Arts and Culture

A Trio In Spirit | The Bobkatz

Story: Dan Walker. Photo: Courtesy of The Bobkatz

Despite having not previously met, when bass guitarist Gary Koehler and guitarist Rob Mackay were asked to perform together with a touring artist at a Hervey Bay blues club back in 1998, they could never have imagined it would be the beginning of a winning musical combination and friendship that would endure for over 20 years.

Following on from that initial session, Garry and Rob formed The Bobkatz, playing covers before turning their attention to original compositions penned by Garry.

Rob recalls “Garry’s songs were as good as anything I’d heard and were ‘real’ with a unique and refreshing honesty about them.”

They recorded their first album in 2003 with one of the tracks ‘The Man In The Picture’ resonating with ABC National Radio presenter Ian ‘Macca’ McNamara. Macca played the song regularly on his weekly program and in the process helped The Bobkatz gather a legion of fans across the country.

Between 2005 and 2017 The Bobkatz went on to release six albums, 18 singles and 15 music videos resulting in two national number ones and numerous top 30 singles. They also received three Golden Guitar nominations, two Southern Star Awards, and multiple TSA awards. The band’s ‘Golden Era’ came to an end, not due to feuds or egos but rather due to Garry beginning a battle with cancer, one that tragically ended on the 21st October, 2019. In fact, in over 20 years Garry and Rob did not have a single disagreement.

The following year Rob teamed up with Garry’s daughter Sarah, a fine singer in her own right and frequent guest performer with ‘The Katz’, to perform a tribute to Garry at the 2020 Tamworth Country Music Festival  with friends and guest artists. The shows were well received and the suggestion was made that The Bobkatz continue with Sarah up front singing her Dad’s songs. After careful consideration and trusting that Garry would love the concept, The Bobkatz were reborn with Rob and Sarah on stage and Garry’s lyrics always providing the true heart of the band – a trio in spirit.

Despite the unstable live music scene as a result of the COVID19 pandemic, the band has been rehearsing and taking to the stage at every opportunity. The Bobkatz have appeared at several Brolga Live @ events, and, with a new album under their belt, are in fine form.

“Being able to keep The Bobkatz songs alive and in the world, has made me feel even more proud and privileged than I ever have before” – Sarah Koehler, Lead Vocalist, The Bobkatz

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