The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #157506   Message #4171924
Posted By: Sandra in Sydney
10-May-23 - 08:18 AM
Thread Name: 2023 Obit: Bob Bolton
Subject: RE: 2023 Obit: Bob Bolton
memories from occasional Mudcatter Dave Johnson have been added to the obit on BMC blog

Bob Bolton: a Retrospective

Bob was always there at the Beer and Cheese Nights at Burwood when I first went along with Anne in about 1973. Each month there was a topic for the songs that we sang from either the Penguin Folk Songs of Australia or the BMC’s Singabout Songster. It was a hugely refreshing, unashamedly Australian, eye and ear opening experience. Bob often presented a recitation and occasionally led a song but his main contribution musically was his mouth-organ playing. The band in a waistcoat pocket was his main instrument with tin whistle, usually a Clarke in the key of C of course, being pulled out where it fitted.

The first Bush Music Festival I attended was organised by Bob and held at the Sydney Technical College with a brilliant lineup of Australian folk exponents including Sally Sloane.

As I became more and more engaged with the Club, Bob was there as an enthusiastic supporter of the developments: Monthly music workshops at the Burwood Hall in between the B&C nights; the BMC Booking Agency; the move to our own premises at Marrickville; weekly workshops for songs and tunes; weekly dance workshops; an annual ball; the Heritage Ball; a social calendar of picnics, camps, boat trips, barbecues, etc. And at all these events Bob was there with his camera documenting the goings-on. I tried to make a point of turning Bob’s camera on him from time to time to make sure he appeared in the record he was creating. Who will photograph the photographer?

To describe Bob as a Bush Music Club stalwart doesn’t quite cover the extent of his involvement. The Mulga Wire was initiated by Ralph, Bob and I but it was Bob who put it together month after month and organised the printing - in time for a get-together to fold and bind and label and sort them for posting. The Concert Party went through many iterations over the years with Bob as a key player and leader at times. Whatever the function or innovation Bob was totally supportive. He contributed many hundreds of hours to the Club and was always able to tell you the background to a song or poem or scrap of Club history. For many people Bob was the face of the Bush Music Club with his encyclopaedic knowledge of its history and his willingness to share it.

The Rouseabouts began with Bob, John Poleson, Ray Grieve, Keith Snell and myself, then over time the line-up changed but Bob was there as a cornerstone of the group for many years. Backblocks was a group established to play collected dance tunes on historically appropriately instruments and Bob was a key player with both button accordion and mouth-organ. He became a regular player with the Heritage Ensemble at our Heritage Balls, recordings and at performances at the National Folk Festival.

The inevitable tyranny of distance that resulted from my family move to the Southern Highlands made it difficult to maintain the BMC connections closely and it was mainly at events I organised for Bush Traditions that I was able to catch up with old friends like Bob. Hearing of his illness was terribly saddening. Such a bright candle dimming slowly – it seemed so unfair. But we should celebrate the bright light that shone.

Vale Bob Bolton