Songs for Social Justice at the Nash

Bob with his framed award from the National Folk Festival 2022

At our age, you take the chances when they come and that is why we are heading, by invitation, to the National Folk Festival at Easter.

As one of the Alistair Hulett Songs for Social Justice awardees, we have been invited to perform Bob’s song When Whitlam Took His Turn At The Wheel at this year’s festival. The song took out the award in 2022, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Whitlam government’s election.

A special concert is being presented at the National Folk festival as a tribute to the late Alistair Hulett, whose family set up the award. Sadly, it is now coming to an end, with the announcement of the 2024 awardee on Easter Monday.

The Singing for Social Justice Concert will be staged at the Budawang on Saturday March 30 from 10am to 11.20am. Concert organiser John Sutton has eight awardees lined up to perform their winning songs.

Previous winners of the Alistair Hulett songwriting award include Snez, Paddy McHugh, Karen Law, Penelope Swales and Fred Smith.

Alistair Hulett, who died in 2010 aged 58, was a Scottish-born singer-songwriter. He moved with his family to New Zealand and then subsequently to Australia, where he became known as the front man for the folk punk band Roaring Jack.

His best-known songs include He Fades Away (about an asbestos miner), Song of a Drinking Man’s Wife, and a powerful ballad known as The Swaggies. His songs have won awards and been recorded by  well-known folk performers including Roy Bailey, Nancy Kerr and James Fagan, Andy Irvine and June Tabor.

We are quite likely to pop up at open mikes or sessions, so if you are at the National in Canberra this year, come and say g’day.


Author: Bob Wilson

musician, journalist, webmaster