Recording with the MSFC – through time

Recording with the MSFC – through time
Type of post: Group news item
Posted By: Michelle Herbison
Status: Current
Date Posted: Wed, 12 Jun 2019
This new regular series tracks the history of the famous Melbourne Scottish Fiddle Club through time, by Judy Turner, the club’s founder and former leader. 
Listening to the wonderful collection on Sea to Sky, I thought back to earlier, less polished, recordings, where the skills were less, but the spirit was the same. 
Our first album was Red Hot Scots, recorded in 1999 by the late, great Hugh McDonald. We could afford him because we all ate a lot of chocolate after former member Michael Kilpatrick organised a chocolate bar sale fundraiser. PLC music building was the site (we also returned there for our second recording). 
The album was memorable for many reasons – for making people get serious about practice, for being our first, for being launched at The Boite in Mark Street, Fitzroy, to a doting crowd of about 100 people, and for the astonishing feat of hitting the heights of the charts. 
Scottish expat John McAuslan – former Director of Brunswick Music Festival was persuaded to recite the epic ballad Tam Lin while the club played the reel of the same name, first in D minor then in A minor, with harmonies arranged by former member Hamish Davidson. We thought we were fabulous, and this track actually made us a lot of money from online sales – over $2k, enough to record the second album Reel Cool, in 2002. 
Both the albums were recorded by Hugh whose hilarity gave recording weekends a special flavour. As did the food, then provided by Louise Schwall-Kearney, mother of Pria, who organised the first outing of the cool young people, on the second album. That track, called ‘Teenagers Go Nuts’, was led by Pria and featured some great French-Canadian tunes which are very worth tracking down. 
Also on Reel Cool we featured Sarah Davies (Canberra fiddler) and Chris Stone (now director of Stringmania) as young hotshot players. They would have been 16 or so when we made the record in 2002. Cover art for the first two records was done by the incredibly talented former member Lisa Christensen, who at the time was a stamp designer for Australia Post. Used to working in confined spaces, Lisa was able to pack in everything we needed for the covers. She also designed the logo still in use today, the tartan and the fiddle. 
We decided early on to produce tune books to accompany each of the CDs – lots of work by lots of people, especially Sue Darby O’Leary. You can still buy them from our website or find them online at the MSFC member resources pages. It was the tune books as well as the gigs at festivals around Australia that led to MSFC becoming known as ‘the mother-ship’ of Scottish fiddling in Australia. 
For more on the history of the famous MSFC, watch this space!

Photos courtesy Sue Darby-O'Leary. 

Above: We used to rehearse at a church hall in Heidelberg and the festival was around the corner in Heidelberg Park. Judy Turner is towards the left  of the photo, Pria Schwall-Kearney nearby then Shannon O'Leary, Ailsa Davidson (sister to Hamish and Lachlan Davidson), Kate O'Leary in front, behind her is Michael Kilpatrick, then one of the Davidsons, then Athalie Brooks. Neil Adam was there too.

Below: The other photo was taken at the Nash in 2000 where the group was busking - left to right Pria Schwall-Kearney, Shannon O'Leary, Colleen Butler, Ailsa Davidson, Kate O'Leary, Neil Adam.