Sunday 6 January 2019

Fran Shaw's songsheets - Part 1 - Bush Music Club Song Sheets dated 1956 & 1957, & undated

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In 1995 Chrissie Shaw, daughter of early members Rod & Fran Shaw gave us items from her parents' collections. The books were stamped, but over the years the other items disappeared into the general archives.

Rod was a very famous artist and a publisher, & information on his life is easy to find. He was one of the artists working with BMC in the early days.  

2 blog articles mention Rod Shaw - Paper presented by Sandra Nixon at National Folklore Conference - The Early Days of the Bush Music Club as illustrated by Singabout - the Journal of Australian Folksong, 1956 to 1967.

Extracts from Singabout - The artists, 1956-1967

Information about Fran is not in the public record, but there is a photograph of her in Singabout, 2(3), Dec 1957, page 7 & her daughter has supplied brief biographies of her parents.

Anniversaries - Bush Music Club's 2nd Anniversary, 1956 - Fran Shaw's Song Sheets, part 2

Fran Shaw's Songsheets, Part 3. Miscellaneous sets & papers

Fran Shaw's songsheets - Part 4. Camp Songs, Dept of Education, Phys Education Branch

Fran Shaw's songsheets - Part 5, Talks on bush music

I recently contacted Chrissie looking for information about her mother. I had assumed she might have been a teacher as a Victorian Teachers Union magazine was in the collection, which also included a number of articles/lectures, including some for National Fitness camps. The magazine included an article on Childrens Games & Fran was one of the contributors to this research.

My Mother Frances Mary Shaw (nee Cottingham) was not a teacher in any official capacity. She was born on October 23 1911. She came from a theatrical and musical family. Her father would not let her go to University even though her godfather had offered to pay the fees, so she went to secretarial school. I know that she worked in a radio station, might have been 2SM or 2GB. She was an amateur actor, at the Genesians Theatre Company in Sydney. She also sang, and studied singing with Paul Williams (along with my Dad Rod). She met my father when she was modelling for artists in a studio in George Street. They married in Windsor in 1939.

She then became a homemaker, but continued to sing and play guitar and/or lute. She was involved in The New Theatre, directed a play I believe. Through the first Sydney production of Reedy River, Fran met John Meredith and other members of the band that played in that production (Harry Kay, Chris Kempster, Alec Hood (later Alex), Brian Loughlin, Jack Barry, Alan Scott etc) and joined the Bush Music Club, I believe around 1954 or so. She and I (as a child) went to the monthly meetings in the rooms under the approach to Sydney Harbour Bridge and she joined the concert party. We attended the bush dances that were put on at the Trocadero and other venues.
Mum was a very keen scholar and performer of folk music, from different lands but mainly the Australian music, and she gave workshops, yes, at the National Fitness camps among other venues.

My father Roderick Shaw was an artist and illustrated many of the Singabout magazines. He was a member of the Communist party as most of them were from those days, but was expelled over the Hungarian Uprising in 1956.

He was an illustrator, publisher (Edwards and Shaw) and a political activist. He designed many sets and posters for the New Theatre. He is much better documented than my mum. There are several oral history recordings at the National library, most available on Trove. My dad was obsessed with Reedy River and took many friends to see it, over its several runs in Sydney in the Waterside Workers Building in Sussex Street. long ago demolished...   (Chrissie Shaw, 13th December 2018)

Recently 2 dusty/mouldy folders of songs & talks emerged from the Archives. A letter addressed to Fran Shaw identified the owner of these folders. Both folders contained songs sheets, sometime multiple copies.

The Bush Music Club folder was set up by Fran & contains single copies, with most of them spiked, plus a few loose sheets at front & back. 

The other folder contains multiple copies of songs, not all of them Australian & many typed up (by Fran?) plus a number of talks/articles.


As most of the songsheets are on foolscap paper, they have been scanned in 2 parts.

A few of these sheets are below, more will be published in the future.

Songs sheets from Bush Music Club.

1.  cover

2 & 3 - contents   

Colonial Ballads:  Dec. 13, 1956, 4 foolscap pages, 7 songs


Songsheet no. 2, undated, 2 pages


Undated song sheet, 1 foolscap page, 3 songs

Bush Music Club Song Sheet, No. 1, 1957, 1 foolscap page, 3 songs


Bush Music Club Song Sheet, No. 2, 1957, two pages



Bush Music Club Song Sheet, No. 3, 1957, 2 pages


Bush Music Club Song Sheet.  1 page
Don't forget the Bush Music Club is holding its break-up Party on Friday 13th December, 1957
Club will resume on Friday 10th January 1958.

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