Down by the Billabong – Various Artists


Acoustic guitar arrangements of Australian folk songs and bush tunes featuring some Australia’s finest players – John Kane, David Hyams, Kate Burke, Michael Fix, Nigel Date, Marcus Holden, Daniel Champagne, Jeff Lang, Kieran Ryan-Colton, Marcus Sturrock, John Munro, Dave O’Neill and Ian Date.

The album is 80 minutes of pure guitar joy and will provide other guitar players with a road map as to what can be done with tunes that are connected to our own story as Australians.

3 in stock

SKU: TN2352-84 Category:


CD review by Tony Smith

Warren Fahey’s life work is to advance knowledge, understanding and appreciation of Australian folklore.

This 24 track album is an ambitious project in which each track has an acoustic guitar rendition of a folk tune.

Generally, guitar music of this sort makes relaxing listening and the musicians represented are all outstanding exponents of finger style guitar.

For listening guitar players, one of the most interesting features of this album is the variety of guitars and tunings that turn up.

On ‘Condamine Way aka the Banks of the Condamine’ for example, which at 5 minutes and 5 seconds is the longest track on the album and one of the most enjoyable, the remarkable Jeff Lang plays a resonator guitar made by Don Morrison of South Australia out of ‘sheet metal from an old corrugated iron shed.

Very Australian!

He also uses electric guitar and loops to add variety.

Other players depart from the usual EADGBE tuning, often using DADGAD.

Marcus Sturrock has some unusual tunes and also a seven string guitar and a steel stringed baritone guitar.

 He presents ‘Brisbane Ladies’, ‘Merrily Kissed the Quaker’s Wife’ and ‘Drowsy Maggie’.

‘Brisbane Ladies/ Overlanders/ Augathella Station’ is also covered by David Hyams.

Apparently, Warren Fahey produced a list of tunes, from which the guitarists could choose.

It is not clear whether there were suggestions which were not included, but overall the selection is pretty comprehensive.

The guitarists chose those tunes, whether for songs or instrumentals such as dance music, on personal taste, but no doubt with a clear idea of which tunes would present well and allow the musician to display his or her virtuosity.

Yes, there is one female guitarist, Kate Burke, who gives excellent expression to ‘The Lost Sailor’ and ‘Spanish Waltz’.

Marcus Holden assists on several tracks adding variety and filling out the tunes, with Nigel Date (‘Bluey on the Brink’ and ‘The Rambling Sailor’) and Kieran Ryan (‘Eileen McCoy’s Varsovienne No.1’).

Date and brother Ian are experienced jazz musicians and this influence is plain on their contributions.

My favourites are the tracks with straight interpretations, particularly John Kane’s ‘Tomahawking Fred’ and Michael Fix’s ‘Ryebuck Shearer/ Lachlan Tigers’ and ‘Waltzing with Matilda’.

There are also contributions by Dave O’Neill, John Munro and Daniel Champagne.

As usual, Warren Fahey has provided meticulous details about the provenance of the tunes, noting for example that Sally Sloane referred to the Varsovienna as ‘Arse-Over-Anna’.

Fahey also has a good introductory essay about the place of acoustic guitar in the Australian folk music tradition, its origins and influences.

This album should have great appeal to general listeners as well as to fans of guitar and of Australian folk tunes.

Additional information

Weight .150 kg
Dimensions 21 × 15 × 1.0 cm


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