Musician Mick Makin is happy playing around the traps of Townsville, as JOSH ALSTON reports
IT seems these days the big bands and bright lights of huge clubs dominate entertainment headlines. But as veteran guitarist Mick Makin knows all too well, there is a lucrative career to be had as an acoustic duo in North Queensland.
Mick came to Townsville in 2002 to find his daughter — and never went home.
Home to Mick these days is the Metropole Hotel on Palmer St, where he has played countless gigs over the past four years alongside wellrespected singer Anna Weatherup and various other local musos.
‘‘Anna and I have played about 25 weddings in that time and we’ve had residencies at the casino, Molly Malone’s, Portraits, we’ve had residencies just about everywhere,’’ he said.
‘‘When I’m not working anywhere else I’m working here.
‘‘It’s been good, I’ve met and played with a lot of fantastic musicians in that time.’’
But a period of sickness knocked the wind out of Mick’s sail this year and he even contemplated giving the whole thing away.
Until he came across Merlin’s Traffic frontman and solo artist Heath Burdell.
‘‘We’ve been playing in tandem on a Friday and Saturday night when he’s not working with his band,’’ Mick said.
‘‘That’s been really good because I haven’t been well, I’ve had a couple of sickies.
‘‘Particularly after Anna (Weatherup) left to go Brisbane I’ve been a bit ’I don’t feel like doing this any more’.’’
The pair look and sound like chalk and cheese, but the combination has been working and has reinvigorated Mick.
‘‘Heath has been a real breath of fresh air for me,’’ he said.
‘‘He’s a young guy that I think is going to be very successful, he’s given me a whole boost of motivation.
‘‘I’m more country, he’s more rock and I play instrumentals over dinner sometimes whereas Heath is more full on.’’
And the former journalist from Melbourne has even managed to find the time to piece together some original material, something he finds vital to stay passionate in the music industry.
‘‘It’s extremely important and it’s been really gratifying for me the response I’ve got from it,’’ he said.
‘‘I’ve got a live recording that is available to people and they’ve been snapping it up.’’
Mick describes himself as ‘mostly country’ and plays a variety of instruments including the banjo, mandolin and his trusty guitar.
Before venturing north, Mick knocked around in a band in Brisbane.
‘‘In Brisbane I played (in a band) for a number of years,’’ he said.
‘‘It was the last time since my 20s I’ve played in a band.’’
But the dynamic of a duo or performing solo was what really appealed to Mick — and the money’s not half bad either.
‘‘There’s a lot more available to you, but then again you can’t get stuff like upstairs at The Exchange either,’’ he said.
‘‘A lot of bands around town get what we get (paid) but there’s four or five of them.’’
Part of the appeal of Mick’s shows are the organic sound he produces — no digital trickery here.
‘‘We don’t use back-up tracks or anything like that, it’s all guitar,’’ he said.
Mick became passionate about music at a very young age and although he never really saw himself as a full-time musician, he aimed to learn all her could.
‘‘It’s just something I’ve been able to do and I’m very very lucky that I can,’’ he said.
And when his good friend Wayne McDonald bought the Metropole the script was written for Mick to settle down in Townsville and play his music full-time.
‘‘It just all came together,’’ he said.