Monday 28 February 2022

BMC's Songs, Tunes & Dance Competition winners over the decades

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Bush Music Festivals from 1979 to 1993 included Song, Tune, Verse & Dance competitions. Categories changed over the years, & not all winning entires were published, sometimes winning entries were not even named!

The first competition in 1979 was for Original Dances with Original Tunes (Mulga Wire no.15,  Oct 1979) and led to a publication, Six new Dances composed for the Bush Music Club's Silver Jubilee, 1970 which is held in our Library. 


The winner of the Dance competition was the New Parliament House Jig by John Coleville, & was published in MW 23, Feb 1981.


The first Songwriters competition was held this year with three categories - Original words & music, New words, old tune & New tune, old words, but results were not published. (MW 27, Oct 81) 


The Song Competition was won by Denis Kevans who put music to John O'Brien's Riderless horse. This was the only prize awarded.  (MW 34, Dec 82)

Dance competitions had been held yearly since 1979. Competition rules were the same as for 1982 - and there were 2 new categories - Dance tune/air & Verse.  (MW 39, Oct 83) 
Song, Tune & Verse competitions attracted 67 entries (MW 40, Dec 83)
Original Song - Drover's Boy by Ted Egan (MW 40, Dec 83)
New words, old tune - Bottom of the Harbour by John Quiggen (MW 40, Dec 83)
New Tune, old words - In the Days of 84 tune by John Broomhall, words Bedford (MW 40, Dec 83)
Dance tune or air - Eggs & bacon by Ritchie Howett (MW 40, Dec 83) 
Verse - 2 winners   The bastard who squashed the grapes in me bag by Denis Kevans (MW 40, Dec 83) & Prang on the Nullabour by Pam Harris (MW 42, Apr 84)

Original song - Squeezebox, Fiddle & Bow by John Broomhall (MW 45, Oct 84)
New words, old tune - Down under by Alan Mann, Tune Across the Western Ocean (MW 47, Feb 85)
New tune, old words - Black is ... tune by Peter Kamey, words Maureen Watson (not published)
Dance tune or air - Teneriffe by Brad Tate (not published)
Verse - Jack's mate by Marion Downer (not published)
Popular Bush Dance - no results
Dancer's Dance - no results

61 entries
Original song - Battle of Vinegar Hill by Peter Blood (MW 52, Dec 85)
New words, old tune - tie - The Collectors by Denis Kevans & Bobby I hardly knew you by John Quiggen - neither published 
New Tune, old words - Do you think that I do not know? by Chris Kempster, words Lawson. (words & music MW 53, Feb 86)
Dance tune or air Shearing the Sheep by Pam Merrigan
Dancer's Dance - no results

24 entries (MW 58, Dec 86)
Original song - Sons of the Father by Paul Hemphill 
Highly commended - The Selector's Wife by Trish Noakes  - MW 59, Feb 1986
New words, old tune - The Robot Shearer by Alan Foster (MW 59, Feb 87)
New tune, old words - Winner - The Good Old Concertina by Bob Bolton, words Lawson  - not published
Highly commended - Labouring with the Hoe by Margaret Walters, words Frank the Poet  - not published
Dance tune or air - I'll show you the bush by Bob Buckley, not published
Verse - no prize awarded
Popular Bush dance - The Funfill Quadrille by Michael Waters (MW 59, Feb 87) 
Dancer's dance - The Floating Point Reel by Michael Waters, not published
Special mention - Chris Brady's Reel by Patricia Early, not published

Popular bush dance - Karen's Farewell by Michael Waters  (MW 65, Feb 88)
Dancer's Dance Lynette's Frolic by Noreen Grunseit (MW 65, Feb 88)
Original song - The only road you know by Brian Goddard  (MW 65, Feb 88)
New words, old tune - no entries
New tune, old words - The Beauty of the world by Sonia Bennett, words Denis Kevans, (MW 65, Feb 88)
Dance air or tune - Grand Villains Polka by Errol Lee  (MW 65, Feb 88)
Verse - Small Beginnings by Paul Hemphill  (MW 65, Feb 88)

General bush dance - Nerina, Nerina by Michael Waters (MW 70, Dec 88)
Dancer's Dance -  Seldom Seen Quadrille by Michael Waters  (MW 79, Dec 88) 
Original Song - The Valley of the Waters by Sonia Bennett & Denis Kevans (MW 70, Dec 88)
Highly Commended - Can't see the forest for the trees by Bruce Watson, not published
New words, old tune - The Assistant Commissioner for Crime by Denis Kevans  (MW 70, Dec 88)
Highly commended - The Mill at Rooty Hill by Denis Kevans, not published
Commended - Bagman Jack, by John Steele, WA, not published
New tune, old words - The Teams by Paul Hemphill, words Lawson  (MW 70, Dec 88)
Commended - I Wonder by Sonia Bennett, words Henry Western Price - not published
Dance tune or air - no prize
Verse - Ned's Warning by Denis Kevans  (MW 71, Feb 89)
Highly Commended - North Heavy by Mrs Mayne Wright. Gosford, not published
Commended - Dorrigo 32 by Lionel Bradbury, Pacific Palms, not published

Beginner's Dance - Jenni's jig, by Jenni Stock & Colin Fong  (MW 76, Dec 89)
Highly Commended - Circle for the last trees  (MW 76, Dec 89)
Dancer's Dance - The Emma Waltz by Alison Lee  (MW 76, Dec 89)
Original words & music - Mow ya Lawn by Jim Hayes  (MW 76, Dec 89)
New words, old tune - A book on hats by Denis Kevans  (MW 76, Dec 89) 
New tune, old words - tie - The Sleeper Cutter's Camp by Denis Kevans
& Macquarie Harbour by Andrew Copeman  - neither published
Original tune - Sailor's Polka by Brad Tate - not published
Verse - He's my dog by David O'Connor  (MW 76, Dec 89)

Popular Bush Dance - The Five Star Polka by Michael Waters (MW 82, Dec 90) 
Dancer's Dance - not listed
Multi-figure quadrilles - not listed
Original Song - The Australian Light Horse by Clive Clayton & Mark Clark (MW 79, Jun 90)
New tune, old words - The Long Road by Patrick Magill (Denis Kevans) (MW 79, Jun 90)
Dance tune or air - no entries received  (MW 79, Jun 90)
Verse - The Abdication of the Bastard from the Bush by Denis Kevans  (MW 79, Jun 90)

Popular Bush Dance - Waltz to the Wedding by Michael Waters (MW 88, Dec 91)
Dancer's Dance - A shortage of men by Patricia Early (MW 88, Dec 91)
Multi figure quadrille - Misty Mountain Quadrille by Alison Lee - not published

Popular Bush DanceMiss Campbell's Delight by Michael Waters (MW 98, Aug 93)
Highly commended - Nice and easy by Michael Waters (MW 98, Aug 93)
Dancer's Dance - Margaret's Reel by Michael Waters - not published
Highly commended - One over the gumnuts by Michael Waters - not published
Multi figure quadrille - Foundation Quadrille by Don Richmond (MW 98, Aug 93)
New words - as verse or to old music - The Rodney by Dennis O'Keefe - not published
New tune - as simply a tune or with old words - no award? 
New words & tune - 1. The Strike of 1894 by Dennis O'Keefe - not published
2. Ticktackers Blessing,  words by Denis Kevans, music by Sonia Bennett (MW 97, Jun 83)
3. The Ballad of Port Fairy Gazette by Dennis O'Keefe - not published

Popular dance  (5 entries) - 1. Three's a crowd by Michael Waters (MW 101, Feb 94)
Highly commended - The Princess Reel by Michael Waters MW 101, Feb 84)
Commended - Uncle Tom's Barn Dance by Michael Waters  MW 101, Feb 84)
Gulgong Gallop by Patricia Early - not published
Pam's Porridge by Stephen McCann  - not published
Dancer's Dance - 1 entry  - Commended - The Gordon & Louise by Patricia Early (MW 101, Feb 94) 
Multi figure quadrille - no entry
Song or verse, new words to a trad tune - The Green Ban Fusiliers by Denis Kevans (MW 102, Apr 94)
New tune, trad words - The Flour Bin by Sonia Bennett (poet not named) - not published
New words & tune - 1. There's music in the air by Clive Clayton (MW 102, Apr 94)
2. When Blue Swimmers come back to Balmain by Denis Kevans - not published
3. Songs that will ever stay young by Clive Clayton - not published
Commended - Condemned by Clive Clayton  - not published

Poetry - no category. Noel May sent in Kiaramba before competition format was announced and received a special prize. (MW 106, Dec 94)

BMC's Ruby Jubilee was celebrated at Australian Pioneer Village & included Competitions according to this poster, but there was no mention of any competitions in the Festival reports

Competitions are not mentioned in MW 106 Dec 94 & following issues. 

2004 Golden Jubilee

Poetry competition winner - Blue Ocean True by Penelope Grace, Mulga Wire 166, Dec 2004 


2005 Dance competition

on a railway theme - winner was Railway Polka by John Short.
Highly commended - John Short's Railway Waltz  created to accompany the arrangement of Paling's tune published MW no.167, Feb 2005


Mulga Wire no. 168, April 2005
2014 Diamond Jubilee winners

Song - The Reedy River still flows by © Bruce Watson 2013  video

Time goes by, how the years they fly
And fashions may come and may go
But as long as there’s music, as long as there’s dance
The Reedy River still flows
The Reedy River still flows

In the far distant times of the Dreaming
When people first walked this land
There was music and dancing to sing up the spirits
To bring us together, every woman and man


And from far distant lands others came
And still come to our bounteous shores
They bring stories and songs that tell who we are
And we dance round the room as did others before


In far distant places through the bush of Australia
The song catchers tirelessly roamed
Collecting the stories and tunes of our country
Collecting the dances, the songs and the poems


So let’s sing songs of those come before us
And let’s strike up the fiddle and bow
And let’s dance till we drop, and then sing one more chorus
So the River of Music still flows


Hi Sandra

I'm absolutely delighted. I really appreciate the BMC running this project. For me it was a great catalyst for reflecting on the Australian folk music tradition and folk revival and what it means in our culture as well as in my life.I'm really pleased with the song I wrote, which I have now dipped into the that flowing Reedy River, hopefully adding to that tradition, keeping it strong and, like a river, constantly renewing.
Thanks to the BMC for making that happen - all power to you.


Verse - Australian Dreaming by Stephen Whiteside

You talk of old Australia, with the flooding rain and drought;
Of the shearer, of the drover; of the cook, the rouseabout;
You talk of paddle steamer, or of bullock team and dray;
It’s the noisy, smoggy city where we congregate today.

You talk of red Australia, and the hulking Uluru;
Of the emu and the brolga, of the bounding kangaroo;
You talk of Kata Tjuta, like a buried monster’s spine.
It’s in the boutique restaurants we like to meet and dine.

You talk of white Australia, and the mountains capped with snow,
Where only hardy currawongs and wombats care to go;
Or hibernating possums fast asleep beneath a drift.
We like a bright skyscraper with a fast ascending lift.

You talk of blue Australia, with its narrow rim of sand,
Where breaching humpback whales provide performances so grand;
Whale sharks up at Ningaloo, or dolphins in the surf.
The bitumen and footpath offer more familiar turf.

You talk of green Australia, with the moss, the ferns, the trees;
The dew drops in the morning, and the cool and healing breeze;
The nesting cassowaries, or the stealthy thylacine,
But we prefer the steady purr of petrol-fuelled machine.

We don’t think of Australia as we make our busy way
Through the surging hordes and traffic of another hectic day.
“No room for sentiment,” we say, but all’s not as it seems.
Australia comes, with scented gums, and greets us in our dreams.

© Stephen Whiteside 07.11.2013


Tune - Yabby Catcher by Maggie Somerville.


Dance competition winners  (MW 226, Dec 2014)

General Bush Dance - Bimsey Flyer by John Short

Dancer's dance - Harbour Bridge Quadrille by Keith Wood
Highly commended - Duke's Jig by John Short

Multi figure quadrille - The Mulga Quadrille by John Short


From the Archives - On the track of the Shed Rep by John Meredith, Parts 1 & 2

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Mulga Wire, no. 118, Dec 1996 & 119, Feb 1997




Sunday 27 February 2022

From the Archives - Parodies, Mulga Wire no. 237, August 2016

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Traditional Parody The Dying Fettler (collected in Queensland in 1966), John Dengate's Terrorist Song (written 2003) & Queenslander Jenny Fitzgibbon's Lies Like "Illegal" (tune - When the Boat comes in)


From the Archives - Nancy Keesing

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Nancy Keesing - Australian Dictionary of Biography  (1923 to 1993) ... In 1951 she began work with the Sydney magazine the Bulletin, where the poet Douglas Stewart had been literary editor since 1940. They had met in 1946, after Keesing had had poems published in the Bulletin and was beginning the close association with Sydney’s literary circles that continued throughout her life. Initially she worked one day a week, carrying out research for a proposed history of the Bulletin, and later assisting Stewart in the preparation of two jointly edited anthologies, Australian Bush Ballads (1955) and Old Bush Songs and Rhymes of Colonial Times (1957). From 1952 to 1956 (the year of the birth of her first child), she worked full time at the Bulletin, also writing many reviews and articles ...

John Meredith met Nancy Keesing at the State Library in 1953 when he was looking for more songs for The Bushwhackers

Launch by Nancy Keesing of John Meredith's Duke of the Outback, 1983 Bush Music Festival. Nancy is showing a native beehive entrance Duke gave her.  (Bob Bolton photo) 

Mulga Wire, no.95, Feb 1993, page S4 

Mulga Wire, no. 95, Feb 1993, p.10

Mulga Wire no. 96, April 1996. pages S1 & S4, 
extract from her autobiography "Riding the Elephant"
about her contact with Mrs Ina Popplewell



From the archives - BMCs 39th birthday

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Mulga Wire no. 117, October 1996


From the Archives - Harry Kay

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From the Archives - Harry Kay Collection.

Mulga Wire no. 78, April 1990, Bush Music in The Hills 


Mulga Wire  no.109, June 1995 - Some observations on instruments



Saturday 26 February 2022

From the Archives - Death of Alan Scott, 17 December 1995, from Mulga Wire February 1996

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Bob Bolton's tribute + Publications to which Alan contributed

Dale Dengate's tribute

John Dengate's tribute

An old favourite from Collector's Songbook 

Records on which Alan Scott contributed 


Tuesday 22 February 2022

From the Archives - Spirit of Thunderbolt, Ben Hall and Other Bushrangers by Colin Newsome - Review by Bob Bolton

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Spirit of Thunderbolt, Ben Hall and Other Bushrangers by Colin Newsome.

A letter and review copy brings to our notice the work of a Bush Balladist of the old school and definitely of the old leanings. Colin Newsome was born in 1916 and worked around the bush in most of the itinerant bush jobs as well as a spell as fighter and wrestler with travelling boxing troupes. He has apparently published two books of Bush Ballads The Green Tree Snake and Dingo Howlers but he sent to us a copy of a slim volume on a subject dear to his heart. 


From the Archives - Concertinas and Accordions - Big old ones with knobs on!

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Mulga Wire no. 73, June 1989 Singabout article by Bob Bolton

Concertinas and Accordions - Big old ones with knobs on!
I had a letter from Geoff Seymour, from Bateman's Bay, asking for an article on concertinas and accordions ... types ... range ... what keys you play them in ... can you make them?... why are they so expensive?... what else is available? ... do the Japanese make reasonable ones?... do Australians? This covers a lot of territory and it may not be a good idea to let me loose on it, but here goes ...


Saturday 19 February 2022

From the Archives - Forum for Folklore Collectors, University of NSW, 4-6 December 1987.

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Thanks to Keith McKenry for identifying the photos, email 17/02/22

The event was a forum for folklore collectors held at the University of NSW on 4-6 December 1987. The forum was organised by Dr Jill Stubington, lecturer in ethnomusicology in the university's Music Department. Jill later edited a report of the proceedings titled Collecting Folk Music in Australia, which was published by the University in 1989. 

The first photo shows Prof Roger Covell addressing the gathering

The second shows me giving an update on the Folklife Inquiry, whose report was then at the printer

The third shows Jill addressing the gathering. 

The final two photos are of John Meredith delivering the keynote address. In all there were 26 participants. The forum was made possible through a $10,000 grant from the Australia Council's Music Board.

A copy of Jill Stubington's report Collecting Folk Music in Australia. Report of a forum held at the University of NSW, 4-6 December, 1987, in our library.

(Photographer unknown BMC Archives)