Legendary guitar picker Michael Fix was at one of the very first Tamworth festivals. “The first time I experienced the Tamworth festival was in 1975, and that was also my first exposure to country music. Armed with my battered acoustic guitar, I was holidaying with my parents at Lake Keepit (an hour from Tamworth), a popular summer camping spot.” Fast forward to 2011 and Michael is one of the hottest pickers in the land.
“Soon after we arrived, I heard a band rehearsing in a caravan nearby.”
“I had to check it out – this was too good to be true! I hung around that van a while until someone noticed me and invited me inside to listen. I was in heaven – a kid in the ‘inner sanctum’ with real musicians, playing this strange new music.”
“It turns out they were called “The Capital 3 Ranch Band” – Brian Kelly, Tony Sweeney, Leon Smith, plus a female vocalist.”
“They could see I was interested, and they very kindly took me into their ‘family’. I travelled with them into town to watch them perform – at the Regent cinema, where they were playing, along with Rex Dallas.”
“It was there that I picked up a copy of ‘Capital News’, which, as it turned out, was the first ever issue. I kept that issue as a memento, and still have it to this day. That’s John Minson on the cover, in an ad for Wrangler.”
“The Capital 3 ranch band, and Capital News obviously influenced me; when I returned home to Wollongong, I immediately set about forming my own band, which I named “The Capital 4” in honour of my “ranch band” friends.”
The 1975 festival – the half page listing features a grand total of 11 events for the weekend including the regent cinema show that Michael attended. It sure looks a little different from the festival programme these days.
The next time Michael Fix came to Tamworth was in 1991, as guitar player with Graeme Connors and he has been a regular Tamworth tragic ever since.
As you can see from the clip below, Michael has some great videos on his Youtube Channel – over 50!
I’m writing a new Tamworth Festival related blog post every day between now and kickoff, so please check back tomorrow for more Tamworth tales. Read my older blog posts here. – John Elliott