THE FOLK BOOM


AUSTRALIA AND ITS TRADITIONAL MUSIC – a brief overview

 

THE FOLK BOOM

 

© Warren Fahey

The 1950s and 60s saw Australia experiencing a ‘folk song boom’. This was actually an international ‘revival of interest’ in the old songs and ballads. It was actually quite contrived and saw folk musicians as the pop stars of the time. In Australia artists like Gary Shearston, Tina Lawton, Marion Henderson and Martyn Wyndham-Read – to name only a few – released recordings, filled concert halls and clubs, and even had their own television shows. Sometimes we even got to hear Australian songs but, more often than not, it was a diet of American, Irish, British and other music. On most cases it was a commercialised version of the songs.

I have written extensively about the ‘folk revival’ elsewhere in this site and other perspectives can be found in past issues of the folk magazine Trad and Now.

One of the interesting aspects of the above revival was the emergence of folk clubs and, later, a national federation of folk organizations.

Check out www.folkalliance.org.au

Since the early days of the folk revival there have been songwriters who have been accepted as part of that movement. In most cases these were writers who fashioned songs in the style of traditional songs. Some were even parodies of known songs whilst others provided original tunes. The usual name for these songs is ‘contemporary songs’ which is a fairly silly description but it seems to work for some people. There have been some exceptionally talented songwriters who have helped us define the Australian identity, or at least pointed us in the right direction. Eric Bogle is most probably the most successful of these writers.

Check out Eric Bogle’s music at
www.undercovermusic.com.au and the Rouseabout Records section.