Here’s your chance to see two fabulous performers combining their musical skill and gift of the gab in one entertaining show. Col Joye and Ian ‘Macca’ McNamara visit Port Panthers this month …
I won’t mention how long you’ve been around the music scene, Col, because it will only make you feel older than you are!
Ha ha! No it won’t!
But just in case there are a few people who haven’t actually heard of you, tell us how you came to be involved in the music industry …
Well, I learned to play piano when I was 9, until I was 14 – and I never progressed a great deal, because I never used to practice!
However, I used to love Hillbilly music at that time. I used to play it at 5 o’clock in the morning. It was the only thing I’d get out of bed for at 5 o’clock – or to walk the Greyhounds – one of the two! Then I started work at a wholesale jewellers’ place. I wanted to buy a motorbike – my mother wouldn’t agree to that. She said, “Why don’t you buy yourself a guitar, you like this Hillbilly music?” So I did!
Of course, I was always a lover of Country music until Rock ‘n’ Roll broke – Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Billy Hayley and Conway Twitty. They were all Country boys singing Country music, but it was Country music with a backbeat that became Rock ‘n’ Roll. So I slid into the niche, and it’s been my love ever since.
Has Rock ‘n’ Roll changed much over the years?
Rock ‘n’ Roll music was music with a backbeat. Rock ‘n’ Roll was really a dance! It was a dance that emanated from the Black Bottom and the Charleston in the thirties into the Jive and the Jitterbug, and out of Jive and the Jitterbug came Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Rock ‘n’ Roll is a slang word – same as the Twist – it’s a slang word for making love! But nobody sort of worried too much about that!
Rock ‘n’ Roll – the Country music with a backbeat that formed all those early hits – since then, it’s gone through many phases.
Of course, a lot of things that get talked about as being Rock ‘n’ Roll – they’re not really doing Rock ‘n’ Roll nowadays. But if they want to call it that, I don’t care!
It cleanses the soul of the dust of everyday life, so as long as it’s musical – I love it!
So that’s how you see music … as something that cleanses the soul?
Oh yes. Without music, we’d be doomed. Music and dance have always been a part of the human existence.
When you go back the early Africans, and years ago I went into parts of Papua. … they all do some kind of dance to music, albeit a heap of drums or a single stringed fiddle. Music and dance have carried us through the ages and will carry us through, no matter what is to come.
How did you and Macca get together?
Macca was a ‘Joy Boy’ – he played guitar for me as part of the Joy Boys. The Joy Boys have always been my band. Macca played guitar with me for quite some time. He’s a fine guitar player and he used to sing harmony background for me as well. But, as years go past, everybody goes their separate ways, but we’ve always been in touch with one another.
He would come by my office and we’d sit down and sing some songs, play guitar and mess about in general. Macca was saying for years, “We should go out and do something together – put a record together, or travel together.” So – I’m coming back to ‘the Port’!
When was the last time you visited us here in ‘the Port’?
The last time I was there was with ‘Long Way to the Top’ [in 2003]. I remember we got rained on! That was with a whole heap of people who had been in the industry for a long time. It was a great show! It showcased a lot of people who had been there, but who hadn’t had a hit record for a long time, but who’d had hits and were a part of the industry. It was great to be able to collect them all together.
Memories of songs are the greatest calendars! Somebody said, “What did you do in 1976?” You’d think, “What did I do?” But if you hear a song, suddenly you remember people you equate with that song, or the clothes you wore, where you went to school, whether you went to the dances, your family at that stage. ‘Long Way to the Top’ was a great calendar for a lot of people.
That was the last time I was in the Port. Before then, I hadn’t been for about 20 or 30 years.
What can you say to encourage all the ‘stay at homers’ to get out and see you guys? What can they expect from your show?
They’ll go away with a good feeling in their belly! They’ll forget all their worries for the day, and the memory will stay with them for a long time.
Thank you so much, Col.
I’ll see you when we come up. You can buy the coffee! I’ll bring the biscuits!
Hi Ian. What’s your musical background?
My father was a trombone player in the big bands in the fifties – in Sydney. He was a good trombone player, so I suppose music was all around me. There was always music in the house.
He played with a lot of great musicians in the ‘40s, ‘50s,‘60s and ‘70s. He played in the clubs and backed a lot of people like Frankie Lane and Johnny Ray, Frank Sinatra and Tom Jones when they came to Australia.
Plus, he played with the ABC Showband in the fifties. So with music all around the house, I just graduated to it in that way.
Who are some of your favourite musicians, and what types of music do you like?
I like all types of music. I grew up listening to my father’s music. He played classical music and show music, and Jazz music. And then Rock ‘n’ Roll happened! I really like everything.
I suppose I play and sing in the music of the day, and I always have. When I grew up I was listening to the Beatles, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole. I just listened to everything, because I had an ear for music, and I loved it.
I hear you were one of Col’s ‘Joy Boys’?
Yes, that’s right. I joined in the ‘70s, so I wasn’t one of the original ones. I played for Col for about a year, and we toured around. It was a great experience. I’d played in bands before that.
It’s interesting that one of the boys who’s playing with Col this time was also one of the ‘Joy Boys’ from that time. It’s good to get back with Col – I always threatened I’d walk in one of his shows one day and sing some songs! But here we are … we’re doing it together, which is really great!
So this is the first time, for a long time, that you two have performed together?
Yes. The first time we appeared on stage together was in ’73 or ’74, I think. It’ll be wonderful. I used to sing with Col then. We’d often sing some bits and pieces, and if I knew a song, Col would join in. It was a great learning experience to work with Col when I was so young. It will be good to get back – I’ll sing my songs, Col will sing his, and we’ll sing some together too, which is really good.
Obviously you’ve gone on to do a lot of other sings besides singing over the years, like ‘Australia all Over’ with ABC Radio …
My mother always said that because music was such an ephemeral thing, you’re in a job one day and out of it another day. Music’s always been like that. So, she told me I needed to get a job.
I went to university and did an Economics degree, but I graduated to radio. I liked sport, so I thought I’d become a sports broadcaster, but I joined the ABC, got into radio and became a reporter. I really like being a reporter and interviewing people.
I got the chance to go on air – and I never looked back! It’s been a wonderful experience to do a radio program that goes right around Australia, meet lots of people and travel to all sorts of places.
I’ve done concerts in lots of places too. I’ve been performing all the time since, but not as regularly as I’d like, because doing the radio program is a full-time business. I play whenever I can, so I’ve been able to combine two things I really like doing and that are really enjoyable.
What do you think the Port Macquarie audience will experience at this upcoming show?
I’ve had three or four albums out now, and I just sing a whole lot of songs – sometimes that I’ve written and that people hear on the program.
Also, I like to tell some stories, some yarns and bits and pieces. I like to get down in the audience – I hope I’ll have time, but I like to get out into the audience and talk to people.
It’s a bit like the radio program with music! And I love being there, in front of people. That’s the nice thing about a concert – it’s really a two-way thing. It’s really the performer and the audience that makes the concert – I love that interaction.
Rock ‘n’ Roll, Country songs – I love to sing, and the band is great, so it’ll be a great night.
Thank you Macca.
Col Joye and Ian ‘Macca’ McNamara will be performing at Port Panthers on 24 September, at 8pm. Tickets are $48; members $45.
Interviews by Jo Atkins.