By PHILIP CHANDLER
One of Arrowtown’s great characters, and a co-founder of the Arrow Miners Band, died last month, aged 85.
Barry Bain, who moved to Wanaka with his wife, Ann, five years ago, was instantly recognisable at the back of the Miners Band truck, both for his ‘mad professor’ hairstyle, and his huge instrument, an 1890s sousaphone.
He co-founded the band in time for the inaugural Arrowtown Autumn Festival, in 1985, and played regularly till recently when, because of a prosthetic leg, he had to be lifted onto the truck.
Barry got other gigs for the band, too, while also helping organise some of the festival’s most memorable events.
One year he played a Western movie in the Athenaeum Hall and, to add authenticity, placed a large pile of horse poo in front of the stage, then set up a fan to smell out the whole hall.
The miners band, in fact, was just a sideline for a very talented brass bandsman.
Ann says he started playing the trumpet when he was only seven.
He went on to win national titles, both in duets and with Dunedin’s Kaikorai Brass Band and the Invercargill Garrison Band, while also touring with the National Band of New Zealand.
However, his friend Trevor Tattersfield says he was very modest about his musical accomplishments – or, in other words, never blew his own trumpet.
“You wouldn’t know what he’d done if you were just talking to him.”
He and Ann initially owned a holiday home in Arrowtown while living in Invercargill, where Barry owned a shipping supplies company, before moving to a new home in Butel Road, near Arrowtown, in ’89.
“He was witty, clever, irreverent and certainly not PC,” Lakes District Museum director David Clarke says.
“He was a great writer, especially of short stories and limericks, and won awards for them.
“In many ways he was a renaissance man with his writing, music, and building and fixing things.”
His pride and joy was a 1924 Austin car built especially for the Archbishop of Canterbury when he toured NZ in the ’20s.