I come from a musical family. I was one of four kids and I was the youngest.
My brothers played in a bluegrass band around Fremantle. My sister Sophie and our friends Jodie Bell and Lucy Lemann used to watch them and drink homemade lemon squash.
One night we all shook hands and said, ‘Let’s start our own band”. It was 1982 and I was 12, nearly 13.
We played the music we grew up with – The Mamas & The Papas, Ry Cooder, The Beatles and sixties four-part harmonies. Our first gig was busking at the Fremantle market. We only had a handful of songs – an Arlo Guthrie song, My Boy Lollipop, a ukulele Hawaiian song and Barbara Ann.
We clogged the joint! People thought we were so cute in our eighties drop-down waisted dresses.
When we busked at the Perth mall we created this great big U-shaped group of people around us. We made a killing! The guitar case was full of money.
But the shopkeepers weren’t happy because we were blocking up the doors to their shops. So the Perth council brought in a law that you could only have two buskers in one spot at a time.
It didn’t matter because things snowballed very quickly. We played at corporate gigs, weddings and were the darlings at American Cup time. We were also the support act for Hunters and Collectors and with Jonathon Richman.
We started by performing covers, but ended up writing our own songs. They were about cars and boyfriends. We recorded our own cassettes, records and CDs.
There weren’t a lot of girl bands around those days. The music scene was quite punk and heavy, but I think people liked us because we were kitsch and kind of a novelty.
My brothers had been performing overseas in their band, The Nansing Quartet, and when they returned we formed a joint band. We toured internationally, got invited to the Edinburgh Festival and played in London.
We were playing in the band three nights a week and my life outside school was so exciting, so I left school at 15 when I was halfway through Year 10. It’s funny because I wouldn’t let my kids do that because it’s so much more competitive to get into uni now.
Mum and Dad were very supportive. They were always saying, “Do what you do well”. They wanted us to follow our passions and just go for it.
Mum had to drive us around to the gigs, so she ended up being our manager by default. But she really enjoyed it.
After 10 years of performing we decided to go our separate ways. We had done as well as we could and I guess we weren’t entrepreneurial enough to take it further.
I’ve always loved food and while we were touring, I was always the one whipping up some food in the hotel room or looking up the good places to eat. It was great to put my two passions together.
Before I left school I did two weeks of work experience at a restaurant and they said there would be a job for me if I wanted it. I worked there before starting my catering business.
What started as a fun thing with the Jam Tarts became a huge adventure for all of us. It was a journey of fun and experience.
Anna Gare, host of The Great Australian Bake Off, has just released her latest book Eat In, published by Murdoch Books.