In 1980 Gary received an inspiration that Shenanigans was the name for a band he was forming with his music teaching colleagues
Christoph and Audrey.
Over the next 37 years many musicians and teachers contributed to the well-established group, which still provides live bands and recorded music for a wide variety of educational and celebratory situations.
Gary remains the creative director of the group and manages the administration side. He often acts as the band leader at performances, and spends time researching and expanding the groups repertoire. He is a dancer, musician and writer of songs, mainly children’s items.
With a view to passing on the rich heritage of Shenanigans, Gary has begun nurturing ‘new’ young and talented musicians. This group aims to perform for motivated groups including churches, who seek to raise community spirit.
Merrily is a musician who loves to communicate with others through her music. After falling in love with the sound of the Shakuhachi at age 11, she began learning flute and has recently completed a Bachelor of Music Performance, majoring in flute. Singing is, however, her favorite mode of expression. Merrily has sung with her twin sister Ginger from a young age and has continued to sing with choirs such as Berwick Youth Choir, Exaudi Youth Choir, Gondwana Chorale and most recently Melbourne Singers of Gospel and Co-cheòl. She has travelled Europe and New Zealand with Gondwana, and has participated in festivals around Australia with all of her groups. These experiences have enabled her to share her love of many diverse types of music and singing with audiences and like-minded musos and she would love to continue to show more people the joy to be found in music.
Micah, Gary’s youngest son, has not surprisingly, developed a passion for playing music. But what kind of music? His interests grow before your very eyes like a bamboo shoot.
In the process of completing his year 12 in music at the Northern College of Arts and Technology, he created a neo-punk band called “pique”, and won a recording contract to produce an EP (see ShenanigansMusic.com.au for our artists CDs) which features hisperformances of his original compositions and lyrics.
Now less than a year later, while waitering in the Horn of Africa restaurant he has gleaned influences from a band that plays “Ethiopean Hip-Hop/Jazz”, he is about to debut a new band which can be loosely defined as playing “reggae” and has also taken up clarinet, no wait, it’s tenor sax! He is one to watch.
Quin is the son of Matthew a long-time performer with Shenanigans. He is currently studying at University of Melbourne. Matthew has extended and enhanced Quin’s accomplishment as a classically trained violinist with a diet of gypsy jazz , folk and improvisation. Quin has become committed to finding his own niche in the rich cultural mix of Melbourne’s world of music.
Ginger began her musical journey in choirs. From Berwick Youth Choir (now Melbourne Youth Chorale) to nation-wide choirs like Gondwana, she developed a strong love for music and the community-mindedness it creates. In 2014, she discovered folk music, complex and yet unpretentious. As a founding member of Celtic group Co-cheòl, she has played at many festivals around the country and been exposed to the best of what folk music offers – warmth, joy, understanding, and connection with the people and place. Recent friendships promise to endure for a lifetime, with a feeling that anything is possible.
The Yarra Junction Fiddler’s Convention woodpile was the setting for this interview with Maggie. We both sat on logs and I let the tape recorder run while we delved into her musical past. Later that evening, she was on stage leading the band, fiddling and calling the dances, all at the same time! She has a sound knowledge of Old Time music and dance calling but her musical ability goes further. Maggie plays O’Carolan’s compositions with a fine touch and at the recent Nariel festival she played these airs beautifully with harpist Andy Rigby. Norm Adams and Maggie published a book and double CD set called ‘Old Time Fiddle’. The book brings out her skills as a teacher as well as a player. I started playing pretty young, at nine years of age. My dad always wanted to play himself but he never had a chance because his parents couldn’t afford it so he wanted me to learn and I struggled with it for a couple of years and then it got better. He bought me a violin and I felt I had to persevere with it. The violin wasn’t my first choice of an instrument. When my parents got a piano I took to that, I was about ten. Before I started learning I was listening to string music because we lived next door to an old lady who played cello in a string quartet. She used to play double bass until her mid seventies when she found it a bit hard to carry around so she took up the cello. She used to listen to me practice and offer encouragement. I kind of gave it away when I was about twenty. I stopped having lessons. I got to the point of playing in the Monash Chamber Music Orchestra and I played with the Light Opera Company.
Terry Cole is an accomplished actor, director, musician and circus performer. He is a long term member of Circus in a Suitcase and the Famous Fratellini Brothers and is also an inspirational workshop leader. Terry has many years of experience as a performer and is well-known and loved for his work both as a multi-instrumentalist singer/musician and as a multidimensional circus performer. A short sample of some of Terry’s many performances include: * World Expo, Brisbane * Australia Festival, Istanbul * Fruit Fly 10th Anniversary Circus * Robertson’s Circus * Moomba Festival * Port Fairy Folk Festival 1995-2006 He conducts Artist in Residence programs and performs over 300 shows every year.
Multi instrumentalist, arranger and recording artist AJ Leonard is one of Australia’s pioneer ukulele players and is considered to be among the best in the world.
A baby-boomer, AJ spent his formative years in America and returned to Australia in time for the British beat invasion and the coming of age of Australian pop and rock. His desire to emulate his heroes led him to trade in his father’s tennis racket for a real guitar and this was his first step toward self-expression and a future in showbiz. A few years later, an interest in string instruments led him to mandolin, ukulele and bouzouki, closely followed by the piano.
AJ drew inspiration from the qualities of these instruments to create a pipeline of creativity, and his own unique slant slant on songwriting and composition.
David is a veteran of the music and education industries, working for over 40 years in schools and in different combos, performing everything from Jazz, Blues and Celtic to Rock and Pop, mainly in Victoria. He is principally a bass guitarist but also plays 6 and 12 string guitars, ukuleles and keyboards, and sings. He has also worked in audio/production at several venues and studios.
As a composer, David has won awards in the Labour Day Song contest, the Australian Songwriters Assoc. contest and the Unisong International Song Contest (Amnesty International). He has composed music, songs and soundtracks for St Martins Youth Theatre, the Victorian Arts Council, Training Films and music courses. He has worked as a staff writer and arranger for Bushfire Press, Melbourne-based International Performing Arts Publishers. He is currently co-writing a musical drama for performance in 2016.
Since 2006, after retiring as a classroom teacher, he continued to work in Education as a producer of school musicals, whilst also performing in small combos, in a variety of genres at venues around Melbourne and Victoria and at ukulele and world music festivals in country Victoria, NSW and Queensland.
Also in 2006, David set up his own recording studio in the Dandenong Ranges and has had many recording projects over the last 10 years including producing and arranging albums and demos, for himself and invited musicians, and for up and coming young singers and songwriters.
has been playing Bush music since he was a spring chicken. He has played guitar, sung and called bush dances in The Moondance Band, Bush Remedy, Eucalypso, The Warner Brothers and now in Shenanigans. He also has two solo albums to his credit.