Decorated WA drummer Howie Johnstone (Dave Warner/The Jackals) lost his house in the Yarloop bushfires of January, 2016, and has been rebuilding his life and home ever since. Howie B. Goode is a fundraiser for Johnson, with performances from The Jackals, Fisher & Son, Jack Royale & The Hotshot Playboys, with special guests Bill Rogers, Carus Thompson, Kilian Albrecht, Steve 'Gibbo' Gibson and more happening at Clancy’s Fish Pub Fremantle on Thursday, May 4. Johnstone chatted with ATS earlier this week.
Walk us through your life since the Yarloop bushfire in January last year…
Life hasn’t been easy since the fire. Just the total upheaval of one’s life is tough enough, and being one of the uninsured didn’t help, but the empathy and kindness of others - total strangers in most cases - has been amazing. Starting with Great Living Homes in Mandurah, giving me a house that was due for demolition - but too good for the tip - and me cutting it in half and transporting 70km to Yarloop - the cost met by anonymous donors - where it now sits on my block, newly stumped and ready for the finishing touches to enable me to move in. Those "finishing touches" include building a bathroom and kitchen... hence the need for some help.
It must mean a lot how the music community has come together to help one of its own?
Yes, in step my muso mates, with the suggestion of this benefit show, Howie B. Goode to raise funds, with a nod to the passing of the great man, Chuck Berry. The night will see me playing with Tom & Jim Fisher, Carus Thompson, The Jackals and Jack Royale... busy night! I am truly humbled by the way people - and the music community in particular - have supported me since the fire. It means a real lot when you’ve lost everything.
You're playing with The Jackals for the first time in over 20 years. What's that reunion been like for you?
Yeah, basically 25 years since we were together, but you wouldn’t have thought it the other night at rehearsal. Sounded great, just like before! And because we always got on well, it really was a pleasure. I’m so looking forward to playing ‘live’ with the guys again. It’s gonna be fantastic.
Where are things at right now?
At this moment, I’m staying at my bloodbrother and best mate Sam Jackson’s place in Mandurah where I have been since knocking on his door on the night of the fire. He took me in for what I thought would be a couple of hours ‘til we got the all-clear, but that call never came and I’ve been there ever since. Almost a year-and-a-half!
What are your hopes and plans looking ahead?
Going forward, I can see me finishing the house with the funds coming from this gig. Plenty of friends have put up their hands to help and with a little bit of funding that help can go a long way. One thing for sure is how grateful I am to have the opportunity to do this. Much love and thanks to all who have helped.
Event Page - https://www.facebook.com/events/1713425222289015/