Baghead on the balance of life, work and music

BAGISM: Baghead are an expanding and contracting musical outfit who have been together for five years. Picture: Robin Moore.
BAGISM: Baghead are an expanding and contracting musical outfit who have been together for five years. Picture: Robin Moore.

DAN Johnston is treading the well-worn path of many a grownup muso – balancing a career, a family and his passion to create. 

Johnston manages a family business in the construction industry and is a father to two young children. Among all these commitments he has been fronting musical outfit Baghead for five years.  

The band’s sound has been compared to Fleetwood Mac and Bruce Springsteen. They sit somewhere between rock’n’roll and Americana. 

Baghead is a loose ensemble of musicians whose numbers vary from four to seven, depending on the gig and their availability. 

“It depends on if we have our three back-up singers, but the core band is a four piece band,” Johnston said. 

Johnston is the chief songwriter and also plays guitar and sings. Luke Crighton is on bass, Gerard Payne is on drums, and Dave Wells is on lead guitar. When joined by back-up singers, they include Jess Hartigan, Melissa Quinn and Loretta Wells. 

The band has close ties to Dashville, Johnston’s brother Matt Johnston is the force behind the Belford event and venue. 

“We are a bit of a family band, we have all played music together. A lot of my band forms a good part of the Dashville Progress Society, another band I am involved in,” he said. 

“I just enjoy playing music, particularly with good friends.” 

Baghead was born in 2012, but it didn’t become a band until the following year. 

“It has been geared mostly around my solo work,” Johnston said.

“It started as a soloist. The name baghead came from a private function. 

“I was playing the music for the function … there was a theme, I came dressed as someone with a bag over their head. 

“Photos were taken and from that day I was pretty much labelled Baghead. I was Baghead forever more.” 

Members of the band all have other musical and life commitments, this makes gigging a bit of a challenge. 

“Unfortunately the realities of running a business have overtaken my passion for music,” he said. “I take whatever opportunity I get.” 

The band plays regularly at the Grand Junction Hotel, Maitland, and have also gigged in Newcastle, Sydney and regional areas. 

They have made several live recordings and plan to release a debut in 2018.

“We hired a house out at Laguna … in February and we recorded 14 songs, we recorded live,” Johnston said. 

However, there was no firm timeline for the recording’s release. In addition to the Laguna material the recording will also include material from other live performances.