The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #157506 Message #4170265
Posted By: Stilly River Sage
18-Apr-23 - 11:23 AM
Thread Name: 2023 Obit: Bob Bolton
Subject: RE: 2023 Obit: Bob Bolton
Obit - Death of Bob Bolton, 1945-2023. (from the bushmusic.org site)
Bob was not a Baby Boomer. As he explained, his father was recovering from pneumonia so was not called up & subsequently spent the war years working in a Protected Industry, consequently Bob was born before the War ended. Bob could be pedantic!
[several links here that have been copied and pasted into Mudcat]
Bob was that rare phenomenon, a lifelong friend. The kind that become as close or even closer than family. In our very early days in the early 1950’s, we lived just a few suburban blocks apart and met as kids at a bush Sunday School in East Bankstown – now known as Greenacre – but it really was the sticks back in those days. We spent heaps of time together as we grew up, doing all those things friends do – hobbies, socialising, travelling, bushwalking, and generally helping each other out in so many ways. We were even modern day swaggies for a while. As adults we had shared interests way beyond the obvious musical ones. His valuable knowledge, advice and insight was respected widely – not the least by myself. He was so many things to so many people. Then he just faded away from us. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the idea that he’s no longer here.
I remember Bob as a young lad coming to BMC, with Ralph, still in their late teens. Bob’s older brother Eric was in the BMC Concert Party Bush band. Ralph and Bob took off to Tasmania for adventures so Ralph will be able to enlighten us as I think romance entered their lives.
Bob was ‘the brains of his family’ and became interested in every detail of Bush and traditional music. Bob met Pat, in Tasmania, and her 90 year old grandmother who shared lots of stories of past events. On his return, he had a job at Sydney County Council (now Energy Aust) in the photography department on George Street, Sydney. He would often walk from there past our Glebe house on his way to Leichhardt. Bob would invariably call in with a question about the latest song John had written or information he had just discovered and he took more photos of John performing than anyone. Bob was always generous with his photographic records and knowledge.
When I decided that ensuring Gay Scott’s book of Sally Sloane songs, collected by John Meredith would be an ideal project for BMC 50th, it was Bob who was able transform fragile foolscap pages of original copy into a format that could be printed like a Singabout Songster.
My last memory of Bob was at RPHA where Pat was accompanying him from an appointment as I was accompanying John to an appointment there, which was over a decade ago. Are there any photographs of Pat and Bob dancing? He took lovely ones of John and my dancing days; happier memories than those medical visits.
I would like to share some of my memories about Bob. It goes back to 1977, when Ray and I went to a BMC weekly meeting at Burwood Town Hall. Ray had an interest in music history and was keen to talk to someone about the subject. I remember us meeting Bob and his friends, Ralph and Dave and then Ray, eventually sat in on some music sessions with them.
I recall Ray saying that 'Bob has an unbelievable knowledge of Australian bush music history!'
And so, Tuesday nights became a night of playing and talking endlessly about the subject.
Bob eventually discovered that I had a background in art and graphic design and said We need someone to do some work for the "Mulga Wire" magazine. It meant that instead of sitting on the sidelines (and dancing a bit), I now had a lot of work to do over the following years. Living very close to Bob and Patricia meant that he would call into our place often and the kitchen table became a sort of workplace for the Mulga Wire. I had a small space to make coffee and Bob informed me about the difference in putting the milk in the cup before the coffee, instead of the other way round. (He knew everything on that subject too).
There are two projects that I remember well. The first was his request that I draw an illustration of his concertina for the "Mulga Wire" front cover and secondly, to draw examples of men and women's dress styles from the 1820s to the 1890s period, for the First Colonial Subscription Ball, leaflet and posters.
Bob had done significant research into the subject and I will always value our collaboration over that time. He will be sadly missed by Ray and myself, and his many friends.
My memories of Bob were of his very regular presence at most BMC and folk events in general - whether taking photos, joining in with music, song or verse, or helping out behind the scenes - he was always there supporting whatever was going on. He was, of course, an incredible font of knowledge, you never failed to learn something from a chat with Bob!! And he was very generous with his time and energy - whether it was background information to songs or tunes, photos needed for publicity projects or grant applications, or a supply of hand made bones from various materials.
Bob loomed large in my life from the time he introduced himself to me in the late 70s/early 80s at a Festival of Sydney concert in the Domain - I think coordinated by Warren Fahey. I was manning a desk for the Folk Federation of NSW and the redoubtable Bob told me about the Bush Music Club. I was pretty new to live folk music and my earlier influences had been pretty much confined to traditional English songs. However, singers like Declan Affley, Dave de Hugard and Trevor Shearston opened the world of Australian folk song and Bob Bolton drew my attention to The Penguin Book of Australian Folk Songs, Singabout and the Joy Durst Song Book and over the years he was an unfailing source of information and encouragement. I served on the BMC committee for a time; my interests were more in song and when the BMC theme nights moved to Tritton Hall, I became involved in running “Folkus” nights every month for about 6 years. Bob was a constant presence during those days.
I have fond memories of the Bush Music Festivals held in the grounds at Marrickville's Addison Road Community Centre in the 1980s and Bob's photographs - taken at clubs and festivals far and wide - played no mean role in getting known as a singer. He had a way of capturing a fleeting characterful moment that would make the image memorable. In a review of some event or other he described me as "a consummate singer of good songs of all pedigrees and persuasions" – a quote that I still treasure. Like many in the folk scene, I owe Bob a huge debt of gratitude.
We have been missing Bob’s presence for some time now but we always think of him when the BMC gather. The last time I saw Bob and Pat was at the National when Bob won his well deserved Lifetime Achievement Award. But the last time we spent some time together chatting about “everything” was at a Goulburn Gathering. It would have been about 2014 or 15. Tony and I and Bob had arrived early on Friday afternoon. We were settling into our accommodation and we invited Bob over to our cabin for a coffee. He brought with him some bones he was making and some files and pictures he had found. He was in fine form and we had a lovely afternoon.
I don’t remember when I first met Bob but I do remember he was always at every BMC gathering, Friday night session, Beer and Cheese Nights, Balls, Dances, Festivals and social get-togethers. He was leader of the Concert Party when I joined and was always supportive of new comers to the music.
Pretty soon I realised how important to the club and the genre of bush music he was. Not only as a player; concertina, box and mouthorgan but as a singer and reciter. He illustrated and produced Mulga Wire and was always happy to help with publicity material designing our Cooee Koala, our mascot for our festivals and help in making silk screens for stickers and t-shirts. He even drew letters for us when we didn’t have the correct Letraset for designing posters and handouts!!
Bob was the font of all knowledge bush music and folklore and was willing to impart that knowledge to anyone. Especially to new members, which assisted in keeping up the aims of the club. And then there were his photographs, which were numerous but all showing a canny artistic mind and captured over 5 decades. A huge legacy to not only the Bush Music Club but to the Australian national folk world.
I met Bob Bolton when I moved from Melbourne to Sydney.
As Phyl Vinnicombe I had been singing at folk venues in Melbourne since the early sixties and was active in the 1967 Folk Festival well aware of the culture and sense of solidarity that drove the organisers of that Folk Festival.
After I married and moved to Sydney I performed as Phyl Lobl and it was no surprise to find a character like Bob Bolton in attendance at performances. Armed with his camera he was a fixture at almost all the folk venues and 'happenings.' His legacy of so many photos of so many performers is a GRAND UNIQUE LEGACY.
I am grateful to Bob for the photos he took of me and to Bob and his wife Pat for their allegiance to folk culture.
Click went his camera, click, click, click.
Bob’s trigger finger it was quick.
Then from the dark-room images galore
Celebrate performers of Australia’s Folklore. 18/04/2023
Bob was able to share songs and explain where they came from. Bob loved the songs of Australia. One of his legacies is all the information and lyrics he shared to the Mudcat folk data base. Thank you Bob Bolton
I will never forget your encouragement in my early days and I see you pumping that accordion in the Big Hall I hope to one day get too. God bless you Bob Bolton.
The bottom of the page has some memories already posted here on Mudcat. I didn't intend to post all of the memories but once I got started it seemed pretty interesting reading. There are photos on the page, so visit the link.