Ray Ackerman jokes that he has an audience of a couple of regular groupies and two tradies having a beer by the fire when he plays fiddle at Milton’s Star Hotel.
The 68 year-old violinist first played at age six, lapsed at 15, reinvigorated with lessons at 26, now practices an hour and a half a day and is enjoying it more than ever.
Classically trained, Ray has “rediscovered traditional stuff, with a portfolio of old Irish and English hornpipes, jigs and strathspeys, easy to digest and with a bit of bluegrass too”.
“I take the bland sheet of music and love to embellish, to give it the feeling and flavour of the country of origin, adding all the subtleties and nuances,” Ray said.
“Nothing too complicated though, I keep it simple.”
Ray retired to Milton a couple of years ago and kicked seriously into gear again after meeting and playing with the Tribal Funk Orchestra.
A former Sydney stockbroker, Ray’s business flourished prior to the mining boom and an English company bought him out, enabling his fiddle-and-sea change.
Mollymook tourism promoter Ken Banks is a big fan.
“Ray is very passionate and does a great job - very few know he’s there but it’s great music and a bit of culture,” Ken said.
Ray offered to play at the Star for the love of it and a couple of schooners but is “not anxious to become a celebrity”.
However the anonymity he has been sneakily getting away with for a few months beside the fire at the Star could be about to change.
He plays between 4-5pm on Mondays, sometimes longer.
Culture and fun are the winners.