In 2005 a group was formed from the embers of a Tamworth Music Festival pickup band. The Skinwhittlers as they were to be known were Laurie Ernst – drums, Roni Francois – bass, Kim Cheshire – vocals, Michael King – guitar and Gary Steel – keyboards.

This band of journeymen players with a formidable pedigree and what seemed like a couple of hundred years experience between them. Decided to join forces, putting together a neo-roots music collective, the like of which had never been heard in Australia at that time.

The Skinwhittlers

They adjourned to the northern outskirts of Sydney and began recording their debut EP Boot Scootin’ For Putin in the winter of 2005. These tumultuous sessions resulted in some of the best and worst moments of that collaboration.

On arrival at the Steel property they immediately realised there was a lack of equipment for the sessions so an ADAT machine was quickly sourced and Roni stepped in to produce and engineer the recordings. The backing tracks were hastily captured there over a few days and then the project moved to Point Studios for the overdub sessions.

Personal problems, musical differences and a lack of confidence dogged the proceedings all the way to the bitter end. At which point the project was shelved.


I recently was in the studio vault where I found these recordings and decided to open the dust covered canisters to hear what was within. Pleasantly surprised, I’ve decided to share these recordings with you. And let you be the judge of The Skinwhittlers.

DreamlandBunny Wailer
Mother EarthMemphis Slim
TatlerRy Cooder & Russ Titleman
Wildworld – Cat Stevens | Steven Demetre Georgiou | Yusuf Islam