There had been ‘bush bands’ before, but none that captured the public’s imagination to such an extent that they were able to turn professional.
Having established residencies in Melbourne pubs, the band’s attention quickly turned to Europe where two of their great influences – Fairport Convention and Planxty were leading a folk revival. They wanted to be part of the action, and in 1974 took off to try their luck. While in the United Kingdom, the Bushwackers were befriended by such top-ranked folk acts as the Chieftains, the Dubliners, Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span.
Originally a trio featuring Jan Wositsky (vocals, harmonica, banjo, bass and various forms of traditional bush percussion), Dave Isom (guitar, vocals and mandolin) and Bert Kahanoff (largerphone), the Bushwackers attracted large crowds with their early performances in Melbourne.
|The Bushwackers - early 1970's|
Their first 8-10 years were split between extensive tours at ‘home’, and 5 European tours from the band’s base in London. Their energy and musicianship made an instant impact – Melody Maker describing them as taking the UK folk scene “by storm”. Numerous and extensive tours of the UK, Ireland, France, Holland and Germany established them as confirmed club and festival favourites – Cambridge, Rotterdam, Edinburgh …., and their debut LP ‘The Shearers’ Dream’ reached No.1 on the Melody Maker Folk Chart. The combination of traditional instruments, electric guitar and bass and the unique percussive drive of the Lagerphone, meant they rocked like no other folk band!
During their home visits, the band began to explore and popularise the neglected area of bush dance.
|The Bushwackers - early 1980's|
With the addition of drums in 1980, the Bushies entered musical territory previously unexplored in Australia. This was the decade of the ‘pub rock’ boom, and saw the band sharing stages (and holding their own) with the cream of Aussie rock – The Angels, Men At Work, Cold Chisel, Midnight Oil.
The band released two Australian Song Books and two dance books and albums which – to this day, hold sales records. No Aussie school could do without them.
This decade also saw the band ‘adopted’ by country music fans and, on their first visit (1981) to Australia’s largest music event – the 10-day, 4,000 gig Tamworth Country Music Festival, the band was awarded it’s highest honour – A Golden Guitar.?(They’ve returned every year, playing to sell-out crowds).
The band’s constant search and reputation for musical excellence saw them attract some of Australia’s best – drummers Robby Ross (Goanna) and Freddie Strauks (Skyhooks), guitar legends Tommy Emmanuel, Steve Housden (Little River Band), Tim Gaze (Ariel, Rose Tattoo) and bassist Pete Farndon who went on to international fame with The Pretenders.
|Bushwackers on stage at the Revesby Worker Club in 1984|
Late in 1993, Roger Corbett (bass, mandolin, harmonica and vocals), who joined the group in 1980, and Dobe Newton (largerphone, whistle, bodhran, bones, spoons and vocals), a member since 1973, re-formed the group. Although they initially called the reorganized band "the Range Rovers", they went back to their original name upon signing a publishing contract with Warner Chappell and a recording contract with ABC/EMI.
After decades of relentless touring, in 1995 the band decided to take a break from the road. The national broadcaster – ABC, marked the occasion with a 1-hour TV special “The Last Dance”. The band continued to record and perform at major festivals/events.
They’ve continued that policy to this day – always being in demand for their unique and powerful stage shows. The current lineup features Mark Oates (fiddle), Pete Drummond (drums), Tim Gaze (guitar) and Pamela Drysdale (accordion, guitar and vocals).
In 2007, the band realised a long-held dream, traveling to Nashville for the Australian Festival. The combination of Australian songs and subject matter and celtic-influenced music proved just as popular with Americans as it had with European fans 30 years earlier!
How many still-performing bands can boast 25 studio and live albums covering vinyl, cassette, CD and MP3 formats !
This LP was recorded live at the Revesby Workers Club in Sydney in 1984. At that time, the members of the band were Dobe Newton (only remaining original memeber), Roger Corbett, Tommy Emmanuel, Danny Bourke, Tony O'Neill, and Freddy Strauks. Although the LP features only 12 tracks, it contains about one hour of music as there are some extra instrumental segments in some tracks.
|The Bushwackers - 1984|
01 - Lime Juice Tub
02 - Lazy Harry's
03 - Marijuana Australia
04 - Murrumbidgee (instrumental)
05 - When the Rain Tumbles down in July
06 - And the band played Waltzing Matilda
07 - When Brittania ruled the Waves
08 - Les Darcy
09 - 1-2-3-4
10 - Beneath the Southern Cross
11 - Wall of Death12 - Waltzing Matilda (Queensland version)
Roger Corbett - Bass, Vocals
Tommy Emmanuel - Guitar, Vocals
Danny Bourke - Fiddle
Tony O'Neill - Fiddle, Guitar, Vocals
Freddy Strauks - Drums, Vocals
The Bushwackers FLACs (360Mb)
The Bushwackers MP3's (137Mb)