By ANDREA JOHNSTON
Liverpudlian Dave Oakes (pictured) ended up in the Alice when his wife convinced him to turn left at Threeways “just to have a look” because she thought Alice Springs sounded romantic.
Almost four decades later, and sadly now a widower, he’s approaching retirement but says he’s going to spend the time immersing himself in his other love: music.
Oakes has recently ticked an ambition off the bucket list by putting together a CD called Made in Alice … his first major foray into the world of recording.
Other wishes included getting a tattoo of a Liver Bird to represent his beloved Liverpool Football Club, which he did last year. Yet to come is a trip to China, and the opportunity to see Peru’s Nazca Lines.
Made in Alice features ten self-penned songs, plus a couple of old favourites including Sweet Baby James. The sound would be a perfect fit at any folk festival and the themes are unapologetically Central Australian.
Through a Liverpool accent born of the Beatles’ era, but uncompromised by so many years in Australia, Oakes tells his stories about people and places dear to him including Uluru, Kata Tjuta and The Ross River Cowboy which is inspired by a camel trip accompanied by Hal Duell.
His clear diction on a song called Ted guides the listener as Oakes paints a portrait of Ted Egan with phrases like “you beauty” following the former Administrator’s story of how he ended up in the Territory, “the wildest place a man could be”.
Check out Wings of an Albatross from his album Made in Alice Springs which you can pick up at Rock City Music.
The song was written for a friend who was leaving town and is loosely based on the Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, albeit with a twist.
The album was created with the help of local musician and producer Ross Muir who, according to Oakes, has done a job that is “nothing short of genius”.
Anyone familiar with the local music scene will recognise some of the other names on the sleeve too, including vocalist Barry Skipsey, fiddler Paul Leggatt and accordion player Marg Collins.
Dave will be playing the National Folk Festival in Canberra and the Top Half Folk Festival at Glen Helen this year.
By ANDREA JOHNSTON