Barry McDonald and Marooan

the band

When Barry McDonald moved onto the rural New England Tablelands of NSW, he soon became interested in the traditional music of that region, and has spent nearly twenty years travelling to meet, record and play with older bush musicians.

Consequently, he now has an extensive ethnographic tape collection housed in the National Library of Australia in Canberra, and has built a solid reputation as a scholar, performer and interpreter of New England folk music and song, playing fiddle, mandolin, concertina, button- accordion and guitar.

As a member of the Horton River Band, Barry completed several regional tours with the octogenarian fiddler Charlie Batchelor, culminating in performances at the National Folk Festival, Canberra, in 1984. He appeared on Charlie's album "Kind Regards Charlie Batchelor", which was released by Chris Sullivan and Mark Rummery on the Aural Repossessions label, and reviewed very favourably both in Australia and overseas. Barry continued performing with the Horton River Band after Charlie's death, and made further appearances at National Folk festivals in 1989 and 1992, cd cover and at numerous smaller festivals in between. As a member of the band Scatterbrain, Barry appeared at the 1996/1997 Woodford/Maleny Folk Festival, Australia's largest. Most of the band members, now known as Marooan, then went into the studio to record part of Barry's own CD of New England music and song, "Where the Sun-Lights on the Dew Drops Shine (Harbourtown Records HARCD 034).

the band Together with Barry, Marooans line-up includes Catherine Nano on violin and cello, Theresa Nano who sings and plays guitar, Cathy Ovenden on fiddle, concertina and tenor banjo, and Mazz Plane playing fiddle, dulcimer and button-accordion. Mazz and Cathy have many years experience collecting in their own right, and also played with Charlie Batchelor, the Horton River Band, and the Nightcap String Band. Most recently, they toured the major festivals in Australia as members of the very successful group Heroines Riding Bareback.

Most of Barry's own performance experience is local, and in the years between 1979 and 1998, he has played for many hundreds of dances, workshops and concerts in the New England region. Together with Catherine and Theresa, however, he toured parts of Britain, Ireland and Europe during the last three months of 1997, to examine early influences on Australian folk music, and to perform with local musicians at informal venues in Germany and Italy.

Besides participating in the production of two cassettes of local folk music released by Armidale radio station 2ARM-FM, Barry played as a session musician on Dave de Hugard's traditional album "Magpie Morning", released nationally on the Sandstock label in 1992/3. He has also recorded a landmark CD with Mark Rummery, Cathy Ovenden and Chris Sullivan, "Still A Long Way From Home", to be released on the Auvidis label in Paris in 1998, as part of UNESCO's Traditional Music of the World series.

Marooan is playing the Australian folk festival circuit in 1998 and early 1999, and is planning a tour of Scotland, England and Germany for July and August 1999. The band performs music, songs and dances drawn from their own collections, together with a sprinkling of European material. Performance specialties include concerts, workshops on a number of themes, school visits, bush (barn) dances and radio work.

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