Renowned Elwood Muso Goes Back to School

Information: An article about Jack’s local music feats of recent years.

Author: Amber Wilson, Melbourne Weekly Port Phillip.

Date: 23 January 2012.

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Imagine turning up on the first day back at school after summer holidays to discover you’d be sharing a classroom with the kids of an Aussie music legend.
That fantasy is a reality for some students at Elwood College – the trumpeter from iconic Australian band Hunters & Collectors, Jack Howard, has two sons studying at the school.

Howard has teamed up with Sean Kelly – of ’90s alternative rock/novelty band TISM – and other musically-inclined fathers Greg Murray, Adam Johnstone and John Betro to create fund-raising group The Elwood Dads’ Band.

The group plays occasionally at Elwood College and Elwood Primary, and pops up at gigs at the Elwood RSL.

Howard, a local resident of 13 years, says it’s the parents rather than the kids who get excited about the star-studded line-up at school fetes and concerts. “The kids don’t really care but the parents love it,” he says. “Lots of the parents were fans of the band so they all go nuts. It’s a heap of fun.”

Howard recently reunited with the Hunters & Collectors crew for a reunion gig alongside John Farnham in Sydney, and says he took a liking to playing horns at a young age.

“I got involved in the Brunswick City Brass Band when I was young. My dad was playing drums in it and I went along and picked up a flugelhorn. I took to it and started playing at school,” he says. “When I got out of school, I was playing in musicals and orchestras.”

In 1981, Howard’s chance of a lifetime came when newly-formed Hunters & Collectors needed a trumpeter.

“Everything changed after that,” he says. “It was great fun. We toured the world, did festivals in Sweden a few times, went to America a few times, and we did a big world tour in 1990.”

Two of Hunters & Collectors’ biggest songs – Holy Grail and Throw Your Arms Around Me – seem to never have left the Australian psyche.

“Even after the band broke up in 1998, we still had a strong life with Holy Grail, which became the football anthem. That song has kept us in the public eye,” Howard says.

“Throw Your Arms? It’s a great song; it’s part of my life, really. It’s been around forever and people get very attached to it. It was in the Triple J top 100 of all time. I love it when the crowd sings along.”

Howard now plays with several bands, including The Nightbirds and the Long Lost Brothers. He has also released five albums since his Hunters and Collectors days, and has played trumpet for You Am I and Little Red.

But he still has time to catch up with former Hunters band mates “for 50th birthdays and the occasional funeral”. “I catch up with a few fairly regularly, and a few not-so regularly, but everyone gets on fine.”