Above: Contemporary Greg.
Above: Brass players from Elizabeth, England tour group
Above: Greg Frick and John Gould Newspaper cutting, Silver Jubilee Concert
Above: Greg with Geoff Meikle March 2020.
Gregory Ian Frick was born on March 13th 1958 in the Salisbury District Hospital. He was part of the second to last batch of babies to be despatched from the, now mostly forgotten, building. These days, pizzas and Kentucky Fried Chicken are despatched to willing recipients on the site where Greg entered the world. In a strange, almost Freudian way, Greg's life interests now include Free Range Chicken Farming. If we take this tangential reference one step further, I can tell you from personal experience that the sixties and early seventies were a time when children could range freely and experience life.
As a nine year old beginning brass player young Gregory used to catch a train from Elizabeth to Adelaide on a Friday night to attend the Railways Band learners class. His Mum accompanied him on his first night, but after that he made the trip on his own, melding into the late night shopping crowd with his cornet case.
Over a couple of beers and schnitzel at the Woodside Pub, Greg and I compared notes on our early days growing up in Elizabeth, which included riding our bikes, at night, to and from band practice in Salisbury. Barry and Joan Frick, like Colin and Barbara Meikle were not irresponsible parents, but they lived in an era when it was possible to encourage your children to be self-reliant without too much fear of them coming to grief out in the big world.
The big world is a better place for having Greg Frick in it. His original trade was in refridgeration and air conditioning, and I reckon that he still thinks like a tradie. He looks, he thinks, he analyses and then provides solutions to problems and manages situations.
He was appointed to the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in the mid-eighties and has played his part as a conscientious professional orchestral trumpet player as well as being a very interesting bloke to boot. He is his own man, he generates his own electricity, he collects his own water, he builds his own straw bale houses and serenades his own free range chickens every day using a trumpet that has a mouthpiece of his own design.
Greg and I recorded an interview whilst consuming the aforementioned beers and schnitties at Woodside. I have transcribed our conversation and now make it available for you the reader.
Please enjoy the success story of a lad from Elizabeth who made his start in Brass Bands.
Geoff Meikle, 2020
Greg Frick, Brass Band Profile,
Interview transcript, 27/2/2020
“Ok, I’m interviewing Greg Frick for the South Australian Brass Band Profiles Project, so here we go. Greg, name and place of birth please.”
“ Gregory Ian Frick, Salisbury South Australia”.
GM, “And your Mum and Dad’s name, I know your Dad’s name is Barry”
GF, “Barry Frick and Margaret Joan Frick, there’s only Joan left”.
GM, “Joan, she still pops into that little Op Shop where Rita Snelling works at Elizabeth North”.
GM, “What instruments do you play Greg?”
GF, “The trumpet”.
GM, “The trumpet, that’s it? You don’t play the cornet?”
GF, “I have played the bassoon, I played the bassoon at a function, just to send up the principal bassoon!”. (laughs…)
GM, “Who were your first influences and who gave you your first lesson?”
GF, “Ah, influences, probably the cornet players I was playing with in the band at the time, umm…..and …..influences, I was into Rafael Mendez a bit in those days and later on I moved on to Adolph Herseth, in the orchestral sense”.
GM, “I’d say that the style of articulation you had came from Mendez, in the early days, that percussive, nice attack that you have”.
GF, “Umm, Bob Size taught me to triple tongue and double tongue, triple first then double. So it was quite easy, I found it quite easy anyway. And my first lessons were with the South Australian Railways Band, in the basement on Friday nights, downstairs. I used to catch the train in when I was nine, with my little case, down the stairs. I wish to remind you that every time I walk through the station on the way to the Festival Theatre, I still smell the diesel, the same smell that was there when I was nine years old! Yeah, I can’t remember the Bandmaster at the time, but there were four of us in the group. A guy called Ricky, who had thick glasses, David Wellman. Do you remember Dave Wellman?”
GM, “Good trumpet player”.
GF, “And another guy from Broken Hill”. But there were four of us and we did four flats, four sharps, four weeks (laughter!), and that was the start”.
GM, “And then you had lessons with Bob Size.”
GF, “I had lessons with Bob for a few years and then he passed me on to Stan Roberts.”
GM, “Alright, what bands have you played in?”
GF,” Salisbury and Elizabeth.”
GM, “Has there been a particular time in your life that has been important in shaping you as a musician?”
GF, “Probably when I first started playing with the orchestra, and enjoying it.”
GM, “I mean you played with the Stan Roberts Brass Ensemble, Salisbury Band, Elizabeth Band.”
GF, “Yeah, it probably wasn’t until I actually did the audition for the job, that I realised that I might be good enough, because I was up against people who were doing full time study to be trumpet players and I was only doing half an hour a day. So it was after I got the job……..”
GM, “Are you sure you only did half an hour a day, rumour has it that you practised your guts out all the time!”
GF, “Nah, I only did half an hour a day until …until I went to go for the job, then I did two hours a day. That was about six months to a year before I got the job.”
GM, “So when you started doing two hours a day, you were getting ready for the job (audition). But you were already very good….”
GF, “Yeah it was mainly getting the stamina, performance standard and getting it right every time.”
GM, “Contesting, is it worth the effort?”
GF, “Oh yeah, I think so….yeah…”
GM, “I know if I had my time over again, I’d think twice before I went into a brass band contest.”
GM, “It raises the standard, but , you know, its…..the months of tedious rehearsal, the nerve-racking waiting around and all that stuff…”
GM, “….and the atmosphere it creates, I don’t know whether it’s antithetical to music even.”
GF,” Yeah sometimes it’s……with us it more focussed on the one week, if we have a concert on the Saturday, we start rehearsing on the Wednesday.”
GF, ”So with the orchestra it’s much more condensed into performances at the end of the week, that you’ve been working for.”
GM, “Of course you’re dealing with professional players.”
GM, “Ok. What awards, prizes and achievements have made you glad that you made the effort in contesting.”
GF, “Well I never really thought much about it to tell you the truth, only that I wanted to win at contesting. I when I won the Champion of Champions I thought well that’s……….That’s it isn’t it, there’s not much else to do after that.”
GM, “Yeah, I think Glenn (Madden) did the same, he won the Champion of Champions, Jimbo (Jim Dempsey) did up in Queensland, Peter Walmsley was another one moved on to the next logical phase, which was playing professionally.”
“What are your preferred styles of music?”
GF, “I like big band, jazz, orchestral…..some film music even.”
GM, “Do actually go out and listen to music?’
GF, “Yeah, I listen to music all the time.”
GM, “I mean go to concerts and…”
GF, “No, I only usually go to concerts I’m in.” (laughs)
GM, “So you don’t go and listen to little bands here and there?”
GF, “Nah, usually if you get a night off you like to stay home”.
GM, “Who are your favourite musicians, bands and musical associates?”
GM, “Nah, can be anyone”.
GF, “Well I used to like Herseth a lot, Adolph Herseth from the Chicago Symphony, used to listen to him all the time, and……”
GM, “He revolutionised orchestral trumpet playing didn’t he, with that big bold sound…”
GF, “Yeah, he did a bit, very good player, very nice man too. I met him when he was here in 88-89”.
GM, “I’ve seen him on Youtube, he looks like a decent bloke.”
GF, “Yeah, yeah, no bullshit, straight down the line”. (laughs) Him and Arturo Sandoval, saw him in Perth. He was over there doing a Cultural Festival at the time and I was over there doing the Janacek Sinfonietta. They rang up and said that Sandoval was playing at the Pub down at Blah, Blah, Blah. So he was there playing piano, trumpet, you name it…..just fantastic, all over the range of the instrument, amazing guy.”
GM, “What about guys that you’ve played with”.
GF, “Guys that I’ve played with, well there’s always Geoff Payne……who I only got to play with once, probably the reason I got to play with him was because I refused to play first at the time. So they had to fly him over from Melbourne, haha.”
GM, “Funnily enough he did a Mendez recording, didn’t he, and really nailed it with that beautiful attack and technique.”
GF, “And did it all, like in one takes almost.”
GM, “Ok, what would you do differently, do you have any regrets?”
GF, “Probably would have left Adelaide soon after I got the job.”..(laughs)
GM, “Are you serious?....What would you do try and get a better job somewhere else?”
GF, “Yeah, just audition and you’d get a job somewhere else.”
GM, “Ok, well that’s what they all do now. Jimbo was telling me the other day that Dave Elton is principal trumpet in one of the London Orchestras”
GF, “Yep, and Andrew Baine is principal horn in the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Berlin Phil, seconded to Berlin Phil”
GM, “What effect has banding had on your family life? Do your kids play?”
GF, “No, no they don’t, I left banding long before I had kids so I wasn’t really in the scene when I had kids”
GM, “Of course Russell and David (Greg's brothers) played, didn’t they?”
GF, “Yeah, they never really took it on though, they had a little toot and then went on to do other things.”
GM, “Has banding influenced your social life?”
GF, “No, not really………neither has orchestral work….hehe”
GM, “That’s what struck me about you, you’re a guy that plays trumpet in the orchestra, then goes home to this other life. As far as I know you don’t teach or do extra gigs”
GF, “No, I only teach people when they ask me for advice, but then they get a bit freaked out by the advice, haha”.
GM, “What about your other interests?”
GF, “Umm, free range chicken farming, straw bale houses, natural energy. We’re on solar out there”.
GM, “What about water?”
GF, “Just what falls out of the sky and we have a dam”.
GM, “And what lies ahead for you?”
GF, “Chicken farming”.
GM, Alright, you’ve worked out that you can make a living at it, enough to retire on?”
GF, “Well if you put straw bales together with chicken farming, you can protect the chickens from all the elements, and you can build it yourself and it’s the by-product of farming anyway, so they’re available, it won’t burn down. And when all the other chickens die, my chickens will still be right!”
GM, “Of course you saved the chickens in the fire didn’t you?”
GF, “Yeah, well they saved themselves, they just went into the shed while all the fences fell down and the foxes were to busy saving themselves to go chicken farming. It was easy really, I just shut the door to the shed at about two o clock in the morning, because I was busy fighting the fire until about two in the morning.”
GM, “Any other thoughts and opinions?”
GF, “ Nah, I’ll go on for hours once I start, haha”.
GM, “I’ll make it up! Now there’s a special professional supplement here.
How would you characterise your approach to playing your instrument now, compared to your early brass band days”.
GF, “I’m a lot more methodical now, I have a general routine that I do, then I go to work”.
GM, “You just play what’s put in front of you and that keeps you in nick.”
GF, “ Yeah it does, and if there is something coming up that I know is horrific I’ll get it sent to me as a PDF and get it right before I go in.”
GM, “Is there any difference between the pressure you feel as a pro and the pressure you felt on the brass band contest stage?”
GF, “Not really, no”.
GM, “It’s funny you should say that because Glenn (Madden) and Jim (Dempsey) have both said, Glenn especially, that the pressure was greater on a brass band contest stage. They quoted Geoff Payne as saying ‘I would rather play the Haydn Trumpet Concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra than play repiano cornet with Boorondara Brass Band because there was less pressure playing the Haydn’…….(Laughter!).....You never felt that? I don’t suppose you were in brass bands long enough really.”
GF, “Well no I didn’t play a lot on brass bands, I filled in on Eb Soprano cornet with Elizabeth for a while”.
GM, “Is there one particular quality that a musician needs to become a pro, or do they need a cocktail of qualities to be able to perform professionally?”
GF, “You’d have to be tenacious and a bit of a go-getter, or be born into the right family who bought you the right violin!”
GM, “How many cocktails would you advise someone to consume before they perform?”
GF, “No more than two unless they got something like the Blue Danube Waltz to play!”
GM, “Ok, the next two are multiple choice. Do you play for free when asked to by a brass band? A) Yes, B) No, please explain! C) Only if they provide free cocktails!”
GF, “ Well I’ve never been asked to play for a brass band, so I don’t know. The set up I use is for second trumpet so I don’t consider myself a soloist as such. But I still have to play over the whole register with the first trumpet sometimes, you still have to have the range but, (GM, ‘you’re not exposed?')…….not so much, no.”
GM, “Do you still enjoy being part of the brass band scene, A) Yes, B) No, please explain! C) Only if it involves a vast quantity of cocktails!”
GF, “Yeah, probably the last one, haha!”
GM, “Thanks Greg”.