When McKowski isn’t on the road or recording as one half of songwriting duo The Lost Brothers, you will find him running The Boneyard Record Shop in Omagh and playing regularly in the town with Arty McGlynn as part of a Chet Atkins inspired group, The Regrets. He also writes a weekly newspaper column (Notes From The Boneyard), and hasn’t kicked a football in his life. On nights off he can be found asleep at the bar.
Western Australian fingerstyle guitarist, Vervest is somewhat a pioneer of the style in the great land Downunder. Untangling the fingerstyle wizardry of Travis, Atkins and Dadi (on good old vinyl of course), formed the early 80’s backdrop of Vervest’s development as a guitarist. Deeper excavations of ragtime blues and a growing addiction to anything “vintage swing”, kept him busy in many acoustic ensembles over three decades. When he is not sweating it out with his gypsy-tinged project Powderkeg, he is the Artistic Director of Fairbridge Festival. Seriously hooked on fishing, he spends way too much time in the rivers and estuaries of the magnificent south coast.
April 2018, Western Australia. It’s a long drive from Perth to Albany. Vervest is driving, McKowski riding shotgun. They just met a couple of hours ago but small-talk is immediately skipped and elevated to medium-talk. But the conversation goes large when they discover they both share a deep passion for the finger-style techniques of Merle Travis and the genius of Chet Atkins. But its when they discuss the intricacies of early ragtime guitarists such as Blind Blake & Big Bill Broonzy that the conversation hits hyperdrive. As does the car. Vervest’s foot hits the pedal, and McKowski, sweating, holds on for his life. Determination to reach Albany and get the guitars out reaches fever pitch and the drive is miraculously cut in half. As soon as the destination is reached, they eagerly get the guitars from the cases, open a bottle of aged whiskey and begin playing all the songs they talked about on the drive. It’s an instant match made in guitar heaven. A joyous blend of Ragtime, Country-blues, Gypsy-Jazz, Folk and Western Swing. Whenever they can grab a moment the guitars are out and the tunes flow like the whiskey. It continues like this all weekend until they have to go their separate ways across the globe. But it doesn’t end there, as the pair have kept in close touch and their eagerness to play together has only deepened. They have been itching to get back and play more of the music they love, and what better place to do it than at the Clonakilty Guitar Fest!