When Snow Townsend's Bona Fide Travellers pull into clubs on the Lost Highway they don't need to flash driving licences or CV'S for the guest book, they are genuine horsemen with the notches on their guns, guitars, drums, and holsters.

The Bona Fide Travellers are a riveting roots band whose members were in the vanguard of the progressive country scene of the seventies. The members rode in the same posse as The Dingoes, Greg Quill's Country Radio, Saltbush, Hit & Run, Dead Livers, Bluestone and many more. Cyber chappies and chappettes might have called them alt-country if they emerged in the new millennia. But back then the Station Hotel in Prahran and nearby Reefer Cabaret vied for honours with T F Much Ballroom and other north of the Yarra venues in a hipper country era. Their exploits were chronicled in magazines diverse as Juke and Ram and bi-weekly Truth before the mainstream dailies discovered the sub genre. Snow's Wild Beaver Band featured on Live At The Station Hotel 1976 vinyl album with The Dingoes, Myriad and Saltbush. The album was released on Lamington in 1976 and reissued by Missing Link in 1981 - another of the highlights was Dingoes song Marijuana Hell.

I fondly recall writing about Snowy - front person for One Armed Bandit and Wild Beaver Band, for counter culture bible Digger as J.J. McRoach booked country artists as a soundtrack for his historic 1977 run for the Senate as the honourable candidate for the Australian Marijuana Party. McRoach, maiden name Peter Olszewski, gave exposure to the genre as editor of street magazines such Australasian Seed, Weed, Greed and Need, Flash and Ram before he graduated to Truth, Playboy and People where country was his music of choice. McRoach, David Pepperell (aka Dr Pepper) and Colin Talbot embellished support of the genre with books on subjects ranging from dope, politics, yabbies, Phil Ochs, road trauma, Far East dictatorships and love. Unlike today, where the joys of the Internet ensures freedom of speech is a given, this was an era where Draconian droogs hunted and hated alternative magazines!!!


SNOWY TOWNSEND: Graham "Snowy" Townsend, known as Snowy Cutmore by some such as Station Hotel pint-sized promoter Mark Barnes, has played in a vast galaxy of bands. The Wild Beaver Band and One Armed Bandit reigned from the seventies and new recording act The Operators made their mark in the 1990's. The Operators released an album and The Bona Fide Travellers now have three CD's to their credit, The Long Playing Record, Sunday Morning Showdown, and the new 2011 release, Blue Sky Avenue. Snowy was also the creative font for a seventies Bacchus Marsh country festival where his line-up was truly alternative to the matching shirt mainstream acts of the day. Chad Morgan and Saltbush headlined the December 30 show at Bacchus Marsh Race Course where other acts included One Armed Bandit, Dead Livers, Country Ltd, Hit & Run and Country Grass. Admission was a mere $4 at Bacchus Marsh and The Age broke ground with generous feature story by Alan Attwood - latter day Editor of The Big Issue.

MIKE PARKER (bass), came from across the ditch (New Zealand) with The Slippery Sam Blues Band in the early 80's having previously played in many top line homeland outfits. Mike also graced Melbourne stages with Kenny Joe Blake and Snowy's "The Operators".

SHANE FITCHET: Shane Fitchet swung from the ropes with Detroit garage and Surf influenced indie outfits dating back to the late seventies - they included The Remains, The Fermented Heads, Total Strangers, Buzzwagon, and Timmy Tiptoe and The Toecutters. "The monikers say it all!", says Shane. "I've come out of 15 years of drumming retirement to play with Snowy but my last bands were The Swing Club, an indie pop/rock/surf band fronted by two female guitarist/vocalists that consistently gained singles of the week status in Juke, Ram, Beat, and InPress in the mid to late 80's, and a brief stint in The Badarts (indie pop) both live and recording, then Musicland went bust and The Swing Club's debut album ended up in some tip in N.S.W!

DON FARRELL: guitarist extraordinaire! Just loves all things guitar (particularly Fender and G&L!) does our Don. Don has been a professional musician for over 20 years and has played with Mick and The Aces, Sons Of The Outback, Monique Brumby, Neil Murray (still does), The Dead Livers, and The Silverstring Outlaws, to name just a few. Don is also an in demand guitar teacher.

TONY PERSIC: electric guitar, Gretsch and Bigsby action! Tony was a member of Melbourne's rock-a-billy legends, THE STRAIGHT 8's for 16 years ........ say no more. Tony is our newest member and promises plenty of James Burton and Carl Perkins' style pickin'. Tony adds a new dimension to our sound.

MICHAEL SCHACK: dobro, acoustic guitar, bass. Not content with filling in on bass duties, Michael has thrown his 10 gallon Stetson into the ring as our occasional dobro plucker, (also acoustic guitar, and vocal duties). Michael is a founding member of the seminal and legendary 1970's Melbourne outlaw country rockers, THE DEAD LIVERS, who along with Snow's Wild Beaver Band, and One Armed Bandit ripped up Melbourne stages! They’re still goin' too. Lost in Suburbia, The Rusty Bucks, The Louise Clancy Band, are also concurrent projects for Mick. ........

courtesy of Dave Dawson www.nucountry.com.au ..