Dobe NEWTON (1996)

Dobe Newton

1971 - A group of Melbourne university students gathered to share their love of traditional music, little did they realise that they were establishing a musical ‘institution’.

Having established residencies in Melbourne pubs, the band’s attention quickly turned to Europe where two of their great influences - Fairport Convention and Planxty were leading a folk revival.

1974 - Took off to try their luck. The next 8-10 years were split between extensive tours at ‘home’, and 5 European tours from the band’s base in London. Their debut LP ‘The Shearers’ Dream’ reached No.1 on the Melody Maker Folk Chart. The combination of traditional instruments, electric guitar and bass and the unique percussive drive of the lagerphone, meant they rocked like no other folk band!

Late 70s and early to mid 80s saw the band’s self-promoted Bush Dance Spectaculars attract 2-3,000 people to Town Halls and major venues throughout Australia. The impact of this dance phenomenon saw a single from their (Gold) ‘Dance Album’ reach the No. 14 on Melbourne’s leading commercial Pop/Rock station!

With the addition of drums in 1980, the Bushies entered musical territory previously unexplored in Australia.

The band released two Australian Song Books and two dance books and albums which - to this day, hold sales records. No Aussie school could do without them.

1981 – “Adopted” by country music fans. Golden Guitar for Instrumental of the Year with “Flying Pieman”.

1983 – Mo Awards for Country Group of the Year.

1986 - Mo Awards for Country Group of the Year.

1988 - Mo Awards for Country Group of the Year.

The band’s constant search and reputation for musical excellence saw them attract some of Australia’s best - drummers Robby Ross (Goanna) and Freddie Strauks (Skyhooks), guitar legends Tommy Emmanuel, Steve Housden (Little River Band), Tim Gaze (Ariel, Rose Tattoo) and bassist Pete Farndon who went on to international fame with The Pretenders.

1995 - After decades of relentless touring, the band decided to take a break from the road. The national broadcaster - ABC, marked the occasion with a 1-hour TV special “The Last Dance”. The band continued to record and performs at major festivals and events.

1996 – Inducted into the Hands of Fame.

In 2007, the band realised a long-held dream, travelling to Nashville for the Australian Festival. The combination of Australian songs and subject matter and Celtic-influenced music proved just as popular with Americans as it had with European fans 30 years earlier!

Dobe Newton - the man in the crazy custom made suits confesses to always being a singing ‘dag’ who the late 1960’s Dobe was saved from his university studies and real life plans to be a lawyer by a bunch of Irish folkies who introduced him to the Dubliners. He was handed a lagerphone and a tin whistle, and bush music nestled in his bones.

In 1972 Dobe joined The Original Bushwhackers and Bullockies Bush Band, The band quickly established ‘legendary’ pub residencies in Melbourne’s inner north, and soon turned their attention to the folk revival that was sweeping Europe, led by English folk/rock bands Steeleye Span, Fairport Convention and The Albion Band, all featuring the cream of traditional players in new and exciting electric music experiments.

Five European tours over the next seven years, which saw the band establish a significant reputation and fan base as energetic, skilful interpreters of a unique Antipodean version of the Anglo Celtic tradition. The musical influences encountered and the lessons learned from a decade of touring, had made Dobe determined to establish the Bushies at the forefront of Australia’s contemporary music acts.

After more than a decade of life spent almost entirely touring Australia and Europe, Dobe’s thoughts turned to home and hearth – more particularly, to the matter of raising a family.

Running workshops, conferences, seminars and organising gigs in WA and Victoria reignited the passion for education, and Dobe accepted an offer to join the teaching staff offering Australia’s first TAFE course in Music Business.

Dobe’s commitment to the growth of Australian Music saw him as a member of the CMAA Board and Executive for 10 years, to the planning and establishment, and development of the Australian College of Country Music.

Remember the target ads in the 90’s with that home-grown voice? Dobe’s voiced the multi-award winning TV and radio ad for sixteen years and can still be heard being ‘friendly’, ‘sincere’ and proudly Australian for a variety of products and causes.

Dobe continues to do what he loves best - belting the hell out of the lagerphone more than anything else he can think of – well, just about anything!

1999 -  Bush Laureate Award for Album of the Year with “The Best Songs and Stories of Australia”.