About



Devil Goat Family String Band are a five piece band who play high-energy bluegrass and fiddle tunes like they’ve never gone out of style. Their contemporary arrangements of traditional tunes utilize the twin fiddles of Kate Conner and Sophia Dunn, banjo of Gus Macmillan, Guitar of Luke Byrnes and Double Bass of Fran Evans (see full bios below). They traverse the old timey and new-grass traditions, and generate a live energy that is truly infectious to music-lovers of all generations.

First formed in 2005, this most recent new line up builds on the success and recognition they developed in the noughties, when they released their highly acclaimed CD Fate of a Bachelor (available on iTunes). They have become favorites at festivals such as the Woodford Folk Festival, Victoria Night Markets 2016, Moomba 2017, and featured on ABC and PBS Radio as well performing everywhere from pubs, parties, corporate events, house concerts, weddings, bush dances, school fetes and bingo nights.

 

Band Members:

 

Gus Macmillan – Banjo

Gus is the founding member of the Devil Goat Family String Band and has worked in the arts industry over the last 26 years as a composer, musician and sound designer. Based in Melbourne, Australia, he spent most of the 90’s, performing as a multi-instrumentalist with Blue Grassy Knoll, and conceived, co-wrote and produced live scores to the silent films of Buster Keaton. These shows received five star reviews at the 1999 and 2000 Edinburgh Festival and have toured internationally ever since, including the USA, Canada, China, Brazil, South Africa, New Zealand, Korea, Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands, and the UK. In 2004 he completed a Graduate Diploma Course in Sound Design at Victorian College of the Arts, working with sound and music in a variety of different of art forms including dance, theatre, film, documentary, circus and puppetry. He works as a freelance session musician and runs the Melbourne School of Banjo where he teaches students one on one, and was the 2005 Guildford Banjo Jamboree’s two-tune pick-off champion!

 


Kate Connor – Fiddle

Kate is a founding member of Devil Goat Family String Band and has been a violinist in various ensembles including contemporary improvisational string quartets, celtic groups, acoustic folk and rock bands and gypsy ensembles over the last 25 years. She was a founding member of popular local band Adana who released two CDs and played at many festivals including The Port Fairy Folk Festival, The Adelaide Festival (Spiegel Tent), Queenscliff Music Festival and The Apollo Bay Festival. Kate was also a member of Disaster Plan (an indie rock band) who produced five cds, and the Shljivovitz Orchestra, a seven piece authentic Balkan folk ensemble, playing melodies from the Balkans including Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and Macedonia. She has been a guest musician on CD recordings and performances for many Melbourne artists including Kim Salmon, Lilith Lane, Charlie Marshall, Major Chord, Tobias Hengeveld, The Brunswick Bluegrass Collective, the Dead Salesmen and Cam Butler. Kate played and recorded with Bill Callahan (Smog) on his Australian tour and has toured Europe with Black Pony Express. She has also performed music for a number of live theatre productions as well as scoring her own music for several of these productions. Her current projects also include Ross McLennan and his World Sympathique ,   The Maya Dreamers and Andy Baylor’s Banksia Band.

 

Sophie Dunn – Fiddle

Sophie Dunn studied classical violin at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School before beginning work as a freelance player nearly fifteen years ago. She has worked with a diverse range of artists across many different musical styles & mediums including theatre, circus and film. Some of these including the School of Hard Knocks Street Requiem String Quartet, Arcko Symphonic Projects, as well as guest spots with several Melbourne-based and visiting contemporary ensembles, such as the Blue Grassy Knoll Silent Film Orchestra at the Melbourne Recital Centre, Bush Gothic’s Lonely String Quartet, international ambient duo A Winged Victory. She is also a regular guest with Melbourne-based Tek Tek Ensemble. Sophie has played with Melbourne’s mariachi band Los Romanticos for nine years and is a member of Andy Baylor’s Banksias Band. She has recently joined The Skulls, performing in the Adelaide Fringe Festival and White Night Ballarat in 2017.

 

Fran Evans – Double Bass
Frances has been creating and performing artistic work since 1993, when she graduated from Melbourne University (Bachelor of Education, Music), where she majored in double bass, Jazz piano, improvisation, and recording studio techniques. Over the last years she has been working with Litany (formerly Hecate), The Oculus Trio, Madam Zuzu and her Dumplings, Dilapidated Diva, The Vardos Trio, Scouthall, Tarantula, and Yetnikov, Sista She, Silent Box Ensemble, The Shoephone Trio, The Stiletto Sisters, and Slijovich Orchestra on double bass and more recently with The Devil Goat Family String Band and The Glitter Rats.  In 2004 she was awarded the Australian Antarctic Arts Fellowship from the Australian Antarctic Division (Department of Environment and Heritage) for roundtrip through to do Filming, recording and Composition Antarctica. She devised a multi-media work `Subsonic’ which was a sonic collaboration inspired by an Antarctic journey through ice, blizzards, polar winds and storms. This exploration of Antarctica denoted a re-presentation of the ‘last true wilderness on the planet.’ (Bob Brown- ‘Memo For A Saner World, 2004.)

2013 collaborations in 2013 included touring with Filastine and Mc Nova across Java on their Loot Tour.  Whilst finishing the Masters in International Community Development with Victoria University on placement in East Timor, she recorded and wrote string music for “A Guerra da Beatriz” (Beatriz’s War), East Timor’s first feature film released by Dili Filmworks in Australia in 2014. This year she has been collaborating with the United Struggle Project Theatre Project `The Change’ with the City of Yarra Choir Vocal Boogie.

Luke Byrnes – Guitar

Luke is the youngest goat of the family. Heading south from the floodplains of Lismore NSW, he arrived in Melbourne in 2012 with his guitar in search of fame and fortune. As a folk musician he naturally found neither. In spite of this, Luke continued performing in various musical outfits across Melbourne, ranging from indie folk acts Pepper Jack and The Danika Smith Band, to the Hip Hop group Sirak, to garage punks Face Face. His most recent musical endeavor involves flatpicking guitar for The Devil Goat Family String Band. Taking influence from Doc Watson to Pat Metheny, Luke tries to incorporate scents of fresh grass guitar playing, while still retaining the familiar musk of good old fashion bluegrass.

 

Former Members DGFSB – 2005-2008

Jamie Saxe (Guitar)

Tamara Murphy (Double Bass)

John Carr (mandolin/dobro)