Friday 25 July 2014

Lola's Keg Night, the story of Lola Wright, founder of the second bush band

Click on pictures for full-screen image

updated 16/10/14
with pictures from October premiere of the play
Lola's Keg night at Merringong Theatre

Videos - Part 1 & Part 2  recorded 'live' in the NSW Teachers Federation Auditorium (Sydney, Australia) Saturday 25th October 2014 by Wayne Richmond 

Sometime in early 1954 a young teacher from the Illawarra attended a production of the hit musical play Reedy River at Sydney's New Theatre and was so impressed by the Bushwhackers Band and the songs they performed in the play that she decided to start her own bush band.

The Bushwhackers helped her, and Australia's second bush band, the South Coast Bush Band was born.

South Coast Bush Band: L to R - Norm Mitchell, Merv Haberly, Jack Wright, Jeanette Caine, Wally Watt, Lola Troy, Jack Chalmers

In October 1954 The Bushwhackers founded the Bush Music Club, & in February 1956 when the Club published the first issue of Singabout, the journal of Australian Folksong, Lola Troy (later Wright) was the representative of the South Coast Group.

Illawarra Mercury, undated, c.1955

Coast's Rarest Band
They beat out the old hits - vintage 1900

The South Coast Bush Band comprising young musicians was formed last year to popularise Australian songs and music.

Mrs Lola Troy is piano accordinist and pianist, Mr Jack Wright is bones player, Mr Wally Watt guitarist, Mr Merv Haberly mouth organist, Mr Norm Mitchell is on the "lagerphone,"  Mr Jack Chalmers is on the "bush Bass" and Miss Jeanette Caine is pianist.

Mrs Troy is the driving force.

The idea of forming the band was conceived after the players had seen the play, "Reedy River."

They realised that Australia had a wealth of folk songs which were in danger of being lost to the people.

The band members wear clothes that were fashionable at the turn of the century, and some of the men wear full beards and others settle for a moustache.

The Band has a catalogue of more than 50 numbers, and is steadily adding to its collection.

The collection covers songs about all types of industry and many songs of the sea.

One of the oldest is "Botany Bay", and many others have survived from the convict days.

Band members said they would be pleased to hear from anyone who knew any Australian songs, particularly old ones.

If anyone knows the tune and words of an old song the Band will take a tape recording of it and Mrs Troy will set it to music for the Band.

Mrs Troy said the band mainly played for charity affairs and benefits for people in need.

The band has never made a charge for its services.

It would play next Sunday at a benefit at Warrawong for a woman whose husband was killed recently in an accident. 

Lola joined us at our Songs Session at the recent National Folk Festival and you can see pictures here 

Lola's life story has now been turned into a musical play, Lola's Keg Night, and will be premiered in October.

Wollongong - Merrigong Theatre,  9, 10, 11 (2 shows) October 

Sydney - NSW Teachers Federation auditorium, 25 October

Lola's Keg Night - a musical memoir adapted by PP Cranney & Christina Mimmocchi, from the autobiography of Lola Wright. As a reading only, with music, it was a big hit at the Illawarra & the National Folk Festivals. A full production will be happening at Merrigong Theatre in Wollongong in early October & in Sydney shortly thereafter.

Performers: Vashti Hughes (as Lola) with music from Laura Bishop & friends

Lola's keg night? Well, Lola was famous for her parties, where the keg was not broached until sufficient songs were sung! And no one could say they didn't know the songs as the words were projected onto a screen. After all, she was a teacher.

Lola's Keg Night @ Merringong, June 2013,  (Christina Mimmocchi photos) 

The Band
Laura & Vashti
 Illawarra Folk Festival, 2014 (Mike Young photos)


Laura & Christina on stage, Lola with audience, Illawarra Folk Festival, 2014 (photo Sandra Nixon)

Vashti & Lola at the National Folk Festival, 2014 (photo Sandra Nixon)
Photos from Merringong October 2014 (Photos Sandra Nixon) 

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