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Banjo in Antarctica

Posted by Derick Winterbottom on Friday, April 3, 2009

Hi my name is Derick ,nickname (Spike)

In 1991 I was lucky enough to be selected to go down south to Antarctica.

To live and work at Davis Station as a Senior Plumber. The construction task ahead was to build a new science building on the base.A team of tradies and scientists ( boffins) set sail from Hobart Tasmania and I think we had about 105 people on base in the summer period .I was there for about six monthsThe experience was fantastic . Because it was the season when all the wildlife came ashore at different times to commence their breeding cycle ,photography was a new hobby .subject matter included penguins . killer whales (Orca's) Elephant seals ,leopard seals crabeater seals and lots of Antarctic birds petrals,fullmars and skuas.

We were told that we could take a musical instrument along if we played or was learning to play to help pass the time .So being about an intermediate student of the 5 String Banjo I took along my friend Mr. Banjo and had a great time playing with other guys in the weirdest scatch band ever assembled on the face of the earth. We had guys and girls that took along their instruments. So the Davis band consisted of guitar (accoustic) ,mandolin,flute,french horn and banjo and a second guitar.A couple of the guitarist were folkies from the flower power era,the flute and french horn were orchestral players (you know weirdos who could sight read the black dots ). No one had heard of Bluegrass music cept me . I gave them a bit of Cripple Creek at the first practice just to wet their appetite.It went down well. In the cold nights and weekendsthere was plenty of time to get in some good practice (and boy I needed it,still do) but it's fun playing the Banjer. A word about my banjo !! I bought it off Geoff Brigland that well known Adelaide and world renowned banjo picker he's a cracking instrument maker and Luthier.You know he builds them and he picks them!!  He did a lot of work on my Gibson RB 250 Mastertone .Like woodcarving the back of the resonator ,with an American Eagle design.also he carved the heel and back of the headstock .It looks and plays and sounds great.I have had the instument over 20 years now.In Adelaide South Australia we have a monthly Jam and at those sessions you'll see and hear some of the best Aussie B/Grass pickers and singers that Australia has to offer. We are determined to keep the tradition going .

Hey cheers for now and see you later

maybe on the back porch somewhere

Derick (Spike)

P.S. I forgot to tell you .The bands first gig was at The"Australia Day "holiday celebration some time in January 92. Some of the audience came formally dressed in their black and white tuxedo's You know Alice Adelie,Charlie Chinstrap and Ellen Emperor who was by the way an expert at 'The Clinch Mountain Backstep . so a good time was had by all.








3 comments on “Banjo in Antarctica”

PruchaLegend Says:
Saturday, April 4, 2009 @12:14:56 AM

Love your story. Sounds like you had a great experience!

NMD Says:
Sunday, April 5, 2009 @6:09:13 AM

I agree. Sounds like quite an adventure.

Derick Winterbottom Says:
Saturday, May 2, 2009 @12:38:29 AM

Thanks for the comment on B/Hangout re my time in Antarctica.

It was a great adventure and great to meet guys from all different walks of life.Apart from the plumbing /work scene I got rostered to help the chef in the kitchen. When this happens you get to choose the music that is played through the kitchen and lounge room. Therefore I played my Bluegrass C D's and nobody was allowed to turn them off.


Derick (Spike).


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