Swampy blues quartet founded in friendship

By Ian Beeck | posted on September 18, 2020

THE origin of Blue Tongue Lizzard, Albany’s swampy blues and boogie maestros, is both touching and a reminder of the benefits of checking in with friends after the recent R U OK? Day.

Three years ago, musician Terry MacKintosh’s daughter Lizzee had just passed away from melanoma and he was due to play a solo gig in Denmark.

“I was not in a good space, understandably,” MacKintosh admitted.

“I had already cancelled once, and didn’t feel I could do so again.

“So, I rang a couple of muso mates, James Blackwell and Tuaari Kuiiti, and said, ‘I’m in trouble, any chance you could come and support me?’

“They both said, ‘yes, we’ll be there’.

“I had played individually with each previously, but James and Tuaari had not met each other until the night of the gig.

“The gig went off, the chemistry was evident and Blue Tongue Lizzard was born.”

The band comprises Kuiiti on percussion, Blackwell on lap steel guitar and MacKintosh on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, recently adding Mic O’Doherty on blues harp.

Kuiiti began his career in New Zealand, playing in a professional jazz band at the age of 12, going on to tour Europe, before finally settling in Albany many years ago.

Blackwell, an exceptional slide guitarist, is originally from Melbourne, where he played in various bands before moving west.

MacKintosh received his first guitar, made by his father, when he was nine-years-old, inspired by Reg Lindsay’s Country Hour.

He learned his chops playing folk mass at the local church, moving on to various bands through the 1980s.

MacKintosh also performed overseas including the Philippines and Thailand.

O’Doherty cut his teeth busking solo with a harmonica and foot tambourine before going to Europe, playing in taverns and on tourist boats.

The pandemic obviously shut down gigging for a few months but MacKintosh bunkered down with his family and kept creatively busy.

“I used the time and opportunity to write some new material and set up a desktop studio to record demos, in preparation for getting back on the tools, whenever the time came,” MacKintosh said.

“This time also inspired me to begin looking at other ways of getting my music out to the world.”

But MacKintosh is ecstatic to be back playing live and believes punters are also more appreciative and receptive that live music is back.

“When you take something away, which has been taken for granted, the return is sweet,” he said.

“You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone as the saying goes.

“There was a vibrant music scene on the south coast pre-covid, with up to a dozen venues supporting live local music every weekend.

“The continuing restrictions on numbers has meant that many venues have not returned to live music.”

Blue Tongue Lizzard will perform in the Gold Room at Six Degrees on Saturday, September 26. Tickets available at eventbrite.com.au