Born to Play
Byron Bay Guitar Festival | Byron Brewery | 12 & 13 October | $50/90
Australia’s newest guitar festival is tuning up for a serious bit of shredding at the Byron Brewery 12 & 13 October, bringing some of the country’s best guitar players to the stage in one glorious weekend. The Echo spoke with Byron’s Marshall of Marshall and the Fro…
You grew up in and around Byron. What was it like, good times?
We moved to the Bundjalung at the age of 10, straight into surfing fishing and the coastal way of living. For a young grommet it was totally amazing and an absolute blessing. So many outdoor things to froth on and activities that didn’t cost a lot of money, which suited us as we didn’t have a lot of money. Guitars, surfing, and fishing pretty much made up my days as a young kid.
You were born on Friday the 13th with your dad’s guitar case for a crib and named after two blues guitar legends, Jimmy ‘Marshall’ Hendrix and Jonny ‘Dawson’ Winter. They’re big names and occurrences to live up to. How have these very early influences shaped and formed your drive, passion, and musical direction?
Yup, trippy groovy birth date, Good Friday, Friday 13th full moon. If I didn’t end up a werewolf I’d say I was destined to be a late-night musician. We had old blues music on constantly around the house; it just gets in there you know. I really love the blues. Winter’s slide playing is raw and cuts; his muddy voice still gives me goosebumps, and Jimi’s songwriting and lyrics still give me tears. Big SRV fan as well. Lately I been on heaps of Keb Mo and Taj.
You stared your first band, The Immortal Flames, at the age of 11. How was that? Were you playing in pubs back then?
My first little band was fun. We did a few supports for the local band Tokyo Joe at the old Lobster Pot in Ballina, now the slipway; it was a pretty rowdy pub back then and a good eye-opener to what we were diving into. Lucky to have such supportive parents to make all that happen.
Was music always going to be your destiny, do you think?
Music is every day, I play every day, it’s my form of church or religion. Wouldn’t have it any other way.
Since then you’ve done so much musically forming a range of bands and a consistently solid 200 gigs a year schedule with appearances at Bluesfest, Woodford, and The QuickSilver Pro, as well as receiving multiple high-profile industry awards including: Best Blues and Roots Artist at the 2012 Oz Music Industry Awards, as well as Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Male Vocal, Best Protest, and Best Blues and Roots Artist at the NECIA Dolphin Awards. What is it that continually drives your musical creativity?
Life, love, energy, experience, stories, and wacky stuff that happens on the road. It’s cool to be able to share that with the world musically. Lucky to have such a groovy vessel to express my emotions and keep me sane, grounded, and excited.
2012 presented some challenging times for you. How have that time and those experiences impacted on your music, your ‘sound’ and creative expression?
Losing my dad and a few close mates around that time was devastating, but through music I can get that sadness and emotion out. Bottling that up ain’t a good thing so again music is a great vessel to keep me grounded and a amazing way to deal with life’s curveballs, ups and downs.
For people who don’t know of Marshall and The Fro how would you describe your ‘sound’?
Honest, raw, boogie, mojo working Aussie blues.
You’re going to be playing at the Byron Guitar Festival 12–13 October. What have you got planned for the gig? Anything you’d like to let your local fans know about the show?
Lots of extended shredding guitar solos, tube screamers on 11, and P90 pickups in ya face. Can’t wait!
What else is on the cards for 2019–2020? Any news you’d like our readers around the Shire to know about?
I’m in Germany right now playing a heap of shows and really keen to take the music worldwide. We will be in the studio in a few weeks when I get home so look out for a brand-new single to drop around the time of Byron Guitar Festival.
Saturday and Sunday 12 & 13 October at the Byron Brewery. One-day ticket $50, two-day $90. byronbayguitarfestival.com.