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Former Jet-setter Still Calls Redcliffe Home

Story: Sandra Beynon | Photo: Bruce Redman
Published On : Apr 23, 2021
Former Jet-Setter Still Calls Redcliffe Home
Whether running errands for Dolly Parton or gazing at the waters of Moreton Bay, production manager Kerry Nicholson said his heart has never left the Peninsula.

Born in Roma, Kerry said he had lived in Redcliffe “forever”. After early schooling in Townsville, he completed his studies at "Redcliffe Grammar", and his dad was the local copper.

“After leaving school, I played bass in the Sydney Orchestra for Kamahl’s Live at the Opera House show,” Kerry said.

“Even as a youngster, there was no pay discrimination. It was so much better than working at the bottle-o.”

While still playing in cover bands, Kerry started hiring out his PA gear, and things grew from there.

“Back in the glory days, we were the resident band at the Hammo (Hamilton Hotel) and stayed for five years,” Kerry said.

He left his day job at the railways and invested in more PA equipment, going on supply sound for the successful Pirates of Penzance stage show, and touring Australia and New Zealand with John English and Simon Gallagher.

The US beckoned when Kerry was invited to work for the new Vans Warped Tour.

“I spent 24 years commuting between Australia and the US, touring with that show,” he said.

Kerry toured the US extensively throughout 2001, starting in Chicago with Pledge of Allegiance, Slipknot, Ramstein and System of a Down.

Slipknot’s tour manager went on to become Dolly Parton’s manager, and later invited Kerry to work with the star in Nashville as her sound production manager.

“I was really a jack of all trades – office work, general gopher, whatever. Dolly was the nicest person to work for,” he said.

Other tours included Jack Johnson and Ben Harper all over the pre-COVID planet.

But the events of 11 September 2001 wreaked havoc and festivals like Livid were unable to grow due to air travel restrictions.

“I’m a lucky guy. I was supposed to fly on 9/11, but ended up stuck in Chicago,” Kerry said.

“I’ve lived in many other places but my heart is here.  I’d rather be poor in Australia, than rich in the US.”