Q&A with Barkers Vale Brothers
GARETH BJAALAND is a very busy man playing banjo for Barkers Vale Brothers (with his brother Vaughn Davies) and performing with Norpa in Open House (with his wife and son - see page 23). On Saturday, November 19 however it's all about bluegrass as he jumps on stage in Kyogle. He took some time out to talk to CASSANDRA TOBIN.
Tell us about Barkers Vale Brothers... I know you're brothers but when did you start playing together?
We began playing together about three years ago; Vaughan had been playing music for a few years and I thought it would be nice for him to learn the guitar parts for 10 bluegrass banjo tunes so we could do a bit of busking. We were very well received so we just kept going.
Who have you been influenced by?
We are quite influenced by classic, traditional bluegrass like Bill Monroe (the father and inventor of bluegrass), Flatt and Scruggs and The Stanley Brothers but also incorporate some elements of jazz and roots music.
There's a 10-year age gap between you and Vaughn, has it ever affected the style of music you've wanted to play?
Yes, he likes to do some rapping, but I don't encourage it.
How does your theatre background come in handy when playing as the duo?
Well, I suppose being confident performing in front of a crowd makes us talk more with the audience than most groups, and we also have some plans and ideas for a live bluegrass and old time radio show where we broadcast live in front of a crowd in the style of radio shows from the 1920-50's.
You have an album out, Volume One - have you had a good response from it so far?
Yes, our album has been selling well and we have had good feedback from many fans, we're ready to make another one now though, we think we've improved our sound since then.
You have a third member for the next Kyogle gig, Nirvana George Glassey, how did this come about?
Nirvana is an old mate of mine; we studied at the Lismore Conservatorium together.
Another bluegrass family the O'Donnells are also on the bill. Is there a family rivalry or do you think it will turn into a country jam between the two families?
We are hoping for a major duel! And if we can't sort out who's boss with our instruments then we may have to put them down and settle things the old fashioned way (just kidding, of course there'll be a lovely big jam).
What's next for The Barkers Vale Brothers?
Next year we would like to travel to America, as it's the home of bluegrass and old time music, learn some hot licks from the masters and then come home to record another album. If you like you can follow our adventures on our facebook Page of
Barkers Vale Brothers and the O'Donnells play at the Kyogle Showground on Saturday at 6.30pm. Tickets $20/15/10 at the door.