In 1963 Pete & Toshi Seeger & their children left America for a trip around the world, visiting 22 countries in 10 months.
While they were in Australia Pete visited the (Sydney) Bush Music Club where Pete was very impressed by traditional singer Harold "Duke" Tritton, source of many traditional songs & an outstanding songwriter & poet. He even called Duke on stage to join him at a concert, a call not appreciated by a teenage folkie who wanted to hear Pete, not an old Australian bloke. Soon after the teenage folkie became a convert to bush music & an admirer of Duke. (source - Ralph Pride)
Copies of the films taken by the Seegers during their visits to Sydney & Melbourne were given to the Sydney & Melbourne Bush Music Clubs at the time.
In 2009 a video Pete Seeger Live in Australia 1963 was published from recordings made on this tour.
Pete's interview with Duke This crackly video was made from a copy of the original film given to the Bush Music Club.
Earlier contact with Pete
Minutes Friday 26th June, 1957 mention a letter from Pete Seeger, which unfortunately has not survived.
Minutes 1957-1978. This was to thank BMC for a donation to his legal expenses relating to his appearance at the House Un-American Activities Committee - conversation with Dale Dengate 5th June 2020
Extract from More than a Life - John Meredith & the Fight for Australian Tradition by Keith McKenry, p.189
Suggestion arising out of Discussion, undated, filed before AGM Minutes, Friday 14th February 1958 (pages 16A & 16E) (Archives, Minutes 1957-1978)
Suggestion made by Brian that nights at private homes be held to hear Pete's records before raffles are held.
Visitors Book, 9 Mar 1963 to 5 May 1970
Signatures of Pete & Duke Tritton, Tuesday 3rd Sept 1963.
Foolscap leaflet sent out with Newsletter, Sept 1963 (Ken Fairey Collection)
The Sun, Sat Aug 31, 1963. Members Chris Kempster on guitar, Frank on tea-chest bass & Jan Jones on bones, none of them University students, though they might have been accompanied by members of the Sydney University Folk Music Society. (Ann & Frank Maher Collection)
Invitation to Concert for Pete Seeger, Sat Sept 1, 1963 (Ann & Frank Maher Collection)
Song by BMC members Alan Scott & John Dengate
Singabout 5(3), 1965, p.12 Pete Seeger's 1963 donation of microfiche of Sing Out! & Broadside to BMC was later given to Sydney University's Fisher Library.
extracts from Fisher Library catalogue
Letter to Janet Wakefield from Pete Seeger 1966
Original found with Correspondence in 2016
Transcription by Chris Maltby 9th June 2020.
Aus Receipt No. 5 Sept 3 '66
Dear Janet Wakefield -
I've just been able to put time to go through Stan's songbook song by song, singing them through. Fine songs. Why didn't I hear any of them sung when I visited the Bush Music Club three years ago?
The club ought to get together and put out a record of the songs.
I enclose $5.00 with the request that you send copies to the following folk magazines.... I hope some of the songs will get picked up by singers here. The way things so often go, I suppose some Australians will have to hear them sung by outsiders before they realize they are good songs.
The Broadside PO Box 65, Cambridge Mass. USA
Sing Out, 165 W 46 St NYC USA
The Folklore Center 321 6th Ave NYC USA
Pete (plus banjo drawing)
PS tell 'em I sent it to 'em - it might help! (handwritten)
"The True Songs of Australia" should be a song known by every school kid in your country. (handwritten)