Conversations / Reuben Dwyer of Quarterhorse.


Today, Jayne chats with Reuben Dwyer, a singer and songwriter originally from Melbourne, Australia. He now lives in the Douglas Shire, performing with his band Quarterhorse.

With two albums already under his belt – Pitchforks and Pictures (2017) and Firecrackers and Slowburners (2019), Reuben paints pictures of Australian landscapes and the nation’s people with a poetic, gentle touch.

Reuben is also the recipient of a Douglas Shire Council community grant recently and today he talks to about his personal story, his life in the Shire, and his plans for the grant.

“Teaching musical skills with a focus on enjoyment, rather than prestige, is my goal.”

Reuben, please tell us about how you came to find yourself up in the Douglas Shire nurturing and inspiring our local creative community, and playing live music?

My family moved to Port Douglas five years ago for a sea change.

One of the first things I did was connect to the local musician network through the CourtHouse Hotel Jam Night.

After 20 years playing at pubs and festivals in different bands around Victoria I knew this would be the place to go to get the low down.

Through this night I performed with many local musicians including the Walker Brothers and Dale Priem from Benny and the Clones.

Not long after that I was lucky enough to win the Tablelands Folk Festival sign-writing competition and this allowed me to record my second album of original material under the name of Quarterhorse with the guys from Buzz Music.

I rallied my new musical mates including Paul Tyson from Sound Rat recording studios in the Daintree and launched the album at Jimmy Rums.

How would you describe your musical style?

My music is generally laid-back country, with a bluesy honky tonk influences.

Nowadays I perform mainly with Bennett Walker, Silver Blanco and Richard Kulka from Mossman playing classic old school country like the music of Hank Williams and Merle Haggard. You can find me playing at places like the Daintree Village Hotel..

Tell us about your plans for 2023.

Through my work with Mossman Youth Centre, Goobidi Indigenous Homecare Service and Mossman Community Centre, I noticed just how many amazing Indigenous musicians there are in the Douglas Shire, and how few opportunities there are for our local talent to play to and record for a wider audience.

I love their diverse styles. Our local musicians’ style represents the elements of this beautiful area.

Having seen the success of the Indigenous music scene in other parts of Australia, I developed the idea to record our local musicians and their own particular style of music reflecting the element of this very special area. Inspired by the ‘Kimberly sound’ and the Central Australia desert reggae and urban hip hop and r’n’b soul, I believe it is time for the rainforest people of the Daintree to have their voices heard and talents acknowledged.

Congratulations on being the recipient of a Douglas Shire Council community grant recently.  Can you please tell us what the grant is for and what your plans for the project are.

Upon realising that the Douglas Shire Council had community grants on offer, I put together a proposal and hoped they would appreciate the difference this project could make to people’s lives and they seemed to agree.

I was delighted to receive the news I had been awarded the grant!

I now begin the task ahead to record the best performances I can from the Mossman area. I have teamed up with the highly skilled sound engineer Paul Tyson to record, produce and master a compilation of Mossman’s finest.

How can local musicians get involved?

I have some great talent lined up already but I am very keen for any Indigenous musicians who would love to hear their music heard by a wider audience to get in touch with me.

Who inspires you?

I am inspired by the people I work with, who despite all the stumbling blocks in their path, continue to try to push and present their unique culture to the rest of Australia and the world…..a big shout out to all those saltwater cowboys and cowgirls!

On that, who are your favourite local musos and where do you love to go to enjoy our local talent? 

Resident legends in the area who continue to play top quality music are no secret to locals..The Walker Bros, Lady Valiant, Benny and the Clones and many others.

Do you have any comment on the status of the region’s creative community?

Taking the time to get to The Tanks in Cairns for bigger acts is always worthwhile. It will ensure that they keep booking great acts.

What do you love to do in your down time?

Play guitar. I’m currently trying to play the pedal steel guitar. It ain’t country without it.

What’s on your own playlist right now?

King Stingray, Lukas Nelson, Sierra Ferall, Lost Ragas, Ryan Bingham and The Pigram Brothers.

Please indulge us with your answers to one of our age-old beloved topics, your “Last Supper”. What would be your last meal on earth?  Where would you dine?And will there be music? 

I was a chef for 30 years before studying psychology and changing career but I still love cooking!

My Last Supper would be me and my wife eating her killer tuna casserole on the banks of the Mossman Gorge with Lucinda Williams playing just for us.

Thank you for your time Reuben, and best wishes for your project, and the year ahead.

Contact Reuben.

Reuben’s Music provides a variety of services throughout the Douglas Shire. If you’re looking for someone to help you produce and record music, or you’re an NDIS client with specific needs, Reuben’s Music will help you explore music and its benefits:

  • communication, confidence-building, and companionship through musical discovery
  • tuition, mentoring, music, and sound exploration for guitar, bass, banjo, lap steel guitar, keyboard, harmonica, and many other instruments
  • recording and music production, live or studio, mastering, and mixing
  • music arrangement, and score notation
  • song creation for your business, advertising, education, video, or promotion

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