Play the clip below to hear and see the Wongawilli Band. 3 minutes 17 seconds in duration.
wongawilli from Why Documentaries on Vimeo.
Download the Band's Information Sheet - 1 page PDF
What they've said about the band
... this ensemble is highly regarded in the field of interpreting authentic Australian traditional music, song and dance as a performance art. The group is recognised in Australia as a leading force in the revitalisation of our folk traditions ...
Warren Fahey AM, JP, The Larrikins
... Wongawilli Band, based in the culturally-rich Illawarra region are nationally recognised as one of, if not the, finest exponents, collectors and presenters of Australian traditional 'Bush' music. Their stage performances are distinctively 'Australian' whilst having a wide general appeal with their lively rhythms and music coupled with lyrics which frequently carry the wry humour of the Australian 'bushie' ....
Bernard Bolan, President Folk Federation of NSW
... They present entertaining and distinctive interpreations of traditional and tradition-influenced Australian folk songs and tunes and have won many awards and appeared at many major festivals and venues ...
Jamie McKew OAM, Festival Director for Port Fairy Folk Festival
Listen to the Wongawilli Band
The tracks are (in order of playing):
Waltzing Matilda (Queensland version) - Victor Podham's Rusty Hut - Sing Us a Song - Coming Down the Mountain (reel tune) - Time is a Tempest - Coopers Sparkling Ale - The Drunken Parson (jig tune ) - Waltzing Matilda (most heard version).
Click here for full song samples at Wongawilli Myspace site.
About the Band
The Wongawilli Band from the South Coast of New South Wales plays traditional and contemporary Australian folk songs, dances and music of the European settlers to Australia.
They play a range of instruments featuring piano, violin, accordion, guitar, lagerphone, banjo, whistle and mandolin. They also perform with the Wongawilli Colonial Dancers in presenting demonstrations of bush and colonial dances from Australia's European settlement.
The band was established in 1987 and has produced 7 recordings. The latest recording is Australia Street and was released in June 2008.
Click here for more information on the new CD.
David De Santi – piano accordion
Samuel De Santi – bodhran, fiddle
Tania De Santi – piano
Tim Kendell – guitar, vocal
Graeme Murray – main vocal, lagerphone, snare drum, kick drum
Reg Murray – mandolin
Miffy Ryan – violin, viola
Johnny Spillane – whistles, bagpipe, vocal
For where they're playing - pubs, dances, concerts, schools, folk festivals check the News Section at the bottom of the Home Page.
David De Santi, tel (61) 2 4257 1788, fax (61) 2 4257 1788, mob 0409 57 1788 (international - +61409571788)
PO Box 17, Albion Park, NSW, 2527, Australia
BAND BACKGROUND and INVOLVEMENT IN THE AUSTRALIAN FOLK MUSIC SCENE
The band was originally formed in 1987 to help promote, preserve and perform Australia's rich tradition of music, song and dance. The year 1988 proved to be a busy one with the band gaining quick popularity and performing at over 50 functions. The band combined on many occasions with the Wongawilli Colonial Dancers to present a unique presentation of Australian bush music and dancing.
The current band of David, Tania, Samuel, Miffy, Graeme, Tim, Reg and Johnny has been in place since 2006. They have produced the recording Australia Street.
The band has become well known throughout Australia with performances at all major folk festivals - Woodford, Port Fairy, Victor Harbour (SA) and the National Folk Festival on numerous occasions.
The year 1998 saw a major change for the band. Two of its long standing members John Harpley and Neil McCann decided to move on. John moved to Yass and Neil, the band's primary songwriter, enjoyed more time with his family.
The new youthful additions were Jason and Chloe Roweth from Bathurst and fiddler Jane Brownlee from Sydney. They joined father and son, Graeme and Reg Murray, and husband and wife, David and Tania De Santi (Jane's older sister).
1998 also saw the release of a compilation recording of the band's two previous productions - After The Tradition and Australian Selection. The recording was released in North America by Musica Pangaea, who were specialising in world and Australian Folk Music. The new recording was titled Australian Tradition and is 78 minutes long and received airplay in the US, Canada, Europe and the Mid-East.
Other projects during the 1998 were year playing with the BHP Youth Orchestra and the SBS Radio Television Choir as part of a special presentation on migration songs, dances and music in Australia, titled the Southern Cross is Calling.
The band continues to help with the organising of the Illawarra Folk Festival at Jamberoo, with David De Santi as Artistic Director since 1996.
The band along with Wongawilli Colonial Dance Club also established the Australian Folk Music and Dance Gathering to provide a more focused event based on Australian folk music.
The aim of the group was and still is to perform and promote and hence preserve Australia's rich heritage of music, singing and dancing. The band prides itself in the truly Australian dances it performs such as the Varsoviana, the Schottische, the Quadrilles and Galops in addition to the normal bush dances expected by bush bands.
Since 1990 band members have published books on Australian folk material through the Pioneer Performer Series.
1. Australian Traditional Dance Tunes, double CD 2 hours of music. Includes a CD Rom of bush dance instructions
2. Live at the Local
3. Australian Selection
4. Australian Tradition (issued in North America by Musica Pangaea)
5. After The Tradition
6. Tunes of Bert Jamieson
7. Bush & Folk Australian Mood Recording
8. Australia Street - Latest recording
The band's music can also be found as Production Music for use on radio and television through Andrenalin Sounds.
Wongawilli Band Recordings ORDER FORM
Full Wongawilli Colonial Dance Club Catalogue with over 50 Australian traditional recordings and publications
The band is well known for its dance music and Australian dance repertoire, with over 80 dances in the band's repertoire. Performances have been provided for the National Folk Festival on a number of occasions, the Sydney Bush Music Club and Melbourne / Canberra and Adelaide Colonial Balls.
The following is a selection the band can teach and present.
Quadrille formation dances (4 couples in a square set)
- Santoys Quadrille
- Galop Quadrille
- Lancers Quadrille
- Polka Cotillion
- Waltz Cotillion
- Wombat Quadrille
- The Grand March, danced traditionally at the start of the evening and before a quadrille
- Berlin Schottische
- Pride of Erin
- Frangipani Waltz
- Prince of Wales Schottische
- Kings Waltz
- Princess Polka
- Brown Jug Polka
- Dutch Hoe Waltz
- Barn Dance
- Manchester Galop
Longways sets dances
- Country Bumpkin
- Haymakers Jig
- Flying Pieman
- Sandhurst Diggers
- Double Sir Roger de Coverley
- Bullockies Ball
- Virginia Reel
- La Galopade
- Adelaide Race Day
- Circle Waltz
- Circassian Circle Pt 2
- Jubilee Jig
- Blackwattle Reel
- Jacaranda Dance
- Circle Galop
- The Tempest
- Waltz Country Dance
- Spanish Waltz
- Jolly Miller Waltz
- Devil's Triangle
- La Gursa
- Dashing White Sergeant
The band has aimed at trying to be different from the average bush band by performing unfamiliar yet entertaining music. This formula seems to have received national recognition with 16 awards at the 1990, 1991, 1993 and 1994 Australian Bush Music Festival and Bush Band Championships namely in the Australian Bush Music Awards (pre-recorded entries)
- Best Traditional Bush Band, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993 & 1994
- Best Instrumental, 1990
- Best Contemporary Bush Band, 1991 & 1994
and in the Australian Bush Band Championships (live at the Festival)
- Best Traditional Bush Band, 1990 & 1992
- Best Bush Dance Band, 1990 & 1992
In particular the band's singer, Graeme Murray, received the 1991 Australian Bush Music Awards Best Male Vocalist ahead of John Williamson and Alan Scott. He has repeated the award in 1993 and 1994 and has become the "Voice of the Bush". He shared the award in 1993 with Pat Drummond.
Also the band's accordionist, David De Santi, along with Rob Willis of Forbes received the 1992 Australian Bush Music Heritage Award for their work in promoting and preserving Australian dance and music with the Pioneer Performers Series, a compilation of books and cassettes.
The band has played at numerous events around the world, the Illawarra region and around Australia since 1987.
- Skagen Festival in Denmark, 2005, 2006 and 2008
- Halkaer Festival, Denmark
- Degeberga Folk Festival, Sweden
- Kaustinen Folk Festival, Finland, 2006
- Tombeo Folklore Centre, Helsinki, Finland
- Kuopio Wine and Music Festival (Australian theme), 2006
- Australian Film Festival, Beijing
- Nanning International Music Festival
- China International Expo, Shenzen
- Edinburgh and Leith Folk Clubs, Scotland
- Concerts in Berlin in association with The Beez
- Furness in Tradition Festival, Barrow-in-Furness, England
- 14 day tour of New Zealand including the Folk Clubs, Festivals and concert halls
2008 European Tour | New Zealand 2007 tour | Denmark / Finland 2006 tour | Wongawilli Visit to 2005 Nanning International Folk Song Arts Festival Guangxi Province, China | Denmark / Sweden / Germany 2005 tour
Notable Australian events include
- 19 National Fo:lk Festivals in Sydney, Adelaide and Canberra respectively
- 1994 Ted Egan Spectacular, Alice Springs
- 1993/94 Maleny Folk Festival (Qld)
- 2000/2001 & 2001/2002 Woodford Folk Festival
- 1993, 1995, 1998, 2002 Port Fairy Folk Festival (Vic.)
- 1993 National Folkloric Dance Festival, Sydney Opera House
- 1990 to 1995 Australian Bush Music Festival
- 1987 to 2010 Illawarra Folk Festivals at Jamberoo and Bulli
- 1991 1994, 1996, 2000 South Australian State Folk Festival, at Goolwa & Victor Harbour
- 1996 & 2001 Tour of Tasmainia
- 1997 Support for Peter, Paul and Mary concert, Bowral
- Canberra Colonial Ball
- Canberra Shearer's Ball
- Melbourne Colonial Ball
- Abercrombie Caves
- Mount Beauty Muster Music (twice)
- Canowindra Balloon Fest
- Rockhampton (Qld) Bush Heritage Festival
- The Sydney Opera House, Star City Casino & Regent Hotel
- Many 1988 Bicentennial Celebration functions such as the Bicentennial Exhibition, Wollongong, Shellharbour, Kiama and Shoalhaven Council Australia Day celebrations.
1992 Australian Tour
The band toured Australia from July to September 1992 with functions at the Adelaide Colonial Ball; Alice Springs Folk Club, Bush Dance; The Overlander Steakhouse, Alice Springs; Tennant Creek Folk Festival (NT); The Four Seasons Resort, Jabiru; Darwin Folk Club, Bush Dance; Armadale Folk Club (WA); Nannup Music Club (WA); and WA Folk Federation, Bush Dance in Perth.
Three members of Wongawilli - David and Tania De Santi and Jane Brownlee - were joined by Bruce Cameron from Bathurst for a tour of the western coast of North America in February 2001 and attended the North American Folk Alliance Convention in Vancouver, Canada. They performed a majority of Wongawilli repertoire and received great responses.
More details on the tour and The Wombats.