Thursday 21 July 2022

From the Archives - Charlie Mopps

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It was collected by Redd Sullivan from the Chief Refrigeration Engineer on the SS Tekoa in 1953. The second verse was written by BMC member Peter Francis, and the last verse sent by an English contributor Tam Murrell from Twickenham. BMC members localised the pub names and it became almost the theme song of the club and is still wildly popular 60 years later.


A selection of posts from the Mudcat cafe thread Lyr ADD: Beer, Beer, Beer / Charlie Mopps

Bob Bolton - 03 Apr 04 - 10:51 AM, Singabout magazine, vol. 3, no. 3, p.7, Winter/Spring 1959, where it is credited as collected from the chief refrigeration engineer of the SS Tekoa in 1953 by Redd Sullivan. 

We considered it an English song (the SS Tekoa was English ... ?). Admittedley, by the 1960s Poms were saying they had never heard the song ... but they weren't on the SS Tekoa!


Bob -  21 Apr 04 - 02:06 AM

It is interesting that Eric Winter's The Challenge Songbook also cites the collection of the song by Redd Sullivan, from the chief refrigeration officer of the SS Tekoa in 1953. I must reread our entry on the song ... it may be that publication in our Singabout magazine drew on other primary sources ... or that The Challenge Songbook drew on us ... who knows? (I'll try to find out!)

BTW: Joe Offer - I remember the: "A bushel of hops... shilling and tuppence in tax" stanza as having: "Shame! Shame! Shame!" chanted after it (and before the standard chorus) in much the same way that "1,2,3-4-5" follows the "... ten o'clock she stops" stanza.


billy weeks : 09 Jul 04 - 06:04 AM

It sounds music hally, but I'm pretty sure it isn't. Classic music hall material (because of the activities of licensing and watch committees) rarely includes the name of God other than in sticky sentimental songs. My guess is that this is 1930s or later and probably originated with a Young Communist League song writer. I seem to remember it appearing in an early issue of 'Sing' magazine, but can't for the moment lay my hand on the copy.

SING (UK Magazine which ran from 1954 through to 70s. Edited by Eric Winter)


billy the bus (NZ) 11 Jul 04 - 09:09 AM

Redd Sullivan - What a Man!!! The version I recall him singing many times, at Curly d'el Monte's Poles Apart in Auckland was akin to the one above...


sapper82 -11 Jul 04 - 09:32 AM

MANY MANY years ago, way back in the early '60s, my sister had a Swedish pen pal with whom she exchanged records. One of those she received was by someone called Hans "Hasse" Burman with "Balladen om Charlie Mopp" on one side!!


Bob - 11 Jul 04 - 09:50 AM


Bill Weeks: I'm sure the song never appeared on the British "legitimate" stage ... it would never get past the Lord Chancellor (or whoever issued imprimatur for acceptable stage fare. However, someone might argue that really classic music hall material was what happened, in the early part of the 1800s, before it went "legitimate" ... when a bunch of Cockneys would rent a shop front and turn it into a "music hall" ... until authority descended on them - and they scarpered with the takings and a rent bill (if not a bill for repairing the unauthorised "renovations"!).

However, it probably comes out of the left end of working class ... and, obviously with the Redd Sullivan connection, the merchant marine and maybe a Navy one too: " ... ought to be an Admiral ... &c ... ". The merchant marine connection certainly explains it turning up all round the world, even sapper82's Swedish "Balladen om Charlie Mopp"!


Wednesday 20 July 2022

From the Archives - Collected dance memories

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Information collected &/or published by BMC about dancing outside the cities in the 19th & early 20th centuries, before the bush music revival.

Jig Dolls, Mr & Mrs White of Blacktown, article by David Johnson
This article was written by David Johnson and originally published in Singabout #58, December 1986, p. S1. Photographs are by Bob Bolton.

The beautifully crafted dancing dolls in the photographs were made by a farmer by the name of Charles Mill, probably when he lived on the South Coast of NSW in the 1890s. They were made by carving solid cedar blocks and finished elaborately in the style of the “Minstrel” shows that regularly toured the country at that time. He referred to them as “Mr. and Mrs. White of Blacktown”.

... The dolls were shown to us by the maker’s daughter, Miss Pearl Mill. Miss Mill explained that her father played the concertina for the regular round of “house parties” that made up the social life of many of the small towns on the South Coast where the family lived, at the time. However the dolls were never used in public performances and only rarely shown to the family. Charles Mill played for the Lancers, the Waltz Cotillion and the Alberts, among other dances, and all without reading a note of music. The popular American tunes such as Marching Through Georgia, Battle of Gettysburg, Old Black Joe and Take Me Back To Old Virginny were all played in strict dance time ...


... Sometimes we had dances at our new home, and they were great fun; people came riding for many miles, and usually slept at our place afterwards - mostly on shakedowns. We had no piano, but the music of Herb's accordion was more stirring to me than the greatest of Sydney's dance orchestras is now. Yogi played the fiddle, and kept one foot tapping so the time would be right. A fiddle it was, and Yogi would not understand what you meant if you called it a violin. Yogi, was a quiet, friendly, musical old aboriginal ...

Many city people have the wrong impression about dancing in the country; there are no picture theatres, concerts, bridge parties or night tennis clubs in the outback country, so that dancing is the only form of public evening recreation, though a country person's steps may not be quite as up to date as those of one living in the city, it is my considered opinion - having experienced both - that the average country resident is a better dancer than the average city dweller ...

Source: O'Reilly, Bernard - Green Mountains and Cullenbenbong. Brisbane, WR Smith & Paterson Pty Ltd, 1962, pp. 84-85
Born in 1903 to a pioneering Irish-Catholic family, Bernard O'Reilly spent his first twelve years in the secluded Kanimbla Valley of the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. The family then moved to the wild and largely unexplored McPherson Ranges in southern Queensland.

emails between David England (Snake Gully Bush Band) & Bob Bolton, 29/1/13

On a recent visit to the Northcliffe (WA) excellent town museum we found this accordion and dance list. A nearby box contained additional dance titles. The area around Northcliffe had been a prosperous timber area and the bush dances were well attended.

Bob - The "Dance Board" looks like it was a fixture in whatever local hall hosted the town's dances ... and there were 'boards' for all the repertoire so the MC could set up the whole dance program in advance. The selection looks like ~ mid 1930s ... before the playing by live musicians started to be replaced by playing (mostly imported ...) records .... or, somewhat later, tuning in to dances in the larger country towns, which were broadcast live, complete with the caller's direction - and played out in smaller dance halls through primitive amplifiers!

Mulga Wire no. 9, Feb 82, pp.S1-2. The Country Dances by Barbara Gibbons - Singleton 1950s & early 60s, band with 2 accordions & a violin, Old Time dances - Barn Dance, Pride of Erin, Canadian Three-step, etc. a couple of old "country dances" (folk dances) left over from an earlier era & Jimmy Miller, Little Brown Jug

Mulga Wire no. 72, April 1989, pp. S1-S4 - review by John Meredith of Collector's Choice, by Peter Ellis ... This book calls into question some of the assumptions of those who attempt to present something as authentic without understanding the real nature of these traditions ...

subject - Re: Ammo Boxes of Bob Bolton's 35 mm film files from (~) 1970 - 1974

date - 2/6/14, 10:05 am - extract

The other cassette recordings ... particularly Pat's Grandmother at 101 years (with memories of dancing in Tasmania ... before she married in the late 19th century and with no later memories to confuse the issue - as her husband did not dance ... / as well as the 1970s cassette of John Kell - especially his reminiscences of his family "band" of the 1920s ... down round the Barallier region south of Sydney and - in west of Mittagong ... are all worth listening to ... and, possibly, transcribing!


From the Archives - Interview by Bob Bolton with John Kell about his family's music and dance history

SHIRLEY ANDREWS Obit by Lucy Stockdale
In the 1950s she was a member of the Unity Dance Group, started by Margaret Walker, and performed dances from Australia’s early days. This group undertook the choreography and dancing in the musical, Reedy River, which was the first attempt to use Australian folk dance and music in the theatre. When the Victorian Bush Music Club asked the Unity Dance Group to assist with research into Australian traditional dancing, Shirley, as a member of both groups, volunteered for the task. Shirley found through this research that her assumption that Australian dancing was based on the very early English, Irish and Scottish dances brought out here was incorrect. Rather, Australia followed the latest in overseas fashions with quadrille sets, in particular, and couples dances, accompanied by the popular music of the day, being rapidly taken up here and forming the main basis for Australian traditional social dancing (or Colonial dancing as it has become known). In 1962, as part of her research, Shirley accompanied well known pioneer Victorian folk collectors, Pat and Norman O’Connor and MaryJean Officer to Nariel to collect and record from the Klippel family. This began a lifelong connection with Nariel and she traveled there for New Year almost every year since.

2 songs about Shirley
Phyl Lobl - The Pride of the Land A thank you song to honour Shirley Andrews who gave a life of service to Science, Aboriginal Welfare and more noticeably gave European Australia back its dance heritage. She introduced dancing into the National Folk Festivals circa 1968 and continued uncovering and teaching dances until the week she died in 2001.

Bruce Watson - The Three Lives of Shirley Andrews
My introduction to the folk scene was through dance, and I had the privilege of learning 'colonial dance' from Shirley Andrews OAM. At that time I didn't realise that as well as being the Australia's foremost authority on traditional social dance in Australia, she was also a driving force behind the 1967 referendum on Aboriginal rights, as well as being a bio-chemist who made a significant contribution to the treatment of bi-polar disorder. The tune for this song is the Mudgee Waltz, a traditional Australian dance tune that Shirley danced to many many times.

The Arrival of Dancing in the Folk Scene
by Shirley Andrews.
Speewah, no. 1, March 1997, p.18

The Arrival of Dancing in the Folk Scene,
by Shirley Andrews,
Speewah, no. 1, March 1997, p.19

Mulga Wire, no. 43, June 1984
Mick Markhan, Yearbon, Sth Qld, 1984
It's been a hard life, but I've seen some fun.