National Library of Australia
April 17, 2014

[bd_separator]PRELIMINARY PROGRAM – National Folk Festival 2014

The National Folklore Conference will again take place this year on April 17 at the National Library of Australia. Jointly organized by the Australian Folklore Network, the National Library of Australia and the National Folk festival, this popular day is now in its 9th year.

The conference is free, though a small charge is made for a provided lunch option.


Registrations are now open. Please contact Graham Seal at g.seal@curtin.edu.au. Registration is essential for catering purposes and also to ensure that you have a seat.

Maldon, 50k
Julie and Dave Gittus

Being able to play traditional tunes from your own area is a special feeling. For us, it’s continuing a music tradition that originated over one hundred years ago in the stone farm houses just down the road. The music then becomes a language you share with others, as well as a way of deepening your connection to home.’ Dave and Julie Gittus have a preference for tunes with a strong sense of place, as learnt from older local players within 50 miles of their home in Maldon, Central Victoria. Their presentation includes tunes, photos and stories.

Dave and Julie Gittus have been playing button accordion and fiddle for the past fifteen years, mostly in their kitchen in Maldon. They’ve performed at both the Maldon and Newstead Folk Festivals, wineries and art festivals – all gigs close to home. Their appreciation of Australian tunes has been supported and encouraged by a number of collectors and performers including Dave DeHugard, Greg O’Leary, Peter Ellis, Tom Walsh and the late Jacko Kevans, whose love of the music has inspired them over the years.

Captain Cook’s Country Dance
Heather Clarke

Delving deeply into the archives of theatre and dance has revealed a fascinating collection of dances which reflect the path of early Australian history. Even before Australia was discovered, dances relating to the region were being devised, for example ‘The South Seas’ and ‘A Trip to the World’s End.’ One aspect of this research is the music and dance relating to Captain Cook’s voyages of discovery in the Pacific. A plethora of dances were composed in celebration of his travels including ‘Trip to Tahiti’, ‘Transit of Venus’, ‘Sailor’s Dance’,’ Omai,’ and ‘The Indian Chief.’ A national hero, even his demise was portrayed in dance in a grand serious-pantomimic-ballet, The Death of Captain Cook.

With a growing international reputation as a dance historian, Heather Clarke’s innovative approach to research is attracting the attention of dancers, historians and musicians alike, providing “unique insights into Australia’s spectacular history”. She became involved in bush and colonial dancing in the early 1980s which lead to an increased interest in the history underling colonial dances. Heather teaches and dances in Brisbane and works full-time tracing dances connected with early colonial times and events, regularly publishing the latest research at www.colonialdance.com.au

Table, stage and bar: Three platforms for contemporary oral storytelling
Jo Henwood

Oral storytelling in its traditional form of telling in pubs and kitchens
has continued in Britain and many parts of Asia and Africa with only minor
disruptions from pre printing press to now. In Australia (by way of
America), and in many other places, the Revival of the 1970s-80s has
generated platform storytelling, which is theatrical in presentation.
Recently a new form has emerged to join these styles, of untrained people
telling true personal stories in adult settings such as pubs.

Jo Henwood joined the Australian Storytelling Guild (NSW) in 1999, and
subsequently became an Accredited Storyteller, President, Vice President,
and Accreditation Officer. Jo has a Master’s degree in Cultural Heritage
and qualifications in librarianship, tour guiding, museum studies and gifted
education. Most of her work is as a tour guide or education officer at
several Sydney heritage sites, however her real love remains storytelling.
She regularly conducts storytelling workshops. With Reilly McCarron she has
co founded the Australian Fairy Tale Society, and is currently working on
its inaugural conference in June 2014.

Sharing the harvest – Preserving and disseminating folklore through performance, publication and multimedia.
David De Santi

For several decades David De Santi has been taking traditional material of many genres and presenting it to a wide audience in an exciting and interesting format.
Through the utilisation of live performance, recording, publications, multimedia and as director of several major festivals David has successfully created an awareness of many aspects of traditional Australian, multicultural and other folklore.

With an Italian heritage and musical background David De Santi has been involved in the Australian folk music scene since 1984. He is an original member of Wongawilli and has travelled the world performing their brand and interpretation of Australian bush music. To that end he has been involved in publishing, recording and researching good tunes and songs of Australia since 1990. He is the Artistic Director of the Illawarra Folk Festival (since 1996), Perisher Peak Festival and also plays in I Viaggiatori (Italian folk) and the community band – The Con Artists. He has been recognised for his contribution in sharing folk music with a Commonwealth Centenary Medal, the first National Library of Australia Folk Festival Fellowship and a Folk Alliance Australia Community Achievement Award.

Not ALL about revelling – the not-so fun side of the National Folk Festival
Gabrielle Mackey

The National Folk Festival is an annual highlight for Australia’s folk community as well as a huge number of other people who love to come to the Festival. It provides a diverse program that includes music, song, dance, spoken word, film, circus, performance skills and traditional crafts. It is mostly about having fun. But it is not ALL about revelling – there is a very serious side to the Festival. The Festival is run by a not-for profit company which is bound by the same regulatory framework for transparency and accountability as all Australian companies. That it is a public event elevates the risk profile and compliance obligations. But there are even broader accountabilities. It is the NATIONAL folk festival and there have been many people around Australia who have given much to the Festival over the years. The National’s management is effectively accountable to the Australian folk community for its continued health and wellbeing. Some may consider the National’s corporate obligations, and the reality that it must survive as a business, as being at odds with its folk roots. But the National’s management cannot pick and choose. It must steer the Festival in a long term sustainable direction, comply with its legal obligations, AND keep its loyal supporters happy. Gabrielle Mackey, President of the Board of National Folk Festival Ltd explains how Festival management tackles this enormous challenge.

Gabrielle Mackey has a long and committed association with the National Folk Festival and has attended every National since it settled in Canberra in 1993. A dancer of various Anglo-Celtic styles, Gabrielle got involved in the organisation of the Festival back in 1998 through the Dance Program. She co-coordinated the Dance Program for 2 years with her husband (Lance Green) and a further two years on her own. She was invited to become a NFF Ltd Company and Board Member in January 2002. A NFF Ltd Board Member to 2008, Gabrielle rejoined the Board in 2010 and has been Board President since November 2012. A legal practitioner, Gabrielle is currently an adjunct lecturer and assessor for the College of Law’s Canberra course.

Losing our folk heritage – another lost story!
Colin Fong

Over a year ago, I watched on ABC TV, the movie Age of Consent. After viewing it, I wanted to read the original Norman Lindsay book. As a member of Ashfield, Burwood and Marrickville libraries, I thought it would be easy to borrow a copy of this book. Unfortunately neither of these libraries held the book. I don’t doubt when it was first published they would have acquired the book, however as many of us know, libraries regularly cull their collections and sell off their books at ridiculously low prices. Many useful folklore titles are available electronically, however many are not. We admire the collectors who have spent years collecting tunes which are now prized but could have been lost forever. What can we do to prevent the wholesale diminution of our folklore heritage?
The rest of the paper examines what is available electronically. Practical aspects to creating a folklore collection. Where could it be housed? The possibility of a co-operative joint venture among folklorist organisations. Variety in folk genre: music, dance, songs, folkcraft, costume, history etc.
Colin Fong has been a member of the Bush Music Club since 1983. His roles within the club have included being Secretary 1988-1996 and co-editor, Mulga Wire, 1992 to date. Some of his favourite Mulga Wire articles have included his interviews with John Meredith, Alan Scott, Shirley Andrews, Nell Challingsworth and Noreen Grunseit. Colin is also a member of the Australian Heritage Dancers and has performed within Australia and overseas.

Beware the written word.
Dale Dengate

History has been defined as the stories from written words and this was the Authority by which we judged The Truth of the matter. Prehistory was based on oral stories which were considered as myths and legends. There is no denying a good story teller will add extra detail in the telling of the event or describing a person. Post-modernism encourages a look at ‘other truths’. With reference to Helen Palmer’s search for ‘folksong in Australia’ around 1950-60s and with a juxtaposition of the published obituary for John Dengate, ASIO files and oral recordings, I intend to raise some questions about oral versions vs written records.

Dale Dengate (née Roseann Morgan) joined the Bush Music Club in 1961and considers it a great privilege to have been introduced to traditional Australian music by John Meredith, Gay and Alan Scott, Duke Tritton and others at that time. Over the years, designed and made the two Club banners and introduced John Dengate to the Club. Has written numerous articles and edited books and journals in the area of folk, arts and education. Led the WWWs women’s singing group, as well as organising workshops of songs about women’s experiences. Was chairperson of the Australian Folk Trust during the turbulent years of bringing change to the location of the National Festival due to financial challenges.

‘We were on the Cornwallis’: Tracing the Provenance of a Folk Tune
Tony Smith

My ancestor William Eckford had an interesting life. William was sentenced to death for sheep stealing but Governor Macquarie commuted the sentence to exile to Newcastle where William became harbour master. I aimed to write a song about William’s life, preferably using a tune that William might have known from his native North Ayrshire, from his naval service or from his time in the colony. While many tunes are possibilities, probability is not so readily established. Research suggests that application of the term ‘traditional’ often obscures the provenance of the tunes in the folk musician’s repertoire. Ideally, a musician should have some idea of a tune’s composer, date, place of origin and likely social setting. This interesting exercise reveals much about the way tunes assume their own lives after publication and first performance.

Tony Smith has worked as a teacher, dairy goat farmer, in home duties and in academia. He holds a PhD, University of Sydney and has written for Eureka Street, Australian Quarterly, Australian Review of Public Affairs, The Cud and Online Opinion. Tony has spoken on ABC Radio National and in 1991 won the ‘Women and Politics Essay Prize’ of the Australasian Political Studies Association. He responded to the Governor’s speech at the inauguration of Australia’s World Peace Bell (Cowra 1992) and facilitated at the Centenary Bathurst Peoples’ Constitutional Convention (1996). He became interested in Australian traditional music as a student on John Dengate’s class and now plays harmonica and whistle for his sheep near Bathurst.

Click go the Shears and the 1891 shearers strike
Mark Gregory

When I discovered that ‘Click go the Shears’ was first published in 1891 I felt immediately that this was no coincidence. The 1891 strike has long been described as the defeat that led to the formation of the Australian Labor Party. The tone of ‘Click go the Shears’ fits well with the times, it remains an iconic song of working life and certainly shows no deference towards the employing class. This paper provides a new history of the song in the context of the 1891 strikes and since.

Mark Gregory inherited a fascination for rebellious song and poetry from his family. Whether it was his mother singing ‘Hallelujah, I’m a Bum’ or his father reciting ‘A Man’s a Man For a’ That’ or hearing Paul Robeson on a windup gramophone with ‘Joe Hill’ it entered his childhood repertory. As time and circumstance allowed , these experiences led to years of research into this extraordinary genre, paying special attention to its Australian branches.


The lunchtime concert features The Provost Brothers: