Australian Sheep-Shearing and Bush Songs
John Poultney

John Poultney, who is also known by the stage name Stony Lonesome, is a San Francisco-based musician who is best known for his work with The Shut-Ins, a harmony-driven country group that has played many venues around the Bay Area, including the Folk Festival. He is a Bay Area native, but lived for a time in Australia, where he became aware of the many similarities between the US and “Down Under.” Both countries were British colonies at around the same time, and although Australia remains part of the Commonwealth and the US is now independent, the two countries have many striking similarities in terms of their history, people, customs, and not inconsequentially, music. Country and folk music are very popular in Australia, and, as in the US, reflect the experience of the regular people.

Where we have many cowboy ballads, Australia has the same but also many songs about sheep-shearing, as that is the outback equivalent of cattle ranching here. Migrant workers move from station to station, wrestling sheep to the ground and clipping the wool with abandon. Some shearers and some shearing stations are worthy of legend, as you’ll hear in these selections. Aside from sheep-shearing tales, however, Australia has a fascination with the open range, and you’ll also experience songs about riding, longing, the ever-popular dying cowboy ballad, and many more. Poultney will be playing selections made famous by such artists as Tex Morton, Slim Dusty, Banjo Patterson, and Terry Gordon.

This session will dispel many of the stereotypes about Australia and serve as an education and a reminder that music is the common thread amongst far-flung people and lands. G’day!