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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 –
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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


1,000 Years of Popular Music

A 1000 years of folk song courtesy of Richard Thompson …

Welcome to the Australian Folklore Network blog.

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