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Bush Music Club - Australia's oldest Folk Club @ The National Folk Festival
Saturday 7th April,2 to 3.30pm @ The Trocodero

By Sandra Nixon
Posted Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Bush Music Club was founded in 1954 and we are starting our 60th Anniversary celebrations early!

Join us between 2-3.30pm at the Trocodero on Easter Saturday for a Themed Workshop about our first 10 years. Sing the songs, listen to the reminiscences, watch the dances & listen to the tunes of the early days accompanied by hundreds of historical photographs & snippets of Oral History.

Celebrating the birth of Australian Bush Music with a concert that revisits history in the making.
Join the members of Australia’s oldest, and possibly the English-speaking world's second oldest surviving folk club, the Bush Music Club in a musical celebration of their roots.


Extract from History section of our website -

In the beginning ...

The club was founded in 1954 by a mob of mostly bush types that found the jobs had all moved to the city. They missed the friendly, informal social life they remembered from the country towns where they grew up.

They formed a band, which they called the Heathcote Bushwhackers, sang some of the old songs, and played such simple instruments as the squeezebox (button accordion) and whistle. As a group they became involved with the New Theatre, supplying the musical side of Dick Diamond's new Australian musical play Reedy River.

Musically inclined theatricals joined the band (now just called the Bushwhackers) and membership rose to seven. The band now played accordion, guitar, banjo, mouth organ, tin whistle and those distinctive home-made instruments; bush bass, bones and particularly the lagerphone - which the Bushwhackers first introduced to the public.

Seeking more songs and Australian historical background, they became involved in the Australian Folklore Society and John Meredith started using the new-fangled tape recorder (twenty kilograms of mains driven bulk in those days) to get down authentic items from old performers. The material collected was translated into the Bushwhackers' repertoire as fast as they could learn it. The shape, size and style of the Bushwhackers provided a model for every revival bush band since.

And then ...

When more and more people wanted to join the they decided to form a social, teaching club, founded at a meeting on 14th October 1954, and called the Bush Music Club in honour of the survival in bush areas of that style of self reliant entertainment and sociability that seemed so scarce in the "big smoke".

At the Club, people could learn the newly collected traditional songs, get tips on playing (and making) the "bush" instruments of the Bushwhackers and form their own bands (collectively known as Bushwhacker bands in those heady days). Eventually, similar clubs started in other states, complete with their own bands such as the Moreton Bay Bushwhackers and the Port Phillip Bushwhackers.

In 1955 the Bush Music Club started publishing the collected songs and music in its own magazine Singabout, the journal of Australian Folksong. The Club's present, two-monthly magazine Mulga Wire deals with the social aspects of the present-day organisation, reviews and events but Singabout continues as a folklore section within the magazine.


B&W photos and sketches from Singabout and BMC archives -

early Bushwhackers in Reedy river, 1955

later Bushwhackers, 1957

Concert Party at Gulgong, 1959 - Duke Tritton standing in centre

Chris Kempster on cover of Singabout, 1956

Rob Willis photo -
John Meredith with the original lagerphone made by his brother Claude, ancestor of the lagerphone used by the Bushwhackers & every Bush Band since

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Bush Music Club - Australia's oldest Folk Club @ The National Folk Festival