Sydney 1968-70

Mick Barnes (guitar)
Keith Barr (sax, oboe)
Dan Doepel (vocals, keyboards)
Margaret Goldie (vocals)
Dan Liebscher (drums)
Daryl Mackenzie (drums)
Scott Maxey (bass, vocals)
Jim Stephens (Stevens) (guitar)
Warren Ward (bass)


Very little is known about this group, although they had a small but significant imapct on the Australian rock scene in the late '60s, primarily in Sydney. The group supposedly emigrated from their hometown of Los Angeles in 1967 to avoid the draft. Dennis Wilson, former guitarist with Kahvas Jute recalled that the band was originally known as 'Captain Reefer and the Desert Siren'. As reported by Ian McFarlane, Billy Thorpe once called them the `stonedest bunch of guys I'd ever met' -- high praise indeed!

According to Who's Who of Australian rock the group was "free, easy, warm and friendly", an "exploratory rock'n'roll band into free form with a trace of jazz and everything else". They first appear in music references during 1968; they were popular in Sydney but had little or no impact in other cities.

They began playing around Sydney just as the local underground/psychedelic scene was taking off; it was led by The Id, Tamam Shud and Tully and lightshow-film collective Ubu played a significant role in this scen. Ubu promoted a series of underground dances in 1968-69 at which all of these groups featured regularly.

In late 1969 the band formed a promotional company called EMLE-Stonewall Productions; according to one source, the acronym 'EMLE' stood for "Electricity Makes Living Easier". The company promoted and presented Australia's first outdoor rock festival, the Pilgrimage For Pop at Ourimbah on the NSW central coast, on the Australia Day long weekend in January 1970. Compered by Adrian Rawlins, it featured Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs, Jeff St John's Copperwine, Tully, Wendy Saddington, Doug Parkinson In Focus, Leo De Castro & Friends, Max Merritt & The Meteors, Levi Smith's Clefs and the Nutwood Rug Band.

As far as can be ascertained, The Nutwood Rug Band underwent a number of lineup changes in 1970 before splitting up, either sometime during 1970 or early in 1971. UK-born reed playerKeith Barr played with them during 1969; he went on to work with Quill and Heart'N'Soul; sadly he died as a result of a diabetic attack on 2 July 1971.

After Nutwood Rug Band ...

- Mick Barnes evidently left the group in mid-1969 and became part of "Tully +4", the augmented version of Tully that played as the house band for the rock musical Hair during 1969-1970, comprising with Tully, John Sangster, Bobby Gebert and Keith Hounslow. Barnes went on to work with some of the shifting lineups of Barrie McAskill's People and Levi Smith's Clefs in 1972-73.

- Dan Doepel founded the Arts Factory in Byron Bay, which is now a backpacker hostel.

- Margaret Goldie is listed as a member of the group in 1969, but she was a cast member of Hair so it is possible that this is the reason for her inclusion; according to Who's Who Margaret is now deceased.

- Daryl MacKenzie (aka Lefty Zarsoff) played with the Nutwoods around 1970; he was already a veteran of the Sydney scene, with a list of notable credits including Dr Kandy's Third Eye and Quill; after Nutwood Rug Band he went on to play with Jeannie Lewis, Wasted Daze and The Fabulous Zarsoff Brothers.

- Scott Maxey played briefly with Company Caine before replacing Bob Daisley in Kahvas Jute, touring the UK with them and joining the reformed version in 1973-74.

Nothing else is known at this stage about drummer Dan Liebscher or guitarist Jim Stephens


As far as is known, the Nutwood Rug Band made no commercial recordings. The only known contemporary recording featuring members of the group is the original Australian cast album of Hair, released in 1970 on the Spin label, which included Mick Barnes as a member of 'Tully +4' band.

References / Links

Ian McFarlane
Encyclopedia of Australian Rock & Pop (Allen & Unwin, 1999)

Chris Spencer, Zbig Nowara & Paul McHenry
Who's Who of Australian Rock (Five Mile Press, 2002)

Peter Mudie
UBU: Sydney Underground Movies 1965-1970 (UNSW Press, 1997)