On 10 May I had the great honour of singing a few songs at Duke’s Place in Marrickville, thanks to an invitation from Sandra Nixon. While the audience was small, it was an inspiration to sing in a place that has been part of Australia’s folk music history since 1954. I’m not sure if Colin Dryden ever sang at Hut 44, but the fabulous people I had the chance to meet and speak with were certainly part of the Sydney folk scene that Colin joined in 1965.
The opportunity to sing Poverty Knock and Four Loom Weaver in a venue like this was special indeed. There is no small irony in the fact that the complex which Hut 44 is part of was once an army base. Turning the engines of violence and war into community spaces for music, culture and conscious living is a poignant victory (and don’t we need them at this point in history).
Best of all, after giving a lift home to Margaret Walters, I was handed a CD of 1971 recordings of Colin at the Elizabeth Hotel, a venue which was a key part of the Sydney folk revival and mentioned by Warren Fahey here. My three hour drive back to Yass was filled with some truly fabulous music, including Margaret’s own album Steadfast, which I highly recommend.
Thanks to some other CD’s that I’ve been chasing for many years, I’ve also been able to significantly expand my collection of John Warner covers (another severely under-appreciated Australian songwriter).
I have made a recording of Lassie Wi’ the Yellow Coatie, which Dermott Ryder tantalisingly mentions as a regular part of Colin’s repertoire in his homage article to Colin’s work in 2012. The CD of Colin at the Elizabeth, from a collection of recordings made by Peter Wheeler (but never published), has a very poor recording of Colin doing this song. With this song, I’ve only got a few re-recordings to do before the tribute album is finished.
I made some minor tweaks to the painting for the album cover and will get started on the final layout.
It is bittersweet to reach the end of this project, which has been a rich emotional journey. My hope is that one year soon, the National Folk Festival will host a concert of Colin’s songs, performed by those who knew him and those who have been inspired by his music.
I was fortunately enough to time my trip to Sydney with the annual gathering for early morning Qi Gong exercises in Hyde Park to mark the birthday of the founder of this particular style on May 13. It was a relaxing start to the day before the long drive back to Yass. I was also delighted to find the, rock history themed, Brewsters cafe in Bowral for the essential mid-drive coffee.