A Punter’s Perspective
Random observations on the wide, weird world of folk from the side of the stage
#3 Jack Mancor
First published in Trad and Now magazine, April/May 2007
By Bill Quinn
Jack Mancor is already responsible for two of this punter’s 27,000 “Enduring Memories of Folk”.
The first occurred in August 2005, during the Folk Alliance Australia Convention, standing in the foyer of the Polish White Eagle Club in Canberra, hopping from foot to foot, desperately needing to decant some very fine (and very filtered) Polish beer, but physically unable to depart before the end of ‘Fisherman’s Boy’, Mancor’s haunting ode to the sailors of a Philippine fishing boat that went down in rough seas.
The second came in February 2007, after closing time at the very same venue, when Mancor and Owen Campbell broke into an impromptu version of ‘Rambling Rover’ on the footpath outside the club with various others joining in on the chorus:
Give me a rambling rover
Fae Orkney down to Dover
We’ll roam the country over
And together we’ll face the world
A third enduring moment was to come, but more of that later.
The first two moments go to the heart of what seems to make Jack Mancor the muso, songster and wandering minstrel tick, and moreover, what seems to work on his audiences: the power of his lyrics and performance, and his up-closeness and accessibility to the punters.
And it works just as well when you take his music home and put him on the stereo: Mancor’s album ‘Looking For Something…’ is a remarkable work, reflecting the eclectic and meandering life he’s led to date.
Mancor left home at age 16, then lit off up the road at age 20 to somewhere and anywhere. He spent half of each year working at several vocations, and half the year doing what he loves to do: play his music and sing his songs to a crowd.
Jack rolls a cigarette out front of the endearingly grungy Phoenix bar in Canberra on a vibrant, balmy night (yes, they do exist in Canberra) while he tells me what he’s variously done for a trade.
“I’ve worked down mines, in canning factories, in textile mills, flour mills, on ships, trains, even a fruit juice factory. I’m a fitter by trade and a musician by heart. A lot of my music reflects my work ethic.”
“I’ve burnt a lot of bridges with a lot of bosses,” he concedes with a wry smile.
Mancor’s red-ragging may have earned him the ire of many bosses, but it’s also endeared him endlessly to the executive, rank and file of many unions, and he’s performed at rallies of up to 20,000 comrades.
Mancor’s seen much, and has had some fantastic times travelling. “I was born on the road at 100 miles an hour!” he claims with a grin. He also met his partner and now has a three-year-old, both travelling around with him. Continue reading →