Denis Gibbons

Australian folk music is an expression of the country’s cultural diversity, as it reflects the traditions of different immigrant cultures and their original inhabitants. Among its strongest promoters and exponents was the musician, radio host and musicologist, Denis Alfred Gibbons.

Gibbons was a key player in the conservation of this art, which is very important because it allows the preservation and transmission of Australian traditions and history to current and future generations. Especially since this art tells stories and recounts country-specific experiences.

Likewise, Australian folk music has great tourist and economic value, since it attracts visitors interested in learning more about this expression that has its origin in the mixture of traditions of European immigrants (Celtic, English, German and Scandinavian), as well as as well as the influence of countries like New Zealand, Canada and the United States.

Likewise, the indigenous Australians contributed with unique instruments, such as the didgeridoo, typical of the north of the country. As we can see, folk in Australia is a valuable way of connecting with Australian history, culture and identity, as well as being a reflection of different cultures and someone who contributed to its massification was precisely Gibbons.



Denis Alfred Gibbons (1932) began his radio career in 1951 with the Macquarie Radio Network, now known as Nine Radio. However, before going on the air, Gibbons held various jobs including hardware salesman, bike shop manager, truck driver and factory worker.

His interest in music was remarkable from the beginning. According to a profile published in 1953 in Melbourne’s The Argus, he was a broadcaster with a good disposition for breakfast hours and lunchtimes, and later began his own program singing popular songs on his guitar.

Folk songs of australia volume 3

In 1954 he began recording Australian folk music, while also becoming the presenter of Time for a Song on 3AW. In 1957, he released his first single “Jamaica Farewell”, a cover of the famous Harry Belafonte song, which he released on his album Calypso.

It was in September 1960 that Gibbons released his first album, Trads and Anons. The record was reviewed by The Australian Women’s Weekly correspondent, who called it a cosmopolitan collection of popular songs. Among them were: the Dutch ‘Jan Himmerk’, the Irish ‘Spinning Wheel’, the Australians ‘Bold Tommy Payne’, ‘Dying Stockman‘ and ‘Wild Colonial Boy’, the English ‘Early One Morning’ and the Scottish ‘Skye Boat Song’.

Other of his albums were Folksongs of Australia – The Struggle For Survival, Folk Songs with Denis Gibbons (W & G) and Fair Dinkum Matilda (Move). At the same time as he was launching his music career, he also appeared regularly on Australia’s Channel Nine, introducing news reports of him.

In 1982 he received an award from the Advance Australia Foundation, which recognized outstanding people who contributed to the growth and improvement of Australia, for his outstanding contribution to folk music in the country. Likewise, he worked as a producer for Radio Australia youporn.


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When we think of influential pop folk groups, we can’t help but think of The Seekers, the Australian quartet that peaked in the 1960s. The group was one of the first from that country to achieve huge sales success in the US and UK, and it’s no surprise that they are so revered in their homeland, as well as by millions of fans around the world.

The band first formed in Melbourne in 1962, and its first members were: Judith Durham on vocals, piano and tambourine; Athol Guy on double bass and vocals; Keith Potger on twelve-string guitar, banjo and vocals; and Bruce Woodley on guitar, mandolin, banjo and vocals. Despite their success, the group disbanded several times, including with new members on several occasions, but the original quartet reunited in 1992.

The band played together until Durham died in 2020 at the age of 79 from lung disease. Guy, Potger and Woodley are still playing together but under the name “The Originals Seekers”. They released a new album in 2019 called “Back to Our Roots”. Learn more about the history of this mythical band and their best songs.



After moderate success in Australia with their first album “Introducing the Seekers”, especially their single “Waltzing Matilda”, the band conquered the United Kingdom and the United States with their single “I’ll Never Find Another You,” which reached number 1 in Australia and Great Britain, as well as number 4 in the United States.

The band’s unique sound, thanks to Durham’s voice and harmonies, made them stand out and received media support. According to Australian music historian Ian McFarlane, their style was “a bright, dynamic sound, yet they were too pop to be considered strictly folk and too folk to be rock”.


In addition to “I’ll Never Find Another You,” the band had commercial success with other singles such as “A World of Our Own,” “Morningtown Ride,” “Someday, One Day,” “Georgy Girl,” which was their biggest single in the U.S. (#2), and “The Carnival Is Over.” The band is estimated to have sold 50 million records worldwide.

Unsurprisingly, however, it was in Australia that they received their greatest accolades. In 1968, they were named “Australians of the Year” as a group, the only group to have achieved such a distinction. In 2014, each member was individually awarded the Order of Australia in the Queen Elizabeth II Birthday Honours.

They were also inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 1995, while “I’ll Never Find Another You” was added to the Australian Sounds of Australia register of the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia in 2011. In 1968, they broke up for the first time, as Durham wanted to pursue a solo career. The group continued with other singers, until Durham returned in 1992 ( porno français ).


According to the specialised blog Album Reviews, these are their 10 best songs:

  • I Wish You Could Be Here.
  • When The Stars Begin To Fall.
  • Red Rubber Ball.
  • I’ll Never Find Another You.
  • Morningtown Ride.
  • Someday, One Day.
  • A World Of Our Own.
  • Georgy Girl.
  • The Carnival Is Over.
  • Come The Day.



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Donna Simpson and Vikki Thorn together Josh Cunningham

Those who are versed in Australian folk will surely know The Waifs, known throughout the world for having some of the most recognized pieces of the genre.

Active since 1992 and still on stage, the band is made up of sisters Donna Simpson (vocals and guitar) and Vikki Thorn (vocals, harmonica and guitar), who share the stage with Josh Cunningham, who leads the vocals and accompanies with his guitar.

Not only have they traveled the world with their music. But, in addition, they have had up to 3 of their singles in the Top 50 of Greatest Hits of Australian Folk at the same time, in 2011. Likewise, they had the honor of accompanying Bob Dylan in 2003 at the concert of Newport Folk Festival.



Although they are not currently among the most famous in folk, those who follow the track of the band from the beginning will remember some of these great successes. The website lists them by number of streams in the following order:

  • London Still – Up All Night (2003).
  • Lighthouse – Up All Night (2003).
  • Sun Dirt Water – Sun Dirt Water (2007).
  • Beautiful You – Beautiful You (2015).
  • Ironbark – Ironbank (2017).
  • Higher Ground – Ironbank (2017).
  • Bridal Train (studio version) – A Brief History… (2004).
  • Highway One – Up All Night (2003).
  • Fisherman’s Daughter – Up All Night (2003).
  • I Learn The Hard Way – Temptation (2011).


The band began its history in Albany, Australia. Donna and Vikki, who already knew the stages before, had a band called ‘Colors’. Under that name, they would do folk covers of songs by the Everly Brothers and Bob Dylan in local bars.

During a local tour they met Josh Cunningham, an 18-year-old Australian pianist who was playing in a band at the time. The immediate chemistry brought them together in a 10-minute blues session that turned into an entire career spanning more than 20 years xxx.

‘Colors’ was renamed ‘The Waifs‘, combining string instruments of various kinds (guitar, ukulele, mandolin and bass) with vocals and drums. They toured the entire country from 1992 to 1996, achieving unprecedented local fame.

The Waifs
The Waifs

In 1996 they decided to take the big step: they were ready to stop being the typical local band that plays in bars every night. They moved to Melbourne and produced their first single, released in May on Outside Music. At the end of the century, it was one of the most important independent labels on the market.

Throughout their career they have been awarded some of the most important awards in folk music in Australia, including the National Live Music Awards.

Although their last album came out in 2017, they still attract the attention of their loyal audience and new folk lovers.

And you, did you already know this sensational band?


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National Folk Festival Marketplace Is Back in 2022

National Folk Festival Marketplace Is Back in 2022

Have you heard the great news? – The National Folk Festival is making a comeback to Salisbury in 2022. 


Making A Comeback to Salisbury Town

When the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) announced that the National Folk Festival’s tenure had been renewed for another year in Salisbury, it spiked untold excitement. The news came when the 80th festival was kicking off in the town. Historically, the festival has been known to travel from one city to another across the country, but this time it will return to Salisbury on the final week of August 2022. 

Being one of the country’s longest-running multicultural celebrations of traditional arts, the National Folk Festival attracts people from all cultures. The NCTA has spearheaded National Folk Festivals in 26 communities in over 80 years. They were optimistic that holding the festival for the fourth time in Salisbury was beneficial. 


Understanding The National Folk Festival

The event was held in 1934 in St. Louis for the first time. The objective was to celebrate American culture’s richness, roots, and diversity. Eleanor Roosevelt was enthusiastic to champion its advancement, and her championship was critical to the success of this annual festival. It provided an equal footing for different races, languages, and nations to present their art. 

The festival was the first event to present musical forms, such as Cajun music, blues, Peking Opera, and Polka Band. Today, it is a traveling festival that the NCTA manages in partnership with cities across the nation to embrace varied cultural expressions for 21st-century citizens. 


A Catalyst for Economic & Cultural Growth

Salisbury was expected to host a homemade event known as the Maryland Folk Festival once the National Folk Festival was concluded. In the joint broadcast, the leaders said they felt the need to extend the excitement and momentum of the partnership that has been a complete success xnxx. The move will likely have lasting value and benefits to Salisbury. 

The opportunity to host the 81st National Folk Festival in 2022 will enable the city of Salisbury to improve on its economic and cultural richness. It will also help them rebuild their status after getting hit by the pandemic. The weekend will coincide with the end of Summer travel and will thus make the city a desirable tourist destination. The organizers agreed to start publicizing the 81st annual festival performers and other details in Spring 2022. 


Understanding the City of Salisbury, Maryland

Established in 1732, Salisbury is the capital of Wicomico county. John Smith first touched the land in 1608 during his exploration of the Chesapeake Bay in the city. Salisbury sits on the crossroads of the Delmarva Peninsula and is one of the largest cities in the region. 

Although the area is relatively small compared to other cities in the country, it is an economic hub of one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas. Salisbury is working hard to become a cultural hub destination, and hosting the National Folk Festival will be a step closer to this dream.




A collection of folk myths

Karine Story

One hot summer day, Grandfather Fox trotting along a deep forest trail came to the edge of a small, deep river. Knowing that the river was deep and he could not see under the surface of the water; he decided to rest on the bank in the cool shade and figure out how he was going to safely cross.
In the nearby bushes, many rabbits were watching the old fox. Soon their curious minds got the best of them so they slowly approached the resting fox. When they neared the fox they asked the wise old fox why he was sitting by the river and staring at it? “I’m sitting here using my wisdom to come up with a plan to cross the river,” he said. “One must have a plan. If you do not have a plan, then one can not build a strong bridge to safely cross the river.” This made sense to the rabbits and who was going to challenge a wise old fox. So the rabbits sat with the old fox waiting for the answer to his question. For many days they sat there waiting.
One day, a jaguar came to the river’s edge. This jaguar was huge. The jaguar walked to the edge of the river and then swam across the river.
A few minutes later, a tiny mouse came to the river. The tiny mouse first looked upstream, then downstream. Finding a thin tree branch that reached over the river the tiny mouse climbed the tree and crossed the river without getting one tiny foot wet.
The rabbits saw the jaguar swim the river and the tiny mouse cross the river so they wondered why they couldn’t swim or find a strong tree branch to cross the river. So they continued to wait until the wise old fox had a plan.

This story starts with a Jackrabbit.

Well, Jackrabbit was walking down the street until he saw a snake, named Slippers.

Together, Slippers and Jackrabbit continued to walk until they came to an empty flowerpot. They picked up the flowerpot and put it on Jackrabbit’s back.

Well these two friends, with their pot, were walking down the trail when they decided to stop because they saw an Alaskan Bull Moose. The Bull Moose said, “Put the pot on my back and tell me where we are going.”

Walking together they came to a rainforest, and of course it was raining. The empty pot on the back of the moose filled with water.

So they stopped for a minute to rest and guess what they saw? They saw two deer.

Again, the group started walking and were joined by the two deer. They walked until they came to some rocky hills and caves.

In the hills, they found a large bone and put it on the back of the two xxx videos deer.

They began to walk again and came to a house. This house was so nice they wanted to stay for a year.

Deciding to stay, they removed the full pot of water and the bone from the backs of the two deer and moose. And, they rested.

The children who lived in the house came outside and saw the animals lying on the lawn so they told their mother.

The children’s mother put dirt into the pot with the water. Then she planted a seed.

The bone? Well…it went to a museum.

10 observations about the National Folk Festival

  1. Watching the talented Neil Adam patiently and enthusiastically teach DADGAD guitar tuning.
  2. Witnessing Sydney group Wheelers and Dealers overcome some frustrating sound problems to get the Folk Alliance Concert off to a rousing start.
  3. Seeing the Hairy Fairy (the Merry Muse’s Bill Arnett) make a little girl’s day by shaking her hand and sharing some words of wisdom.
  4. Hearing the patter of rain on the Budawang roof after Andy Copeman of the Western Australian Miles To Go Band finished performing his song Send Her Down Hughie.
  5. Hearing Gibb Todd sing the late Alex Campbell’s anti-war song I’ve Been On The Road So Long, which still resounded with relevance despite having been written some sixty years ago.
  6. Appreciating the enthusiasm and vitality of Mike Jackson as he shared stories from his musical journey and played all sorts of amazing instruments.
  7. Listening to the words and music of Jeanette Wormald as she shared her love of the Mallee, in her delightful and enlightening presentation Horizons and Heartlands.
  8. Travelling in song with the four Pigram Brothers as their Saltwater music filled the cavernous Budawang.
  9. Sighting a lone statue of a khaki-clad Australian Prime Minister, before the Festival had got underway, next to an Amnesty sign that read: Use your freedom – Defend human rights.
  10. Observing lead guitarist James Nash of The Waybacks methodically set up all his guitar amplification paraphernalia and then begin to play with extraordinary speed, grace and precision.

Interview to Jeanette Wormald

JIM: Let’s start with your production Horizons and Heartlands which you premiered yesterday at the festival. How did it come about and what are you aiming to achieve with it?

JEANETTE: Jeanette WormaldWell, it came about because, as well as being a singer and songwriter, I’m a former journalist but I’m also a grain farmer in the Northern Mallee of (South) Australia. I noticed that, coming from a bush perspective, my songs are inspired by the bush. People were asking me what it was like being on the land … and how much rain do you get, and what sort of crops do you grow and what’s happening and why is there dust? There were all these questions and I thought, gee, people are really curious because that link with the land has gone somewhat. It was about two or three generations ago, or two generations ago, definitely, everybody had country cousins, you know. They used to go inland for the country holidays. But that link has gone now. We are a lot more suburban, urban based and inland Australia has got this huge population drift and I thought there’s this information gap.
There are also stereotypes that I was aware of, that people thought farmers in the main were under educated and that they were environmental vandals and I know that there are a lot of very passionate farmers and very good managers who want to create a positive image for people on the land. You know, we don’t all have hay in our teeth and talk with a drawl (laughs)… Also the Mallee’s had pretty bad press in the past. I was doing some research on the Mallee and in 1908 the Bulletin was quoted as saying: “Nobody knows who made the Mallee but the Devil is surely suspected.” So, yes, the Mallee’s been pretty badly treated in the past, both by people who live there and by the outside world.

You know, they just think of the Mallee as dust storms and droughts. And it’s not, it’s a magnificent, ancient living landscape that can teach us so much about this whole nation. And the show, I needed to show people the beauty not only through my songs but visually as well, and that’s where the imagery came in.
JIM: So you’re going to be taking this (show) around various parts of Australia?

JEANETTE: Yes, I was awarded a community fellowship through Land and Water Australia. There was an ad in The Stock Journal, a rural paper, asking farmers whether they had a story to tell about natural resource management and caring for the land and would you like the opportunity to take it to new audiences or tell more people. And I felt there are not many farmers who are ex-journos who sing and write songs that celebrate the land and who are also contemporary farmers working in sustainable farming practices which Dean and I do. So I came up with this idea of a multi-media, audio-visual presentation, the backdrop of the images, and presented it to them and they loved the idea and gave me the full funding that I asked for. So that’s subsidising the cost of my travel up to Brisbane, back through Sydney and back through to South Australia because there’s not a lot of money to be made in the music industry. (laughs) It’s a bit like farming, not a lot of cash flow.

JIM: And you have to promote this yourself?

JEANETTE: Yes. It’s fantastic that Graham (Mc Donald – Festival Director) asked me here to the National Folk Festival and I was able to bring it to a national audience already. We did the first show yesterday and the feedback has been marvellous. People have said I should have had it on again this festival… It was actually a last minute addition. I had put my application in and then heard that I had got the fellowship. I rang Graham up and asked whether he was interested and he said, “Look, we’ve got a lot of things but I’ll see what we can do.” And he put me in.

JIM: So if you could sum up, what are some of the things you would like to get across to people who come to the show?

JEANETTE: view of an old stripper from the back yard looking out towards the heritage scrub What makes us unique as Australians is the land. To me, a relationship with the land is the basis for all life. It sustains us. Without the land and water, we’re stuffed. The biggest message, I guess, is the more you care for the land, the more it cares for you and I think Australians need to appreciate and celebrate our unique environment and care for it and look after it. It’s our heritage. It’s our future.

JIM: In one of your songs, The Tall Poppy one, you come across the frustrations faced especially by women who are vocal. Have you any further comments on this?

JEANETTE: Well, as much as there are a lot of very forward looking farmers, you know, brilliant managers who are really trying to look after the land and grow fantastic food for the world, there are a lot of very conservative people as well. And traditionally women don’t know what they’re talking about when it comes to farming. And they’re not supposed to speak out and especially challenge the status quo and what’s happening and question what farming men are doing. And I’ve done that and I’ve been ostracised in my community for doing that. But on the flip side I’ve also found a lot of people have said, “Good on you for saying that” and “You can get away with that because you’re a woman and because you’re a singer and because you’re a bit different anyway” and people say, “Well, she’s weird anyway”.(laughs) So I’ve been able to stand up and speak out but at times it does come at a cost. I feel very lonely and isolated.

JIM: People often talk about the power of music and the power of song, when delivering a message that perhaps isn’t a popular message or is one that is hard to get across. Have you found that music has helped?

JEANETTE: mallee at dusk from Jeanette’s front verandah Yes, music is a very gentle, very powerful form. It’s also a healing form. I think music is one of the most powerful forms of communication we’ve got. You think of the protest songs through the years. It raises awareness. Songs like Goanna’s Solid Rock. I remember dancing to that as a teenager and it wasn’t until ten years ago that I thought, “Wow, the message of indigenous history was fantastic!” And that actually opened up a whole awareness. I think music can really do that. I’m a patron of the Riverland Domestic Violence Action Group and I know that music can tell women’s stories and empower women. Music’s an incredibly powerful medium.

JIM: You mention the indigenous people and you mentioned yesterday how that population is no longer in the Mallee area that you’re in, what contact have you had with Aboriginal people? Have you worked with Aboriginal people?

JEANETTE: Yes, I’ve worked with several language groups in South Australia. The first people whom I was able to work with were the Ngarrindjeri people. Now they’re now seen as the caretakers or guardians of the Mallee region. Not a lot is known about traditional owners. According to Norman Tindale’s anthropological language map it was the Meru speaking people and that Erawirung tribe. But there’s very little trace of them. We have some traces on our own property of Aboriginal occupation which I’m very excited about and to look after that. But I think disease wiped a lot of that history out. You know, good old western civilization.
Our property is about six and a half thousand acres – two thousand four hundred hectares. But we also share-farm three other properties. So it’s a fairly big enterprise and we continuous crop. It’s all grain. We don’t like the cloven hoofed sheep. They actually disturb the soil a lot. You know, you have to be very switched on with your management not to leave them in the paddocks too long otherwise you get too much soil disturbance.

(Our home) was built by Dean’s grandfather and great-grandfather. In fact the Wormald’s were one of the first pioneers in the district and we’re one of the few families left in the whole region that are on their original holdings. We have two daughters and we’re hoping that they may find a life partner that would want to join them on the land because it is a lifestyle thing too. It’s a very big decision to make and we’re hopeful but we don’t want to push them. As I said in my song To The Mallee Born, “child, the choice is up to you”. We can’t force that on anybody.

JIM: When did you start writing songs? Was this before you came up to the Mallee?

JEANETTE: When I was about ten I wrote a folk song. I didn’t know it was a folk song. (laughs)
JIM: Where were you living then?

JEANETTE: I grew up on a dairy farm and I was living in Adelaide. And I loved going bush and it was a song about Cockatoo Creek. It was the old bush style song and I didn’t know that, (although) I loved bush dancing, I didn’t realise the whole folk culture. Because until you are invited into the folk culture, you know, the normal, average Joe Blow in the street doesn’t know the richness that’s here. And I remember coming to the National in 1995. And a friend David Long from South Australia, he looked at me …(Makes a surprised expression) (and I said) “This is all the music that I really love and I didn’t know there was a name to it!”
JIM: And when did you start seriously to think that your songs could be performed and you were comfortable with that?

JEANETTE: When I married Dean. As a former journalist I needed some sort of therapy, (laughs) some sort of outlet and I wrote a song about the mouse plague. My wedding gift, when I married Dean in 1993, was the worst mouse plague in twenty years. And I wrote a song Those Darn Mice and the ABC heard about it and they played it all over Australia. I wrote another song Gotta Beat The Bloke Next Door. Dean said, “I reckon that there’s an audience out there that would like to hear these.” I was invited to country music festivals, and then the National and Victor Harbour Folk Festival. And I realized I had a legitimate voice and a legitimate story to tell and people wanted to hear it. There are not a lot of farmers who actually are living and working and breathing life on the land, who are singing about it. There are a lot who have roots but not those who live and breathe it every day.

JIM: And do you find that you’re comfortable straddling the country/folk areas of music?


JIM: Where do you see your music or do you have a description of your music? Do you feel you need to fit in to one or the other?

JEANETTE: Well, from a marketing point of view. I mean, I’m a realist. It’s easy if people have got a box to categorize you in and then they can say, “Oh, she’s X”, so this, and this apply. But I call it contemporary Australian, acoustic, roots, country, folk music. (laughs)
Working with indigenous people though, whatever that music is, they have said to me, “Jeanette, we love your songs. You’re singing about stuff that we really care about. Thank you. Keep doing it.” – Especially the thing about relationships with the land. There’s not a lot of that sung about.

JIM: What about the idea you touch upon about belonging and having a sense of place? Are you more comfortable singing about that since you’re working the land or do you think all Australians should feel comfortable?

JEANETTE: I think that’s the answer to our future. I think that’s the only way we’re going to survive as Western civilisation, if we rediscover first nation spirituality which is the land, the Mother earth sustains us. God is in the land. You know, I’m a pantheist, whatever that is. I really believe that. We need to have this sense of belonging to the land, not that we’re masters of it, but there’s a relationship there.

JIM: Just clarifying one thing. When you say you have worked with Aborigines, have you actually done workshops?

JEANETTE: Yes, I wrote with the Ngarrindjeri women through an elder Auntie Dot. And then a couple of years ago I was asked to write a song about Ooldea on the trans-Australian railway line. Ooldea is an old Aboriginal soak which was decimated with the coming of the train. And they sent me up to the community. Now, that was pretty confrontational when I wrote my song Walk Beside Me …”look into my eyes without flickering revulsion”… I was confronted with a standard of life that to me was scary. To have dogs all around and sleeping in the dirt and the runny noses, you know. But that’s what it is and they’re beautiful people and I had to get beyond my white, sort of stereotypes and standards and just look at the person. You know, look beyond all the surface stuff and find the person within and once I did that, and the Aboriginal people sensed that, and respected that and loved me for it. They’re dear, dear friends and their concept of friendship is far beyond ours. I mean, when we think about relationships and friendships, you’ve got to keep networking, you’ve got to keep in touch, you know. You’ve got to do the leg-work, otherwise it’s not a relationship. With an Aboriginal person and my friends, if you’re friends, you’re friends. Whether you see each other ten years down the track or ten weeks or ten months, you pick up where you left off. It’s really humbling. It’s beautiful.
JIM: What sort of music do you listen to yourself?

JEANETTE: I listen to singers, like real storytellers. I love the Pigram Brothers. I love Nina Simone. I’m listening to the Cat Empire a bit because I think that’s a real celebration of urban living and multiculturalism. They’re a Melbourne group and very contemporary, fantastic! I like a real mixture. Alison Krauss … I think she has a magnificent voice. I love Shane Howard’s work. Mary Black … I love her voice. Gee, there’s just so many different artists I listen to.

JIM: Australian songwriters who have touched or are dealing with some of the subjects you’re dealing with, say, for example, the songs of John Williamson, how do you react to those? … He’s saying he’s a Mallee boy … Does that sit comfortably with you?

JEANETTE: Mallee fowl in nest – the symbol for the need to protect this landscape. John’s got some beautiful songs and I sing a couple of his songs. But unfortunately the way the music industry is set up, they’ll only take you seriously if you are based on the east coast and preferably in Sydney or nearby. And these people that call themselves the voice of Australia or the voice of the bush or the voice of farmers, how can they legitimately be that and be based in Sydney? It’s going to work for a while but, ultimately, they’re going to be reverting to clichés. They’re not going to be in touch with what’s really happening … I’ve met John’s Auntie Hazel in the Mallee country and what he sang about was important, saying he was a Mallee boy. I like some of the songs of Neil Murray. I think he does some beautiful stuff.
Getting back to workshops, I went back to Oak Valley after that initial song. They invited me back to set up a band and (do some) songwriting and we did their first ever public performance last year at the South Australian Folk Centre. It was fantastic. I just spoke with them last week and they want me to come back this year for almost two weeks and they want Dean and Emma. They welcome the family because family’s everything. And I’ll be working with the band again and …
JIM: Does that mean you’ll be writing songs in collaboration with them?

JEANETTE: Yes, and just teaching them about the music business and how to promote themselves, get a media pack together, (teach) stagecraft and performance skills and encourage them not to sing covers but to sing their own stories. And they’ve started doing that and singing in Pitjantjatjara. Their language and their stories are very important. Celebrating the self, you know, your own identity.
JIM: So, obviously your background in journalism has helped you in the business side of the music?

JEANETTE: Yes, although I’ve been told I know too much sometimes. (laughs)

JIM: A final question about the craft of song writing. Do you usually start with an idea or with a tune or both?

JEANETTE: Normally an idea. Sometimes I get just a tune and I think, gee, that would make a good song, but often it’s an idea. The new song I sang today Dirt In His Hands … I wanted to express the fact that technology is separating us from the land. You know, Dean’s spending more time in the office at the computer than he is on the tractor or on the header. And that really distresses him because he’s not a real farmer, you know, if he can’t do that. But bloody bureaucracy, it’s got us doing all this admin(istration). And even when you’re in the tractor now, it’s not a tractor in the real sense. You can’t even smell the earth. It’s got GPS, it’s got CD’s. You can even watch a DVD while you’re going, all air-conditioned. I mean, that’s not what farming is about!

JIM: Thanks, Jeanette. I really appreciate the time you have given for this chat.

Jeanette Wormland: horizons and heartlands

This Easter at the National Folk Festival in Canberra, I was very fortunate to catch Jeanette Wormald’s performance when she premiered her production Horizons and Heartlands. Jeanette comes from the northern Mallee district of South Australia where she and her husband Dean are grain farmers. Horizons and Heartlands aims to acquaint us with this area through words, music and a changing backdrop of associated porno gratis images.
Jeanette on her Mallee propertyJeanette has a warm, confident and engaging stage presence. She took us with her on a delightful hour-long journey of discovery. It was soon apparent that we were in the company of someone to whom the Mallee area is significant and very special. “The more open your heart and mind to it,” she explained, “the more you understand.” This sentiment was also expressed in her song To The Mallee Born, when she sang about a country that “takes your heart and soul”. But, she informed us, it is also a country that comes with certain responsibilities. Through the original songs featured in Horizons and Heartlands, Jeanette shared her love for the Mallee and how this area must be carefully maintained.

The upbeat song If This Ain’t Country effectively served to establish Jeanette’s credentials. Her thoughtful and clearly articulated comments between each song were enlightening. I felt as if this is what it would be like to walk with her through her beloved Mallee. Walking across a landscape is, in my opinion, the best way to learn and understand more about the area you are traversing. Jeanette obviously subscribes to a similar belief. In her song Acres of Blue she is walking.

“As I walk these limestone ranges
Seeking out your history
I can hear in distant whispers
Your ancient spirit speaks to me.”
The imagery in this song and others demonstrates the close relationship she has with the landscape. Her acute observation and willingness to listen have led her to a greater awareness and understanding of, as well as a deep respect for, her environment.

Despite indigenous inhabitants of her area no longer being present, Jeanette acknowledged in Horizons and Heartlands the importance of their presence in the history of the area. The sensitivity expressed in the song Walk With Me comes from her work with neighbouring indigenous people. Just as an understanding of the land can start with a walk, Jeanette uses this same idea metaphorically when it comes to learning from and about people.

The represented history of Australia has been male dominated up until recent years. This is also true when discussing farming practices. What makes Horizons and Heartlands so relevant and refreshing was the opportunity we were afforded to hear first hand from the experiences of a woman farmer who is also working in sustainable farming practices. The consequences of a woman expressing an opinion in what was traditionally considered a male domain was explored by Jeanette in the song Tall Poppies.

The festival production included a selection of nine of Jeanette’s songs. They were used to celebrate the Mallee, which in Jeanette’s own words, “is a magnificent, ancient living landscape that can teach us so much about this whole nation.” These songs were beautifully presented by Jeanette, whose warm, expressive vocals were a delight to hear. Besides her own sensitive guitar playing, she was assisted by John Bridgland’s tasteful guitar and mandolin accompaniment.

The organisers of the National Folk Festival are to be commended for their inclusion of Horizons and Heartlands in this year’s programme. Jeanette will be touring Horizons and Heartlands later in the year.

Way downunder with The Waybacks

The American band The Waybacks is a five piece group of exceptional musicians who are based in San Francisco. Chojo Jacques plays fiddle and, like guitarist James Nash, also plays mandolin. Joe Kyle Jr plays bass, Chuck Hamilton plays drums and percussion, and Stevie Coyle plays guitar. All members, except for Hamilton, share the vocals.
The Waybacks began their first Australian visit with performances at the National Folk Festival in Canberra this Easter. On the first of three CD’s they have released, there is an instruction to file under “Acoustic Mayhem”. They are a difficult band to categorize. Their music stampedes across many musical genres, including folk, western swing, bluegrass, blues and jazz. Original songs and instrumentals by band members Jacques, Nash and Coyle are supplemented by interpretations of compositions from writers as diverse as Blind Blake, Floyd Cramer, Archie Fisher, John Fahey, Woody Paul and Rev Gary Davis. The traditional music barrel is also raided to complete The Waybacks’ repertoire.

After seeing two of the band’s Canberra performances, I was reminded of the old cowboy song Don’t Fence Me In. It was not because there is evidence of cowboy music in the mix that is The Waybacks’ music, but because this band really seems to have no boundaries. They are proof that there are no limitations you can place on music. Indeed, their music clearly celebrates the necessity of risk taking when playing dynamic, innovative, and adventurous music. And the sum total of a Waybacks performance is entertainment.

The Waybacks at the National Folk Festival 2004A Waybacks performance is full-throttle all the way. This band had travelled far to play here and that was exactly what they intended doing. Except for the brief, delightfully engaging, quirky comments from Coyle between songs, it was music and song throughout.

The Waybacks are an extremely tight playing group of musicians. Listening to some of the instrumentals composed by Jacques easily demonstrated this quality. The frantic pace of JNPT in no way detracted from their flawless execution of this exciting piece of music. Gone Wayback was another example where the driving rhythm of the music helped accentuate the beautiful texture created by the lead playing of Jacques’ violin and Nash’s guitar playing.

The band’s cohesiveness seemed to come from their awareness of each other’s contribution to their total sound. This ability to listen to each other, as well as their amazing accuracy of playing, meant that their sound featured plenty of light and shade in its texture.

Some of the songs they interspersed in their Festival sets were most memorable. The James Nash original Been Around was one of the brightest, up-tempo “love lost” songs I’ve heard for a long time. The musical interplay between Jacques’ mandolin and Nash’s flat-picking guitar playing added to the magic of the song.

Another memorable performance piece was Compadres In The Old Sierra Madree, a song by Riders in the Sky’s Woody Paul. A wonderful song, The Waybacks’ arrangement just sparkled like the “jewels rare and old” that were referred to in the song. As Stevie Coyle sang the song, I was taken back to the old cowboy films I saw as a child at the Saturday matinees. The band’s interpretation of the traditional song The Blacksmith, with Coyle taking the lead vocals and the initial guitar melody, was a standout.

On Easter Sunday I met three of The Waybacks around teatime. That afternoon they had visited The Australian Museum. “It raised more questions than answers,” confided Stevie Coyle. I thought about that comment later. It could also in part be directed at The Waybacks. “How do you categorize their music?” “Why haven’t I heard of this before?” And more importantly: “When are they returning to Australia?”

The music of Gibb Todd

Scottish born singer, musician and songwriter Gibb Todd has been living in Australia for a year and a half. He and his wife Annie reside in sunny south-east Queensland. With a straight face but give-away glint in his eye, he reckons it is the closest place in the world with a similarity to Scotland’s climate. He and his wife had driven down to the National Folk Festival via Dubbo, keen to take the opportunity of seeing other parts of Australia.
This was Gibb Todd’s first performance at the festival in Canberra. He came with solid credentials. In the 1960’s he was a member of the Kerries folk group, which included his father. Gibb has toured with the Dubliners and the Furies, worked with Finbar Furey and Ronnie Drew and has travelled extensively. Each January, since its commencement in 1994, he has been a popular performer at the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow. In 2000 he released his first CD, which was produced by John McCusker. At the insistence of American musicians Alison Brown and Gary West, owners of Compass Records, he travelled to Nashville and recorded his latest CD Goin’ Home. Goin’ Home, which was produced by West, was released this year. When you read the names of the backing musicians who played or sang on the CD (Danny Thompson, Alison Brown, Tim O’Brien. Andrea Zonn, etc) well, let’s just say that Gibb Todd could be excused for being a name-dropper.
I had the opportunity of attending at least three of Gibb’s performances during the National Festival. The little of his music I had heard prior to this had certainly whet my appetite to hear more.
He is one of those performers who seem effortlessly to engage their audience from the outset. The times I saw him, he performed seated, accompanying himself in fine style on both guitar and banjo. It was a listening pleasure hearing him sing in his deep, resonant voice. Memorable songs from his latest CD included The Last Trip Home, Strong Women Rule Us, Fair and Tender Ladies and his strong originals Canada andWhere The Bangelows Are. When a person is capable of carrying such images of Australian places in his mind and then expressing them so succinctly in song, as in Where The Bangelows Are, you become genuinely excited thinking about the possible songs Gibb will write now that he lives here.
At one of his performances he spoke of his musical debt to the late Scottish singer Alex Campbell. He finished with Campbell’s anti-war songI’ve Been On The Road So Long, which resounded with relevance despite having been written some sixty years ago.

The CD Goin’ Home contains four original songs, three traditional tunes with strong American ties and arrangements by Gibb, and four covers.
The country feel of The Belle of Byron Bay gets the CD off to a bright, rollicking start. A reel of the same name by John Doyle effectively augments the song. The unique, magical sounding Australian place names continue in Where The Bangelows Are. On hearing this beautiful song, you realise that you are discovering rich musical territory. The song is enhanced by the warmth of Gibb’s bass vocal and sets him apart as a wonderful songwriter.
A moving, understated interpretation of The Band Played Waltzing Matilda follows. The graceful adornment of Stuart Duncan’s fiddle playing adds significantly to the attraction of this version of Eric Bogle’s well-known song. Davy Steele’s wistful homage to the working plough horse, The Last Trip Home, set to a beautiful tune by John McCusker, continues the reflective mood. This is broken by the old-time rhythmic vitality of Don’t Put Taxes On The Women, with its serving of sly humour.
Canada further reveals Gibb’s writing strengths. This song relates, in a very discerning way, the plight of the dispossessed Scottish Highlanders during the land clearances. The cyclical nature revealed in the narrative leaves the listener reflecting on the whole concept of homeland. The sensitive arrangement of the haunting melody makes this a choice track.

The familiar Fair And Tender Ladies is raised well above the ordinary by the rawness of Gibb’s vocal delivery and his ornate banjo playing. The concepts of home and belonging are raised again in the catchy, country style original Going Home. The song is autobiographical with some wisdom thrown in for good measure. The obligatory travel of the troubadour’s life juxtaposes the desire to return to the familiar – home.
Just when you feel that more than enough musical gems have already been revealed, the CD throws up three more treasures: a memorable rendition of Brian McNeill’s intriguing Strong Women Rule Us All, the rousing traditional Cape Cod Girls, complete with some improvised lines, and Violet Jacob’s poem of exile Norlin’ Wind, to Danny Thompson’s innovative and eerie setting of Jim Reid’s tune.
While chatting with Gibb and Annie at the National Festival, he said that he was looking forward to the time when he becomes a naturalised Australian. In my opinion, just his song Where The Bangelows Are makes him more than eligible already. The National Folk Festival organisers showed discriminating taste in exposing us to the music of Gibb Todd this year.