Bendigo’s Pete Gavin is a busy man. If he’s not working with one of the four bands he’s in you’ll find him coordinating his ukulele groups on midweek evenings or teaching guitar or blues harmonica. Or working with ensembles such as DIGG. Maybe he didn’t invent the word “ubiquitous” but he’s warmly embracing it.
Pete grew up in Gippsland and Bendigo. Initially influenced by his four older sisters, “my earliest musical memory is dancing around the lounge room to The Monkees. The Beatles and The Bee Gees.” Nowadays it’s Pokey LaFarge, The Wiyos, Big Bill Broonzy. “Oh, and Dr John… this could be a never ending list actually,” he says, enthusiasm shining through.
If you’ve been to the Festival, or Festival Showcase events through the year or just stuck your head in the door of one of Bendigo’s many music venues then you’ve likely seen Pete play in the Uke Joint Jumpers, Alawishus Jones and the Outright Lies, Slap Back Jack & The Magic Eight Balls or The Tequila Mockingbirds. I know… a busy man!
“Great audiences in Bendigo,” Pete says, “open to a variety of music and eager to be entertained.”
The Uke Joint Jumpers is a many-piece ukulele ensemble who always look like they’re having fun; I’m just never sure how many of them there actually are!
Then there’s Pete’s alter ego Alawishus Jones. He plays Americana, rag and folk blues with his band the Outright Lies. Their album Hollerin’ is an atmospheric journey into hard times 1930s America; think Woody Guthrie meets Dorothea Lange.
Slap Back Jack & The Magic Eight Balls is a fairly recent addition to the Pete Gavin portfolio, debuting last November at The Exchange during the Festival. Their raison d’être is authentic ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll, playing classics such as C’mon Everybody and Brand New Cadillac. The Magic Eight Balls also features Dean Muller (Cosmic Psychos) on drums and Darren Howell (The Rockin’ Donkeys) on guitar.
Wait… there’s more. The Tequila Mockingbirds, a “cowboy swing band”. Pete is keen to emphasise they are “cowboy, not country”, adding “think black and white westerns with yer croonin’ cowhand out on the lonesome trail.”
Pete’s currently working on two records of original material with the Outright Lies and Magic Eight Balls and “another album of ukulele driven barrelhouse blues with the Uke Joint Jumpers”. Busy man indeed. And one who has a strong social conscience and community spirit: “I think the world would be a far better place if everyone played ukulele or sang in a choir.”