By Greg McGrath
In the 1970’s through to the 1990’s there was a contingent of folk who played a significant role in the life of the Mount Isa Folk Club and the city of Mount Isa in general. The city of Mount Isa holds the record as the worlds largest city, in area. I am not sure if this is still the case, but the sign in the local airport reinforced that particular claim to countless travelers over the years.
The Isa Folk Club, as it was known, was an incredibly active organisation as well as an all inclusive music club which met every fortnight in a venue in Mount Isa. When I first became involved, the club met at the city’s Special School, opposite the Overlander Hotel to the city’s east. From there the activities moved to the Education Centre, the Argent Hotel, the Isa Hotel and eventually to its own premises at 70 Simpson Street.
The purchase of the club’s own premises was made possible through the club’s involvement in the many and varied community activities. The Isa Folk Club played numerous gigs for a variety of local organisations across the region to raise funds to service the club’s loan. Several groups played a role in this fund-raising effort and one of those bands was a a band called Gumboot. This band (pictured) consisted of the late Bob Elwell on bass, Geoff Boston on mandolin, Andy Purvis on guitar, and Greg McGrath on 5 string banjo and guitar. The group played a variety of folk songs but with each gig introduced audiences to more and more their bluegrass offerings.
The successive performances across the region helped pay off the bank loan on the Folk Club House for which a huge celebration was held. The club went on to sell those premises in Simpson Street and buy a larger more expandable building some years later.
People from those days have eventually moved on to work and take up lives in various other parts of Australia. However, a call went out recently to a great many folk, to announce a reunion of the Isa Folk Club of that era, which will be held at Golden Beach’s Fraser ParkÂ in Caloundra on the glorious Sunshine Coast on the 16th Oct 2010 from 10:00am. BYO everything.