The Australian Ladies

February 17, 2014 on 7:40 pm by Michael Grey | In Delightful Data of the Day, Photographs, Pipe Bands, Stories | Comments Off on The Australian Ladies

Here’s a neat old picture: a postcard from 1926. Here we have “The Australian Ladies”. The inspiration for William Fergusson’s great pipe tune.

“The Australian Ladies”, you’ll know, is a famous pipe tune written by said Pipe Major Fergusson, the gifted composer and pipe major of one of the first shit-hot, back-in-the-day [1920s], civvy bands, Glasgow’s Clan MacRae Society [see the 2/4 march by the same name that pipe bands love to play – “Clan MacRae Society” – yet for some reason, cause it’s my blog, I have to say, I just can’t appreciate].

We see from this that “The Australian Ladies” were all ladies (Drum Major aside, as far as we can tell) and all “Australian-born”. What a great novelty story for the time: “female pipe band from Oz travels to the UK”. They must’ve been something special to have Harry Lauder as patron – he was as famous back then as our Madge is today.

The inspiration for Wm Fergusson's great pipe tune

Pipe bands on postcards: remarkable, really. Who would have thought anyone would have cared.

I think this is a great look-in to the novelty and status of pipe bands of the time and – really – more importantly – the novelty of trans-Atlantic travel … especially by an all-female band of the 1920s – all the way from Australia.

In the 1920s it was a 30 to 40 days sail to the UK from Oz! Think about the commitment.

“The Australian Ladies”: a really great march in 2/4 time, too. Makes a fine fiddle tune – fiddlers, especially in Cape Breton, love it.

And the band’s pipie, Dolly McPherson: surely the best Pipe Major’s name ever.


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