100th anniversary of Buddy Williams’ birthday

Don Dorrigo and Guy Fawkes Historical Society is holding a  special event on the weekend of September 8–9 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of Dorrigo’s famous sons, legendary Aussie Country Music pioneer Buddy Williams.

From 3pm on the Saturday in the showground arena, the North Dorrigo Pony Club will perform a musical ride, there’ll be whip cracking, a local horseman mustering ‘the white-faced cattle’, several horse and sulkies, and a brumby from the Guy Fawkes National Park, broken in to perform tricks.

Buskers will be welcome and from 6pm a fantastic tribute to Buddy and his music will be staged in the main pavilion.

Among those performing will be Lindsay Butler, Pixie Jenkins, pioneer Trevor Day, Ashley Cook, Trevor Tolton plus Shaza Leigh and Peggy Gilchrist.  

On Sunday 9, a memorial plaque will be unveiled by our local MP The Hon. Melinda Pavey (subject to her availability) at the museum in memory of Buddy Williams. There will be an informal morning tea and a chance to inspect the museum and a display of Buddy Williams memorabilia. Fitting in with 'History Week' our theme will be 'The Life and death of Buddy Williams'... and his memory lives on.

Following that, there will be a guided tour of the Dorrigo Railway Museum, for a limited number of interested people.

The country music continues on Sunday at the Dorrigo RSL Club from 2pm with Trevor Tolton. Trevor is a highly acclaimed guitarist and singer who loves Buddy’s music and looks forward to participating in the celebrations. Trevor has performed on several travelling shows and at many country music festivals. At just 22 years of age it is great to see a young artist who appreciates our country music heritage.

Visitors are invited to join locals for the celebration. Camping and caravan sites will be available at a reasonable cost at the  showground.

Dorrigo Lions Club members  will be there with their Lions caravan cooking steak and sausage sandwiches, egg and bacon sandwiches with a selection of drinks for sale.

For more information and to book tickets for the concert contact Georgie Frogley on 66572120, between 9am and 5pm.

Help us make Dorrigo 'The Home of Buddy Williams'.

Book your concert tickets now on 02 66 572 120 or 0411 439 048

Tickets for the concert on Saturday night September 8 are: Adults $20, Concession card holders $15 and School children $10.

Buddy Williams biography

by Kevin Freeman

Harold "Buddy" Williams (5 September 1918 – 12 December 1986) was an Australian country musician, singer and songwriter, known as "The Yodelling Jackaroo".  He was born Harry Taylor in the suburb of Newtown, Sydney and was soon placed in Glebe Point Orphanage. After many failed escape bids as a child, he was soon fostered out as a young boy to a dairy farming family at Dorrigo.

It soon became apparent that rather than looking for a new child to bring up, they were more interested in an unpaid labourer. This was not uncommon in the Depression and post -Depression era where rural child slavery was a fact of life. Times were hard and life on the farm was tough for the young Williams, but it also allowed freedom he never had in the orphanage. He was soon listening to the recordings on an old Gramophone of his favourite singers such as Jimmie Rodgers and soon fell in love with this new music that was to become known as country music. At 15 he ran away from his foster home working for other families in the district. He worked at many jobs and started busking around the north coast of NSW, dodging the police who frowned upon such activities.

Buddy Williams made his first recordings in 1938, a private process disk. The two songs recorded at this historic session were "Where The Jacarandas Bloom", and "They Call Me The Clarence River Yodeller". The latter song was re worked and called "They Call Me The Ramblin' Yodeller" and recorded during his first EMI session on 7 September 1939. These two long lost recordings were later released on a Kingfisher Records collection in the early 1990s as part of an early Buddy Williams catalogue re-release. This re-release is no longer available.

Buddy Williams first sang professionally in 1936 at the Grafton Jacaranda Festival. He also did a guest spot on Grafton's radio station 2GF at the time. He left Grafton and busked his way down the coast before turning up on the doorstep of EMI records in Sydney asking for an audition. He eventually did get the audition and as they say, the rest is history.