TOP PERFORMER: Keith Potger will take audiences on a musical journey when he performs at the Ipswich Civic Centre on July 22.
TOP PERFORMER: Keith Potger will take audiences on a musical journey when he performs at the Ipswich Civic Centre on July 22. Photo Steven Diffey

The Seekers founder to play Civic Centre

THE full sound of Keith Potger's 12-string guitar is something that would come in handy for solo performances.

But the founding member of The Seekers has gone the opposite way with the simplest of stringed instruments, writing his new songs on the ukulele for a new set to feature in his shows.

"It's just me, two guitars, a 12-string and a six string, and I've just introduced the ukulele to my act and that is going down really well with the audiences," Potger said.

"I've written a couple of songs based on the ukulele and also do a few ukulele songs that people would know. It's been a really positive thing to have that little instrument in the line-up.

"Having the uke as a third instrument on stage, it is so easy to pick up and put down and it gives a different tone colour to the other stuff that I do on 12-string and six-string."

Artists such as Jack Johnson and George Harrison brought the ukulele back in vogue, with the instrument now showcased in music shops everywhere.

"They are a very affordable instrument, you don't need an amplifier and you can just pick it up and learn a few chords and you are strumming instantly. A guitar is fairly easy, but it is a bit of a learning curve for a lot of people. And the ukulele is just so portable.

"To be able to just pick up an instrument and start making music pretty well instantaneously is a great pull for people."

In his solo shows, Potger performs a number of songs from The Seekers repertoire.

"There are songs that you can't possibly leave the stage without singing," he said.

Although the carnival ended for The Seekers at the height of their fame in 1968, performance is something Potger has never been far from. He formed the New Seekers in 1969, at times performing and recording with the group and has released three solo CDs in between reunions and various line-ups of The Seekers.

"I don't call it work. When you can do something you love and it actually rewards not only yourself but other people as well that's quite a positive path to have in life," he said. "I love those venues of two or three hundred. The connection with the audience is to be encouraged really.

"The other thing about being a solo artist, I can do a bit of nonsense here and there that is not in the script depending on the audience.

"With The Seekers shows it is fairly well organised and not a lot of room for spontaneity in there. Sometimes it happens, but being a solo artist I can turn this way or that way if I need to, to suit the moment."

Unlike Seekers tours, jetsetting and playing to big venues in capital cities, Potger sets off next month to play in Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie before heading to Ipswich, Noosa and Ballina.

"I enjoy that. I love getting out into the regions and to have that closer contact with the audience," he said."With the capital cities tours, because you are travelling with an entourage with the group, it means that all of the travel has to be much more finely organised."

Driving up from his home in the NSW Southern Tablelands, east of Canberra, the tour is more relaxed, and a social event, catching up with family.

"It's great to be our own boss in terms of travelling around the country," he said.

When he played in Ipswich last year, band mate Athol Guy talked of the freedom of throwing his bass in the back of a car and driving to shows. Potger said he joined Guy on a road trip from NSW to Redcliffe for the Decades Festival in 2014.

"We recreated a trip that he and I made in 1964 travelling up from London to Stockton to do our first pantomime. We love that sort of travel. It's just great to have that link with each other. It's being on the road, but in a lovely way because you can pull off the road when you need to, or keep driving, swap driving."

Although the touring days for The Seekers were over, Potger said performance was not something he could stay away from and judging by The Seekers' ongoing popularity with Georgy Girl - The Seekers Musical, book launches and TV appearances, Australian audiences won't let him.

A Morning With Keith Potger will be at the Ipswich Civic Centre on July 22.

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