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Wendy Jackson

Originally from Sydney, Wendy was always obsessed by her love of music and singing. Her original mentor, the lovely Alan Rigg (well known Sydney guitarist / luthier/ technician) and cousin to her best friend at school, taught her her first guitar chords at 14 and basically she has never looked back.

Winning $1000 at Airport Hilton Staff Talent Quest (in fancy dress)

Determined to follow her musical dreams, she won $1000 in a talent quest around the age of  21, called Alan Rigg and with his help bought her first P.A. She then set about starting her first musical duo with local guitarist, Mark McGuire. They began working around Sydney and spent a winter season living and performing in the NSW snow fields and the east coast of Australia, spending time in the Whitsundays performing in resorts.

After this, Wendy started seeking the experience of playing in bands. She hooked up with some older more experienced Sydney musos and played for a few years in different incarnations of rock / rhythm and blues style bands.

Having deferred study and travel to focus on music, it was then time to head O.S. Carting her guitar with her to Spain, she worked at the World Expo in Sevilla in 1992. Here she met a whole tribe of Aussies from different parts, many of whom remain firm friends today.  She was recruited for one of the ‘Kangaroo Pub’s’ three bands performing daily for thousands of international visitors at the expo venue.

Performing at World Expo, Sevilla, Spain

The bands played good ‘ol rock’n’roll’, and ‘Australiana’ with a healthy dose of banjo, dobro, mandolin and fiddle and featured the talents of David Lee (Brisbane) and Andrew Clermont (Tamworth) on the fiddle, Peter Ella (Cairns) on guitar and mandolin, Peter Deakin (Sydney -Jon English band) on keyboards and many more talented Aussie musicians. Though she didn’t realize it at the time, Wendy was being introduced to bluegrass instrumentation and a style of music she couldn’t even put a name to back then.

Following the Expo, there was a period of travel through Morocco, Spain, and on to the Ski Resorts of Andorra. Wendy had purchased a vehicle and a P.A. and initially embarked on playing a duo with Peter Deakin on keyboards. Following his departure, she began playing solo guitar and performing in bars in the ski fields as well as joining a local band of ski instructors called the ‘Ski Animals’.  More travel – France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Egypt – and back to the Costa Brava in Spain for a summer of duo performance with Gerry, the English guitarist from the Ski Animals (who spoke pretty good Spanish).

Returning to Sydney, for a year of completing studies and then relocating to Melbourne, Wendy spent a few years doing solo work in resorts around Australia: – Thredbo Alpine Resort; Ayers Rock Resort and Hamilton Island

Performing solo at Hamilton Island

– before accepting an offer to work with Andrew Clermont and Peter Ella at a Taiwanese theme park, playing bluegrass music – in the ‘Wild West’! Prior to this, Wendy had never played in the style, so some quick learning was on the agenda. Shows 6 days a week, 3 – 4 times a day, quickly helped get that on its way.

Leofoo World Adventure Park in Taiwan - with Aron and Daryl

Returning to Melbourne, Wendy embarked on some more study, acquiring a Grad Dip Ed to allow her to supplement her musical work with teaching. After only a year of teaching (“God, what was I thinking?”) Wendy returned to Taiwan for another round performing at the theme park, this time with Daryl Melbourne and Aron Maclean; and some travel in China, followed up by 6 months of English teaching in Taiwan.

By this time, Wendy was finally starting to take a more serious interest in Bluegrass Music. After initially joining a county/bluegrass band on her return to Melbourne, she started a duo ‘Sweet Pickings’ with guitar/mandolin picker Maurice Clark and started to learn about the small but vibrant bluegrass/old timey community in Victoria.

Maurice introduced her to numerous artists in this style of music – Doc Watson; Tony Rice; Sam Bush; Gillian Welch; and tried to explain the term ‘old timey’ – and from there the flood gates were open to another world of music which continues to influence Wendy today.  For a girl that loved to dance, a natural progression seemed to follow into the world of Western Swing, or should we say ‘Texas Swing’ – Bob Wills, Elana James and the Hot Club of Cowtown; and retrospectively many of the old jazz and swing bands from the 20s and 30s.

Wendy then formed, ‘The Stringbeans’ in Melbourne

Stringbeans performing at the Harvest Festival at Hanging Rock

– a band featuring a cross-section of styles covering bluegrass, country blues and swing, with guitar, double bass (Mike Miller / Don Gula), fiddle (Will Manovel), mandolin (Leo Kahans) and eventually the fabulous banjo of Kiwi player, Geoff Wright. The Stringbeans performed around Melbourne and a variety of music festivals for about 3 years. In 2008, with a focus on sharing her love of these musical styles, Wendy began helping co-ordinate the Kelly Country Pick and in 2010 facilitated the running of the Kelly Country Pick Music Camp.

Currently back to performing as a duo, and travelling again, Wendy is now playing double

Playing double bass at the National Folk Festival for the Blue Grass Souls

bass and mandolin along with guitar. 2011, saw Wendy’s 1st trip to the
U.S. taking in a music camp, concerts and festivals in Virginia, Tennessee and
North Carolina. She can’t wait to go back!!

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