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17 May 2022

"It really wasn't until we left at 1am in the morning and came home and the bureau of meteorology had revised that the flood height level that we knew something dreadful was going to happen." - Gary Pinkerton

About the 


Gary Pinkerton is a local musician and the president of NCEIA (North Coast Entertainment Industry Association), the organisation behind the prestigious Dolphin Awards. NCEIA seeks to strengthen the industry by building connections amongst our extensive music community.

The Production Talk Podcast - The modern way of producing music

In this episode:

  • Gary's early days as a keyboard player, playing venues in and around Lismore

  • The latest gigs Gary's been playing

  • The Lismore floods, and the impact on Gary's life.

  • The state of the music scene in Lismore


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Contact the podcast host Jan 'Yarn' Muths at

Disclaimer: The Production Talk Podcast is independent of (and not related to) my teaching responsibilities at SAE.


Jan 'Yarn' Muths or, in the studio


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Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Welcome to the Production Talk podcast with me, Yarn, of In this podcast series, we celebrate the modern way of producing music. We want to talk about all things related to songwriting, recording at home and music production. So, if you produce your music at home, this is the place to be. Please subscribe and recommend this podcast to all your friends. This is the production talk podcast episode 43. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Welcome to another episode of the Production Talk podcast. For this episode, I drove to the town of Lismore to meet a local musician and president of the north coast entertainment industry association Gary Pinkerton, I've known Gary for over a decade, mainly as keyboard player on many local stages. And as a driving force behind the north coast entertainment industry association's popular dolphin award ceremony. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: He's also a respected business owner of a long-running shop in Lismore CBD. Gary and I had been chatting on messenger and eventually, we found a time that worked for both of us to do this. I arrived at his place in a lovely neighbourhood with lots of trees around from the street. The house looked just like a normal house, but I said, wreck my recording gear to the doorsteps. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I started to note that on the inside, things were not quite as calm as the outside suggested. Gary greeted me at the door with a three-month-old baby in his arm, his first grandson, while also speaking to a customer. It started to Dawn on me, that Gary now ran his business from his home. I learned that Gary's adult son and his partner and I'll live there. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Two, three generations and one business now, all under one roof with Gary running his business and minding the baby at the same time. Gary had timed at the interview around his grand sounds naptime, but the baby boy, wasn't in the mood for his usual schedule. So Gary sat down with the baby snuggled up in his arm, and I quickly set up a mic on a stand and headphones for him. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: While Gary spoke to another customer in his calm voice on the phone, I sat on the floor opposite to him with a handheld microphone in my hand. And. Gary. I really appreciate you making time for me today. I'm starting to understand just how busy your life is at the moment. And I really appreciate you making the time. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Gary, you're a musician yourself. You're a keyboard player. Is that. Gary Pinkerton: Absolutely. Um, I started, um, playing when I was, when I was 15, um, at various places around. Um, the area, um, Lismore was one, one, um, place for you to play back in the day, the Canberra. And I think, um, at that stage, our single was 17. I was 16, John, my brother was 15 and our drama was now 14, so, and, um, um, and then a singer turned 18 and yeah, we just, um, um, You know, we've played sort of down in Bounder and, um, casino and, um, wherever we could. Gary Pinkerton: Yeah, the gig back in those days, but yeah, it was, um, there's a lot of music happening back then, really a lot of music. And, uh, I think cause you know, some of the, um, this region and I think particularly Lismore itself, um, certainly the eighties and nineties weather were the prime days of, you know, sort of music, um, happening around around the era and, and the bands coming out of this area rival anything coming out of any of the capital cities. Gary Pinkerton: No, as far as the musicianship and skills. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Well, so you have quite a bit of experience in the music scene for four decades now, and today we're sitting here, you are holding your, your grandchild in your hand. Um, and he's just trying to go to sleep. Uh, You are still an active musician, despite all the additional things you are doing today, like in running your own business. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And you're also the president of the north coast entertainment industry association. It sounds really like you have your life dedicated to music and the art scene and the Northern rivers. Um, what's your motivation? What keeps you going? Gary Pinkerton: I think it's just the love of music and that enjoyment of getting out and, and, and performing in front of people on Saturday actually played in inbound at the shows by hotel. And there was a benefit concert for the flood relief. So, um, I went down and I'm with one of the bands I work with the electrifying bulls and we, uh, we did announce. Gary Pinkerton: And there was so much, so much fun to get together after quite some time. Um, not being able to play anywhere. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Are fantastic. It's great to see you. And they're getting back on stage and tell us about the bands you're currently involved with the musical acts. Gary Pinkerton: So I play in a joy as well. And the Wendy Ford Duo. Oh. And Wendy writes a lot of original material. And when, when we perform, we do a combination of original Lang and COVID. With with her. And then every now and again, I, I play with another band called epic and, um, with, um, Stuart, Kent, Jesse Balfour, and, um, James Palmer, their usual keyboard player is Allen park. Gary Pinkerton: Um, very well respected, um, cable player in this region. Uh, Alan was the musical director for Keith Richards for many, many years before he moved out to Australia and moved to this area. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Well, okay, well, fantastic. Gary Pinkerton: So, um, Ellen, he, he plays with the pheromones, which is another really well-known band in this area. So when Alan's playing with them and if there's a job comes up with epic, I fill in for him. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Great. Well, do you find time to practice music and you and your busy day to day life Gary Pinkerton: I try and fit it around what I'm doing. Um, so it might be early in the morning, um, or the end of the day. And I will go through and sit down, particularly if I'm prepping safer, um, um, jobs, I will sit down and work. Epic is one I have to because the keyboard material is, um, some of it's quite, quite, um, technical, you know, and challenging. Gary Pinkerton: Um, I think of the highway star by deep purple and the, and the organs organ in that. And particularly August solar getting through that, through that, and through the, the Juul work that you're doing with the guitars, it's, um, a post that you really have to get your head around. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah, definitely. Wow, that's fantastic. Um, are there any records out that we could put into the show notes links to. Gary Pinkerton: Oh gosh. Um, Well, Wendy, when he has some material out at the moment that I've been involved in. Um, and, um, with the other bands that I've been currently working with now, they're both basically cover cover bands. Yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. Well, and, um, then in addition to all the music, you're the president of the north coast entertainment industry association. Well-known for the dolphin awards here in the area, uh, which is an instant. In the music industry, it's a really important event in the musical calendar and you'll behind that as well. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So how time consuming is, is that an addition Gary Pinkerton: It is, it is really very consuming and particularly, um, you know, sort of in the, in the lead up to the awards, there is so much work that goes in behind the scenes to make sure it runs smoothly on the evening, let alone sort of, um, getting, um, getting increased, organized for judges and. And getting the results can Carolina and the results, um, is a lot of work. Gary Pinkerton: But again, I I've always felt that the music industry and the north coast has been a part of my life and I've wanted to give back to the, the north coast music industry in some way. And I thought by, by being part of the awards, um, that would be one way it actually started in, um, Uh, it's early inception was 1991. Gary Pinkerton: Um, there was a, there was an awards night held in Byron by, in December. And, um, I went along to that particular wards and, um, at that time, my, um, my mother-in-law, um, and I, and another chap by the name of Laurie Davies, um, had been working on some original material. And so we ended that in the awards night. Gary Pinkerton: Um, and that was. That was a great experience from that, um, a group of, um, uh, over Lismore way actually formalized, um, the awards and, um, I've carried it on ever since my involvement started in 2007 and I just came on as a board member to help help move the, the awards forward. So, um, and it's been just run by volunteers, all that outlet time. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: That means you've been in charge basically since 2007. Gary Pinkerton: Not, not necessarily. Um, yeah, the president at that stage, he came on was mark peacock. And then when mark decided to move on, then I moved into the role as president. Um, and for quite a few years, um, uh, Brett Hanlon was the prison. And since scenery Linksys, I've gone back in the president's role, but I'm quite happy to hand it on to somebody else down the track. Gary Pinkerton: Yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I can imagine. Well, you really have a busy life, Gary. We obviously have to talk about what happened in Lismore in February. Uh, the major flood. Uh, that affected so many locals and you know, you and your business and your family. Now, you happy to talk about how that affected you and your family. Gary Pinkerton: So it's absolutely devastating. It was really the, the flood height level that was predicted in, in Lismore. Um, up until the. Um, midnight on the Sunday night was 11.5 meters. So most people in south and north Lismore thought they would be safe. And certainly in my business, um, I was, um, um, packing up the last of my. Gary Pinkerton: A lot of it, we took out some, we took up, um, and put up, um, in the, um, the floor above and then other things we store within the shop. And, um, it really wasn't until we left at one in the morning and came home and the, the bureau of meteorology had revised that the flood height level that we knew something dreadful was going to happen. Gary Pinkerton: And, um, as it turned out. Uh, hundreds of people had to be rescued from rooms in north and south Lismore. And also in the bias, in, in, in the, in the there's more area. Um, the actual flood water went to 14.4 meters at its peak. And, uh, there was in my shop itself, it went to the roof of my shop. So I'm 34 years of. Gary Pinkerton: What I'd store it in my shop that I left there, um, had been destroyed or badly damaged, um, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh, that's devastating G and uh, well, just need to take a second to take that all in. Been to, to Lismore just on the days after to help friends clean. And, uh, it, it looked like a war zone. I've never seen anything in my life ever that came close to her now with the locals and Lismore went through, um, you know, there's been a huge community effort since to clean up and, you know, get rid of the rubbish, but we are probably. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: The year, or it may be years away from any kind of normal life and the area. What's the situation at the moment. Have you got power back in the shop area? Gary Pinkerton: Okay. So parts of the Lismore CBD do have power in. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Um, Gary Pinkerton: I'm waiting to have, um, essential energy, um, restore power to my shop and this will should happen within the next week now. Um, so as soon as that happens, we'll start work on, um, um, prep preparing to get the shop back up and running again. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Well, so it's been. 10 weeks. Is that all right? So this area has been without power for about 10 weeks. It's quite hard to imagine. Gary Pinkerton: And it depends on the amount of damage, you know, in, in different shops. I know essential energy. Um, uh, when they looked at our board, I didn't needed to do some work to replace, um, uh, ground for, for the, for the electrical board before. Essentially, as you could put the power on. So that's been done this morning. Um, that's all ready to go. The electrician has been in and done that and, um, and uh, some essential energy here we come with Bayer, but it's going to be a slide process really is. Um, and again, um, definitely reliant on the government support, uh, for small business, of course, um, to help, um, re-establish the, the store. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. What's, what's your experience been so far with, um, government support? Uh, are they keeping their promises so far? Gary Pinkerton: Well, I think it's been a slow process for a lot of people that I've spoken to. It's only been two weeks since I've put my application in. Showing, um, invoices and also quotes for the first 25,000. And then, um, once that's been, um, provided proof of funds, they pay the 25. Then I have to provide receipts for, for another $25,000. Gary Pinkerton: Um, which they'll reimburse, so that's their process, but I can see it being a slow process because I actually, when I went to, um, the, um, service new south Wales, um, um, I was talking to one of the staff there and I I'm saying a lot of, even when, say two weeks ago, At least, um, two out of three people that were going in there, we're going in there for the first time. Gary Pinkerton: So it's, um, it's going to be a slow process. I think, to get the, get the monies through unfortunate. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. Um, you were connected in the local music scene and obviously, you know, um, businesses will hopefully get the support they need. But, uh, in my experience, musicians are often not necessarily on the radar when the government hands out support. Uh, have you heard from the local music scene, are musicians, funeral people who, whose life depends on me. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Depends on music. Are they getting support? Gary Pinkerton: Um, if they've, um, for those who lived in and had their homes damaged, they're, they're getting, uh, hopefully they're getting that support for the rum emergency funding and that sort of thing. Um, but I. I'm not aware of any other sort of major grants, sort of things being provided to musicians. Um, and some who've lost their musical equipment, um, in the flood, um, here in Lismore and there's obviously, uh, other other areas around the region that, that have flooded where musicians have lost their equipment. Gary Pinkerton: Um, this. A little bit of, um, uh, on Facebook I've noticed there's been some, some people offered to, um, to restore instruments and I, I have a really nice story that came through, um, a musician. I know he, he had his little, um, fender amp go through the flood and he put it out on the side stripped to be taken away. Gary Pinkerton: And, um, anyway, saw the post that was put up. And so he went and, um, Retrieved it, and then it was taken away and he just received it back restored and looked like brain look, look like brand new. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh, that's great. Gary Pinkerton: there's some lovely stories that, um, that I'm I'm hearing and seeing. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: That's my experience, as well as know that despite all the trauma and to the shock that our community is in, there's been, you know, these bursts of beautiful moments of solidarity and care now where the community sort of helps each other out. That's really good to see. What does the music scene in Lismore needs to get back on their feet right now? Jan 'Yarn' Muths: What what's, what needs to happen in the next couple of weeks, months, and possibly years. Gary Pinkerton: I think it's the venues that we've done. Um, to, to venues. Um, here, my understanding is, um, the Richmond hotel and the, um, the Northern, I believe, I believe that they, um, they're not going to be operating. My understanding is so, um, it's finding, I suppose, it's finding venues that, that are wanting to put artists in, into their pubs. Gary Pinkerton: And the clubs enlists more than particularly. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: enlists more here. So it will be a nice idea if, uh, venues from the surrounding areas would sort of prioritize musicians from Lismore for awhile to help balance out the loss of income. Gary Pinkerton: be really, really nice if something like that happened. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: yeah, that's actually really good idea. Um, there is a concert happening in, in Lismore. Are you aware about that? Gary Pinkerton: there's, there's one on there's one on Sunday. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yes, Gary Pinkerton: Um, with some major artists appearing, which I thought was, uh, from the chug grip and, um, and, um, people like, um, Daryl Braithwaite, um, John Stevens. Yeah. Um, just the name to, to the artists that are going to be appearing and, um, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe there's a Grinspoon on the bill as Gary Pinkerton: They're going to be headlining and they are greens Grinspoon they, they formed here at Southern cross university when they're all students studying the music degrees. And, um, and their first gig, I believe, was at the Golan hotel, which is on the corner of, um, Woodlark and keen street in Lismore. And from then they've gone on to, um, they want to, um, triple J new art. Gary Pinkerton: I'm in a competition and that really set them on their, the, um, road as a, as a band and, um, recognized nationally Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And internationally. So their best, probably one of the most prestigious bands from the Lismore area. Definitely. And, you know, they make fantastic music. So I really like their music as well. So I'm looking forward to taking my kids on Sunday. Hopefully the weather will hold. Gary Pinkerton: So yeah, I hope it shows. So there'll be out of the list, more showgrounds. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah, fingers crossed. Good. And, um, besides in our local venues, what to musicians need directly, uh, in, in, in order to get the music business suspect back on track Gary Pinkerton: Well, there's been some fantastic, um, there's been a project where people have been giving musicians, um, instruments. In replacement of the instruments they've lost and that's wonderful. So, you know, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: fantastic. Yeah. Gary Pinkerton: that sort of thing allows a musician to get out and play again, where they had to have the money that they can afford to go and Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I have the money. Gary Pinkerton: purchase instruments, considering if they've lost everything else that they possess. Gary Pinkerton: Um, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh, that's a great initiative. Gary Pinkerton: It really has been. And I. And take my head off to the person actually went and started organizing that. And I've been going right around the, the, the area, you know, wherever people have lost their musical instruments. And, um, yeah, that's been a wonderful Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Yeah. Right. So I'm not a resident of Lismore, so you probably know the area better, but it's my understanding that the area that went under is also known for lots of businesses, the CBD, as well as the creative community. Is that correct? Yes. Yeah. So I guess there are a lot of people. In the creative industry effected who may have lost their rehearsal rooms or studios or offices. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Gary Pinkerton: And I haven't think of people like Julie Jackson with the Latins that she produces. Like she would have had storage seats tonight. I don't know how she's fed in there, whether she got any of that out, but, um, The various creatives and, and even the, um, the gallery here in Lismore, you know, the, um, the water went through there and damaged, um, things like artwork and things like their HANA cabinet, which is, um, incredible piece of, um, woodworking, um, that was created by Jeff. Gary Pinkerton: And, um, it was on exhibition at the gallery here in this mall or another nother, um, wonderful, um, institution. Uh, they would have had, um, damaged, done to, to, um, the, their building there where they have their offices at the city hall. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Then the Conservatorium was badly effected. I saw a photograph on social media that just broke my heart of literally a big pile of broken guitars. The pile that they had to check out the boat is completely destroyed. It was heartbreaking. Okay. Well, um, I believe that the Conservatorium has found a temporary shelter with, um, Southern cross, if I'm not mistaken. Gary Pinkerton: Absolutely. And Southern cross university have been absolutely wonderful. Um, um, Opening their arms to the community and, um, allowing, allowing the community to use their facilities. I think that's, um, you know, sort of, uh, I think, um, Southern cross needed to be recognized for that particular effort. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah, that's right. That's right. Well, okay, good. I think it's probably time that we wrap it up. I'm fully aware that you're a very busy man. I think we probably just finish it up here, but just before we do, um, if I ask you to look into your crystal ball for, let's say the next 10 years, what's the music scene going to be like in Lismore and the surrounding areas? Jan 'Yarn' Muths: What trajectory can you foresee at this stage? Gary Pinkerton: That is really high question. Like there's so many musicians living in, in Lismore and surround, um, have such a, um, national and international statue. Um, It's really hard to, hard to tell actually, um, I'd like to say I have a very clear idea what's going to happen, but I really don't at this point in time. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I understand. Okay. So it's the uncertainty right now that read, dominates. So nobody really knows, and we just all have to stick together and make it happen. Gary Pinkerton: I think so. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay, good. These are good words to finish up. Thank you so much for your time. Really appreciate that. Thank you. Thank you Gary, for this interview, this was officially the first interview of this podcast series with snoring baby sounds in the background. How cute is that? Please visit the show notes to find links to Gary's music. And the organizations mentioned in this. Gary, I wish you and your family all the best for the weeks and months to come and hope that things will eventually return to some type of post-flood normal and Lismore the music scene. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: There needs all our help. So let's all check in and go to gigs by records by much and so on. Let's help these people out. Okay, this is all for now. Please subscribe. Please rate this podcast and recommend this podcast to all your friends. I speak to your next. Bye for now.
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