Sunday 28 February 2016

Extracts from Singabout - the early songwriters - Dorothy Hewett (1923-2002) & Merv Lilley (1919-2016 )

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The Bush Music Club published many new songs & poems in Singabout, Journal of Australian Folk Song between 1956 and 1967. This series lists the works of these songwriters and poets and provides biographical information where possible.

 Interview with Merv Lilley by Alex & Annette Hood, held in the National Library
  • Alex Hood talks about Merv's songs, published by the Bush Music Club; a misunderstanding with John Meredith; how he met Dorothy Hewett; meeting Zoe O'Leary from "Realist Writers"; advice given about how to write; meeting Dorothy in Melbourne when she wrote "Bobbin Up"; being regarded as a "Revisionist"; the Australasian Book Society; being asked by Dorothy to go to Perth to learn to write poetry; communicating through John Meredith.
  • Merv Lilley is a well known writer of prose and verse. His connections with progressive left wing artists and writers, along with his years of experience working around the country as a farm labourer, cane cutter, station hand, seaman and professional boxer have given his writings an authentic and penetrating quality, which show him to be a true chronicler of his life and times. His working partnership with Dorothy Hewett forged a common concern and love for the Australia of the working people. He has been very active in writers' organisations and many of his poems have been set to music and are part of many singers' repertoires.


VIDEOS - A Lyrical Afternoon at Varuna, The Writers' House Katoomba, In celebration of the life and work of Norman Talbot, Dorothy Hewett and Merv Lilley was held on the 15th September 2012.

A Celebration of the Life and Work of Dorothy Hewett (1923-2002)
A Celebration of the Life and Work of Merv Lilley by his daughter
Wikipedia article on Dorothy Hewett 

Dorothy Hewett with seashell (photo courtesy of Rozanna Lilley) 
 An unbridled rage to live Dorothy Hewett: poet, playwright, novelist and bohemian, 1923 - 2002. Obit - Sydney Morning Herald
Rozanna Lilley's album of family photos on Flickr

Merv Lilley & Dorothy Hewett (photo courtesy of Rozanna Lilley)
Biography of Merv Lilley on The Vulgar Press website

Merv Lilley, age 96 years (photo courtesy of Rozanna Lilley)

Obit by Patrick Cornish, The West Australian, 28th September 2016

Eulogy by Rozanna Lilley


Dorothy Hewett

Ballad of Norman Brown by Dorothy Hewett  (tune - the Collier Laddie), Singabout 2(3)

From Jennie Richards, former BMC member, August 2020

I've just been reading December 1957 Singabout on the blog & hadn't realised that Dorothy Hewitt's poem about Norman Brown was published so early. Have I told you that Norman Brown was my first cousin once removed? Norman's mother Laura, and my maternal grandmother Edith, were sisters. My mother was only 5 when Norman died; my middle name is Grace after Norman's sister Dorothy Grace Kidd (Laura had Norman when she was 17 and unmarried, she later married Albert Kidd and they had Dorothy Grace) who died at 15.

Mum often spoke of both Norman and Gracie - Dorothy Grace seems to have been called Gracie - I think she was close to Auntie Laura. Poor Laura; in her mid 40s she had lost both of her children young and in sad circumstances. I don't remember Laura, she died when I had just turned one.

There's always a family story behind every tragedy, even one that makes the history books.

First time I realised that was in December 1979; I had just put Doug to bed and caught the tail end of a story on ABC news about miners marching to a memorial to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Norman's death. I rang them and they read out the full story to me, and that's when it hit me - that this was bigger than just a story which had come down in my family.

The first time Kevin and I went to a BMC night ... would have been in about the mid 80s ... Margaret Walters sang that song, I had never known of it. I introduced myself and told of my connection, which they found interesting.

It's an odd feeling - difficult to describe - that something in your family you have grown up knowing about is considered "history", in fact a very important part of labour history, as it's the only time police have fired on demonstrating workers in Australia. Before we left Sydney we saw an exhibition called "Policing the Depression" at the Police and Justice Museum near Circular Quay; part of it was devoted to the industrial trouble on the Hunter Valley coalfields in the 1920s, including Norman's death.

Jennie also sings Graham Seal's The country knows the rest, another song about Norman Brown.


Merv Lilley  (8 songs)

Singabout 1(1), p.7

Cane Killed Abel
by Merv Lilley    Music: Chris Kempster, Singabout 1(1)

We Gave A Fair Go by Merv Lilley, another version of his popular Ho - Give a Go. Singabout 1(1)

The Bushwhackers
singing Ho Give A Fair Go at the first Singabout night, 1955

Left to right - Harry Kay (mouth organ), Brian Loughlin (lagerphone), Alec Hood, Jack Barrie, with John Meredith (accordion) behind Alec. 
Singabout 1(1), p.5, published January 1956.

The first Singabout night was held sometime between October & early December 1955 on a very rainy night (source - December 1955 Newsletter)

The Farmer up a Tree
by Merv Lilley (tune Jimmy Riddle) Singabout 1(1)

Bound for Darling Harbour
by Merv Lilley, Singabout 1(1)

Eight Bells by Merv Lilly   (tune - Ring the Bell, watchman), Singabout 1(2)

The Rona's Last Trip by Merv Lilley   Music: John Arcot, Singabout 1(4)

Definitely Barred by Merv Lilley, Singabout 3(1)

Farewell Snowy Lamb - words, Merv Lilley, (tune - The Dying Stockman), Singabout 3(2)

Mulga Wire, no. 153, Singabout insert, 4 pages, October 2002.


Friday 26 February 2016

BMC & some members gigs @ 2016 National Folk Festival


Concert Party

Saturday Night Carnival - Carnival Stage, 5-6pm  Songs of Reedy River  - all singers

Songs of Reedy River, Turning Wave Festival  2015

Waltz-a-thon Part 2,  The Terrace, Sunday, 7-9pm, all musicians welcome

Waltz-a-thon part 1, NFF 2015


Saplings Bush Music workshops for musicians aged 8-16

4 workshops @ Billy Moran tent, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday - 11.30 to 12.30

Saplings workshop, NFF 2015

Performance - Central Park - Monday - 3.30 to 4pm.

Saplings concert, NFF 2015

A joint BMC/Dennis & Mem Taberner project.

Chris Woodland & Dennis & Mem team up to present the Dennis O’Keeffe Memorial Australian Song Session.

Join this good old Aussie song session carrying on the work of the late Dennis O’Keeffe. Bring along an Aussie song — new or old — and rip into it.

Session Bar - Daily - 12.30 to 2.30

Dennis O'Keeffe, Dennis Taberner, Mem Taberner & Chris Woodland, 2012 NFF
(Sandra Nixon photo)


A selection of member's gigs

If I've missed anyone's gig, please contact me & I'll add it.

Thursday night - welcome dance with Snake Gully

Friday night - Scottish dancing with Chris Duncan, Catherine Strutt & Jennifer Strutt - callers Anthony & Lisa Simon

website photo


Chloe & Jason Roweth

Kangaroo Valley Folk Festival, 2015


Lunchtime Concert Col Hardy at the NLA

(Chloe & Jason Roweth will be backing Col Hardy)


11am – 12pm – Col Hardy - Trocadero

2pm-3pm – Songs and Poems of John Dengate - Trocadero

4pm-5pm – Rolling Wave Suite – Spiegel Tent


3pm-4:30pm – Bush Traditions – The Lyric

6pm-6:50pm – C & J Band Concert – The Flute and Fiddle


2pm – 2:30pm – C & J Band Concert – Budawang (Centre)

4pm-5pm – Rolling Wave Suite – Spiegel Tent


2:30pm-3:50pm – Route 66 - Trocadero
5pm – 5:50pm – C & J Band Concert - Scrumpy

Roaring Forties

Illawarra Folk Festival, 2016

Thursday 24th March from 7.30–10pm in the Bohemia Bar. The Roaring Forties are hosting a Welcome Singing Session. We’ll be encouraging people to come along and lead their favourite chorus songs and to make the rafters ring with the harmonies.

Friday 25th March from 10-11 in the Trocadero. Songs and poems of C. Fox Smith in a presentation called: "Shellback Sheila".

Saturday 26th March from 11.20am - 12.20pm in the Spiegel Zeit. This time the Forties have a workshop called "The Song Goes On" - chorus songs about songs – and we want everyone to join in.

Saturday night from 9.30pm in the Terrace – The Forties are hosting the singing session – everyone welcome to come and lead songs.

Monday 27th March from 10.50am – 11.30am in the Scrumpy Bar - concert spot
Something else you’re sure to enjoy!

Sunday 27th March from 1.30pm - 2.30pm  in the Trocadero - Margaret (from the RFs) will be joining Danny and Gael Spooner and Duncan Brown singing songs of the Watersons. Lots more rafter-raising!


Arthur Kingsland + Coalbrook

Coalbrook, 2015, Arthur Kingsland photo

Saturday 12.20 - 2.20  Coorong, Dancer's dance


Festival Bush O
rchestra with Dave Johnson  
Illawarra Folk Festival, 2015

There are four rehearsals where you can learn and polish a number of Australian tunes. Copies of parts will be available at rehearsals. A commitment to all sessions is desirable to achieve a satisfying standard for a final performance.

Dave de Santi

Dave - NFF15

Saturday - 5.30 to 7, Billy Moran tent   Good tunes session
Sunday -
5.30 to 7, Billy Moran tent   Good tunes session


Irish dancing with Margaret & Bill Winnett

NFF 2015

Piazza - Friday, 11-11.30

Piazza - Saturday, 11-11.30
Piazza - Sunday, 11-11.30
Piazza - Monday, 11-11.30


Photos - Sandra Nixon except where indicated


Tuesday 23 February 2016

Extracts from Singabout - Labor Party & Union records (records? - those round black disks)

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In 1962 & 1963 Singabout reviewed 2 records available from PO Box 58, Paddington, the earliest issued by ALP records, the second by Blue & White Collar Records. I've been unable to find any information about these labels.

Comment from Warren Fahey, April 2020 - the discs credit Peter Hamilton, owner of Wattle records. 
ALP Records - Tom Morey Campaign Songs  (ALP-1) In 1962 Tom Morey, the ALP candidate for the new State seat of Bligh produced this record as part of his campaign.  As the seat was not expected to go to Labor, the record might have contributed to his win!

The record included 5 songs

side 1 -
The Ballad of Tom Morey (parody of Tom Dooley)
Quick Go the Shares
Talking Bligh Blues

Side 2 -
The D.L.P Lament (parody of the 12 days of Christmas)
Hooker Rex

The Bush Music Club reviewed it in the April 1962 issue of the Newsletter, and also Singabout 4(4) 1962.

The lyrics & music of Hooker Rex was also published in Singabout 5(1) 1963.

Singabout 5(1) 1963

Singabout 4(4) 1962    Review from BMC Newsletter, April 1962, page. 4
Oh, Pay Me. (Blue & White Collar Records)

Review in Singabout 5(1), 1963 by Alan Scott

Issued as part of a campaign by the A.C.T.U., the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations and the High Council of Commonwealth Public Service Organisations.  

Tracks -
Oh Pay Me! (parody of an American song)
Equal Pay
(Calypso technique)Talking Margins
Hooker Rex (Calypso technique)
(parody of an American song)An untitled Talking Blues
Waltzing Matilda
Singabout 5(1) 1963


Tuesday 16 February 2016

Australian Heritage Colonial & Bush Dancing (with a Celtic connection) Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and further afield, 2016

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Maitland ball, 2011 (Tim Propert photo)

Walcha Road Bush Band (website)

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Bob Bolton Collection - Bush Music Festival, Sydney Opera House, 1980, Part 2 - black & white photos

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A series of photos labelled  "80 Opera House" & numbered 02 to 34 has been found to contain 13 photos from a 1975 Turner Hall concert & these have been removed   (30/01/18)   Bob Bolton Collection - Concert at Turner Hall, Ultimo 1975

The Opera House concert was organised by Geri Lobl (Phyl Lobl, 21/02/2024)

Bob Bolton Collection - Bush Music Festival, Sydney Opera House, 1980, Part 1 - colour photos
From the Archives - Bush Music Festival 1980 - Opera House Tapes

From the Archives - 1980 Bush Music Festival program, posters & other ephemera

Poster on wall of Hut 44 
(Sandra Nixon photo)

Poster on wall of Hut 44, designed by Ann Pidcock,
(Sandra Nixon photo)

Ticket on wall of Hut 44, designed by Bob Bolton
(Sandra Nixon photo)

Poster on wall of Hut 44, calligraphy by Anne Darcy, drawings by Helen Romeo
(Sandra Nixon photo)
Weekend Pass on wall of Hut 44, designed by Bob Bolton
(Sandra Nixon photo)

Photo 14.  Jamie Carlin   (Bob Bolton Copyright)

Photo 15. Hammer & Tap Bush Band (Broken Hill) 
(Bob Bolton Copyright)

Photo 16.
Hammer & Tap Bush Band (Broken Hill)     (Bob Bolton Copyright)
Photo 17Hammer & Tap Bush Band (Broken Hill)    (Bob Bolton Copyright)
Photo 18. 
Hammer & Tap Bush Band (Broken Hill)     (Bob Bolton Copyright)

Photo 19.   Jamie Carlin  
(Bob Bolton Copyright)
Photo 20. Larrikins - Cathie O'Sullivan, Warren Fahey, Jacko Kevans  
(Bob Bolton Copyright)

Photo 21.  Jamie Carlin 
(Bob Bolton Copyright)
Photo 22. 
Larrikins - Cathie O'Sullivan, Warren Fahey  (Bob Bolton Copyright)
Photo 23. 
Larrikins - Cathie O'Sullivan   (Bob Bolton Copyright)
Photo 24.
Larrikins - Warren Fahey, Jacko Kevans   (Bob Bolton Copyright)
Photo 25.  Jamie Carlin 
(Bob Bolton Copyright)
Photo 26. 
Larrikins - Cathie O'Sullivan, Warren Fahey, Jacko Kevans (Bob Bolton Copyright)

Photo 27.  MC Dave Johnson  
(Bob Bolton Copyright)
Photo 28. 
  Larrikins - Warren Fahey, Cathie O'Sullivan, Jacko Kevans
(Bob Bolton Copyright)

Photo 29. 
Larrikins - Cathie O'Sullivan, Warren Fahey, Jacko Kevans  (Bob Bolton Copyright)

Photo 30. Jamie Carlin  
(Bob Bolton Copyright)
Photo 31.  Jamie Carlin  
(Bob Bolton Copyright)
Photo 32.  L
arrikins - Cathie O'Sullivan, Warren Fahey, Jacko Kevans   
(Bob Bolton Copyright)

Thanks to Dave Johnson, Helen Romeo & Warren Fahey for identifying performers.
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