Gum Leaf Player
Roving Character available for hire, based in Victoria
Herb Patten was born in Orbost, Victoria, in 1943. He was first recognised as a serious gumleaf player when he was 7 years old, and the following year, he gave his first public performance, accompanied by his aunt on the piano. From then on he played widely at family and clan gatherings. As a young musician he became the lead singer with the rock band, The House of the Rising Sons. His repertoire of 300 songs together with his musical enthusiasm led him to meet Australian rock giants of the period, Johnny O'Keefe, Col Joy, Little Pattie, and many others.
Herb is an intuitive player who at first played completely by ear. His repertoire spans traditional pop classics and folk music. As well, he wrote the Country and Western ballad, 'Newmerella Pines' and is an authority on the well known Aboriginal folk song 'Jacky Jacky'. In 1995 he played the gumleaf at the opening of Melbourne's Moomba Festival and at a concert with the great Dizzy Gillespie.
For the last five years he has given classes on gumleaf playing for the Music Department of Monash University, Victoria. His work has been acknowledged by invitations to play at the Edinburgh Festival and by performances in Hong Kong.