It was an advertisement Shaz placed on Gumtree that started it. “Wanted: Intermediate to advanced guitarist to work with singer on folk and Americana songs for performances around campfires and festival blackboards.”
The responses were numerous (more successful than internet dating!) – and shortly after Peter O’Brien and Shaz formed a duet and started rehearsing a few songs every second weekend.
The vague ambition to perform eventually was suddenly accelerated when Shaz was invited to perform a song at a Pete Seeger Tribute concert at the Merry Muse Folk Club, and she asked Pete to join her. Just 10 days later they stepped on stage. Pete on guitar and vocals, Shaz on banjolele and vocals, and an arrangement of Wayfarin Stranger hastily worked out as a favour by Shaz’s teacher, ex-workmate and friend, the Australian folk legend and multi-instrumentalist Dave O’Neill.
A more ambitious idea was born from this first little performance. “I always wanted to be in a band,” said Pete to Shaz that afternoon, “I just don’t really know any muso’s the right age or skill level.”
Shaz knew exactly who she needed to talk to in order to connect with others at the same level… because…she figured they’d probably also be adult students of a certain Dave O’Neill…..
And thus Simon Fisher on mandolin and bouzouki, Maz Wylks on fiddle, guitar and vocals, Janine Foster on fiddle, and Ros Hales on banjolele, guitar, vocals and percussion joined Pete and Shaz and began rehearsing together, and then performing. They have done gigs at Major’s Creek Folk Festival, the Turning Wave Festival, National Folk Festival, the George Harcourt Inn, and the Merry Muse Folk Club.
Dave O’Neill isn’t IN the band. He’s been the go-to-expert, mentor, teacher, arranger, musical director, coach, conductor, cheerleader and supplier of inspiration and lots of laugh’s. He’s helped the band work out harmonies, rhythms and grooves, and provided technical advice. He sort of hatched, tended and nurtured the band…..and has helped them further in two and half years than many bands get in ten. The band decided to call themselves O’Neill’s Folly to tip their hats to him, and to have some of his magic rub off on them.! We think it’s working! 🙂