John Bisset / Stuff
Red McKelvie performs with the Bog Trotters at Sail & Anchor Bar and Cafe in Timaru on St. Patrick’s Day 2016.
Former bandmates and family of Bertram John ‘Red’ McKelvie shared fond memories of the talented musician following his death on Saturday.
McKelvie, who was living in Geraldine at the time of her death, has a long list of Australasian musical references to her name – including playing guitar for Australian musician Richard Clapton and in band The Flying Circus.
Timaru man Doug Blakie has played alongside McKelvie in the band, Shakey Ground and The Coyote’s, performing in hotels, bars and private venues across the South Island and has described him as a great companion of tour.
“He was a legend in New Zealand music and a privilege to share the stage with him,” Blakie said.
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Such sentiments were echoed by Cheryl Blanchard, who played with McKelvie in the Timaru-based band Flashback.
“He was a real individual, there never was someone quite like him and there never will be again,” Blanchard said.
Renowned for playing the pedal steel guitar, one of the most difficult instruments to master, McKelvie also sang and played five other instruments.
He was primarily interested in country and Irish music, working with New Zealander Al Hunter and touring with country artist Patsy Riggir.
Blanchard said his former bandmate sometimes changed genres mid-show and recalled one time when they were playing a country gig and some teenagers in the crowd asked him to play Guns N’ Roses at the square.
“He just put his mandolin down and picked up an electric guitar,” Blanchard said.
Blanchard said he was always keen to perform anywhere, including weddings and retirement homes and always lend his talents to Timaru’s bands.
Elaine Barwell, McKelvie’s cousin, said he moved to South Canterbury in 1995 and was in high demand by bands in the local music scene.
Barwell, who shared a house with his cousin for a while, said he always plays music in his spare time.
“’I only think about music’ was his slogan.
“He loved making people happy with his guitar and making people dance,” she said.