The History of the VFMC
The roots of the VFMC lie in the formation of the original Bushwackers' Band in Melbourne in 1955, which appeared with great success in the second production of the play "Reedy River". After a change of name to the Billabong Band, the Band built up a keen audience of fans around Melbourne and began to hold regular monthly Singabouts to cater for them. Band members along with some of their most enthusiastic followers launched the Victorian Bush Music Club on June 26th, 1959.
The Club had the aim of reviving Australian folk songs and restoring them to their former popularity, and undertook to assist in, and to encourage, the composing of new songs, contemporary in subject and traditional in style.
In its earliest days the Club made use of the publications of the Sydney Bush Music Club such as Singabout magazine, but by 1960, had launched its own monthly newsletter. In 1961 the Club combined with the Folklore Society of Victoria and brought out a monthly publication, the Gumsuckers' Gazette. Words and music of songs were included in this, and by 1964, a more ambitious publication, Australian Tradition, was launched.
In 1962 contact was made with a fine group of dancers and musicians in the Corryong district led by Beat and Con Klippel, and yearly get-togethers have been held there ever since, now known as the Nariel Creek Folk Festival, held over the New Year weekend.
1963 saw the first big Moomba folk concert, at which VFMC members provided the bulk of the program. Following closely on this was a most successful weeklong folk festival in conjunction with the Folklore Society of Victoria and the Council for Adult Education. A change of name to the Victorian Folk Music Club was made to emphasise that the Club's interests included urban and contemporary songs.
Early in 1966 the Club took the initiative, along with Glen Tomasetti and Martin Wyndham-Read, of launching the Port Phillip Folk Festival Committee, and started it off financially with a $100 grant. This festival was so successful that it eventually became the National Folk Festival, now held annually over Easter at the Exhibition Park in Canberra(EPIC).
Over the years, the Club has vigorously promoted Australian music and dance by sponsoring a number of important publications, including Peter Ellis's "Collector's Choice" book series, a double tape set of historic recordings of legendary Castlemaine accordionist Harry McQueen and the Joy Durst Memorial Song Collection.
Adapted from an article in "Australian Tradition", August 1969, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the VFMC.
Nariel Creek Folk Festival
From Boxing Day to New Year, at the historic Nariel Creek, near Corryong, Northern Victoria. Lots of music and dancing, in a relaxing location (camping sites available).
The Nariel festival is one of the longest running folk festivals in Australia, and is probably the most relaxed as well. Most events are informal sessions which occur spontaneously at locations such as the Nariel Creek festival camping ground, or the nearby Colac Colac caravan park.
The few formal events are mainly dances, which feature mostly local performers and their guests. There is a formal concert (as formal as anything gets at Nariel Creek) on New Year's Day afternoon. If you want to perform, just turn up and give your name to the MC (Note: there are no paid performers at Nariel).
Nariel Creek Folk Festival,
The official site of the Victorian Folk Music Club Incorporated (Reg No A2511Y) ABN 28 668 156 704
Last modified: January 25 2021 20:59.