Latest News

The Bushwackers LIVE at the Dan O’Connell Hotel, 1978 just released!

The Bushwackers LIVE at the Dan O’Connell Hotel, 1978, is the 24th release of the Australian Road Crew Association’s (ARCA) Desk Tape Series.

The Bushwackers, currently in the middle of their 50th year celebrations, are the 24th act to throw their support behind Support Act’s Roadies Fund through the Australian Road Crew Association (ARCA)’s Desk Tape Series.

The Series was created by ARCA to raise funds to provide financial, health, counselling and well being services for roadies and crew in crisis. The live recordings are made off the sound desk by a crew member – in this case Michael Rutledge – and released on ARCA’s Black Box Records through MGM Distribution and on all major streaming services.

Thanx to Dobe Newton for the photos, Nprint for the cover artwork, Michael Rutledge for the recording, Phil Dracoulis and Ernie Rose for the mastering and The Bushwackers for their incredible support for roadies and crew.  

The Bushwackers, LIVE at the Dan O’Connell Hotel, 1978 live tape and all the ARCA Desk Tape Series recordings are available through Black Box Records – ARCA (australianroadcrew.com.au) and the following:

Amazon
Anghami
Apple Music / iTunes
Boomplay
Black Box Records
Deezer
MGM
Pandora
Shazam
Spotify
TenCent
Tidal
TikTok
YouTube Music

The Bushwackers are one of the great live folk-rock bands to emerge in the global folk renaissance of the early ‘70s.

They used fiddles, accordions, guitars, harmonicas, concertinas, lagerphones, tin whistles, 5-string banjos, bodhráns, bones, spoons, electric bass and drums.

They formed at La Trobe University in Melbourne in 1972, with guitarist Dave Isom, tea-chest bass player Jan ‘Yarn’ Wositzky and lagerphonist Bert Kahanoff.

The lineup had many changes and only became a serious full-time concern when Dobe Newton joined a few years later.

Mt Isa 1977

THE BAND

Dobe Newton – Lagerphone, Vocals, Whistle

Jan Wositzky – Banjo, Vocals, Bass, Bush Percussion

Mick Slocum – Accordion, Vocals

Davey Kidd – Fiddle

Louis McManus – Guitars, Fiddle, Mandolin

Pete Fandon – Bass

THE CREW

Michael Rutledge (Sound)

Robbie Dalton (Stage)

Dobe Newton was playing drums in a soul-blues band in Sydney when he met his future wife Sall at a New Year’s Eve party and followed her to Perth.

While training to be a teacher, he joined an Irish folk group playing tin whistle and lagerphone.

On a trip to the East Coast, the engine in their panel van blew up, so they set up benefit shows to raise money for a new one.

Among the acts playing were The Bushwackers. They hit it off, and offered Dobe a gig.

He insisted on returning to Perth to finish his uni course before joining them, a few months before the first of their four UK/European tours.

They initially couldn’t get a gig in an Australian folk club. They were run by UK expats who only wanted to recreate music from ye olde country.

“We developed our own gigs,” recalls Dobe.

“We took that music into the pubs, to punters who were very excited about what we were doing but they weren’t necessarily folk fans.”

It’s only apt that this Desk Tape was recorded at the Dan O’Connell in Carlton, Melbourne.

Bushwackers at the Dan O’Connell Hotel

It was one of their spiritual homes, where they played wild shows to a fervent crowd where sweat poured down walls.

“Those nights were simply mega …and inspiring,” Dobe says.

“People had such a wonderful enthusiasm, leaping on the ceiling, on tables, swinging from metal struts, it was chaos but beautiful chaos.

“It was crammed, everybody sweated. It was a joy for everyone.”

Three to five encores a night was the norm.

But the record amount of encores, of eight, was at the Embankment club near Dublin when the publican had to turn the lights off for ten minutes before the crowd stopped braying for even more.

“The crowds went nuts for them at their shows,” agrees long time sound engineer Michael Rutledge. “They were a lot of fun, boisterous and infectious.

“They were musically a very good band, the whole being better than the sum, and they clicked so well.

“I hadn’t heard too much of that kind of music, so it was interesting and different and I liked it.”

The Bushwackers early setlist of Australian folk songs, some which drew back 100 years, pricked up the ears of audiences who identified.

They were about anti-authority larrikins like ‘The Ryebuck Shearer’, ‘Flash Jack from Gundagai’ from 1905, Banjo Patterson’s 1892 poem ‘The Man from Ironbark’, ‘The Wild Colonial Boy’ and ‘Lachlan Tigers’ about sheep shearers from a specific part of NSW.

There were dreams about a new life (‘The Shores of Botany Bay’, ‘Ten Thousand Miles Away’, ‘Bound for South Australia’) and places like ‘Augathella Station’, a town in Queensland where cattle drovers headed, and ‘The Road To Gundagai’, and life on the road (‘Billy The Tea’)

“Many of the songs are about what Australians have always done, which is travel, mostly for work.

“There were so many variations of these songs as people travelled to Far North Queensland or Far West Victoria or the Outback.

“They took the songs with them, and changed the words and sometimes the music, to adapt to the different situations” recalls Dobe.

The Bushwackers’ rendition of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ is actually the Queensland version which varies tune-wise, and not the better known original tune Banjo Patterson composed the music to.

After the arrival of Roger Corbett in 1980, he and Newton became a strong songwriting team, with socially conscious songs as  ‘Beneath The Southern Cross’ and ‘When Britannia Ruled The Waves’ fitting in between the traditional material.

Newton wrote ‘I Am Australian’ with The Seekers’ Bruce Woodley, regarded as the unofficial national anthem and which won The Bushwackers a Golden Guitar country award.

Musically The Bushwackers had always been far more imaginative than their peers, with more complicated multi-tempo instrumental passages.

This was partly for the benefit of their rock audiences, and partly because they themselves were excited by what British folk-rock bands like Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span were doing on the albums they found in Melbourne import record stores.

They were eager to get to the British Isles to be part of this movement.

They sent letters to 300 clubs there. Only three replied. The airline tickets had been bought, so they decided to go ahead.

When they arrived in London, they headed for the cheapest hotel in Earls Court.

It was full. So they booked out the grotty basement and set up hammocks to sleep in.

They starved for the first three months. Clubs and festival gigs began to roll in through the UK and Europe, and they stayed for almost a year.

When they returned to Australia with a more electric sound, purist crowds at folk festivals were outraged.

A show at the Melbourne Town Hall was met with resounding booing, and someone took a swing at Rutledge.

At the National Folk Festival in Canberra chairs were thrown at the stage.

Newton: “We hid in the dressing rooms and emerged only after everyone went home. We were not invited back there until 2013!”

Rutledge: “One night in the Western District someone pulled the power.

“I went backstage and found a guy gloating that he’d done the audience a favour! I shirt fronted him and slammed him against the wall.”

For Dobe, the most hostile response he ever received was at the Rotterdam Folk Festival in 1979, with Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton.

Backstage one of Dylan’s band told Dobe how much he enjoyed their set and suggested he join them for a song with his lagerphone.

Newton wasn’t sure but the man insisted, “Bob will be cool, he’ll love it!”

So Dobe waited on the wings until he got his cue, and went out and played along.

Dylan turned and gave him a furious look.

“He made it very clear he didn’t regard this as a valuable contribution and would I piss off immediately.

So I shuffled backwards off the stage. That was my eight seconds of fame. It might not even have been that long!”

Michael Rutledge got into music through a love for audio.

He was interning at a recording studio when a friend in The Bushwackers asked him to do sound on a Victorian tour for a few weeks.

He ended up staying with them for five years. In between he got a day job at Armstrong Studios while at night he mixed live sound and helped big acts build home studios.

On the weekends he did PA hire for festivals.

He started his own production company in 1978 in the garage of a rented house, with a helpful loan from his father-in-law allowing him to expand to a factory.

Work piled up, and when he and wife Sandy started a family, he quit The Bushwackers before their second overseas tour as he didn’t want to be away for another 12 months.

The company underwent some name changes – Rutledge Sound, Rutledge Engineering and Rutledge Engineering Aust— until it was bought over in April 2019 by US company Diversity.

The Bushwackers, meantime, were home to 95 members over 50 years.

Tommy Emmanuel, Pete Farndon of The Pretenders, Freddie Strauks of Skyhooks, Little River Band’s Steve Housden, Phil Emmanuel, Redgum’s Hugh McDonald and Jimmy & The Boys’ Michael Vidale were among those who passed through the ranks.

As part of The Bushwackers’ 50th anniversary, they were inducted into the Country Music Roll of Renown as part of the country music awards.

Dobe Newton and Roger Corbett

The announcement came as a complete surprise to Newton and Roger Corbett in the audience.

Because Newton was the President of the Country Music Association of Australia it had to be kept a secret.

“Usually when you’re nominated you have a list of people to thank just in case.

“Roger and I just went ‘Holy shit!’ when they called out our name and had 25 seconds walking from our table to the stage to think of something half-intelligent.

“I still can’t remember what I said or what was going through my mind, but it was an emotional moment for us.”

ARCA would like to thank the following sponsors of The Desk Tape Series:-

Sponsor                 Industry Roles
Showtech                Rigging                            
CMI                        P.A and Production                      
Clearlight                Lighting                                     
DSE Trucks             Transport                                   
Scully Outdoors       Outdoor Production           
Gigpower                Crewing and Staging                             
Lock and Load         Crewing                           
Chameleon Touring  Production and Lighting                         
JPJ                          P.A and Lighting                                             
Novatech                 P.A and Lighting     
Phaseshift                Lighting                                     
Show FX Australia    Pyrotechnics                     
Event Personnel Australia   Crewing                           
Norwest                  P.A and Lighting Production
Nprint                     Artwork
    

      
Ian Peel and Adrian Anderson
ARCA Co-founders and Directors.

Note from founders:-

“ARCA and The Desk Tape Series is a small way we can help our mates get some self-worth and recognition for their contribution to the Aussie music industry and help if they are in crisis. It is a great honor for us to be able to present these memories to all.”

All Hail Roadies and Crew

“Looking after OUR OWN with FEELING and a WHOLE LOTTA LOVE”

MEDIA CONTACT: Michael Matthews Media / michaelmatthewspr@gmail.com

All other enquiries contact:

          Adrian Anderson     0409 789 440
          Ian Peel                     0415 667 221

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: