Defiantly modern, achingly old, this most daring of Australian bush bands from Melbourne, Australia perform songs of criminal women and desperate men from an era of transportation, adventure and gold.
The Guardian described fiddle-singer and band leader Jenny M. Thomas as an ‘Edgy rising folk star’, The Unthanks invited them to perform at their own festival and together with double bassist Dan Witton and drummer Chris Lewis they toured the UK and Ireland in 2016 & 2017 with sold out concerts in London, 5 star reviews and performances at Festival No.6 and Shambala.
Bush Gothic’s latest release The Natural Selection Australian Songbook was chosen as a runner up for fRoots 2016 Album of the Year, BBC Magazines Best World Music Albums of 2016. Concerts in Australian gaols, concert halls and goldfields have been reviewed as ‘outstanding’, ‘mesmerising…utterly riveting’.
It was 2009 when Australian artist Jenny M. Thomas began a series of urban bush band sessions – gigs where every week a new crop of musicians would join her ‘bush band’ and improvise through a playlist of traditional Australian songs. Out of this series she picked only the bravest musicians to form her band, named after the system which transported convicts to Australian penal colonies. Initially known simply as ‘The System’. With Dan Witton on double bass, Chris Lewis on Drumkit and Jenny on fiddle-singing and piano, their first gig was a live-to-air broadcast on ABC Radio National’s ‘The Music Show’.
MonaFoma (Aus), Festival No.6 (Wales), Shambala Festival (England), Off The Tracks Festival (England), Tauranga Arts Festival (New Zealand) Rajasthan International Folk Festival (India), National Folk Festival (Aus), Port Fairy Folk Festival (Aus), Brunswick Music Festival (Aus), Castlemaine State Festival (Aus), Adelaide Fringe Festival (Aus), Cygnet Folk Festival (Aus)
Master of the rare art of singing and playing the fiddle at the same time, Jenny M. Thomas has had many musical adventures including rollerskating backwards whilst playing violin for Circus Oz, playing a Norwegian Hardanger solo with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra for the Lord of The Rings premiere, a solo concert series in Europe performing Indian classical violin plus a European tour with chamber- pop band ‘Naked Raven’. The release of her album “Farewell To Old England Forever” astonished the Australian folk scene with its collection of “Extraordinary, even revolutionary traditional Australian Folk songs” (The Canberra Times), winning a prestigious Golden Fiddle Award, inclusion in the Melbourne Herald Sun’s top ten CD picks for 2006 and rated as one of the four best CD's of 2006 by ABC Radio National’s ‘The Music Show’.
Festival Appearances include: Tanz and Folk Fest Germany, Villa Celimontana Jazz Festival Rome, Sidmouth Folk Festival UK, North American Folk Alliance Conference Memphis. Port Fairy Folk Festival Aus, Woodford Folk Festival AUS, National Folk Festival AUS. Mona Foma, Brunswick Music Festival, Castlemaine State Festival, Adelaide Fringe Festival, Cygnet Folk Festival, National Folk Festival, Turning Wave Festival, Majors Creek Folk Festival, Darebin Music Feast.
As a percussionist with a particular interest in the many textural and timbral possibilities of the drum kit, Chris Lewis brings a broad palate of musical eclecticism to Bush Gothic. He was the musical director for the world famous Circus Oz from 1998-2002 and again in 2009-2010,touring regularly throughout Europe, U.S. and Asia and Australia. In addition he has composed and performed, for many other Theatre /Circus Companies such as, Chamber Made Opera , Flying Fruit Fly Circus , Legs on the Wall , NICA & Dislocate . He is a regular on the Melbourne improvised music scene performing with many bands including, “Bohjass” , “SHOL quartet” and “Tim Pledgers Product” and continues to exercise his showbiz chops with seasoned cabaret rockers Fire & Theft .
Dan Witton has worked as a musician and theatre performer in a range of theatre companies and music ensembles. Work includes the State Opera of SA, Australian Opera, State Theatre Co SA, Circus Oz, ABC Television, Belvoir St Theatre, Strange Fruit, The Blue Grassy Knoll, Cosmo Cosmolino, The Urban Dream Capsule, Chamber Made Opera, Polyglot Theatre, Jumpleads, The Spooky Men's Chorale, Meow Meow and desoxy Theatre