Keith Potger, one of the founding members of the four piece hit folk group “The Seekers” now returns to Sri Lanka to play at the Country Roads concert on Sunday, March 19 at 6.30 p.m. at the Mount Lavinia Hotel.
A self-taught musician, Keith is known for coaxing melodies out of the 6 and 12-string guitars, the banjo and recorder.
Growing up in the 1950’s Keith was influenced by legendary figures in the music industry such as Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley, as well as the Bellamy brothers later. His parents, both ardent country music lovers had records of country artistes such as Hank Williams which played on repeat in their home. He also listened to Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey coupled with the influential vocal groups of the time- ‘The Four Lads’ and ‘The Four Freshmen’.
Starting young, he formed many vocal groups as a teen and young adult. One of the first was the “Trinamics” around 1957, at his high school, that was heavily involved in charity work. At one such event hosted by the school, they were placed first and Keith recalls this as a key moment of his music career.
Having lost his maternal grandfather and brother when his family migrated to Australia, Keith is no stranger to adversity, having found strength in the unity of his family. Gregarious by nature, Keith is moved by individuals who support charities. He has been patron and ambassador of the Variety Children’s charity from the 1960’s and continues to support many charities and social action programmes like ‘Support Act’, a charity established by the music industry to provide a safety net for artists and music workers in crisis.
With high profile charities which aid causes like cancer research, Keith also enjoys putting his efforts into charities which “fly under the radar”. “Every little bit helps,” Keith states, adding that he is pleased to be a part of the Country Roads concert as he feels that over its 29 years in operation it is clearly “committed to its cause” making “its heart in the right place”. “The commitment that people have to their cause is what influences me to help too,” he says.
Contacted by President of the Country Music Foundation Feizal Samath over the years, Keith had been unable to participate but now seeing an opening in his busy schedule of touring and events this year, he seized the chance!
Of Burgher descent he has made many trips to Sri Lanka and recalls coming down in Christmas of 1992 with his mother and performing for a string of concerts starting on December 31 to around 4 a.m. on January 1 (five concerts taking him from Bentota to just north of Bandaranaike airport!). His most recent visit was in 2012, where he enjoyed a much deserved holiday.
His past with The Seekers, the Australian four-piece vocal group who stormed the UK charts in the 1960’s saw him sharing the spotlight with Judith Durham, Athol Guy and Bruce Woodley, kindred spirits who are his “good friends” to date.
With Athol on the double bass, Bruce and Keith on the five string banjo and guitars, and Judith a classically trained pianist, The Seekers were a band like no other. Bruce, Athol and Keith brought their own folk music repertoire and Judith with her Gospel songs made the band’s style a genre of their own. The group was influenced by legends of the music industry in the late 60’s and early 50’s– with Skiffle music coming out of England at that time and The Weavers. The Kingston Trio who also had three men and one woman in their group was a major influence too.
Now going solo Keith is more focused on Country Music. His concerts include songs from the well-loved The Seekers’ repertoire, his own songs and covers of other artistes. His biggest influence in his song writing has been country legend John Denver but he still stays current with his love for singers like Keith Urban.
At Country Roads 2017 next Sunday, Keith will perform The Seekers hits “I’ll never find another you” “World of our own” “Georgy Girl”, “Morning Town Ride”, a couple of John Denver songs, Marty Robbins classics “The story of my life”. Singing “Country Roads is a given of course,” Keith adds.
He also loves going back to the Hank Williams classics of “Jambalaya” and Hank Snow’s “The Golden Rocket”. “ I try to mix it up a bit,” Keith says. He will also possibly perform some of his original numbers that he wrote while on his travels to Nashville, such as “Guardian angel guiding light”, “Your heart will always be my home” and “Peace in my time”.
As a solo artiste is he can gauge the audience reactions and change his performances accordingly, he says, living true to his “Wandering Minstrel” reputation. So fans can look forward to a superlative evening.
A vegetarian, Keith is also eagerly looking forward to eating Gotukola mallum and pol sambol, string hoppers and egg hoppers during his stay.
Also performing at Country Roads will be well loved audience favourites, UK singer Astrid Brook, the Mavericks duo from Germany and our very own Cosmic Rays.
Don’t miss this great show for a cause on March 19.
Tickets are priced at Rs. 3,000, Rs. 2,000 and Rs. 1,000 and are on sale at the hotel and at Cargills Food City outlets in Kirullapone, Majestic City, Mount Lavinia (near the courts), Staples Street, Rajagiriya (Parliament Road) and Kohuwela as well as Cargills Big City in Katubedda. More details are available by calling 0773823909 or emailing email@example.com.
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