Bushwakers is a Melbourne institution -an enduring band of musicians, and possibly one of the very few Australiana groups working full time. The band has seen many changes since its first gig at the Organ Factory in Clifton Hill in 1981, but the current line up is Paul Jenkins, original Bushwackers member, singer, dance caller and lagerphone extraordinaire player; Felix Meagher - fiddle player, song writer and composer of film scores (including credits on Baz Luhrmann's Australia) and musicals; and Cyril Moran - Irish singer and guitarist well known around Melbourne for performing solo in Irish pubs. Bushwakers specialises in performing songs and dances that get their audiences involved. The band is equally happy in playing at tables in restaurants and encouraging people to sing along as it is calling bush dances for everyone to get up and have a go. Their arrangements of Australian folk song have parts especially composed so that most people can very easily join in. Typical events the band plays at are weddings, birthday parties, re-unions, work place celebrations, outdoor events, get-togethers, sports nights and in schools.
The band has worked in hundreds of schools around Australia, and are well known for their one day productions for primary school children - The Bush Cabaret, The Sixties Happening, The Country Music Show, The Surfwahzee Surf Show and Beach Party The Pirate Show - Band of Pirates, and The Bush Xmas (see more details below). The band has wide variety in its play list. The list features many of the well known Aussie traditional and contemporary songs and dances, a selection of songs from the 1960s, and any number of Irish songs and tunes. The band members have also written a songs and dances - The G’day Song, The Puffing Billy Song, The Lagerphone Song, Convicts Wanna Dance, The Twelve Bar Barn Dance, Shark Shuffle, Beach Party, The Evening Star, Penguin Parade, Nunawading, Treasure Island, Walk The Plank, and Flies On the Ringer.
The permanent three piece line-up is often complimented by other musicians- Pat Mckernan, Irish singer and guitarist with an amazing repertoire who has held down a residency at the Quiet Man for 10 years, Greg Rough from Lightning Creek as well as ex-Parradiddle and Travelling Wallabies, Lou Hesterman from The Gundaguys often joins the band as a fourth and bass playing member, Patrick McPartlon, guitarist and conversationalist extraordinaire, Ewen Baker (recently gigging with Shane Howard , Archie Roach, and the Pigram Brothers) and Dan Bourke (Bushwackers) . When the band is out of town on tour a friends of Bushwackers line up including Ian Tritt and Dave Isom often step in at bush dances.
In 1992 Bushwackers devised a new musical for schools called The Bush Cabaret. This show is essentially a one-day production where the children at a school learn songs and dances during the during the day and perform them for their parents that evening. The Bush Cabaret has been performed in over 1600 schools around Australia, and requests from teachers have led the band to devise the follow up shows The Sixties Happening, The Country Music Show, Surf Show and beach Party, Band of Pirates and The Bush Christmas. Bushwackers performs these shows regularly in schools throughout Victoria, NSW, South Australia, and Tasmania.
Bushwackers has released a cassette album Folk Song Parade (a collection of traditional Aussie songs), and three CDs: The Discreet Charm of Bushwackers, Say G’Day, and Dance Happens. A new compilation CD See you at the Bushwackers... is to be realeased later in 2011. An album Our Selection has been released on itunes (see Home Page)
Bushwackers has a number PAs and hire of a PA is possible with ex-Bushwackers member Patrick McPartlon as sound operator.
Bushwackers Bush Band - bush dances, colonial dancing, The Bush Cabaret, The Sixties Happening, Country Music Show, Surf Show Band of Pirates, convicts, shearers, Irish music, celtic music, The Lake School, Puffing Billy, Port Fairy Folk Festival, Ned Kelly, facepainting, Tina Sparkle, The Fruit Lady, Petunia the Fairy, Disco Diva are just some of the themes associated with Bushwackers.