On Sunday afternoon 13 July, a group of friends, admirers and music lovers got together at the Hunters Bar, Cockermouth to celebrate the life of Barry Dunnery (Baz); a much loved musician and guitarist of legendary status, who died recently at the age of 56.

A native of Egremont and brother of Francis Dunnery, Baz shunned the limelight and although having played and travelled with such legends as Ozzy Osbourne, he modestly preferred to stay closer to home, where he continued to play in bands while still running his own business.

The organisers of the ‘Bash’ were Buzz Elliott, Dave Tangye (co-author of the book ‘How Black Was Our Sabbath) and a life long friend of Baz’s; and Chris Smithson, who runs Hunters Bar and also a close friend of Baz’s.

Although Buzz said the event could have sold out twice over, the size of venue and mood were just right and I could not help thinking that Baz would have thought it just right as there was nothing he liked more than standing around in the bar chatting with friends; sometimes rather than getting up and playing!

Everyone that was there was chatting and reminiscing about the guy and swapping humourous anecdotal stories which helped the atmosphere as the bands got set up.

Young and old, the mix was just right and the mood was set for some good entertainment.

The Bullfrogs were first up, fronted by Buzz and immediately got the place rocking and setting the pace for the bands to follow. Although always hard to kick start a gig their tight set with excellent vocals from Buzz and the drummer had us all in the mood.

Next on were ‘Mad Dog Scone’, featuring Baz’s son John; especially reformed for the event and who hadn’t played together with this line up for almost ten years. Their non-stop mad dash set was manic to say the least and backed by a drummer, who was a cross between Keith Moon and Animal off the Muppets they built up to an explosive climax. Great stuff.

‘Off The Hook’ were the third band in the line up and not to be outdone they kept the walls vibrating with their own particular blend of Blues/Rock, while singer Neil danced across the floor occasionally beating time on his own set of cymbals set up in front of him.

By late afternoon the party was well established and Colin Nichol, another friend of Baz’s got up to astound everyone with an amazing version of ‘Crossroads’, played left-handed on an upside down right handed guitar. How does he do that? Backed by an exceptional young drummer, Andrew Bates from Egremont and his dad Gerry on bass this was a jammin’ session not to be missed.

After a much needed break and a natter the Bullfrogs returned to hammer out more music to keep everyone going until the end of the night.

Unfortunately some of us have to go home eventually, but it was hard to drag yourself away from such a fine event and worthy and moving tribute. Undoubtedly a successful event with maybe a similar one to be repeated nearer Christmas. I should imagine another instant sell-out .

The total amount raised when all the pennies were counted was £1300, Dave Tangye and Buzz Elliott are going through to The Ship Launch in Egremont on Friday evening (18 July) at 8.30pm to present the proceedings to Francis Dunnery, and also Mark Andrews (who helps to run the charity) A children’s charity set up to help the health and educational needs of children in the Egremont and West Cumbria area.

Had the man himself been there I can imagine he would have joined in and stunned us with his brilliance, made us laugh with his crack and humbled us with his modesty.

Rock on Baz… you are still a diamond shining bright.

WRITTEN July 17, 2008
by Shep Kirkbride

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