Standing with dapper elegance is the unofficial mayor of Nambour, Kevin (Kevi) Bryant, with his old-world gentlemanly charm, a stark contrast in a crowd of bustling people with Covid masks. He is an advocate for the town, a regular fundraiser, and he has time for everyone.
by Rebecca Mugridge
Kevi walks from his home in the morning dressed in fine clothing that has been recycled from the local op shops, or some of the local seamstresses in town have created jackets for him. He pops into the local shops to say hi and probably knows nearly every business owner. Anyone he meets he will greet with a friendly smile.
Kevi says the town has so much going for it, Rob Skelton MP is a “top bloke doing good things”, Senior Sergeant Gary Bradley is an excellent bloke to have looking after the town.
“Top people here. They really are.”
Along with enjoying people, Kevi enjoys his music. The Australian music scene is in his blood. “I used to manage a music shop with the original drummer of ACDC for a lot of years. 208 Anzac Parade. Gee, we used to absolutely run amok.”
And it all happened by chance. “I was coming home from the pub one night and thought, yeah, I wouldn’t mind being involved in something like this and then Noel come out. Long hair, beard, smoking camel cigarettes, he has just left Rose Tattoo to join this band, Speed Limit. We got talking.”
He has met a lot of interesting people along the way. “Neil Smith, what an absolute amazing musician, the first bass player in ACDC, he was declared blind in 1984. His brother wrote that song, Get a haircut and get a real job, for George Thorogood. I love that song.
“I sold a drum kit to Kerry Jacobson, that was interesting. And the last time he played with Joe Cavallari at the RSL the duty manager said to me, ‘How do you know Joe’s drummer?’ And I said, I sold him a drum kit in ‘83!
“It was all good fun mate; I learned a lot. Some of the funniest, amazing things. And I sort of think, I’m glad I was there to see that. Just amazing things.”
And this rock and roll life led him to his involvement with Nambour’s very own Retro Rocks, bringing music and fun to the town.
Retro Rocks was local entrepreneur Kathleen Ashworth’s brilliant idea and Kevi says he jumped at the chance to be involved. It has been going strong for eight years now and attracts tourism from all over Australia.
The Sunshine Coast’s first Custom Culture event of its type, Retro Rocks features custom and classic cars and bikes, Rockabilly music and dancing, and fifties fashion with a side of Nambour nostalgia.
“We have had people from Hawaii. Last year 30 people came from WA even during Covid. The joint packs out. Everyone turns up.
“Pat Capoche is one of our best Rockabilly artists and he has just been rated as one of the absolute top in the last century worldwide.”
Kevi says the exciting happenings don’t just stop with the Retro Rocks Festival.
“There are a lot of things happening. It has so much potential [Nambour]. Hopefully by halfway through next year things will be really moving.
“Things are already happening in town. Stay tuned! We just got to keep that vibe happening. If you sit around saying nothing is going to happen, nothing happens.”
Kevi says Nambour has so much going for it and people need to focus more on what it does have, rather than what it doesn’t.
He says when he was involved with the youth centre, at the old military hall in Price Street, there was a Leap Scheme Project where the kids all built walks out at Kondalilla Falls, and it gave them new direction.
“It was fantastic. And a lot of those kids ended up getting really good jobs. They are going great guns.
“Whatever you are given, work with that. You have more than you think.
“I just came out of hospital the other day and my doctor said I had a mini stroke. You don’t worry about too much stuff though because, you know, it will kill you if you do. And there is always someone worse off than you.
“A friend complained about a bit of a headache that turned out to be five brain tumours. You run into people like that. But you know what, he is just happy to be here, at this time, on this planet, happy to wake up. And that how I see it, mate.”
Tony Kay is one of the locals whose day gets a little brighter when he bumps in Kevi.
“This bloke is a true champion, doing what he does. He goes out there and chats to people and gets involved in things, always has a nice word to say.
“A lot of things I used to be able to do are difficult now, but blokes like Kevi help us to remember life is still good. I go outside with a cuppa, the sun is shining, and I think, how good is this? It is still good.”
And he really does do kind acts everywhere he goes – leaving this particular journalist stunned with a gift of red roses at the end of his interview!
Retro Rocks has unfortunately been cancelled this year due to Covid, but you can follow them on Facebook and find out about other community and rockabilly events: Retro Rocks Nambour | Facebook