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Tin Shed Rattler musician calls it a day after 38 years

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One of the best banjo players in the Riverina has played his last bush dance after retiring from the much-loved Tin Shed Rattlers (pictured) after 38 years.

Ian Charles has been part of the Downside Hall furniture since he first joined the Tin Shed Rattlers as their tenor banjo player in 1986.

The bush band last played in Narrandera in January on Australia Day 2024 at the Narrandera Ex-servicemen’s Club.

Ian, 65, is packing up the banjo and moving from Griffith to the Gold Coast later in the month.

“I’ll miss watching people having fun and dancing,” he said.

“I remember people that were kids when I started playing, coming out with their parents, and now those kids are bringing their own kids out.”

The Tin Shed Rattlers have rattled Downside Hall with Irish and folk music since their first bush dance in 1971.

Though the crowd has changed over the years, the tunes have remained the same traditional style of Irish music, with many songs dating hundreds of years old.

“The only reason people go out to these dances is to have fun,” Mr Charles said.

“It’s probably at its highest popularity right now as I’ve seen it over the thirty-odd years that I’ve been involved.”

Ian and his wife are moving to the Gold Coast, where one of their sons lives.

But that’s not the end of his love of this type of music because he will be on the lookout to find fellow Irish music fanatics in South East Queensland.

“I have no intention to stop playing, I’ve put the feelers out to find like-minded musicians to play with up there,” he said.

“I’ll really miss the music and the [Downside] dance itself, being able to play for people and see the generations of young people coming through.”

Shy of Ian’s innings, David Dunbar has been a Tin Shed Rattler for 21 years, and is also the current band leader.

He plays guitar, ukulele, sings, does the lagerphone demonstrations, and calls the dances.

“The man [Ian Charles] is such a sheer talent, he has timing, patience, a good manner with people, he’s just a strong lead player,” David said.

“He’s one of those personalities that gets along with everyone, he’s always there and reliable.”

Reg Dury will fill Ian’s shoes as the band’s tenor banjo player.

He has been a Rattler for two years and has a background in classical music and rock.

The transition to Irish music is new for the guitarist, but he has valued Ian’s mentorship.”

It’s just amazing sitting next to him and listening to the way he phrases his music and expresses himself, it’s been critical to my development,” Reg said.

He echoed the sentiments of other band members who are sad to see their longest-standing banjo player leave.

The next Downside Bush Dance will be on April 6 and the dance begins at 8pm.

Narrandera Argus 21 March 2024

This article appeared in the Narrandera Argus, 21 March 2024.

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