it turned out to be a very large Christian gathering - an audience of thousands in the park - and that's were I met my future wife, the extraordinarily talented vocalist Cammie Lindon, who was headlinging the show, and another singer, who also became a lifelong friend, Malcolm Smith. After that meeting Cammie and getting together with her and Roderick Morgan, she would drop around to my terrace house in Chippendale in her school uniform for rehearsals. Cammie and Roderick I began performing at coffee shops and restaurants around Glebe. We played original songs and pop covers in an unplugged acoustic style, much influenced by the harmonies of Crosby Stills & Nash, and developed a love of harmony singing. I was meanwhile studying Psychology at Sydney Uni, but fate intervened and I successfully auditioned for Jesus Christ Superstar. This fork in the road changed my life forever.
After Superstar I joined the cast of Steve J. Spears' Africa: the Savage Musical. While touring with this show Cammie Lindon contacted me and sent me tickets to a Leo Kottke Concert at Sydney Town Hall, where she, at 16, had been chosen as support act - she sang two of my original songs in her set and I flew up from Melbourne to be in the audience, a memorable event to hear my songs performed in such illustrious company.
I had formed the art rock band "Passage" with Billy Miller, Richard Kaal & Martin Falls during my years with JCS, and this was to be a precursor to the Ferrets and we recorded a single for Jon English's new label, produced by Michael Carlos. I later toured with the Ferrets as bass player. After working on some theatre restaurant shows in Melbourne at the Flying Trapeze with members of "Africa" I successfully auditioned for Joseph & the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. During this period I began working with Jeff St. John and also met Andrew Wilson the musical director of the Lindsay Kemp Company who became a close friend. Through this meeting I was engaged as co-composer for Kemp's upcoming production of "Salome". So I turned down a part in Mad Max when the company offered me a position working in Melbourne on "Flowers" at Her Majesties and later Comedy Theatres, and during this period I joined two of the cast members of Africa: the Savage Musical - Rod Freeman Smith & Glenda Lum to perform a madcap rock cabaret "Kabaratz" at the iconic Flying Trapeze Theatre Restaurant. It was there I met Colin Hay of later "Men at Work" fame. I performed with Colin at the 76 Sunbury Pop Festival and he sang the lead role on my first demo of the Howson/Ferrier opera "Squizzy".
I had met a talented unknown Chris Clark through Roderick Morgan and I began performing across Sydney in a duo with Chris, who coud do a perfect Paul McCartney impersonation, and we had a residency at Ali's Oasis in Birkenhead. Colin Hay came up to Sydney on my invitation and stayed at my parent's house in Dee Why and went to the audition for the musical "Ned Kelly" I had been offered by Faith Martin my theatrical agent in my place b ecause I felt already too committed to take up a role - and Colin won a role in that production. I remember one particular night during that period when he came to Ali's Oasis and I persuaded him to sing some songs - and his incredible voice drew people from who knows where - wthin a half an hourt the restaurant was full of people mesmerised by his talent.
A few years later, Chris, Cammie and I got together again with Roderick Morgan (Old Man Crow) to perform "the Milky Way Cabaret" at the Flying Trapeze in Melbourne. Out of this I formed "Skeleton Crew" with Cammie and the rhythm section from Sasha -Peter Leighton & . Skeleton Crew became very popular around Sydney venues and headlined at UNSW Roundhouse supported by the Iva Davies group confusingly known as "Flowers' who went on to great success as Icehouse. I had secured a contract at Alberts of record my Magical Frank musical in collaboration with librettist Frank Howson and Ted Albert began to mentor me and produced and engineered th album. Skeleton Crew later recorded a single at Alberts King St studios with Bruce Brown at the helm, which was never released and we then went on to tour north Queensland with a residency in Rockhampton, finally arriving in Billinudgel on the North Coast - (which region was later to become my home) where we played a residency in a truck stop for three months, till a flood intervened. We were then offered the ooportunity by Rodney Bain to play the music for a revival of Africa at the Victorian College of the Arts theatre in Melbourne.
It's hard to recreate the faded chronology, but during my season with Joseph & the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat I also formed a band with Malcolm Smith and a drummer named Alex (now living in Nimbin) - we began rehearsing with John Paul Young but then instead went on to back Phil Jones (of Phil Jones & the Unknown Blues and who later reaching massive European prominence with the psychedelic rock outfit Quintessence) as the Shiva's Fire, playing regularly at the legendary French's Winebar in Oxford Street, the legendary Bondi Lifesaver and a whole range of gigs in Sydney & Newcastle. There is a dim memory of us backing the wonderful vocalist Dobie Grey who was touring Australia in the 70s, at a Double J concert. I worked with Jeff St. John & Sasha for two years. I was playing the headline with Jeff at Cheqeurs the very first night Cold Chisel played (as our support) in Sydney. An astonishing vocalist, who was disabled by polio and sang from a wheelchair with a powerful voice and dramatic fair, Jeff was highly competitive and would beat me at every game - cards, chess, scrabble when we travelled to overnight gigs in Newcastle. He would pick me up in his modified EH Holden station wagon with hand controls.
I had had a brief stints backing Gordon Waller of "Peter & Gordon" fame, who was in Australia to play the Pharoah in "Joseph & the Åmazing Technicolour Dreamcoat" (I was a cast member).
Let's jump ahead (I'll fill in the gaps later) to 1980 when I travelled to Mullumbimby to visit friends and have a break from my hectic music life. I went to Durrumbul Hall on NewYears Eve featuring a three band (Michael Barnes, Gordon Heazlewood and Carl...) called the Feelers .
Barry graduated with a Bachelor of Arts form the University of Sydney majoring in Psychology in 1974. He completed a Diploma of Music Composition under Dr. James Penberthy and Richard Mills at Southern Cross University in 1984. He began lecturing in Music Business and tutoring in guitar at Southern Cross University in the mid eighties and graduated with Bachelor of Letters (Honours) from Deakin University in 1987. In the 90s Barry Ferrier was appointed Assistant Professor of Multimedia at Bond University on Queensland's Gold Coast,where he also lectured in the School of Film and TV in Video Production and Music Video. He has held lecturing positions in multimedia and music at Griffith University at Southport, Southern Cross University in Lismore and for three years at Central Queensland University. He has also taught multimedia and graphic design at Kingscliff TAFE for five years and the School of Audio Engineering in Byron Bay. He began studying for his Doctor of Philosophy in music and Southern Cross University but two years work on his thesis was destroyed in a housefire in 1994. He later began a new PhD project focussing on the emerging multimedia art technology which he completed through Southern Cross University in 2007.
Multimedia as Meta-Art:
The processes and aesthetics of interactive digital art. A folio of Original Multimedia and Supporting Documentation
We are passionate about what we do. We simply love what we do.
+61 2 6687 1594 or 0405 788 433
P.O. Box 8 Bangalow 2479 Australia
Dr. Baz has won six N.C.E.I.A. "Dolphin Awards" including Best Blues Artist and Best Jazz Artist
Award Winning Composer
"Barry Ferrier has designed over 200 websites and with a stint as Professor of Multimedia at the Gold Coast's prestigoius Bond Universityand a PhD in Mulitmedia he has the experience and qualifiactions to help with any corporate media design project."
Graphic Design Skills
Barry Ferrier has written and stars in a music theatre production based on the life of Johhny Cash entitled "I Hear that Train a-Comin' - the Johnny Cash Story".
The Johnny Cash Tribute Show
"Dr. Baz performs original & clasic blues music with local legend blues Peter Claydon, as "Pete C. & Dr. Baz", kicking off with monthly residency at Mullumbimby Ex-Serviceman's Club"