Reflections From

“Dave’s Place”


The Dave’s Place Group

The lynchpin of Dave’s Place was the Dave’s Place Group, which consisted of Dave Guard (vocal, electric and acoustic guitar, banjo, tambourine), Chris Bonett (vocal, electric bass guitar) and a series of three female third members, Frances Stone, Kerrilee Male and Norma Shirlee Stoneman.  The female member often changed from week to week.  An individual would disappear and then return a few weeks later.  A logical explanation is that the episodes were not shown in the order in which they were made.

The Night the DAVE'S PLACE GROUP became five -- Shane, Duckham joins in on "He's All These Things."  (CLICK here to see an enlarged image.)Dave’s original choice as the third member of his group was a Melbourne folk singer named Pat Purchase, who Chris advised was not able to accept the position at the time.  On the opening episode of the show, Frances Stone appeared with Dave and Chris, but she was not seen again until Week 6.  Kerrilee Male appeared from Weeks 2 to 5 and then resurfaced in Week 7.  Norma Shirlee Stoneman then replaced her in Week 8, but Kerrilee returned in Week 9 and Norma Shirlee was back in Weeks 10, 11 and 13 with Kerrilee in Week 12.  All three women who sang in the Dave’s Place Group were shorter than their male cohorts and consequently stood on a stand between Dave and Chris to achieve some parity with the others’ head height.  Chris says that the reason why the women in the group changed three times was simple: “we were looking for ‘Ms. Right’ in terms of personality and voice.  The first two were not happy in the band.  Norma fit the bill.”

DPG drummer Len Young  (CLICK here to see an enlarged image.)Drummer Len Young was credited in the end titles and was often referred-to by Dave as part of the group, but apart from playing tambourine up front with Dave on two songs, Out On the Western Plain and Guardo el Lobo, he remained in the background.  In Week 4, Len was absent from the show and well-known Australian jazz drummer John Sangster appeared behind the group, but the primary focus was on the three vocal performers throughout the series.  Every so often, one or more of the show’s backing jazz musicians was heard providing additional musical support to the Dave’s Place Group.

In Week 10, harmonica player Shane Duckham joined the group for both of their performances on that single episode.  Another one-off that week was that the second of these performances was done without the female singer.  The song was essentially an R&B solo by Dave, The James Eclection Alley Blues, backed instrumentally by Chris, Len and Shane.

Dave handled all of the patter and none of the other Dave’s Place Group members had a speaking role.

Kerrilee Male recorded a 45-EP record, Gospel and Blues Volume 1 (PIX, PX010), with the Ray Price Quartet the same year as the show and later surfaced in 1968 as lead singer of the London based English-Australian pop group Eclection (pictured LEFT) but "vanished" from that group after one album.   It is believed that she is now in Canada.  More information on Eclection and Kerrilee is available at: and

Norma Shirlee Stoneman joined the Dave’s Place Group following a meeting with Dave and ChrisDave brought out his 12-string guitar and they just sang popular folk songs together on the spot.  The combination of the three voices worked so well that all were enthusiastic about working together.  Singing and the entertainment industry were not new to Norma.  Before she left school she had made regular appearances on popular Australian television programs including Comedy Capers, Bandstand and Saturday Date.

“Dave Guard introduced me to all sorts of ethnic music and I learned much about the sources of music and time parameters from him.  He was like a big brother at my shoulder, opening my mind to a whole new world of music, including the Lydian Chromatic Concept and his own colour concepts.  I really believe that he was a genius."  Norma is still amazed at Dave’s penchant for detail.  "He had everything so well organised and filed away in cabinets and drawers that you could ask him about something and he could go straight to it.”

When the Dave’s Place Group broke up, Norma and Chris formed a Melbourne-based band called the Grape Escape with two other members, Brian Godden and Laurie Kennedy.  Apart from singing, Norma played keyboard in the group.  The band, which Norma describes as encompassing a range of popular rock styles, recorded some of its own songs for RCA and had single releases “Is Your Soul Drip-Dry?”/”Happier the Day” and "The Easy Life”/”Night Plane".  Norma later performed for eight months in Noumea and with an entertainment troupe to American servicemen in Vietnam.  Around that time she recorded a solo single “Do”/”Don’t Change”.  Norma moved to London in 1969 and remained for four years.  While there she recorded another single for RCA, “Tell Me”/”If Only for a Night” which was released under the pseudonym of Casey Blake.

"Teenage Wedding" -- DAVE'S PLACE GROUP (Mark I) -- with Francis Stone in week one.  (CLICK here to see an enlarged image.)Norma now lives in Sydney happily married to David Martin, a management consultant, musician and bandleader and is the mother of two teenage children.  She chose to give up singing to raise a family, but continues to write songs under her married name of Norma Martin.  She has a drawer full of her own songs and some of these have been recorded by other performers, including popular English entertainer Max Bygraves (“What a Rainy Day”).  Well-known Australian trumpet player James Morrison plans to record another of her songs with his protégé vocalist Emma Pask on an upcoming CD with American jazz musicians.

Nothing current is known about Frances Stone, who was last heard-of in Melbourne.

Chris Bonett later worked in England and the United States and kept contact with Dave.  While in England, Chris played bass guitar for Gilberto Gil (Brazilian mega-star) on Gil's London album in 1971 and with Caetano Veloso after both Veloso and Gil fled the then military dictatorship in Brazil and lived in exile in England.Dave and Chris backstage at the Dick Cerri Anniversary Concert, Washington DC, 1986

Chris’ last gig with Dave was at the Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University, Washington DC, in the northern winter of 1986, when Chris played bass guitar behind what he describes as Dave's complex and interesting compositions.

Chris recalls: I did not contribute to (Dave’s later CD) Up & In, but I did play several of the songs on it with Dave at the 1986 concert. Just him and me.  It was held to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Dick Cerri's being a folk DJ.  The Chad Mitchell Trio did the gig too.  This is way before the album was released.  There is a very good video of the concert somewhere in the archives of PBS.

Right after that, Dave asked me to leave my job at the University of Tennessee (at the time) and join him in New Hampshire for a final five-year fling (he knew he was sick even then).  But because I'd been there, done that (I'd joined him in LA in 1974, leaving a perfectly good band behind in Switzerland … joined him in 1965, leaving a world-beating-potential trio - the Green Hill Singers) … because of this I declined.  So he got Lindsey Buckingham instead!"Come On Sundown" -- DAVE'S PLACE GROUP (Mark II) -- on air with Kerrilee Male.  (CLICK here to see an enlarged image.)

"Dave was a man for the ages -- I have never met anyone like him.  His wit was inter- galactic; many people sort of just stared; I was picking myself off the ground.  Then there was the creative side -- colour music, resolving theory, and the rhythm wheel.  Then there was the perfectionist . . . and that's what finally split us up.  I wanted to be a star; he wanted to leave his mark in music history.  He wins!”

Chris is currently a computer programmer for the IT branch of a large farm cooperative at Kansas City, Missouri.  On weekends he is substitute cantor at his local church.  Chris has learned to pick some chords on electric guitar after years of bass guitar.  No paying gigs, and he doesn’t want any unless the right band comes along. Chris says, "I want to play in smoke-free environments to people who have more on their minds than steak and sex."

"Reza" -- DAVE'S PLACE GROUP (Mark III) with Norma Shirlee Stoneman.  (CLICK here to see an enlarged image.)Chris Bonett’s original band, The Green Hill Singers was a resident group on the earlier 13-episode ABC-TV series Jazz Meets Folk, which was recorded at the Astor Motor Hotel in Sydney in 1964.  Dave Guard had a non-performing folk advisory role in that show.  Dave played (anonymously) 12-string guitar and five-string banjo on two tracks of the Green Hill Singers’ sole album for Festival Records.  More on the Green Hill Singers is in the writer’s separate Dave Guard’s Australian Recordings article.  

Did the Dave’s Place Group have a future after the show wound up?  Chris reflects “You have no idea how much I wanted to go on and perform with Dave and the group.  I had a lot riding on it; my whole career.  But Dave was into music research, music theory, musicology, study, practice, and not much else.  He didn't need to tour so he basically was not motivated in that direction.  That's why we broke up.  Some of us had more pressing needs with respect to getting the show on the road.”

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Researcher into Dave Guard’s Australian work, Ken Bradshaw, wrote the text of this article between July and September 2000.  The content was gleaned from the writer’s personal recollections, library and archival material, recent review of all 13 episodes of Dave’s Place and information obtained from people personally involved with the program.  Thanks are due to John McMillan and to the following performers on Dave’s Place: Chris Bonett, Norma Shirlee Stoneman, Col Nolan, Margret RoadKnight, Les Miller and Gary Shearston.  Thanks also to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation video sales and archives sections in Sydney.  The text is the property of Ken Bradshaw and excerpts may be used only for non-commercial purposes with appropriate acknowledgment of the source.
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