An established family based bush band based in the Southern Highlands - in easy reach of Sydney, Canberra, Goulburn and Wollongong - and offering entertainment for festivals, bush dances, weddings, parties, and fundraisers.
Avalable in combinations for all budgets from two-piece to full five-piece. Instruments include: fiddle, accordion, electic piano, guitar, recorder, concertina, banjo, electric bass, and recorder.
For rollicking bush songs interpreted with Australian pride, and bush dances from colonial to contemporary, expertly taught and called, you can't beat this bush band!
About the Band
Band leader, Dave Johnson served his apprenticeship with the Bush Music Club with influences from John Meredith, Alan Scott, John Dengate and Jamie Carlin. From novice eagerly discovering the songs that expressed our national identity; to president effectively promoting dances, festivals and workshops; to Life Member continuing the work as performer, composer, arranger and publisher. Dave played with Sydney Coves, The Rouseabouts, The Reedy River Bushmen, Pinchgut and Southern Cross Bush Band before moving out to the Southern Highlands. He is the driving force behind the world-class Bundanoon DanceFest and the low key but influential Goulburn Gathering managed by Bush Traditions Inc. Since 1982 he has been Musical Director and conductor and sometime player with the Heritage Ensemble, a confluence of top musicians from Sydney and beyond, performing for the annual BMC Heritage Ball. At the 2004 National Folk Festival the ensemble played Dave's celebrated Bush Dance book from cover to cover. A feat that kept dancers going for four hours! In 2015 they were selected for the NFF Heritage Ball and delighted the dancers with a three part programme featuring colonial, bush and contemporary dances.
As a musician, Dave plays bush-style fiddle with a rock solid dance tempo, fingerpicks his beloved Cole-Clark guitar, and squeezes delight from his anglo concertina. On recordings he has been known to add banjo, banjo mandolin, bass and viola when needed.
Anne Pidcock backs up the band sound with a solid underpinning bass and rhythm line on electric piano. Her playing appears on band recodings, and some classic ABC and 2MBSFM recordings of Backblocks, a group established to play old bush dance tunes with traditional instruments.
Initially the band included Anne and Dave's three sons but as work commitments have led them astray, other musicians have been recruited. Eldest son James still plays on occasions. His powerful piano accordion and crowd stopping recorder playing a welcome addition to the sound.
Peter McLaren, an excellent musician and teacher of note, often joins Paddys River to add accordion, concertina, mandolin, banjo and guitar as needed. Peter has a background which includes several bands and a successful school performance group, and is the mainstay of a celtic session that has been held monthly in Goulburn for over 10 years.
Maria Dunn is a neighbouring fiddler and violin teacher. In a recent production of a musical about a local holdup by the Ben Hall gang written by Dave, Maria directed the sell-out show brilliantly. Maria has the gift of being able to improvise a harmony line on the fly, adding a depth to the band sound.