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Review: The Watsaname Band & Sydney Trade Union Choir
8pm, Saturday 28th July 2007

By Dawn Davis
Posted Friday, October 5, 2007

The Loaded Dog rang with stirring chorus songs from the Sydney Trade Union choir and a nice mixture of Australian and other songs & tunes tonight.

As well as our main performers, we had some great floor spots. John Warner started the evening with a chorus song, then Margaret Walters joined him for “Joe Hill”. The Southern Cross Trawlers, a relatively new duo of Margaret Walters and Don Brian, performed one of their repertoire of sea shanties.

The Sydney Trade Union Choir

We then heard from the Sydney Trade Union Choir, who have been singing together for many years and have a very professional sound with nice use of bass harmonies. They sang three brackets of three songs each. The first began with "I Lie" about the blatant lies told by a certain politician we all love to hate, and the second was about the latest Federal industrial relations legislation. Their second group of songs began with the wonderful autobiographical Archie Roach number ”Took the Children Away” about the stolen generation and their fight to regain their families and their heritage, then "The Ballad of 1891" & finished with “Tolpuddle Man”, They also performed the stirring Bernard Carney chorus song “Stand Together” and the audience needed no encouragement to cause them to raise the roof in the choruses. I thought the sound of the choir was tight and well controlled.

The trio of Alan Musgrove on guitar, Bob McInnis on variously tuned fiddles and Stewart Leslie on button accordion and concertina (aka The Watsaname Band) were our main act.

Bob McInnes, Alan Musgrove & Stewart Leslie - The Whatsaname Band

Songs topics ranged from shearing to prisons, and relationship between the apprentice lad and a young girl, which seems to be one of the standard tales in all its forms that survive throughout the history of folk music. The bracket included a group of jolly tunes from the Grafton area of New South Wales and an Irish ballad learned from the singing of Sally Sloane. They then played a number of waltzes learned from Alan's aunt, a musician from the Illawarra district. They finished with two Napoleonic pieces, the song "The Bonny Bunch of Roses", sung by the tune "Napoleon's Son to his Mother", followed by the tune "Bonaparte's Retreat" in which Bob used the lowest string of his fiddle to simulate the drone of the bagpipes.

Alan and his friends came back after the break and sang a song called “Three Jolly Busters”. Then we all let our hair down and joined in the chorus of "Boozin". "Starry Night for a Ramble" was a song which had been very popular during the days of the gold rush and was sung by gold fossickers who reminisced about better times and sweet ramblings with ladies. The set finished with some dance tunes from southwestern Victoria.

This was really my first encounter with Alan and his friends in a concert situation, although I had heard both Alan and Bob McInnis at festivals before. I was very impressed by the mixture of choruses, traditional and Australian, tunes and individual songs they performed.

Photos - Bob Bolton

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Venues/Clubs The Loaded Dog

Annandale Neighbourhood Centre
Johnston Street

Sandra Nixon
(02) 9358 4886

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