Sunday, 18 July 2021

Latest articles from Verandah Music

Thanks to Graham Seal  Verandah Music An Australian Tradition

Jig Dolls in Australia and beyond by Tony Smith

An Australian Song -1867   Here’s a little ditty from 1867 that reflects the settler fascination with shooting everything on sight. Not a great piece of literature, but an amusing sidelight on attitudes and also an indication that the bush ballad was not the only way to write about the bush.

The First Bush Ballad - What was it?   This characteristic genre of Australian folksong evolved alongside the colonial pastoral industries of New South Wales, southern Queensland and Victoria. Basically, these are songs about white blokes in the bush with sheep, horses and bullocks, often set to American popular tunes of the times, in four-line stanzas, mostly with a chorus. They quickly became established as characteristic expressions of the Australian pioneering experience.

Myths, Memes and much more (podcast)

Convicts, capering, cloggers clogging ... by Dr Heather Blaisdale-Clarke 
Heather's website - Australian Colonial Dance, The History of Music and Dance in Australia 1788-1840    

Friday, 16 July 2021

Cecil Grivas - (died 18th August 2019, aged 88 years)

Click on pictures for full-screen image

Photos from BMC archives

1. Bushwhackers at the Lawson celebration, 1954 or 1955. Alan Scott (whistle), Chris Kempster, (guitar) John Meredith (accordion), Jack Barrie (bush Bass), Harry Kay (mouth organ), Cecil Grivas (lagerphone), Alex Hood (bones) 

2. Bushwhackers at the First Australian Folk Lore Festival, Sat 3rd Sept 1955. Chris Kempster (guitar),  John Meredith (accordion), Alex Hood (bones), Harry Kay Jr. (mouth organ) Alan Scott (tin whistle), Jack Barrie (Bush Bass), Cecil Grivas (lagerphone). Brian Loughlin's bald head is behind Chris, & his slippered sprained foot is between Chris & John. (John Meredith, Stringybark & Greenhuse, 6(1), undated) 

3. Dame Mary Gilmore's 90th birthday, 16th August, 1955. Bushwhackers in their unwashed Reedy River gear, the aroma reminding Dame Mary of sheep sheds!

left to right - hand holding a microphone, Brian Loughlin, Harry Kay, Dame Mary, Chris Kempster, Alan Scott, John Meredith, Cecil Grivas, Alex Hood.

4. After leaving the Bushwhackers Cecil formed The Galahs with his brothers. Roland & Milton. Cecil is in the middle (photo courtesy of Cecil's daughter Xanthe Grivas) 


Biographical information
Cecil was a member of New Theatre and only spent a short time with the Bushwhackers, starting with the production of Reedy River, and ending shortly after their appearance at Dame Mary Gilmore's 90th birthday, in Sept 1955. 

New Theatre wiki - Cecil Grivas  ... A good singer, he performed in Reedy River in 1953 and 1954; One of his last appearances with The Bushwhackers was at Dame Mary Gilmore’s 90th birthday in 1955 ... with brothers Roland and Milton he established his own group The Galahs which played in the suburbs ...

National Library - Cecil Grivas interviewed by Keith McKenry [sound recording]

Western Advocate - Age is no barrier for Cecil (2000) ... He moved to Bathurst in 1974 ... He is still a keen actor, regularly taking part in choral performances in Bathurst with the Allegri Singers and at present is growing a beard for their Federation performance ...

Conversations & emails from Cecil, August 2018 

Cecil was 2nd editor of Challenge which was associated with EYL. Harry Steam was 1st editor, & it  was the only other paper apart from Tribune which published information about BMC in the very early days.  Cecil did a crash course in journalism & wrote articles in Tribune.

Cecil's singing history - 

1.  Unity Singers,  
2.  Singing with Chris Kempster, Harry Kay& Brian Loughlin,  
3.  Bushwhackers

New Theatre performed "Candy Store" underground at Glen Davis shale mine  for the miners who were on strike and had locked themselves in the mine. Cecil was in the party and was lent a half plate camera to take photos during the performance. He took lots of photos, but none worked as he didn't know how to operate it! 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~  ... A repeat performance for the miners’ families was given above ground in a local hall  ....
see illustrations  
The New Theatre cast arriving at Glen Davis, 1952 and  Performing The Candy Store underground at Glen Davis, 1952 ... Another highlight in the New Theatre's history was a 1952 performance of The Candy Store, the story of a strike in a US department store. This was an underground performance — literally. The Glen Davis shale miners began the first sit-in strike in a NSW colliery, and the Miners Federation invited New Theatre to perform the play down the mine.
Smuggled in, at the junction of five shafts, an improvised stage with hessian curtain was set up. Small and inadequate lights rested on a table. Then, as the players stepped on stage in the murky half light, the miners switched on their hard hat lights and bathed the stage in a dusty glow.
"That's a hard one to beat", says a jubilant (Marie) Armstrong, one of the players that day ... 


Condolences from the Western Advocate   

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Monday, 5 July 2021

From the Archives - Four Songs of Australia by Edith Harrhy

FOUR SONGS OF AUSTRALIA by Edith Harrhy, © Palings, 1930

 Edith Harrhy, (1893-1969) Singer, musician, composer and music teacher. Edith Mary Harrhy was born in London of Welsh descent, and studied at the Guildhall School of Music in London. In 1919, after her marriage to W.C. Beckx Daly, she settled in Australia. During her career she collaborated with such writers and singers as William F. Morriss, Charles H. Souter, Peter Dawson and Walter Kirby. Her papers are in the National Library. 

1.  There is a Fair Isle. words by Annie H. Mark, poet who published at least 2 books 

2.  In Martin Place, words and music by Edith Harrhy. During the spring and summer  seasons, Martin Place, one of the busiest and broad streets of Sydney, is transformed by the beauty of the many flower stalls which line its pavements. 

3.  A Song of the Land, words by George Essex Evans

4.  A Song of Sydney Town, words by Charles Henry Souter, (1864-1944)  ... From 1896 he contributed to the Bulletin, sometimes using the pseudonyms 'Nil' and 'Dr Nil'. Admired and supported by editors and critics as varied as J. F. Archibald, S. H. Prior, Vance and Nettie Palmer, A. G. Stephens and H. M. Green, he published four collections of verse: Irish Lords (Sydney, 1912), To Many Ladies (Adelaide, 1917), The Mallee Fire (Sydney, 1923) and The Lonely Rose (Adelaide, 1935). His work is characterized by 'a gentle humanity' and belongs with that of other popular balladists such as E. J. Brady, Will Ogilvie and 'John O'Brien'. Most of Souter's best verse depicts the daily life of small farmers in the Mallee district of South Australia and is sensitive to the experiences of both men and women ...  he also composed and played bush songs, bird calls and shanties on his harmonica and flute ...

Four of his poems are here - including Irish Lords which was put to music by Martyn Wyndham Read - video

note - The word Sydney can be changed to any town such as
Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide etc.


Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Bush Music Club Collection & other BMC-related material, National Library of Australia

Click images for larger size.

Bush Music Club Collection 1958-1981,  Folkloric recording. 
Bush music concert at the Opera House 5 October 1980 featuring Warren Fahey, Cathie O' Sullivan, Jacko Kevans, Jamie Carlin, Hammer and Tap, Bluetongue, William Lancian, Sylvia Salisbury, Chris Kempster and Ironbark.

Bush concert at the Opera House 18 October 1981 featuring Alex Hood, John Dengate, Kate Delaney, Gary Tooth, Ryebuck Bush Band, Vinegar Hill, Sydney Colonial Dancers and Alex Richards.

Commercial recordings by Festival records.  9 audiotape reels + 3 gramophone records (approximately 314 min.) Recorded by Wally Bolliger.

Folk concerts recorded on 5 October 1980 and 18 October 1981 at the Opera House, Sydney, N.S.W. Commercial recordings published by Festival Records between 1958-1962.

Donated by Bob Bolton.  Commercial recordings donated by Carol Mills in December 2010. 

Other items in this collection -   

16,000 miles from home with the Bush Music Club in the Bush Music Club collection 
1960, 1 audio disc (approximately 10 min.) 
Folkloric recording Gramophone record published by Festival Records . No. FX 10-459.
Tracks - 16,000 miles from home, Paddy Fagin, The Flash Stockman, The Ryebuck Shearer.
Donated by Carol Mills in December 2010.


9 miles from Gundagai with the Bush Music Club in the Bush Music club collection.
1962, 1 audio disc (approximately 8 min) Folkloric Recording, 
Tracks - Nine miles from Gundagai,  Jog along till shearing, The Drover's Dream, To the shores of Botany Bay.
Gramophone record published by Festival Records. No. FX 10-464.
Donated by Carol Mills in December 2010. 


Bush Music Club traditional Australian bush songs   
1958 July, I audio disk. Folkloric recording. 
Tracks - Side One: Charlie Mopps, Ballad of Catalpa, Denis O'Rielly, Ram of Dalby
Gramophone record published by Festival Records. No. FX 10-516.

John Fraser Folklore Collection - donated by John Fraser 2014.

Bob Pomeroy performs at the National Folk Festival 1975  in the John Fraser folklore collection,  Sydney, 1975 March 29. Contents - Poem Spider of the Gwyder, Kiwi Song, She'll be right. 

Sound effects of horses for Reedy River performance at the National Folk Festival 1975 Sydney, in the John Fraser folklore collection. Sydney 1975 March 29, summary - Horse walks on and stops, Horse gallops on and stops, Horseman arrive with cattle, Herd of cattle rush off, Cattle lowing.

Bush Music Club perform at the National Folk Festival 1975 in the John Fraser folklore collection. Sydney1975 March 29

Folk dance music in the John Fraser folklore collection, 1975 37 mins,

Bush Music Club and others perform at the National Folk Festival 1975 in the John Fraser folklore collection. Sydney1975 March 29

Manning Clark and Glen Tomasetti at a Ned Kelly weekend event at Wangaratta in the John Fraser folklore collection,  1976, September 1, 113 mins.

Dennis Kevans recites poetry and Bush Music Club performs at the National Folk Festival 1975 in the JohnFraser folklore collection,  Sydney, 1975 March 29, 74 mins Partial contents - Hello Patsy Fagan, Denis Kevans recites Bastard poem, Great prawn war, Noel Ricketts recites, John Dengate sings Road to Gundagai, Indolent Harold's, Dennis Tracy sings Cruising around Yarmouth, Red Dottsy, Colin McJannett Miller's song, Red haired Mary (song), Carrion crow (song), Three jolly huntsmen (song), Noel Ricketts recites.

Various artists perform at the National Folk Festival 1975 in the John Fraser folklore collection,  Sydney 1975 March 29, Folkloric recording - Five miles from Gundagai (Dog on the tuckerbox), Bluey Brink (song), John Miller sings and recites On the Queensland railway lines (song), The gentle hint (poem by Edward Harrington), Chris Shaw sings Little sparrow, Richard Leach 'Screech' recites Georgie Barnfield, True love, Insurance Co (poem), Bastard King of England (song), Justin Murphy sings Baby down the plughole (song), Bernard Bolan sings AMP lift song.

John Carrick and Shanty Singers Canberra perform at the National Folk Festival 1975 in the John Fraser folklore collection, Sydney, 1975 March 29

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

The Willis collection of Australian Life Stories and Traditions

reprinted from Verandah Music with permission

Sunday February 28, 2021

Rob Willis has been collecting oral history and folklore since 1982. Initially in the company of John Meredith, John Harpley and others, he was later joined by his wife, Olya Willis. Together, they have created the most extensive archive of Australian lives and traditions yet recorded. At the time of writing (2021), the Willis Collection consists of over 2,250 hours. As well as sound recordings, the collection includes film, video, still photographs, ephemera and manuscripts of interviewees.

Olya’s method of summarising at the point of interview is unique and allows a seamless, digital transition from the field recording to the NLA online catalogue. All relevant details of, time, place, names, topics and key words are included. Olya is also the sound recordist and photographer.

Taken together, this is an historical resource of great importance, covering every state and territory – and beyond.

The contents of such an extensive collection can only be summarised but include music, song, verse, dance, customs, beliefs, stories, crafts, together with the life experiences of a diverse number of Australians, young and old, living and dead, rural, regional and urban, from many of Australia’s diverse cultural groups, lifestyles and occupations.



NFSA YouTube search ‘Real Folk”

Several items from the collection have appeared on the VERANDAH MUSIC BLOG:



Many recordings made in Western Australia as part of the Western Australian Folklife Project are available in the WESTERN AUSTRALIAN FOLKLORE ARCHIVE (2004-2016) in the John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library at Curtin University

ROB AND OLYA WILLIS can be contacted at

John Meredith camping on a field trip with Rob Willis near Mt Hope, NSW

Monday, 24 May 2021

Newspaper & magazine clippings - Part 2

Click images for larger size.

Newspaper & magazine clippings - Part 1

1. Dance Sydney, BMC, Playford &
Folk Fed, SMH, Oct 18, 1983

2, Undated article about Duke Tritton, from The Sun 

3  & 4 - undated article by Warren Fahey about
Independent Record companies


5. unknown source, Article about
2nd Port Jackson Folk Festival, Jan 1973

6. Original photo by Bob Bolton used for newspaper article

7 & 8, John Meredith, Daily Telegraph, 25/05/2004

9.  Parramatta Advertiser, 06/11/1996 -  Railway celebrations

10-13 - Southern Cross, April 1982




14. Parramatta - The Advertiser, 04/04/1984
Heritage Week 

15. Obit - Declan Affley by Bob Hudson, The National Times,
July 5-11, 1985 

16. Obit - Edgar Waters, by Kevin Bradley, SMH 13/05/2008



17. Obit - Ron Edwards by Keith McKenry, SMH, 07/02/2008


Sunday, 23 May 2021

Poems about John Dengate

Click on pictures for full-screen images
From John Warner, master of Parody, about the Grand Master of Parody

The Dengate Pen

In its time this Parker must have cost a well earned quid,
And spare me days, it’s come to me without its bleedin’ lid.
The master must have took it off the day that it was bought,
And put it somewhere on the desk without a moment’s thought.
With inspiration flowing, our John began to write,
And soon the ink was steaming hot, full speed by day and night.
Perhaps the Dengate needed sleep and dropped it in its case,
And just forgot the poor old lid a-lying round the place.
There’s probably some lost graveyard where bits and pieces go,
And there the the lid has wandered off, no doubt we’ll never know,
For the lid was never needed, it was never used again,
This old Parker kept on writing, for it was John Dengate’s pen.

Many, many thanks Dale, for your words and for this memorial of a great bloke. Hey, and I’m not dropping any hints about the lid.

John Warner. 19/10/2014


Poem by Doug Jenner, recited by Doug's brother Pete at John's wake, & first published by an anonymous Guest in John's memorial thread on Mudcat Cafe  

Guest - 
 At the funeral, John's son Sean delivered a brilliant eulogy which summed the man up to a tee. One of Sean's abiding observations of his father was his ability to keep it all simple: "Don't get distracted from doing the things you love, with the people you love. And according to John Dengate, that's all you need to do to have a good life."

I found myself going down a similar path in my own tribute to him:

The One To Leave
(For John Dengate)

Schooners of Coopers
and a golden afternoon before us,
aglow with beer and banter,
Dengate and I share cricket yarns,
and evidence in broken fingers.
In beery mind’s eye I picture the wiry John,
head in Kokoda with the Aussie militiamen,
blocking wooden answers
to questions fired down 22 yards,
organised for survival,
And sure of the ball to leave.

Now, in the pub
When he’s in free flow,
Timing strokes, punching lines
onto the comic sweet spot,
Middling them Mark Waugh-like
to the boundary fence,
He’s not just the life and soul,
He’s a whole party in one man,
And he sets the room aglow.
Even so, even then, he knows
Whether to play, or whether to let it go.

Sometimes, many schooners on,
adrift in poetry and song,
you think, quite suddenly,
like that bird that sits on water
and instantly isn’t there, he’s gone.
then quick, like the diving bird, he’s back,
In the beak a rhyme, a limerick,
a new-spun funny line.
And along with warmth, with humour that you feel,
You also sense a discipline
As strong as Kembla steel

Today, across the continents
came news that he was gone,
so comrades line those schooners up,
Australia toast your son!
For the gifts and the heart of Dengate
make that ceilidh roar,
Sing loud for one of our ‘valiant men
That we never shall see more.’
And when in quiet moments, you open your hearts to grieve,
Remember how much of his genius
Was knowing the one to leave.

Doug visited Australia in August 2016, and recited it at the Memorial Get Together (email from Margaret Walters, 31/8/2016) 

Pete reciting Doug's poem at John's Wake

Doug at 2016 Memorial