Growing up near Warrnambool surrounded by lush greenery and a beautiful water oasis was just the tonic for Shane Howard to foster his deep love for the country and the environment he lived in. That understanding and love has continued with Howard, from great Aussie band Goanna now living on a “beautiful wetland”.
Howard’s music is timeless – who hasn’t heard ‘Solid Rock’ and not considered a higher purpose, and a spirituality about this golden country we live in?
Howard will return to the stage (not that he’s ever really left it) early next month at the Port Fairy Folk Festival, a place just up the road from his house, and a festival which has a special place in Howard’s heart.
Goanna sprung up around Geelong and Howard had much to do with the formation and nurturing of the Folk scene in the region.
“Geelong is and was a very vibrant musical community with so many bands here and that would come through like Paul Kelly, Australian Crawl. My Mum was born in Port Fairy so I’m deeply connected here,” he says. “The audiences there really listen to the songs much more perhaps than other festivals. The audience comes with you on the journey.”
Goanna was at the height of its powers as a band from the late 1970s to 1985, but there was always a fairly amicable revolving door of band personnel who added their magic to the live shows and recordings.
“The Goanna period was a very powerful time for five or six years in terms of commercial success. ‘Solid Rock’ is now this iconic Aussie song. But I guess it was just a small part of my musical life. I’ve written over 250 songs and they are all very important to me.”
As with everything Howard does his music is often a reflection of the times we live in and his hopes or fears for the future. Heading into 2020 those fears are gathering momentum unless we all change our thinking.
“We’re facing extinction. And living in catastrophic times, particularly in terms of my children and grandchildren. There are billionaires destroying the world and it seems worse now than say the 1980s. We’ve known about problems but have failed to act.
“I feel that the world is led by gangsters. Those people with lots of money and vested interests.”
Howard’s world view may be bleak, but is shared by many it seems. And while our leaders continually fail to lead by example, Howard will continue to make socially important music and continue to call out bad behaviour which puts us all at risk.
The 44th Port Fairy Folk Festival takes place on the Labour Day Long Weekend from 6-9 March 2020, in Port Fairy, Victoria. Tickets to the Port Fairy Folk Festival are available now at www.portfairyfolkfestival.com
Written by Chris Michaels