Al Ward (1974)
Al Ward has been deeply involved in the Australian acoustic music scene since his first gig at PACT Folk in Sydney in 1970. He has worked solo, in duos and bands and as a sideman for some of the best in the business, including Marion Henderson, Jeannie Lewis, Tom Paxton, Doug Ashdown, and Russell Morris. A successful concert and RCA recording duo with Californian Dan Johnson and a stint with goodtime swing band The Hokum-on-Somble brought him cult status as a writer and instrumentalist on guitar and mandolin. In 1976 he and his mate John Summers conceived and ran the first of several acoustic guitar workshops at the Kirk Gallery in Surry Hills, which were later taken on by Guitar City. The tutors included Tommy Emmanuel, Kirk Lorange, Antonio Losada, Colin Watson, Don Andrews and George Golla.
In 1977, with Stuart Hughes of EMI, Al made the first ‘direct to disc’ recording in Australia, although it was never commercially released. A handful of copies remain. The process meant playing a whole side non-stop, like the recording pioneers 50 years earlier.
A generation of Australian children heard Al’s playing as the resident guitarist for the ABC Radio school music shows “ Singing and Listening” and “ Let’s Have Music” and other oddities between 1973 and 1982. Over the years he has supported a galaxy of international and local stars including Ry Cooder, Leo Kottke, Ike and Tina Turner, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Rambling Jack Elliot, Bert Jansch, John Martyn, Happy Traum, Leon Redbone, Little River band, Split Enz, Cold Chisel and even Barry Crocker. He moved to the Blue Mountains in 1989 and immediately became a fixture in the local music circles. Since then he has released two solo CDs and appeared on many others as a sideman. In 1996 he and the Clarendon Guesthouse Theatre’s promoter Bob Charter started up the Blue Mountains Festival of Folk, Roots and Blues, which this year celebrated its 13th anniversary. The administration of the festival and his private music teaching keep him busy now, along with occasional trips ‘off the rock’ to perform at other people’s festivals.
Al Ward will be playing with Steve Mann as part of the "Live at the Savoy" program at:
The Savoy Café, 26 Katoomba St. Katoomba, Thursday May 1st 2008, 7-9pm
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