Like kids everywhere, the young Pete Denahy would dream about what he wanted to be when he was an adult. Growing up in country Victoria, he was torn between being the Man from Snowy River or a musician like his hero Slim Dusty.
Unlike most kids everywhere, the bluegrass singer/songwriter and comedian has managed to live his dream; having joined Slim’s band as a fiddle player when he was barely 25 and then becoming a regular at Corryong’s annual Man from Snowy River Festival.
‘When I first saw Slim Dusty as a 13-year-old, I didn't realise 12 years later I'd been in his band. I still pinch myself,’ Pete says.
‘It's amazing how some things work out.’
Another thing that worked out is the novelty songs he started penning when in his teens have become audience favourites. Songs about the torture of trying to get a conversation from a laconic teen or an annoying fly trapped in the car have given him another string to his fiddle and he loves the variety of being able to put on a ‘straight’ performance, a comedy show, or a combination.
‘I get to do both things — if I go to a bluegrass festival, I can be playing with a bluegrass band and then the comedy side comes in with the patter in between songs.’
Pete has been involved in the Victorian Seniors Festival over the years and enjoys performing to an older crowd. ‘They don’t think any differently from how they did when they were younger, it’s just their bloody knees are a bit crooker and they have to get up to go to the toilet a few more times during the night…I like hanging it on them a bit because they sort of enjoy it and feel like they can heckle a bit. It’s a two-way street.’
Watch Pete's Seniors Festival Reimagined interview and performance