“We weren't always Aussies. Our music was born in the pubs of Ireland and the music halls of England, matured on the convict ships and jails of a new land then given the freedom of the new continent. It was tempered with the adversity that only the men who carried their swag could understand”
By taking the music out of the closed environment of the folk clubs and giving it a wider audience in pubs, clubs, schools and on radio and television, the band reached millions of people and influenced a whole generation of folk musicians and fans.
The band began in February 1968, born out of The Freewheelers and The Longford Street Band. They were originally called Cobblers but changed their name to Cobbers to reflect a more Australian name.
Founding member of Cobbers, John Armstrong remembers that "Freewheelers were popular around the pubs and coffee lounges of the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. We even won the National New Faces on Channel Nine. It didn’t do us any good but it was a lot of fun and showed us a world outside the 'twenty cents a head' coffee lounges, which were also good fun.
"In those days we believed that if you could sing loudly and long enough you could change the world."
A few lineup changes, a bunch of gigs under the belt and Cobbers were ready to record. None of the major record companies were interested in the band, they borrowed a G36 Revox two track tape recorder and took it to the Polaris Inn in Carlton where they had a residency. Over the next few weeks they recorded the shows, giving the reels to engineer and friend John McDiarmid who turned the tapes into the first Cobbers album - All for Me Grog.
The result, a rough diamond, sold well enough for the band to get a contract offer from a major label. They played it smart and set up their own record company, licensing the distribution rights and retaining all the creative rights to their recordings.
Highlights of their three decades together include performances at England’s Reading Rock Festival, O’Lunney’s in New York, The San Diego Great American Showdown, The Texas State Fair and The Louisiana Hayride, a radio show recorded live for seven and a half million listeners.
At home, highlights included performances at countless major festivals, extensive tours around Australia, more than 300 television appearances and the 1979 Bushland Dreaming concert, recorded at Dallas Brooks Hall during which Cobbers were made official ambassadors to the city of Melbourne by the Lord Mayor.
Cobbers were, by any definition, a very successful band. They played on the biggest festivals, sold a lot of records, were invited on the telly and toured the world.
The lineup on their first album - Christy Cooney, John Armstrong, Chris Armstrong, Maitland Swallow and Mark 'Blossom' Brown is etched in Australian music history.
For more detailed information, visit: www.cobbersbushband.com