Australian Bush Ballad Judging Guidelines
 
The following compiled and approved by A.B.B.A. Committee, Bush Balladeer identities and Judges.
August 2004
GUIDELINES - JUDGING OF AUSTRALIAN BUSH BALLADS AT FESTIVALS ETC.

There should be 2 CATEGORIES for BUSH BALLAD CONTEMPORARY & TRADITIONAL BUSH BALLAD.


The Traditional Bush Ballad should be judged from songs deemed to be sung in the traditional way, ie: in the style of artists/albums from Stan Coster, Glenn Jones, Dean Perrett (The Real Thing, Kings In Grass Castles), Reg Poole (When The Big Mobs Come Down To Bourke), Brian Young, Ernie Constance, Ian Quinn, Keith Jamieson (Picture Of Australia), and Slim Dusty (West Of Winton, Cattlemen From The High Plains, The Man Who Steadies The Lead)
The songs 'Leave him in the Long yard' and 'Ballad of Camooweal' in the original Slim Dusty arrangement are true bush ballads and should be used as part of the platform to judge a Traditional Bush Ballad.

The Lee Kernaghan version of 'Leave Him In The Long Yard' from the album 'Three Chain Road' is delivered in a Contemporary Bush Ballad style. The best way to distinguish between the two is to study the two versions at the same time, the difference is obvious.
There are contemporary versions of these songs eg, Slim Dusty's version of the 'Rain Tumbles Down In July' is delivered in Traditional Bush Ballad style, whilst the Graham Connors version is Contemporary Bush Ballad.
'Diamantina Drover' is a Contemporary Bush Ballad in its original form, unless played with pick and strum in bush ballad style then it would become Traditional Bush Ballad.

Hillbilly Ballad is typified in many of the songs of the late Buddy Williams/Tex Morton often with references to 'prairies' yodelling, "ranches" etc, and artists performing such works are deemed 'hillbillies' and not in the category of either Bush Ballad sections.
Australiana/folk/Bush Music does not constitute a Traditional Bush Ballad.
Rodeo songs have always been a part of Australian Bush Ballad music. Examples; "Isa Rodeo", Old Riders In The Grandstand", "Warwick Rodeo". The word 'cowboy' has been excepted the world over since rodeo stepped onto the international stage. Therefore, if the song is delivered curtailing to the above requirements and not in the context of ' Mama's Don't Let Your babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys' then that may be accepted as a bush ballad song.

WHAT DEFINES A TRADITIONAL AUSTRALIAN BUSH BALLAD
The Australian Traditional Bush Ballad lyric/music is drawn from the Slim Dusty/Stan Coster style and this can either be a song/narration in verses plus choruses (refrains) or just verses alone. The same song structure applies to the Contemporary Bush Ballads.
The Pick n' Strum is one of the dominating factors regarding a Traditional Bush Ballad, while the Contemporary style guitar (finger picking/strumming/rock styles) move the song from the Traditional Bush Ballad realm to the Contemporary Bush Ballad.
Pick n' Strum' (Bush ballad guitar) is defined by the thumb/flat 'pick' striking the top root note of the chord and the following 'strum' playing the remainder of the chord, followed by an alternate root note and the following 'strum' playing the remainder of the chord.
No ' Americanisms' should be used in the Traditional Bush Ballad or the Contemporary Bush Ballad.

ALL AUSTRALIAN BUSH BALLAD TRADITIONAL OR CONTEMPORARY SECTION VOCALISTS -
MUST USE AUSTRALIAN ACCENT (unless the performer is of international origin.)

To define bush ballad musical backing, starting at the bottom;
Firstly - Pick and Strum Guitar. Ballads may contain Drums, Electric Guitar, Electric Bass, Banjo, Mandolin, Fiddle, Harmonica, Steel Guitar, Piano, Dobro or any instrument providing the bush ballad song structure indicated above is adhered to in the style of the albums mentioned above.
IN SUMMARY
TRADITIONAL BUSH BALLAD (EXAMPLE)

Stan Coster "Fire Of Gidgee Coals', Slim Dusty "Leave Him In The Long Yard", Reg Poole, "When The Big Mobs Come Down To Bourke" Slim Dusty ' Things Are Not The Same On The Land', Slim Dusty ' Paddy William', John Williamson 'Three Sons'. Material relating to heritage/past/present/country or city life within the above style of delivery.

CONTEMPORARY BUSH BALLAD (EXAMPLE)
John Williamson, "A Bushman Can't Survive", Graham Connors "Let The Cane Fields Burn" Lee Kernaghan eg, "Three Chain Road', 'Boys From the Bush' Sara Storer eg, album ' Beautiful Circle'. Material relating to heritage/past/present/country or city life within the above told in Contemporary style.
TRADITIONAL BUSH BALLAD REFERENCE ALBUM;
Slim Dusty - West Of Winton - defines most subject matters in the definition of Traditional Bush Ballad.
Footnote;
Festival Organisers should ensure the backing band for the traditional Bush Ballad section is supplied with a copy of this guideline so that they may present the contestant in either of these sections with the correct backing.
A Solo Bush Ballad vocalist (who does not play accompaniment to him/herself) would still be required to sing in the style of Slim Dusty/Stan Coster when performing in Traditional Bush Ballad section.
The above guidelines are for judging live performance or recorded material.

 
     
The Australian Bush Balladeers Association Incorporated. ABN : 75798 969 415