Ella is the youngest Hermit. When she was five, she made her first stage appearance – on triangle – with her seven, nine and eleven-year-old brothers. She started learning piano at six. At seven, she was busking, playing ukulele and percussion, as the Haystack Mountain Hermits travelled Australia. She enjoyed counting the coins after busking but spent quite a lot of time hiding behind Mum’s upright bass when performing! Grey Nomads were known to pay Ella $5 to smile during songs.
Happy to be in front of the bass now, she plays banjo, ukulele, washboard, accordion and is an accomplished skiffle snare drummer. Ella adds sweet harmonies to the Hermits’ 4-6 part vocal arrangements. She also has a wicked giggle and takes no shit from boys, which is no surprise when you have 3 brothers.
Lachlan started piano at 6 and was 7 when he debuted playing bass in the Churchmice Trio with his brothers. Lachie took “Wilson” (his favourite soccer ball) with him on our trip around Australia. As his soccer ball was confiscated when driving, he amused himself learning to play mandolin in the back of the van as we travelled the very long, straight and boring bits of the A1. He was so committed to his musical development that he attached the tuner to his nose to determine the key he burped in!
Lachie is now our mandolin maestro, playing instrumental breaks in many of our songs, but also plays guitar and has a deft touch on percussion and drums. Lachie sings great harmony and enjoys adding to the 6 part family banter! He has been awarded Best Haircut in the band for 6 years running.
Marcus started playing piano when he was 7 and spent a lot of time growling at the low notes! Fortunately, our piano teacher was ok with that, as he had ten happy years of piano lessons. He learnt to play guitar in the back of the van as we travelled around Australia, and played the fingerboard bare on his new, green ukulele. During our first ever busk at Mindil Markets in Darwin, we were invited to play live-to-air at the ABC radio studios. We had reminded the kids to smile while performing and Marcus leaned over to tell me “I can’t help but smile”. He took great delight in confessing “We aren’t doing any schoolwork at all” to the ABC host!
Marcus is now our lead guitarist, letting loose on some blistering breaks, and sings harmonies and lead as well as arranging many of our songs. He is currently studying jazz guitar at the Conservatorium. He is positively dangerous when he takes the mic, and sound techs who know him well make great use of the mute function.
Jackson is the eldest sibling and our accordion extraordinaire!
Jackson was loaned a small accordion by his piano teacher and was given the choice of an iPod or an accordion for his 13th birthday before we embarked on our Around Australia tour – he chose the accordion and has never looked back (which is a shame, as he might have spotted all our lost items strewn throughout Australia on the trip). He was thrilled to discover that he could play as we drove along and like the others, spent his time on the long and boring bits of the A1 profitably! We were interviewed and photographed for Australian Geographic at Mindil Beach Markets in Darwin on our second night of busking. Jackson’s accordion was affected by the humidity and he was relegated to a pink ukulele! He was quite disgusted not to be featured playing accordion. After that experience, he quickly learned how to repair and tune accordions himself.
Jackson also plays percussion (unanimously voted “Best Finger Click” which can be heard on our EP), including snare and our homemade washboard. His washboard solos have to be seen to be believed! Jackson brings a strong bass voice to our harmonies and enjoys singing both lead and harmony parts. He challenges us to find 6 part harmony in as many songs as we can.
Kerrie is the Hermit’s harmony CEO, upright bass player, social media queen (as crowned by kids), procurement officer, mediocre media manager and Mum. #mumslastminutemedia Family bands are in the genes for Kerrie. Her childhood was filled with music and there was rarely a car-trip from the bush to town without 3 and 4 part harmony from her family of six. As a child, she performed with her 3 siblings at local events in the Haystack Mountain area. She sang, played guitar and bass in her father’s old time dance band The Wanderers. That was mainly because she has two left feet and was banned from the dance floor. They performed in historic community halls all over Northern NSW. She developed a love of jazz and performed with bassist and guitarist Dave Tucker as the duo Hit & Ms. After moving to New Zealand, she met Davo and they performed with American Bluegrass star Bob Jones (one of Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys) as the swing music trio Pendulum.
Returning to Australia, life was pretty busy for a while with 4 kids in 5 and a half years (and still is!); however the 7 months of travelling Australia in 2011 provided the downtime to focus on family and Haystack Mountain Hermits. As the upright bass player, Kerrie was the only Hermit who could not play whilst travelling, hence she was the one driving when they hit the kangaroo which wiped out the caravan’s water tank!
Dave is lead singer and rhythm guitarist, unusual repertoire seeker, head roadie, washboard construction co-engineer and maintenance mechanic, bus driver and Dad.
Dave grew up in New Zealand. This was not his fault. His parents lived there.
After learning piano for many years and playing trumpet in the school band, he formed Two Way Street with musician mates. The band held resident gigs for years in the Palmerston North area. He later joined Bob Jones and the Bad Investments, the Ranchsliders and with Bob Jones and Kerrie, the swing trio, Pendulum.
Dave has a vivid memory of jamming with the Trenwith family, well-known NZ bluegrass musicians, and being inspired to form his own family band. That was a bit tricky to execute at the time, as he had no children. After moving to Australia, the opportunity presented to spend time making music with Kerrie and the kids. The six of them hit the road to tour Australia with every instrument they could fit into their vehicle and caravan! It became a running joke on the trip that Dave would be brain damaged and unable to remember lyrics as he hit his head on the caravan door frame nearly every time he entered. The kids’ vocabulary was somewhat broadened as a consequence. Actually, if you ask any of the Hermits, they will assure you that there is still some level of impairment (and a red mark under the hat).