The late Les Bruton.
The late Les Bruton.

Les the brickie loved his music

THE Coffs Harbour community and wider Mid North Coast have lost a friend, with the recent death of Les Bruton after a heart attack.

"Bricks and mortar of community” seems a fitting way to describe this gentle man, who played sweet music and laid bricks in this region for five decades. Many locals have had houses built by Les, or met him and his wife, June, sharing their wonderful tunes and songs at old folks homes, under the trees at various markets and Bellingen Plant Fairs, at Botanic Garden concerts and in folk/bush music festivals and country music concerts from Macksville to Grafton and beyond.

Les was born in Comboyne in 1930. He worked in bricklaying in the New England region, before he and June moved to Coffs Harbour about 50 years ago. After retiring, Les was able to dedicate more time to his beloved music.

Les and June came from musical families, and carried on the tradition of playing the wonderful old dance tunes from the country halls of their childhood, singing the old sing-along songs, particularly enjoying the beautiful harmonies of the old Carter family songs. June's excellent rhythm on lap steel guitar has been a perfect accompaniment to Les' sensitive fiddle, harmonica, mandolin and accordion playing. Discovering new tunes to learn and share with others, has always been a joy to them.

As well as their generosity of so often performing as a duo at country music concerts, Les and June have always encouraged and supported others and been in great demand as backing musicians, all on a voluntary basis. In 2012, the National Library invited them to Canberra, to perform and to tell stories from their early days, both at the library and the National Folk Festival. This was recorded for the library's Oral History collection. Both being such humble folk, Les and June would have been the last people to tell anybody about this honour.

Les is survived by June, their daughter Rebecca and son David, as well as brother Graham, sister Nita, and other family members.

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