Chris Kempster - The Songs of Henry Lawson

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A book of songs to the words of Henry Lawson with music notation and chords. xx111, 249pp Illus. soft cover spiral bound half laminated 297mm X 210mm (A4)

A labour of love that gave Australian musicians a comprehensive collection of song settings of the poetry of Henry Lawson is returning to bookshops around Australia nearly 20 years after it was first published. Long unavailable except for rarely seen second-hand copies, the second edition of The Songs of Henry Lawson includes the original 230 settings collected by Chris Kempster plus 45 more gathered by Kempster after 1989 and by friends since his death in 2004.

While the book has been available from the Folk Federation for several months, it is now available from Trad&Now. A key figure in the Australian post-war folk revival, Chris Kempster both collected musical settings of Lawson's poetry and composed his own. His first, Reedy River, travelled widely, and helped give birth to Dick Diamond's ground-breaking musical play of the same name. He was a member of the first recorded bush band, the Bushwhackers, a foundation member of the Bush Music Club and helped to introduce Australian folk songs to the National Fitness Council in the 1960s.

 A high school maths teacher for twenty years, in retirement he devoted himself to completing The Songs of Henry Lawson, sorting through "an avalanche of offerings" from everyone from "politicians to post-hole diggers", as he put it. There were some familiar names among them: Duke Tritton, Slim Dusty and John Meredith, classical composers Dorothy Hodges, Alfred Hill and George Dreyfus and jazz musician Ade Monsbourgh.

 The second edition adds John Schumann and Kay Dreyfus to the catalogue. Viking O'Neil, an imprint of Penguin, published a limited run of The Songs of Henry Lawson in 1989. The production of the second edition by contrast has relied on a dedicated team of enthusiasts, including Kempster's partner Alison Jones, supported by the Folk Federation of NSW.

The Songs of Henry Lawson, in a musician-friendly spiral-bound format has  Recordings of Chris Kempster's Lawson settings by a roll call of leading Australian and international folk performers, including Kempster himself, are collected in a double CD set, The Songs of Chris Kempster, also available from Trad&Now..

This product was added to our catalog on Sunday 13 July, 2008.


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