MUSIC is interwoven throughout Michael Wilks and Lorraine Lynch-Wilks’ love story.
It was only natural the couple, who perform as the Michael Wilks Duo, played their own 2016 wedding and had their first dance to one of his original songs How It Should Be. “I wore boots under my wedding dress,” Mrs Lynch-Wilks said. “It was more a of a do-si-do than a waltz.” Singer-songwriter Mr Wilks even penned a song for his new bride, Dance With Me, as a wedding gift.
Now the couple are sharing their passion with others, by opening Waterside Music at Redhead. The school, which includes tutors Sarah Christine, Dan Collard and Oliver Byrnes, offers training in drums, piano, vocals, guitar, bass, ukulele and drama.
“90 per cent of our clients are kids, but 10 per cent are adults who say they’ve always wanted to play or sing, including musicians who perform in public and want to step up to the mike,” Mrs Lynch Wilks said. “We’re not a babysitting service. We want to make sure students have fun but that they have the fundamental building blocks of how to play an instrument, whether that’s guitar or your voice, and to sight read.”
Mr Wilks said he still practised scales daily. “It’s about technique - you don’t sign up for a 100km marathon if you’re not a runner,” he said.
Mr Wilks’ mother enrolled him in piano lessons when he was four and he soon picked up guitar. He has worked as a tutor and has always performed in pubs.
“Music has always been my utopia, my happy place,” he said. “Not a day goes by without a guitar in my hand - it’s at the core of who I am.”
Meanwhile Mrs Lorraine Lynch-Wilks was “born singing” and emigrated from Dublin as a child. “In Ireland you either play an instrument, sing songs, dance or tell stories,” she said. “It’s always been an escape for me, an expression of joy - everything else floats away.”
The mezzo soprano received vocal training from a classical music tutor until the HSC. She was part of the Newcastle Conservatorium of Music choir, but hadn’t “truly” performed in public until a few years ago, when Mr Wilks asked for help delivering a song at a wedding. “He just said to me, ‘You’re up’,” she said. “I didn’t know how to improvise and harmonise, but I loved the interaction with the crowd and the banter.”
They now perform live as a duo and she sings backup in the recording studio.
Mr Wilks’ debut single Back Seat of My Car was released in 2015 on his Kotara-raised Nashville-based friend’s Michael Edser’s label Winter Records. He released a song about domestic violence, No More, then EP A New Direction, which birthed single City Lights.