Flying Emus    Flying Emus

The Flying Emus mainstay consisted of Mike Kerin on fiddle, Ian Simpson on banjo and guitar, John Kane on guitar and mandolin, Genni Kane lead vocals and guitar. Other members of the band included Hanuman Dass on percussion , Michael Vidale on bass. The band line up also included Malcolm Wakeford on percussion and Graham Thompson on bass.

The Flying Emus were one of Australia’s leading bluegrass bands from the late 1980′s. Several on the band members played in the Slim Dusty band and the Emus were formed during a six-year period when Slim Dusty had stopped touring.

1985 – Inducted into the Hands of Fame.

1986 – Golden Guitars for Instrumental of the Year with “Look Out Below” and Vocal Group of the Year with “Diamond Creek”.

1987 – Golden Guitar for Instrumental of the Year with “Emu Strut”.

1988 – Golden Guitar for Instrumental of the Year with “Jackaroo” and Vocal Group of the Year with “Auctioneer”. ARIA Best Country Album with “This Town”.

1991 - Golden Guitar for Instrumental of the Year with “Dixie Breakdown”.


·                     Look Out Below (1985) – Larrikin

·                     This Town (1987) – Flying Emu Productions / Festival

·                     Postcards From Paradise (1989) – Infinity/Festival

·                     Thank you and goodnight (1990) – Infinity/Festival

Ian Simpson - banjo, vocals

Ian was born in Fremantle in Western Australia. He started playing classical piano at 8 years of age.  At about the age of 13 Ian heard The Wreck of the Old 97 and the banjo solo by then famous folk ensemble The Seekers. He became obsessed with learning to play the banjo, and started teaching himself to play from listening to records slowed down to 16 rpm and learning out of the very few books that were available at the time.

At the age of 15, Ian met Western Australia’s seasoned bluegrass musician Jim Fisher, and before long he was playing evenings and weekends in bands such as the Outlaws and the Bluegrass Kangaroos in Perth pubs, folk clubs and taverns while he was still at school.

Ian moved to Sydney at age 21 to tour with Slim Dusty. Ian played on more than 20 of Slim’s albums and went on to appear in many DVDs and the famed Slim Dusty Movie.

In 1984, Ian was instrumental in forming The Flying Emus with John Kane, Genni Kane and Mike Kerin. This band took their version of bluegrass music to the masses winning 6 Gold Guitars at Tamworth, and also achieved an Aria award.

As Ian’s talents were continuing to develop, his musical career extended into the recording and touring scene. He played support to many high-profile Australian Country Music names such as Paul Kelly, Keith Urban, Anne Kirkpatrick, Graeme Connors, and ABC’s nationally recognised Ian ‘Macca’ McNamara from Australia All Over. He was also a member of the famous comedy/bluegrass band Sensitive New Age Cowpersons for most of its ten-year existence. More recently Ian toured and recorded with Paul Kelly’s bluegrass band The Stormwater Boys.

He won the Australian National Banjo Championships at Tamworth no less than 3 times in 1983, 1986 and 1987. He was also a member of Western Australia’s famed Bluegrass Parkway for 10 years.

Ian now resides back in Western Australia where he performs regularly with Jane Germain. They have won the Best Group or Duo Award at the WA Country Music Awards for 3 years running and in 2010 he and Jane had the honour of performing in the Australia Pavilion at the World Expo in Shanghai China which he found to be an amazing experience.

Ian and ex Flying Emu John Kane recently recorded an all instrumental CD for the ABC called The Banjo. One of the tracks from this album, Dixie Breakdown, won them a Golden Guitar at the 2011 Tamworth Country Music Festival for Instrumental of the Year.

Mike Kerin - fiddle, mandolin, guitar, vocals
Between Slim Dusty commitments, the Travelling Country Band in fact recorded three albums together, and Mike Kerin also recorded four albums with the Flying Emus during the band's six-year reign as the hottest group in country music during the 1980s, during which they took out three Golden Guitars.
Mike says he loved the years with the Emus, formed during a six-year period when Slim was off the road.
Since 1978 Mike has been a quiet driving force in the country music scene, having played for 10 years with The Flying Emus, more than 20 years with Slim Dusty’s Travelling Country Band and is currently touring with Anne Kirkpatrick.
Mike was a 2007 Golden Guitar nominee and 2007 winner of a Victorian Country Music Award, toured as a soloist with Richard Tognetti and the Australian Chamber Orchestra in June 2007.

Genni Kane - Vocals
Currently sings vocals in the country/bluegrass band "The Hip Replacements" along with Jon Wilby and Gavan Wickes.

John Kane - Guitar, Vocals
Currently produces recordings for the ABC Children Series and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. He recently released a CD entitled "The Great Australian Songbook – celebrating 100 years of classic songs for Aussie kids" which also features his sister Genni on vocals.

Graham Thompson - Bass
Born in New Zealand, Graham released his first recording at age 16, and has been in demand since then, playing for some of New Zealands’ top bands until 1989 when he moved to Australia to continue his career in both recording and performing with many high level Australian acts. Graham played bass for the highly successful Australian band The Stars between 1975-76 but was replaced by Roger McLaughlin before they actually hit the big time with their single "Mighty Rock". He also played bass for Finch, the Ray Burgess Band, Avalanche and Russell Morris and the Rubes, and of course the Flying Emus. Today, Graham is the bass player for the 70's cover band 'Scandal'

Malcolm Wakeford - Drums
He is best known as a drummer and singer in Australian bands since the 1970s. He is also a composer, producer and percussionist. Malcolm has played the drums in such bands as Rachette (with Stevie Wright, singer from the Easybeats) which later became the Stevie Wright Band and the Marcia Hines Band with whom he recorded a cover version of the Rolling Stones song “Jumping Jack Flash”.