Craig Bakay | Jan 09, 2019
With the exception of July and August, there’s country music at the community centre in Sunbury. It’s been going on for 17 years, although it’s really been going strong for the past 10 years or so.
“The lady who started it off was Margaret Smith,” said guitar player John Kott. “They didn’t have too many people back then.”
But about 10 years ago, with the advent of Jack’s Jam in Plevna and the Bedford Jam (nee Piccadilly Jam) as well as a few others, Kott, along with fellow aficionados Wayne Eaves and Elwood Rollins took it over and it’s been a going concern ever since.
“Yeah, we’re the ‘executive,’” said Kott, laughing. “But we usually have 25 to 35 entertainers and play to three-quarters to a packed house.”
Kott, who still plays with Jeff Code’s band, said there’s a lot of reasons he keeps doing it into his ’70s.
“Well, it keeps me practised up,” he said. “I’ll keep doing it for a few more years anyways.
“But it’s a good opportunity for those who are just learning to get up and play in front of an audience.
“We’ve had one lady, Thelma McMacken, who just started at 91.”
He said any money raised goes back to the audience in the form of prizes.
“And it’s good for the mind and body,” he said. “It gets you out of the house.”
Barry and Sheila Calthorpe, who show up at many of the open mikes and jams in the area are regulars here too.
“It’s good to see everybody, it’s like a family,” said Sheila. “And we really like to encourage the newcomers.”
“We’ve encouraged all we can,” said Barry. “Some of them to the point they’re better than us.”