Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Harold Percy Croydon (Duke) Tritton, 1886 - 1965









Harold Percy Croydon (Duke) Tritton, 1886 - 1965

It is 50 years since Duke Tritton died. He joined BMC in the first year, around the same time Frank Maher joined, and was the second person awarded Life Membership of the Bush Music Club. Duke was one of the earliest sources of traditional songs & verses for the fledgling revival of Australian songs. He was a singer with a powerful voice, a songwriter and poet, and wrote his autobiography in 1959.

Like many in the tough times of the early 20th century he worked in many jobs - shearing, gold miner, boxer, busker, labourer, timbercutter, rabbitter and was always a unionist

First edition, published by The Bulletin, 1959
1964 edition

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Biography


John Meredith - Tritton, Harold Percy Croydon (1886–1965), Australian Dictionary of Biography,
http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/tritton-harold-percy-croydon-8854/text15541


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Duke's death as reported in Singabout, 5(3), July 1965, pages 14 & 15, an abridgment of the Obituary in the Sydney Morning Herald, 22nd May 1965

 












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Songs & poems written by Duke & published in Singabout, the Journal of Australian Folksong


Shearing in a Bar,  2(1)





 




































The Goose-Neck Spurs, composed during the 1905 shearing season.  3(3)




  

Ringing on Gummin -  3(4)
 



The Great Northern Line - 4(4)


 

Wild Driver - tune Wild Rover, 6(1)
 


The Sandy Hollow Line, 6(1)
 


Recitation - Stooking Hay - 6(2)




new verse to traditional song The Shores of Botany Bay,  6(2)

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Duke & BMC








Original sign for Tritton Hall

New sign created by Helen Romeo, 2014


Singabout, 2(1)


 Duke & Concert Party at Gulgong, 1959 



 extract from Origins of the Australian Folk Revival - A tribute to the pioneer field collectors of the 1950s by Keith McKenry (c)1997  http://folkstream.com/reviews/revival/origin.html

The songs collected by Meredith from Duke include

Goorianawa (Only collected version)
Travelling Down the Castlereagh
Ballad of the Drover (fragment) (First collected version)
Taking His Chance (Lawson) (First sung version)
Ten Thousand Miles Away
The Shores of Botany Bay (Only collected version)
The Golden West (First collected version)
The Great Northern Line (Only collected version)
The Dying Stockman
Shearing at Castlereagh (Only collected version)
Ringbarking (Tritton)(Only collected version)
The War Correspondent (Only collected version)
Tambaroora Gold (First collected version)
Old Bark Hut
Wild Colonial Boy
Drover's Dream
Good For a Rush or a Rally (Only collected version)
Interestingly, John Meredith, focussing for cost reasons solely on traditional material, passes up Duke's offer to sing for him several songs he wrote himself in his early days on the track. As a result John does not collect from Duke his greatest song, Shearing in a Bar. This honour goes to Alan Scott. Alan also records from Duke the only collected sung version of Lawson's poem Cobb & Co, and another original composition by Duke, Goose Necked Spurs.

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The Four Capitals Folk Song Tour

3 extracts from

http://www.warrenfahey.com/not-just-another-folk-concert-recalling-the-four-capitals-tour/

Not Just Another Folk Concert - Recalling the Four capitals Folk Tour by Malcolm J. Turnbull, originally published in Trad & Now, Winter 2005
 
... Promoted as “the first travelling package-deal of genuine folk in this country”, Four Capitals was an initiative of the Union movement ...
... Four Capitals offered east coast audiences an unusual opportunity to see, gathered on a single stage, nine influential singers drawn from the Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane folk scenes ...
... ‘Duke’ Tritton, a 78-year old former shearer and AWU organiser, added a touch of authenticity through renditions of his own backblocks compositions. (Venerated as the “real thing” by traditionalists, Tritton was a founding member of the Sydney Bush Music Club and had made pioneer field recordings for John Meredith) ...


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Songs about Duke


Duke's Song by Gary Shearston

 

 
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Ode to Duke Tritton by Mike Martin

If “Time means tucker”, then tramp you must
You can always sing for your supper, pass the hat and busk
You took a bite out of life, made a dream come true
Never to let life make a meal out of you.

You crossed the great divide, the plains and red dust
Where there’s seldom a track that a man can trust
You worked for your rations, carried water by your side
Never one to run, you were never one to hide.

Chorus
All day long through the dust and the heat
You carried your swag outback.

A pen full of cobblers is a shearers dream of hell
You’ll only shear your hundred in a shed that breeds them well
Good enough to pick a stand, for next seasons run
Never a ringer, you were never a gun.

You drove the cattle south, you fenced in rough terrain
You camped on the river bend, left the drinking to other men
You loved those country shows and in the boxing tent were known
Never a fighter, you were never a pro.

Chorus

You sniffed at the gold, caught the fever in your soul
Always seeking that elusive, that nugget of gold
You panned and you slushed, you dug and shot the hole
Never to stop, you were never too old

So, if time means tucker then tramp you must
You can always sing for your supper, pass the hat and busk
You took a bite out of life, made a dream come true
Never to let life make a meal out of you

Chorus

The Duke, Dutchy and Lawson, were the ones who wrote this song
I’m just a singer to pass their words along
But if you’re dealt the same cards, then tramp you must
Never put your faith in the dealer, in your dreams you must trust

And all day long in the dust and the heat
you must carry your swag out back

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all photos & scans - BMC archives


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