Jump to content

Australian Bush Music

Chris Ghent

Recommended Posts

I will attempt to attach (don't laugh, I may be admin but I don't do this often) a thumbnail of Warren Fahey and Dave DeHugard performing 14 July 2006 near Brisbane. Part of my not yet written story of the trip down unda. (I seem to engage in deficit living these days)





G'Day Ken, Chris & co.


The books refered to by John Meredith et al where published to record the traditional bush music and as such do have some information on the concertina but not a lot of specific information. I have copies here also and they are a good reference.


Chris, you mentioned Dooley Chapman. He was recorded by Chris Sullivan who lives down Lismore way I believe. I have a copy of the CD that is available and it is well worth a listen. He tells yards of how he used to play at bush dances and the like as well as a lot of great old tunes and songs.


Dave De Hugard plays a number of instruments including button accordian, piano accordion and the conccertina. I have a few of his recordings but the one that is on the web site mentioned above is the last one he did and most songs feature th concertina. He actually has "The man with the concertina" on the ablum. One of my favorites.


Another person who is a great iknowledge on Australian dance music and plays the concertina is Peter Ellis for the victoria bush mucis mob. I have a set of dance books here that he complied on the subject and they also include some information on bush music and of course the concertina.


Chris, I would of thought that Richard would have a fair bit of information of this subject also.


Warren is a nice bloke and sings some great Austalian songs. He has recently purchased an english aeola. He is down your way in Sydney. I have a few albums here from his days with the "Larrikins" also. They did some great traditional bush music. Dave De Hugard also played with them.


The concertina seems to have been popular in Australia due to its portability, in what was traditionally a transient bush society. With a lot of people working as shearers and in the rural sector, they travelled to where the work was and as such spent a lot of time hoofing it around the country. I have also read a lot of stories fo them being kicked out the door during a dance when they broke down and would not work properly. Hence a lot never survived.


Chris, give me a yell if you want some more information.


Ken, did you ever find the copies of the CD's & tapes that you lost in the way home?

Link to comment
Share on other sites



I also forgot, I have a video here of a concertina workshop held up here in Toowoomba a few years ago. It featured a few local players including Keith Watson (who I got my first concertina from and the only guy I have ever met who could play full classical pieces on the anglo - he was awsome to see but know is in a home with dementia) and also Jacko Kevans who unfortunately died last year. He was also a great player of Irish and traditional Australian Music on the Anglo.


One piece of Australian folklaw that he mentined was that an old bloke once told him that you can get a snake out of a wood heap by playing the concertina.


I am not sure if that style of playing has been developed in other countries as yet of if that is soley an Australian developed talent.

Edited by scott fineran
Link to comment
Share on other sites

... an old bloke once told him that you can get a snake out of a wood heap by playing the concertina.


I am not sure if that style of playing has been developed in other countries as yet of if that is soley an Australian developed talent.

Hmmm, they say St. Patrick got all the snakes out of Ireland. :o


So does that mean he was a concertina player? :huh:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ken, did you ever find the copies of the CD's & tapes that you lost in the way home?


OK, this is a digression, but it is OZ related. Scott is referring to my report that I left the CDs by Dave and Warren (bought directly from their own hands) in a hire car when I turned it in at Melbourne. I didn't realize they were missing until I got to California. A call to Hertz in Melbourne revealed that they were there, and Hertz would post them. A week or two later comes a packet with some German pop CDs. I guess lots of tourists leave CDs in hire cars. I heaved a sigh, but decided I couldn't give up, I posted them back to Melbourne with a letter of explanation. Two weeks after that comes another packet (taped up after inspection, as was the first one) with the CDs! Kudos to Hertz Melbourne, someone spent quite a bit of time and cash on all those mailings.


The albums are "Classic Bush Poetry" and "Larrikins, Louts, and Layabouts" (both by Warren Fahey) and "Songs of the Wallaby Track" (Dave de Hugard). A couple of others also (rather more cheesy/touristy, I'll confess).


School is almost out, maybe I can finally write up the whole trip and get going on all the other backlog around here.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 9 months later...
You may want to look up an Australian player named(I think) Dave De Hugard(or something like that) Close to 20 years ago he recorded an album of tunes, on 20 button Anglo called "the Magpie in the Wattle" which garnered a good review by Joel Cowan at the time. I never bought it, and wished I had, now I can't find it. ... ...



G'day hielandman,


I think that "Magpie in the Wattle" was the record on which Dave de Hugard played my 20-key Lachenal Anglo ... with both its original Bb/F reed set and a very nice reed set in D/G that I had re-reeded, by Richard Evans, into some old frames that were formerly a brass-reeded (Ab/E ... ?) from a totally wrecked instrument that had a very worn and battered John Stanley, Bathurst, right-hand end ... a very low-grade Lachenal left end ... and a 6-fold bellows that carried almost its own weight in assorted adhesive tapes of the last century - and had never belonged to either end! It did, however, have evidence of earlier repairs and modifications by Stanley that allowed me to clarify a number of aspects of the modifications Stanley made in making his own instruments ... and the degree to which he started with standard Lachenal components ... and increased the content of his higher grade, locally made, components (and design improvements for the hot, dry, climate of Bathurst) as the grade of instrument went up.


The box that Dave used was loaned by me with each set of reeds in its own reed-frame ... and Dave recorded all he needed with one set ... then switched over the reed sets himself. (He is an old "bushie" ... and reasonably adept with a basic tool kit!). Sadly, that nice old Lachenal concertina was subsequently stolen from my car, while I was conducting a music session at the Bush Music Club (around 1995) and never recovered. It was wearing Richard Evans' magnificent D/G reeds when stolen ... but I still have the Bb/F set - and will get around to permanently housing them in a restored body ... one day!





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are there any experts in the role of the concertina in Australian Bush Music out there..?


The adoption of the Anglo in Ireland is well known, and its popularity amongst the Boers and Zulus is also known. But the Anglo had another natural home in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the Australian bush. It was often the only instrument at a dance. A repertoire and a style developed, derived from the Irish, Scottish and English tunes the settlers brought from home. Some recordings exist of older bush players, I think from the post war period, and thinking of Dooley Chapman in particular.


In a poem about a bush dance by Australia's best known 19th century writer the instrument is mentioned, as the dance has to stop while repairs are carried out on the concertina in the back room.


... ...


G'day again,


I just noticed the above sentence in Chris' post which originated this particular 'thread' of discussion. I seem to think that what Chris rememebered was actually part of a story ... from one of Steele Rudd's 'Dad & Dave" novels - about an Aussie farmer struggling on his "selection" - a small-holding, which he was obliged to clear, improve and make profitable ... or forfeit his holding ... and all his work and expenses.


However, there was a really good little poem celebrating the concertina's place in the music and entertainment of the Australian "Bush": Henry Lawson's "The Good Old Concertina". This is a fairly early Lawson poem ... from a period which produced many of his best and most-loved works.


The Good Old Concertina


Henry Lawson, 1891


‘TWAS merry when the hut was full

Of jolly girls and fellows.

We danced and sang until we burst

The concertina’s bellows.

From distant Darling to the sea,

From the Downs to Riverina,

Has e’er a gum in all the west

Not heard the concertina?


‘Twas peaceful round the campfire blaze,

The long white branches o’er us;

We’d play the tunes of bygone days,

To some good old bush chorus.

Old Erin’s harp may sweeter be,

The Scottish pipes blow keener;

But sing an old bush song for me

To the good old concertina.


‘Twas cosy by the hut-fire bright

When the pint pot passed between us;

We drowned the voice of the stormy night

With the good old concertina’s.

Though trouble drifts along the years,

And the pangs of care grow keener,

My heart is gladdened when it hears

That good old concertina.


I wrote my own tune to this, back in the 1990s, and I think it works very well. When the late Chris Kempster assembled his magnificent collection of settings of Henry Lawson's poems ... I was surprised to see three more different settings of the same poem ... all by people I knew quite well (including Dave de Hugard - mentioned several times above). As there is a new, memorial, edition of "The Songs of Henry Lawson" nearing publication, I'll be interested to see if any more of my friends have put their own tunes to this poem!


All that said ... I do think that my tune works very well ... and it is - of course - composed to work very well on the Anglo; which I firmly believe was "The Good Old Concertina" celebrated by Henry Lawson. We used to do the song in the group "Free-Selectors" back in the 1990s ... and I have scattered about tune/words sheets to a variety of concertina gatherings about this end of Aussie. I wrote it out with the right and left hand basic parts on their separate treble and bass clefs (but marked to be played "octave above" - to fit the usual range of G/C [and the Bb/F, for which I originally wrote it] 20-key Anglo) and it is a good piece to sketch out simple two-hand work on the basic Anglo ... although some copies wandered off to the English system end of one gathering ... and proved just as useful on Wheatstone's English layout! If anyone is interested in a copy ... contact me on the email address quoted by "Crane Driver" ... somewhere above ... and I'll email a small TIFF (or PDF) file of the arrangement.


BTW: I just noticed that I have uploaded a small image of my drawing of my first Lachenal Anglo (the one originally in Bb/F) ... the one I sadly remember as my "Good Old Concertina". This was, in fact, another that has passed through the hands of John Stanley: "The Concertina Doctor" of Bathurst - who had done a retune job ... about a fortnight before they hanged Ned Kelly! The interior showed pencil notes of which reeds were retuned ... and Stanley's initials - with a date of 30 October 1880!





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...