From the Outback to Amherst

Andrew Wagstaff
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Joe Guy to share music, inspiration at Duncan’s on Jan. 11

AMHERST – He may be without his horse, but Joe Guy has arrived in Amherst, and he has brought his music and inspirational stories with him.
The Australian musician, horseman and performer has ridden thousands of miles on horseback through several countries, but for his winter visit to Canada’s Maritime provinces, he and family are traveling in an RV that’s come a long way and shows it.

Australian musician and horseman Joe Guy is visiting Amherst, and will perform a show at Duncan’s Pub on Saturday, Jan. 11 at 6:30 p.m., sharing his contemporary country music and life lessons.

Regardless of his mode of transportation, however, Joe’s message remains the same.

“I believe we all have a gift, a goal and a purpose,” he said. “We’re all born with a gift, like a fingerprint or DNA; our goal is to find it. For me, once I found it, it then gave me purpose.”

He discovered music, and the ability to write songs and perform. His purpose is to travel, do what he loves to do, and inspire others with what he has done, he explained.

Born in Sydney, Australia, Joe grew up us a street kid. His father was an alcoholic and his mother became addicted to prescription drugs.

“I was pretty much raised with a belt and a backhand,” he said.

“By the time he was eight years old, he was roaming the streets, stealing whatever he could. By the age of 12, he was a runaway. Instead of going to school, he would go to the local work yards and help truckers load sheep and cattle onto their trucks.

An attempt to reconcile with his mother did not pan out, as he found himself spending the next eight months of his life helping her find drugs, until she kicked him out again.

At 17 he walked into a gym and started training – lifting weights, bodybuilding, martial arts, boxing – and turned his life around. From there, he bought a horse and set out across the Outback.

“For me, it was to find my purpose in life,” said Joe. “It was a case of, ‘If I have a purpose, I best get looking for it.”

He spent two years riding, living off of kangaroos and rabbits, and camping on the side of the road. He picked up drover jobs, driving sheep and cattle over some of Australia’s largest properties.

During this time he also found music and discovered that he could not only sing, but could write his own songs. He learned how to play guitar and became a street performer, learning all about costumes, makeup, and promoting.

“I’m a big believer in just evolving,” said. “If something’s not working, go back and shuffle the deck.”

A few years ago he made a big shuffle when he and his wife decided to sell everything they owned in Australia, and move to the United States, where he realized his dream of riding 3,000 miles on horseback across that country. During this time he became a clinician, specializing in fixing problem horses.

He realized another dream in the United States two years ago, when he recorded his album, City Cowboy, in Nashville, which he describes as “contemporary country, easy listening, uplifting, storytelling.”

They moved to Canada in 2011, where he made his first horseback journey from Calgary to Ontario, followed by a ride over Alberta’s historic Cowboy Trail. Last year, he saddled up in British Columbia and rode 2,000 miles to Thunder Bay, Ont. This year, he plans to make the trip from Thunder Bay to the East Coast.

All these miles behind him, is he still looking for something?

“I think I probably am, but, at the end of the day, I think I found the purpose of life for me,” he said. “It’s living it.”

For now, he and family are traveling around Nova Scotia, putting on music shows, and speaking to young people. Amherst is their first stop. On New Year’s Eve they put on a show at the Old Warehouse Café, which featured Joe on guitar while his 12-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter joined him on vocals. His 15-year-old son handles sales of Joe’s book, A Life Without Living, while his wife is “CEO of the company.”

He will play next at Duncan’s Pub on Saturday, Jan. 11 at 6:30 p.m. There is no cost for admission, although donations are accepted.

Twitter: @ADNandrew

Geographic location: Australia, Sydney, United States Thunder Bay Nashville Canada Calgary Ontario Alberta British Columbia East Coast Nova Scotia

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