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JULY 2018

Occasional Newsletter of the Australian Folklore Network

Edited by Graham Seal

and on Facebook at Australian Folklore Network




A reminder and confirmation that the Australian Folklore Conference will again take place at Easter, 2019. We will call for expressions of interest to present papers later in the year.

Some of the papers from this year’s conference have been posted on the AFN blog at


John Gardiner-Garden has published the 33 books of his Dancing through the Ages series that he has been working on for many years. To see purchasing options (including big introductory discounts of between 15% and 33%) and the covers and contents pages of all 33 books please go to and follow links.


John also writes: In 2019 Aylwen and I plan to tour Australasia, the U.S. and Europe joining the dots between people who have acquired the books and who would like me to teach/lead (or talk on) dances presented in the books they have (we won’t be taking books with us), so do let us know if you would like us to visit your scene and how we might contribute.


Dr John Gardiner-Garden

Director of the Earthly Delights Historic Dance Academy

New books at

(02) 62811098




English folk historian Chris Brady is trying to locate copies of folk programs broadcast in the 60s as BBC has deleted them! He taped some of them when he was living in New Zealand & has received copies from many sources, but is still hunting & trying to disseminate his appeal. Here is Chris’s message:

BBC London Folk Song Cellar – 1960

We have discovered that in the 1960s the ABC and other radio stations aired the BBC’s ‘London Folk Song Cellar’ series. This was a mythical folk club created for the BBC World Service by EFDSS’s Peter Kennedy for invited folk guests to Cecil Sharp House for a weekly one hour folk music and song session.

There were 39 episodes. They were edited and recorded to Transcription Discs for sale to overseas radio stations including to Australia and New Zealand. We have recently purchased a number of these and are digitising them.

We also have quite a few episodes home-taped in NZ. Also some recordings from the British Forces Broadcasting Service in Kuwait and Germany.

But the only full set is in the British Library Sound Archives – which we cannot access.

And we are missing a number of episodes, not least of which is no. 28.

So we are wondering if any of your members In Australia might have home recorded tapes of these programmes. Please could you pass the word around.

Many thanks – Chris B.
P.S. Most of what are have are here:




TRADITION TODAY  ISSUE 7 has now been uploaded to the CETH website:


Follow any of the relevant links on the Home page to access a Table of Contents.


We are now actively seeking contributions for the next issue. Please go to “Guidance for Authors” at the foot of the Tradition Today contents page for information on how to format and submit contributions.





Review of George P. Knauff’s Virginia Reels and the History of American Fiddling. By Chris Goertzen. 2017. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. ISBN: 9781496814272 (hard cover) at


This book is about the earliest known collection of Virginia Reels (1839) and is very relevant to the history of fiddling in Australia, especially regarding the potential for discovery of ‘lost’ manuscripts and tune transcriptions.





As always, Mark continues to trawl the marvellous Trove for treasures of Australian folksong, verse and much more. Go here:














April 2018

Occasional Newsletter of the Australian Folklore Network

Edited by Graham Seal

and on Facebook at Australian Folklore Network


Welcome to the post-conference edition of Transmissions. In partnership with the NLA and the NFF, the annual conference was once again well-attended and widely appreciated. For those unable to be there, a short version of the program and list of the paper abstracts appears below, as well as information on some of the papers we have posted online at .

We are already receiving expressions of interest for presentations at next year’s conference and will open up the call for papers towards the end of this year.

MAILBAG (Keep ‘em coming)


‘A Literary Curiosity’ from 1884 (and, allegedly, earlier) from Mark Gregory at . And lots of other goodies recently, and not-so-recently, trawled from Trove at


The ‘Goldfields Minstrel’s’ New Zealand songster has been digitized by the National Library of NZ at

Thanks to Brian Samuels.



We have published a couple of the conference papers on the AFN blog. Tony Smith’s presentation on the jig doll in Australia is at

Graham Seal’s talk on 50 years of Australian folklore is at The talk is open for additions and amendments if anyone wishes to make them.

If other conference presenters would like their papers published on the blog, contact or post them directly to the blog yourself.



9.00 Graham Seal, Convenor – Conference welcome and opening


9.05 Margy Burn, Assistant Director-General, NLA


9.10-10.10 Presentation session 1


Convict Music at Port Arthur

Peter H MacFie

At Port Arthur Penal Station, Tasman Peninsula (1830-77) music, like art, was a tradeable but surreptitious commodity. While historians are aware of artist WB Gould, little is known of the musicians who traded their ephemeral skills. Convict, staff musicians and entertainers at Port Arthur included: Perez De Castanos – a Spanish guitarist transported from London; Frank ‘the Poet’ MacNamara; Neil Gow Foggo, convict seamen and fiddler from the well-known Scottish fiddling family; Piper Hugh Fraser, a bankrupt emigrant, who eloped to Hobart Town from NSW, becoming a Port Arthur overseer; and Scottish fiddler Alexander Laing, convicted in 1813 of stealing while a member of the 92nd Gordon Highlanders. His tunes were among melodies in Alexander Laing’s rediscovered 1863 MS, published recently as On the Fiddle From Scotland To Tasmania.


The Tale of Michael Purtill

Jeanette Mollenhauer

Michael Charles Purtill was a resident of Sydney in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and this paper traces his life and activities, based on the digitised newspapers held by the National Library of Australia. Purtill was a competitive Irish step dancer, teacher who had first lived in the United States before settling in Sydney with his wife. Purtill’s dance career reveals significant organisational, pedagogical and performative differences between step dancing as practised in his lifetime, and the nature of the genre in the twenty-first century. Purtill was also active in a variety of organisations with the purpose of fostering Irish nationalism and his manifold encounters with the judicial system illuminate both his character and the general social structures of the era. The paper demonstrates the value of historically-contextual data in choreo-musical research, and utilises the biography of one man to develop the historical narrative of Irish step dancing in an Australian context.






10.30-11.00 Presentation session 2



English Village Carolling in Australia and North America

Ian Russell

In the nineteenth century emigration from England to North America, Australia and New Zealand was largely driven by economic necessity and occupational opportunities. Many male migrants took their skills and expertise to the ‘new’ country, living a solitary existence divorced from family, friends and the landscape of home, with their dream of new-found wealth dashed by the hard life and strange country they found. However, others strived and built ‘a home from home’, encouraging and arranging for members of their family to join them. They upheld their beliefs and cultural traditions, some of which took hold and flourished in their new environment. The celebration of Christmas provided a particularly powerful focus of continuity with their past and in some communities this centred around the tradition of singing Christmas carols, both within places of worship and outside, as part of annual perambulations. In this paper I discuss the case of three remarkable communities where the carolling has continued to be practised and has achieved its own local identity – Glen Rock in Pennsylvania, Grass Valley in California in the USA, and Moonta in the Yorke Peninsula of South Australia.


11.15-12.15 Fifty Years of Folk and Lore (Public lecture in Theatre)

Graham Seal

The National Library of Australia building opened in 1968. At the fiftieth anniversary, we look at the progress of Australian folklore studies, collection, research, archiving and dissemination through performance, publication and digitisation.

12.15-12.45 Lunch

12.45-1.45 concert (Theatre)


The vibrant music of old Darwin includes traditional Filipino melodies, Top End dance tunes and medleys of the Beatles and Santana. Produced and presented by Rob Willis.
2.00-3.15 Presentation session 3



Brad Tate: Australian Folk Verse and Melody

David Johnson with Kerry Tate

Brad Tate was a well-known Australian folklorist, performer and collector. Prior to his recent death he was working on a book titled Australian Folk Verse and Melody, in which he drew on his extensive knowledge and library to explore the background to Australian folk songs and the tunes that were used for them. It was hoped that Brad could have been at the conference to launch his book but as his health made travel unlikely his wife Kerry arranged to video record him introducing himself and his work. This session will launch the book (of some 300 pages) and present the video of Brad talking through an introduction to it. Dave, Kerry and some fellow musicians will prove Brad’s work lives on by playing some of the tunes from his earlier publication, Down and Outback. Finally, folklorist Mark Gregory will offer a few words about Brad’s contributions and call for brief recollections from the floor.

Copies of the book will be available for purchase.


Successful Folklore Practice?

June Factor and Gwenda Beed Davey

Together and separately, since the 1970s Gwenda Davey and June Factor have researched, published, educated and organised in the previously largely neglected field of children’s folklore, with a particular focus on its history, culture and development in Australia. Has this extensive output influenced the major cultural and educational institutions in this country, or the broader popular culture?


Rather than the usual question and answer sequence after a paper, Gwenda and June would like their presentation to open a discussion from conference participants, building on their own experience.


3.30-4.30 Presentation Session 4

From Parents to Players – Anatomy of a Tropical Bush Band

Jeff Corfield

What do you do when you want to run a bush dance to raise funds for your local school – and you can’t find a local bush band? You teach yourselves to play some instruments and form your own bush band of course. And what do you do when you want the local school kids to learn to play Australian bush tunes and songs – and the school has no music teacher? Easy, you teach them yourselves! This was the genesis of Townsville’s Wattle n Gum Bush Band, way back in 1983. Almost 35 years on Wattle n Gum are still playing for local bush dances and community functions, bringing Australian bush tunes and songs to new generations of enthusiasts in tropical Townsville and surrounds. In the lead-up to Wattle n Gum’s 35th birthday, this paper tells the story of a community based bush band that has become a musical icon.


The Jig Doll in Australian Folklore: Untapped Potential

Tony Smith

The jig doll is a type of puppet. It is usually a rod puppet. It can be made to dance to music for its movement value and/or as a percussion instrument. They are usually jointed dolls.

The jig doll (limberjack, limberjill, clogging doll in North America) has a history as a folk toy. It is related to the marionette de la planchette which makes use of strings through the doll’s body.

Jig dolls are operated from above by rod or sprung wire and/or below by a board. The operation can be two-handed, one-handed or hands free. The operation can be mechanised in various ways using wind power, steam or sand. Instead of manual operation they can be arranged on a pedal machine which is convenient for instrumentalists.

Jig dolls have the potential to fit into folk life in many ways including the art and craft involved in the working of wood and painting and dressing of the puppet. They are useful for busking and as percussion instruments to accompany sessions. They can evoke images of dances, sometimes very acrobatically. They have great potential to be used in occupational therapy.

4.30pm Conference concludes


Thanks to all who organised presented and attended, to the NLA and NFF and to session chairs Jenny Gall and Keith McKenry. Thanks also to the Conference Organising Committee:

Graham Seal – (Convener)

Gwenda Davey

Jennifer Gall

Kevin Bradley

Rob Willis

Graham McDonald



We’re always on the lookout for interesting links, nuggets of information about relevant publications, recordings etc. Email to




Welcome to the Australian Folklore Network blog.

Here you will find information about the AFN, links and places where you can post your own items of information, comments, queries, etc.

Go to the AFN ACTIVITIES section for notification of events, publications, etc.

Go to NEWS BLOG if you want to post an item of general interest, a query or comment

Go to AFFILIATION if you want to find out more about the AFN and affiliate with it

For back copies of Transmissions go to

Tradition Today 6 now out

The Centre for English Traditional Heritage is pleased to announce:

Tradition Today issue 6 has now been uploaded to the CETH website:

Follow any of the relevant links on the Home page to access a Table of Contents.

We are now actively looking for contributions for the next issue. Please go to “Stylesheet: How to format submissions to this e-journal” at the foot of the Tradition Today contents page for information on how to format and submit contributions.

With best wishes,

The Editors

New book on 19C Songsters

My latest book, Cheap Print and Popular Song in the Nineteenth Century: A Cultural History of the Songster (edited with Derek B. Scott and Patrick Spedding) is published today by Cambridge University Press.

The book is a study of songsters – pocket-sized anthologies of songs, usually without notation – and the musical, social, intellectual and economic functions they served.

The cover pic (see attached) is a depiction of a performance by the singer-songwriter and political activist, Charles Thatcher, in the Napier Hotel, Ballarat, c. 1854.



Senior Lecturer, Musicology

Co-ordinator, Ethnomusicology and Musicology

Co-ordinator, Research

Editor | Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle

Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music

Level 2, Room 212, Building 68, Clayton Campus

Monash University VIC 3800


T: +613 9905 3634



Danny Spooner and Hugh Anderson


Singer, social historian and all-round great bloke Danny Spooner died on Friday March 3. He was a leading light of the Australian folk revival from the beginning. His singing, humour and generosity were known to audiences around the country and around the world. A large tribute concert was held in Daylesford on February 11 and Danny sang at the Cobargo festival last weekend.

Hugh Anderson, folklorist, historian and literary critic has passed away in Melbourne, also on Friday March 3. Hugh was likewise an early participant in the folk movement and made important and enduring contributions through his many books and articles. A celebration of his life will be held at University House Melbourne on March 23, 5-7 pm. Anyone wishing to attend should email

Danny and Hugh were good friends. Extended tributes and memorials to the lives and achievements of both men will no doubt be coming in due course. For now, on behalf of the Australian Folklore Network, our sympathies to their families and many friends.

Graham Seal


Bob Bolton wins lifetime award

from latest NFF newsletter
The 2017 National Folk Festival was officially launched last night at the National Library of Australia by ACT Minister for the Arts and Community Events Gordon Ramsay. Minister Ramsay spoke warmly of the Festival to the 80 strong crowd representing government, embassies, media, sponsors, volunteers and members of our festival community and, highlighted the Festival’s importance as a cultural event for the National Capital.
Board President Gabriel Mackey announced photographer and long time member of the Sydney Bush Music Club, Bob Bolton as the 2017 recipient of the Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
The importance of the National’s ongoing partnership with the National Library of Australia was highlighted by NLA Director-General Anne-Marie Schwirtlich while guests were treated to some fantastic music delivered by Siobhan Owen from South Australia and Canberra duo Guyy and the Fox

Bob Bolton is the 2017 recipient of the National Folk Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Sandra Nixon
Hon. Secretary
Bush Music Club Inc
Founded 1954
GPO Box 433
Sydney 2001
Website –
blog –
Youtube –
Email –
Facebook –
Meetup –



Occasional Newsletter of the Australian Folklore Network

Edited by Graham Seal
and on Facebook at Australian Folklore Network

In conjunction with the National Library of Australia, the National Folk Festival and Curtin University the AFN’s 11th National Folklore Conference runs again this Easter. The preliminary program (subject to change) includes:

Why is this relevant? Performing the Blato kumpanjija in Sydney
Percy French, Painting, Poetry, Performance and Paddywhackery
‘Listen to my Drum’: Historical and Contemporary uses of Torres Strait Islander Warup/Buruburu Drums in Australia
Convict Musicians: A Hidden Heritage
New chums and diggers: the history of Australian mining fields through song
The history and ‘mythconceptions’ of Norfolk Island in the Second Convict Settlement period
The Treasure Trove of Australian Folksong
A stock whip wand and a cabbage tree hat: Australian identity in Australian fairy tales
1917: Strike!

Lunchtime Concert
Join Genni Kane, Jon Wilby and John Kane of the leading Australian bluegrass band, The Flying Emus, in conversation and concert with Rob Willis.

The conference will be at the National Library of Australia from 9am – 4.30pm on Thursday April 13.

Registration is free but seats are limited – contact


Alas, after a stellar run, Play and Folklore (originally the Australian Children’s Folklore Newsletter, first published in 1979) has come to an end. Editors, June Factor, Gwenda Davey and Judy McKinty have closed this unique publication with another great issue on the broad field of children’s folk tradition and play, including the history of the Australian Children’s Folklore Collection, now held at Museum Victoria and recognised by the UNESCO Australia Memory of the World Register. Several contributors are AFN members.
Hyperlink to final issue of Play-and-Folklore — no. 66, Dec 2016


Sandra Nixon has made a find in the Bush Music Club archives – the Minutes of the Bush Music Club, 14th October 1954 to Friday 11th March, 1955, at:

And some other recent historical articles from BMC:

How to build a lagerphone by Brian Loughlin 1956

Wake for Alan Scott, 1930-1995 – some members need identifying

Vale Brian Dunnett – 30th June 1935 – 18th June 2016

Extracts from Singabout – Recitations – Let’s Be Australians

Early Bush bands – The Billabong Band, Melbourne, 1955, Australia’s 3rd bush band


The Carrawobbity Press Pioneer Performers Series monograph of Harry’s life and music by Rob Willis and Graham McDonald is now available online – free, courtesy of Graham at:


Ruth Hazleton’s ‘The Hidden Culture’ Facebook page of ‘Cultural observances and commentary through the eyes of a folklorist, oral and social historian. Diving into the nitty gritty of who, how and why we are’ at:


TRANSMISSIONS – September 2015


September 2015

Newsletter of the Australian Folklore Network

Edited by Graham Seal

and on Facebook at Australian Folklore Network

The AFN’s National Folklore Conference will take place on March 24, 2016 at the National Library of Australia, Canberra, in association with the National Folk Festival. Further details and registrations will be available early in 2016.

The conference committee is now calling for proposals to present at the conference. Please send the title of your presentation together with a brief abstract of the topic and a very brief biography to by October 30, 2015.


The AFN is saddened to note the death of Norman (Norm) O’Connor who passed away early in September at the age of 92. Norm, often working with his wife, Pat, Maryjean Officer and other members of the Victorian Folk Lore Society, carried out fieldwork in Victoria from the 1950s until the late 1960s. There is a brief description of and links to his work at


The WA Folklife Project is an ongoing collaboration between Curtin University and the National Library. Beginning in 2004, the project has run on seven occasions since then. This time the project was carried out in July-August and involved interviews about the Men’s Shed Movement, Indigenous, country and community music and a range of other traditions. Locations were Perth, Fremantle, Mosman Park, Broome, Derby and Seville Grove. The fieldworkers were Rob and Olya Willis with local support and facilitation through the Australian Folklore Research Unit at Curtin University. The results of the project will be accessible through the National Library’s Oral History and Folklore collections and the WA Folklore Archive at the John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library, Curtin University.


The AFN has started a blog dedicated to the memory and work of Peter Ellis. We have a great deal of Peter’s material that we are gradually uploading (subject to technical issues) and request relevant material and information that others may have. Please post to


John Moulden’s 2006 PhD thesis – “The printed ballad in Ireland: a guide to the popular printing of songs in Ireland 1760-1920” is now available at DSpace. It has been assigned the following identifier:

It may be freely downloaded, quoted and cited. Could all citations also include the DSpace identifier?


A selection of new links. If you have other, why not post them to the AFN blog or Facebook page?

Australian traditional music

The Ghost Music Archives

Interesting Victorian library site

Nariel Creek dance

American interest in Australian traditions

Library of Congress Folklife Center Australian collections

Peter Parkhill
Transplanted Musical Traditions in Australia
Peter Ellis on Youtube
Traditional dance Youtube by Peter Ellis
Youtube clip of smallpipes tradition in Australia
John McIntyre plays a lament on Northumbrian small pipes to his ancestor Duncan Ban MacIntyre


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