The Coalrangers

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The Coalrangers  —  circa 2011 - the group was formerly known as The Ranchsliders
John Sanchez-Lloyd (Keyboards), Allan Cattermole (Drums), Dean Heatherington (Guitar), Des Hetherington (Guitar) and Geoff Farmar (Bass)


The Coalrangers - in the early 2000s
Allan Cattermole (Drums), Des Hetherington (Guitar), John Sanchez-Lloyd (Keyboards),
Geoff Farmar (Bass), Dean Heatherington (Guitar)
—  Wayne Beecroft was on drums for most of the 1990s  —


Despite having a Tui Music Award for country album of the year, The Coalrangers are not strictly a country band  —  formed in the late 1980s, by which time John Lloyd, Geoff Farmar and Des Hetherington had already had 10 years making music together in various guises.  19-year-old keyboard player John Lloyd had been in a couple of minor Christchurch bands before joining The Blues Army Salvation, later shortened to just Salvation in 1968, and when that band ended in 1972, Lloyd decided to take a break from the music scene and became an art teacher at Christchurch Boys' High School.  At the end of the 1970s, former Salvation bandmate Mike Waldegrave invited him to join The Cowboys with Geoff Farmar playing bass and they held down a residency at The Carlton Hotel for a good part of the early 1980s - but lack of enthusiasm for each others' songwriting drove an end to the band with Lloyd becoming involved with John Hore Grenell's annual Whitecliffs music festival.  A graphic designer, he handled all the advertising and artwork.  Starting as a drummer, Geoff Farmar had been biding his time in covers bands since the 1960s, and at one of the Whitecliffs Festivals, Lloyd and Farmar met up with Queenstown band Cat n The Rats, featuring guitarist Des Hetherington who had started as a bass guitarist in Hokitika band The Impact in the late 1960s before becoming a singing drummer in Swamp before taking up guitar.  By the late 1970s he was part of popular West Coast band Jasper and then moved to Queenstown where he formed Cat n The Rats.  When he finished with Cat n The Rats and moved to Christchurch, Hetherington joined Farmar and Lloyd to form nine-piece country outfit The Ranchsliders which due to its size only played a handful of dates and Hetherington, Farmar and Lloyd appeared on the ill-fated TVNZ show Dixie Chicken in 1987 as a stripped back version of The Ranchsliders.  Struggling under the weight of their membership, The Ranchsliders imploded.  Des briefly journeyed home to the West Coast before returning to team up again with Farmar in a duo.  They eventually settled on The Coalrangers as their name, and added drummer Ashley Sheppard.









Ashley Sheppard returned on drums and began siphoning off a percentage of the band's fees, soon announcing that they now had enough money set aside to record an album, and off they went to Tandem Recording Studios in Christchurch with engineer Peter Rattray laying down some of Geoff Farmar's original songs.   The result was the tape Making It Work which was released in 1989.  Sheppard left and was replaced by Wayne Beecroft before The Coalrangers entered Tandem Studios again  In the mid-1990s The Coalrangers began a long association with the Blues, Brews & BBQs Festivals - a concept imported from Texas, which saw them playing at events and winning fans in Christchurch, Blenheim, Tauranga, Hastings and Auckland over the next few years.  The Coalrangers released their first CD Coast To Coast in early 1996 an album made up mostly of Geoff Farmar material.  After Coast To Coast and before the recording of Home Tonight, The Coalrangers gained an additional guitarist in Des Hetherington's son Dean.  Recorded at Redd Acoustics, the sessions for Home Tonight took a turn for the worse when drummer Wayne Beecroft quit after repeated clashes with producer and engineer Peter Cahill, himself a drummer.  Former Newz drummer Allan Cattermole stepped in to complete the recording and ended up remaining with the band.  He had toured New Zealand in the mid-1970s with glam rock group Skylord and played the rest of the decade with notable Christchurch bands Bon Marché and The Newz.  Although The Coalrangers had a period of dormancy for a couple of years, there have been murmurings of reunion shows on both sides of the Southern Alps.  Geoff Farmar, John Sanchez-Lloyd (now incorporating his wife's name) and Allan Cattermole are kept busy in Christchurch with a revamped Ranchsliders line-up that is completed with guitar-ace Phil Doublet.  Dean Hetherington is part of The Sou'westers with singer-songwriter Aly Cook and Narcs keyboards player Liam Ryan, while Des Hetherington is in Hokitika in several bands and is working on pre-production for an intended Al Hunter album.