One million hits for Margaret River’s Doug and Cletus | Video

Margaret River band Doug and Cletus are definitely experiencing their “five minutes of fame”.

And it’s all thanks to that iconic 80s song by Toto: Africa.

The group, formed earlier this year through a combined love of music and a shared history at Margaret River Senior High School, have scored a massive online hit with their quirky bluegrass cover of Toto’s iconic hit, Africa.

According to double bassist Max Harwood, the group – Ryan Brennan (guitar/ vocals), Jutto Haddow (mandolin), Joey Gibson (banjo/ OH&S officer) and Isabelle Lemon (violin) – all met as students and started playing after Gibson decided to learn the banjo.

“Despite knowing and playing music around each other for 15 years, this is the first time the five of us have played as a group. First time we’ve played bluegrass too, it’s really fun!”

“We have only been into bluegrass for the last 12 months, prior to that we were playing in different rock, metal, jazz and funk bands and have taken influences from there,” Harwood said.

Initially planning to create a “bit of fun and entertainment” during winter, the band posted a number of live recordings to their Facebook and Youtube channels, thinking a handful of family and friends may like them.

Instead, they’ve earned more than one million views across three viewing platforms – not bad for a video filmed at Jutto’s mum’s place, in Cowaramup. 

The musicians enjoy a range of day jobs – Brennan is a horseman, Gibson is a carpenter, Harwood is a farmer, Lemon is a teacher and Haddow is a retail consultant. Harwood said the band has enjoyed wading through the countless comments and reactions to the video, some more positive than others.

“The best bit has been the comments,” he said. 

“Negative comments have been the most entertaining; usually scathing, unconstructive and really funny to read. The amount of positive feedback and encouragement from strangers is exciting, confidence boosting and something we were not prepared for.

“It’s surreal to think how many people have watched us perform – we’re definitely feeling like we have had our 5 minutes of fame.”

Doug and Cletus are planning to upload more live recordings of their classic rock and pop covers, with a bluegrass twist as well as some original songs. 

“We are also playing a few shows around the South West over spring and summer,” Harwood said.

“The experience has been really rewarding and we encourage budding musicians to practice regularly, play what you enjoy, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and try something new occasionally. 

“There will always be people who don’t like the music you are playing. As long as you are enjoying it, it is worth doing.”

Harwood added a word of warning to parents of budding musicians: “Do not let your child learn banjo. It is a surprisingly loud and annoying instrument to listen to, whether the person playing it is amateur or pro.”

To keep up to date on the band’s gigs and new recordings, check out its Facebook page.