The Story Of The Band

A photo of the group playing for the Bush Dance at the Kiama 'Folk By The Sea' Folk Festival. 2018

A photo of the group playing for the Bush Dance at the Kiama 'Folk By The Sea' Folk Festival. 2017

A photo of the group playing at the Wongawilli Bush Dance. The dancers were celebrating their 30th birthday. 2017

A photo of the group playing at the Wongawilli Bush Dance. 2017

A photo of the group near the Jamberoo Lodge at the Folk In The Foothills Festival. (missing the guitarist Ian.)

The very beginnings of the band 'No Such Thing' go back to around May 2000.

The seed was sewn for what would become the group after Yvonne O'Grady, a well known musician of the Australian folk scene, had attended performances of both the Sydney and the Melbourne Scottish Fiddle Orchestras.

Yvonne had the idea that Kiama local, Bill 'Monty' Montgomery, himself a Scottish fiddler who had a good resource of Scottish music, would be well placed to start up a Scottish fiddle group in the Illawarra area of NSW. Monty had already written a number of tunes himself (which would become very popular among folk groups in latter years).

A few musicians came together at Monty's place but the group didn't seem to take off. It was difficult to get everyone together on the same day and the music was, at times, quite difficult for some to play. Alan Musgrove was also in the Illawarra at this time. Alan was not only an accomplished musician but was also a collector of Australian folk tunes and a regular contributor of this music source to the Australian National Library archives. Yvonne felt that this music resource was being largely ignored and also felt that it would be easier to play than the Scottish tunes that the initial group were trying to master.

Left: Yvonne O'Grady, Bill 'Monty' Montgomery, Alan Musgrove.
Monty got together with Alan and a couple of others, Warwick 'Wal' Mann and Gerry Crilly so the group consisted of Monty on fiddle, Alan on guitar and fiddle, Gerry on fiddle, and Wal on guitar. Yvonne, being an accomplished piano accordian player, was also recruited at this time.

This small group would get together in Monty's garage on a Saturday and Yvonne would cook-up a pot of soup to keep them going. Again, it became difficult to get them together on a particular day so the get-together was moved to a Monday night down at Kath and Yvonne O'Grady's place which is also in Kiama. From this initial beginning, No Such Thing became a group that focussed on Australian session tunes.

The turn-out on a Monday evening would usually be three or four of the musicians - less if it was a rainy night - so the group started looking for recruits. In return for dinner, Alan began to teach Kath the mandolin and she was also recruited. This was to be the start of what would become the working ideology of the group, which was to take on inexperienced musicians and encourage them through the early periods of acquiring their musical skills and experience. The group quickly became a musical haven where adult beginners could come and be encouraged to learn tunes in a very positive environment, free of any criticism on their musical abilities. Many current and past members of the group were absolute beginners when they started.

Some other early members were Michael Byrne, a student staying with Kath and Yvonne for a time who played tenor banjo, and Rosie Wells, a local on Irish Whistle.

Right: An early shot of the members of No Such Thing at Kath and Yvonne's place.
The group had not been going too long before they were joined by a couple of fiddlers. One of these was Maria Perez, who originated from the Canary Islands and was a brilliant concert violinist and violin maker as well. Maria also lodged with the O'Grady's and taught Kath the rudiments of timing.

Another member to join at this time was Marion Coker (later Alexson) who had played piano but was learning the fiddle.

Stuart Leslie, a very experienced musician, joined in 2003 and is leader of the group today.

Left: Kath O'Grady, Stuart Lesley, Maria Perez (photo of Maria from a 2010 article by Tomothy Walker, ABC Hobart).
The group acquired its name around 2002. An Australian Scottish musician, when told that this group of musicians were playing collected traditional Australian bush dance tunes, gruffly responded with the assertion that there was 'no such thing' the name stuck and the band wears it with pride!!!!.

Up to this point, there was never an intention that the group would go out and play publicly. This changed, however, later that year the groups first public performance was to be at the Australian Folk Festival, which was held at Albion Park NSW at the time. It was also during this year that the group were lucky enough to have Eileen McCoy join them for a session.

Eileen was not only an accomplished fiddle player but she also wrote many tunes herself. She was living in Bega at the time but came up to Albion Park for the Australian festival. Monty and Yvonne knew Eileen and Alan had already collected her tunes and they were good friends.

Apart from Alan's collected tunes, No Such Thing were also playing a lot of Eileen's music.

Right: Eileen McCoy, Alan, and Yvonne (right hand side of image).
Word of the group quickly got around and they began to also play at folk clubs and folk festivals.

Left: A photo of the group in 2013 at the Stockcamp during The National Folk Festival.
The bands first compiled book of music, affectionately titled 'No Such thing - Tunes We Like To Play', is worthy of mention - It was borne from one of the members, Denis McKay, searching for some order to the scores of sheet music that would be distributed and played during the Monday evening sessions.

Denis put the book together, initially just for his own peace-of-mind, but it soon became a reference for all of those who could not play the tunes by ear. It then became a common catch-cry to hear someone call out 'what page is it on, Kath?' when the next tune to be played was decided on and Kath O'Grady would always come up with the page number from memory!!

Right: The No Such Thing songbook compiled by Denis McKay, Denis Mckay, the songbook in action.
In 2006 the group cut their first CD 'Going To The Barndance'.

The CD has sold quite well.

Warwick Mann, of Keirawood Studios at Mount Keira, and who had dropped out of the group as the guitar player, became the recording and sound engineer for the CD.

The group recently recorded a second CD titled 'Dancing Til Dawn' which was also recorded by Warwick Mann.

Left: The CD's of No Such Thing 'going To The Barndance' and 'Dancing Til Dawn'.
The tunes that No Such Thing play today include tunes written by Monty, Stuart, and Eileen. The group still meets every Monday evening at Kath and Yvonne's place and after the session there is always the much anticipated supper that Yvonne puts on.

At times, some musicians would stay back after the evening session and after the supper and might play tunes other than the Australian tunes.

No Such Thing has continued to attract both accomplished musicians and, because of the generous nature of the membership, those simply keen to work towards becoming accomplished musicians.

Left: Eileen McCoy, Bill 'Monty' Montgomery, Stuart Lesley.

No Such Thing plays dance music, so of course, there are the dancers.