Clarky’s swansong


Clarky’s swansong


ALAN Clark is a name synonymous with music in South Gippsland.
For years, the man once dubbed Mr Music has performed all over the area, enlightening people with his songs.
For him, it is his greatest reward. “I see my playing as trying to give pleasure to people,” Alan said.
And there is no doubt that it has, with thousands of people being entertained by the organist in his near 50 years in the role.
He remembers the first time he played, and how getting up on stage to help out a lonely sax player forged a career.
“I went down to the dance at Ruby in the early 60s and only the sax player turned up. It was the first time I played,” he said.
“It was a bit rough and ready but it managed to get people to dance.”
And he has been playing at dances ever since; at Mardan, Dumbalk, Koonwarra, Mirboo North and everywhere in between.
Alan performs regularly at aged care facilities, as well as at Deb balls – where the future of dance is being held in good stead, at least in his opinion.
“Deb kids give me real faith in future generations, especially in the past couple of years. The boys are becoming more responsible than the girls!” Alan said.
“It’s good to keep in touch with younger ones. You’re part of a team with the Debs. I really enjoy Glenn and Shirley-Anne’s company.”
And while moulding the future generations will be something he will hold dearly, the music man enjoys playing for the elderly just as much.
One such episode comes to mind.
“Just recently there was a guy who looked like he was new into one of the institutions and I think he was a bit of a problem; he wouldn’t sit down, he was walking around everywhere,” Alan said.
“They told him to sit down. ‘Alan’s going to play, sit down while Alan plays’ they said. Eventually he sat down I started playing and he stood up with me and sang for the rest of the day.
It’s not so much the music, it’s the songs that grab them. The music’s alright, at least I think so, but the songs have got a lot to do with it.”
Most of Alan’s tales end with a big, infectious laugh that reflects a positive personality that has made him many friends over the journey – friends he treasures dearly.
“I’m going to miss the people, and miss the friends. Ninety-five per cent of everyone at the dances is a personal friend,” he said.
“I can’t remember anyone there that’s upset me; if they did they kept it to themselves. Music does that for you though, it’s a great common bond.”
Now Alan prefers to hear his music on his iPod, which he has connected in order to stay with the times.
And on Sunday, he was thanked for his years of service, despite the thought that he might “just fade into the woodwork.”
“A lot of the credit of the dances has to go to the people that organise them and I appreciate that, they help me set up and all that sort of thing,” he said.
“It’s one of the reasons I agreed to the day on Sunday afternoon, it gave me a chance to say thank you to them.”
And one must think that despite it being his day, his friends and family at Dumbalk may have just asked him to “play it again, Alan. For old times’ sake.”

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Posted by Mark Drury on Nov 23 2010. Filed under Arts & Entertainment. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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