Friday, 24 September 2021

From the Archives - Margaret Walters collection

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In 1976 my husband had a sabbatical year at the University of Sussex and, with three or four weekly folk clubs not far from where we lived in Brighton, I became thoroughly enamoured of traditional English folk song. On our return I determined to discover what opportunities were available in Sydney and I became involved with the Folk Federation of NSW. I found out about the Bush Music Club from the redoubtable captain, Bob Bolton at some Folk Fed event in the Domain during one Festival of Sydney. Until this time, my interest in singing was pretty much confined to traditional English songs. However, singers like Declan Affley, Dave de Hugard and Trevor Shearston opened the world of Australian folk song and Bob Bolton drew my attention to The Penguin Book of Australian Folk Songs, Singabout and the Joy Durst Song Book. At the same time, I met Jan and Allan Thomas from Mount Colah who were part of the founding group of the Mount Ku-Ring-Gai Folk Club which later became the Hornsby-Kur-Ring-Gai Folk Club and I was involved as an organiser with that club for 15 years.

Having two young kids, it was difficult for me to get to the Beer and Cheese Nights that were then held in Concord, but later when the BMC theme nights moved to Tritton Hall, I became involved in running those “Folkus” nights every month for about 6 years. I would select a topic, choose an artist/s to do about 30 minutes on the theme and plough through my songbooks seeking out as many relevant songs I could find. It was a wonderful way to learn a lot of material. I remember a night of songs of coal with Bob and Margaret Fagan.

I was on the BMC committee for a time. Although they are a key part of the BMC’s activities, dancing and playing instruments were never my focus, so my support for the organisation has been as an organiser and singer contributing to theme nights which later evolved as the monthly Duke's nights run by the devoted Sandra Nixon. In the last decade I’ve enjoyed the Bush Traditions weekends held at Goulburn and Yass.

I have fond memories of the Bush Music Festivals held in the grounds at Marrickville's Addison Road Community Centre in the 1980s and performances in a duo with Margaret Bradford featuring the songs of colonial women in Australia. Other memorable occasions at the BMC were singing the songs of Henry Lawson and peace songs with Chris Kempster and in the decade from 1993-2003 singing with John Warner, one of the finest composers of songs about the Australian environment and its social history.

Photos of the EFBSS (Ensemble of Fat Bearded Shanty Singers) © Bob Bolton. EFBSS changed their name to Roaring Forties in 1988.

Other photographers unknown. 


1. Bush Music Festival 1982, Children's activities with Bob Brain, Margaret Walters sitting at left. Jacko Kevans on concertina. Declan Affley standing at back


2. Martin Pearson & John Thompson, National Folk Festival Session Bar


3. Musicians behind Hut 44, Bush Music Festival? Pete McMahon with guitar


4. Musicians behind Hut 44, Bush Music Festival? Pete McMahon with guitar


5. EFBSS (Ensemble of Fat Bearded Shanty Singers) Margaret & Robert Walters

6. EFBSS (Ensemble of Fat Bearded Shanty Singers) - Dave Alexander, Margaret Walters, Len Neary, Brian Grayson, Robert Walters, Robin Connaughton

7. Margaret Walters @ Hut 44, perhaps at a Folkus night

8. EFBSS (Ensemble of Fat Bearded Shanty Singers)- Robin Connaughton, Dave Alexander, Len Neary


9. EFBSS (Ensemble of Fat Bearded Shanty Singers) - Robin Connaughton, Dave Alexander, Len Neary


10.  EFBSS (Ensemble of Fat Bearded Shanty Singers)- Robert Walters, Brian Grayson, Dave Alexander, Margaret Walters, Robin Connaughton, Len Neary


11. EFBSS (Ensemble of Fat Bearded Shanty Singers) - Robert Walters, Brian Grayson, Dave Alexander, Margaret Walters, Robin Connaughton, Len Neary


12. EFBSS (Ensemble of Fat Bearded Shanty Singers) - Robert Walters, Brian Grayson, Margaret Walters, Robin Connaughton, Dave Alexander, Len Neary


13. EFBSS (Ensemble of Fat Bearded Shanty Singers) - Margaret Walters, Robert Walters, Brian Grayson, Dave Alexander, Robin Connaghton, Len Neary


14. EFBSS (Ensemble of Fat Bearded Shanty Singers)- Margaret Walters, Robert Walters, Brian Grayson, Dave Alexander, Robin Connaughton, Len Neary


15. REFBSS (Ensemble of Fat Bearded Shanty Singers) - Dave Alexander, Margaret Walters, Len Neary, Brian Grayson, Robert Walters, Robin Connaughton,


16. EFBSS (Ensemble of Fat Bearded Shanty Singers) - Dave Alexander, Margaret Walters, Len Neary, Brian Grayson, Robert Walters, Robin Connaughton,


17. EFBSS (Ensemble of Fat Bearded Shanty Singers) - Margaret Walters, Robert Walters, Brian Grayson, Dave Alexander, Robin Connaughton, Len Neary


18. EFBSS (Ensemble of Fat Bearded Shanty Singers) - Dave Alexander, Margaret Walters, Len Neary, Brian Grayson, Robert Walters, Robin Connaughton,


19. EFBSS (Ensemble of Fat Bearded Shanty Singers)- Robert Walters, Brian Grayson, Dave Alexander, Margaret Walters, Robin Connaughton, Len Neary


20. EFBSS (Ensemble of Fat Bearded Shanty Singers) - Dave Alexander, Margaret Walters, Len Neary, Brian Grayson, Robert Walters, Robin Connaughton,


21. EFBSS (Ensemble of Fat Bearded Shanty Singers) - Robin Connaughton, Dave Alexander, Len Neary


22. EFBSS (Ensemble of Fat Bearded Shanty Singers) - Len Neary, Robert Walters, Margaret Walters, Dave Alexander, Robin Connaughton, Brian Grayson


23. EFBSS (Ensemble of Fat Bearded Shanty Singers) - Brian Grayson, Robert Walters, Dave Alexander, Robin Connaughton, Margaret Walters, Len Neary


24. Bush Music Festival, Allan Phillips from Wollongong


25. Bush Music Festival, Allan Phillips from Wollongong


26. Leaflet from 1986 Newcastle Folk Festival, used to wrap EFBSS (Ensemble of Fat Bearded Shanty Singers) photos


27. EFBSS (Ensemble of Fat Bearded Shanty Singers) - Margaret Walters, Robert Walters, Brian Grayson, Dave Alexander, Robin Connaughton, Len Neary


28. Bush Music Festival - Whistle Sing and String.a short-lived trio with Margaret Walters, Mark Tainsh and Robert Walters

Described by the Bush Music Club's former archivist Bob Bolton as "a consummate singer of good songs of all pedigrees and persuasions", Margaret is an exponent of unaccompanied song and is well regarded both in Australia and the UK. She has been involved in the Australian folk scene for over four decades as a soloist, a collaborator with songwriter John Warner, a member of 40 Degrees South (formerly The Roaring Forties), and in various other combinations from time to time. As well as singing, Margaret has been a constant source of energy around Sydney, facilitating, organising, hosting, guiding, publicising, sharing, supporting in a hundred ways both local and international artists. She has 3 solo recordings and several with John Warner and the Roaring Forties. margwalterssteadfast.wordpress.com

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