Farewell Rick E Vengeance • Song Man
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Dear Port Fairy Folk Festival Friend,

Music heals! It heals the soul, frees the spirit, brings a smile to your face! It puts a bounce in your step, a dance to your feet. It makes it easier at this sad time to pen a tribute to our kind friend and companion, Rick E Vengeance. He loved to light up our lives through his powerful gift of music. 

Too soon, we will be singing farewell to Rick who truly lived his life as a performing artist, singing troubadour, guitarist, stirrer(!), entertainer extraordinaire, kind friend and wonderfully enthusiastic character. No surprise then, that he had been jamming at the Guilford musical gathering last weekend. That night, peacefully, in a moment, the big guitar in the sky booked him for another, bigger gig.

Those who attended “Port Fairy” each year well know about Rick E Vengeance and cherish the enormous phenomenon of the Sunday Singalongs and Singouts. They will have seen his wife, Leanne, on stage with him. She phoned us to share the sad news, knowing how much he was loved and admired at Port Fairy. 

Rick was from a Polish family and was born in England, the family emigrating to Canada in the mid 1960’s and so absorbing musical influences from both continents. For two years in Regina, he ran The Guild Coffee House booking some of the best touring acts whilst absorbing their skills and music on those Wednesday nights. He also organised the local folk festival before heading downunder in August 1977. Rick E Vengeance with his unique guitars and repertoire, made quite an immediate impression on the Melbourne coffee house folk club scene. I started booking him for the Geelong Folk Club around 1978. With flared pants, rose-coloured glasses, a National Steel guitar and a Canadian accent and the “out there” name he was quite exotic for a very un-hippy Geelong! Imagine! I continued to book him for nearly 40 years to play our various folk club venues, our dances (as Moving Cloud), the Geelong Folk Festival and the Port Fairy Folk Festival.

Rick loved Port Fairy and he was thrilled with the success of the gigantic Sunday arvo shows. This was because he loved to engage with his audience. Those packed-out Shebeen sessions of vocal moshing at incredible volume were testament to Rick’s gifts and skill as a superb artist-entertainer. Many tens of thousands now carry those “happenings” as mythical transcendental experiences - like musical tattoos, forever programmed in their DNA. He created a Port Fairy legend; he is a Port Fairy legend and was awarded the Maton Port Fairy Artist of The Year in 2001. 

A bookers dream, he always said yes, always filled the club and was a great man to have on your roster. He made a huge contribution to the growth and standard of the Victorian folk roots movement, playing One-C-One, The Green Man, Fat Bobs and other clubs as one of a new wave of performers. Along the way he began a 30 year run of  “Wack For The Diddle” (later “The Old Folk Show”) on 3RRR, captivating a large audience with his conversational style and passion for many styles of music. On 3RRR You may listen to a tribute & interview here.

He became known for his colourful enthusiasm, vast repertoire, excellent guitar playing and engaging presence. For venues, festivals, dances, weddings, parties, anything! - he could turn an empty room into a bouncing raging successful event - every time! DJ, guitar teacher, MC, dance caller, radio host - one with the lot.

Leanne and Rick had been living in Yea for some years as he retired from the performing circuit. However in August, Andrew Pattison invited him to his Troubadour 40th anniversary celebration at the Brunswick St venue and Rick was on stage again performing a few of his favourite numbers to acclaim. 

Farewell Rick E Vengeance - thank-you for your kind humanity and the magic of your music which we will always treasure.
Our loving heartfelt thoughts and condolences go out to Leanne and the families.

Jamie McKew - 
Port Fairy Folk Music Festival 1977-2016
Rick E Vengeance - at Geelong Folk Music Club - around 1978, the birth place of Port Fairy Folk Festival
The crowds in awe and full song - a bird's eye view from Rick’s perspective at his legendary Port Fairy Folk Festival SingOuts. His song book will continue to lift the roof as we sing to him in 2019
The 43rd festival: March 08 – 11, 2019
Ph: 03 5568 2227 | F: 03 5568 1819 |
Copyright © 2018 Port Fairy Music Festival, All rights reserved.

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