Ray Schloeffel

From Australian Traditional Music People

Ray Schloeffel, arranged some of the Australian tunes in this archive.

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Ray Schloeffel was born on 6th February 1957. He was 45 when he passed away on 5th September 2002.

There is scant information available in the public domain about Ray and it is therefore very fortunate that there is a reference available in Marcus Holden’s book, "The Australian Fiddler; The Life and Tunes of Ray Schloeffel". The book tells the story of a man who grew up as a ward of the State through the stories, anecdotes and memories of the musicians who knew and played alongside Ray. Largely raised in institutions Ray lived a troubled life and suffered hardship for many years although he experienced love and attention from his foster family. He first picked up a fiddle while a teenager and ward of the State.

Schloeffel was a gifted musician, and despite his upbringing Ray found value and worth through self-expression in music. He exhibited a wicked sense of humour and achieved a high degree of musicianship. Later in his life those who knew him referred to him as ‘The Reverend’. His skill and musicianship were obvious; his set tunes were considered his sermons, such was the respect he commanded.

For much of his adult life, Ray lived in the suburbs to the west of Sydney. His life there is recorded in the titles of his tunes. The Blacktown Jig and the Merrylands Reel name suburbs in western Sydney and the Clarendon Reel is names a hotel, and folk venue, in Katoomba (Blue Mountains).

Those that knew Ray, speak of his extraordinary talent and the brilliance of his playing. He was a sought after player by country and bush bands and was considered to have a real feel for Irish fiddling. He earned his living by playing gigs and would also be seen drawing a crowd while busking, something he did throughout his life.

An ABC radio special on him in 2012 listed many bands of which Ray was a member. These included; Speeway, The Sufin Shamrocks, McCauley’s Raiders (Golden Guitar winners); Star Maker, and Grand Junction, The Wolverines, Tallowood, and Gilligan’s Ireland.

Many remember Schloeffel for his remarkable tune, The Blacktown Jig, though he composed many others. It is widely played in Australia and internationally.

Wayne Millar May 2018

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