BUSH DANCERS: Band members (from left) Peter Elsworth (lagerphone), Des Bliesner (rhythm guitar), Tony King (bass guitar) and Shauna Robinson (violin).
BUSH DANCERS: Band members (from left) Peter Elsworth (lagerphone), Des Bliesner (rhythm guitar), Tony King (bass guitar) and Shauna Robinson (violin). Contributed

Bush band teaches history through dance

BUSH band the Band-O-Coots are kept together by the passion of their late friend.

The band was originally formed through Toowoomba's St Ursula's College by teacher John Pyke, who had a passion for bush music and Australian history.

When Mr Pyke passed away suddenly in 2012 at age 58, the band knew they had to keep his dream alive.

Though there have been a few member changes since Mr Pyke, lagerphone player Peter Elsworth said his love for Australian history is still what motivates them.

"Our history is full of so many colourful characters and events and we get so much joy passing it on," Mr Elsworth said.

The Band-O-Coots will bring their musical history lessons to Warwick for the BUSHdance event this Saturday in Leslie Park.

Mr Elsworth said the beauty of bush dance was in its accessibility and storytelling.

"Bush music is not widely popular anymore so neither are the dances, everyone is on a level playing field," he said.

Mr Elsworth said much of bush music's style came from Irish and Scottish settlers and the need to reinterpret the works of Australian bush poets like Henry Lawson.

"Many of the songs were born out of the shearing sheds - we do a song about Jackie Howe from Warwick who was the best shearer in the country," he said.

"They were written so people travelling around the country would be able to tell stories about what they had seen."

The Band-O-Coots have been coming to Warwick for the BUSHdance event for four years, but this year will be the first time they will be performing in an outdoor setting.

"We are excited for the new format, hopefully people see us walking past and come down for a dance."

The dance is from 11am-3pm at Leslie Park on Saturday and is free to attend.



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