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Olya and Rob Willis are well known for their work in collecting traditional Australian folk.

Rob and Olya Willis


 

Ebb Wren

Finding Ebb Wren
The Ebb Wren Story
The Performer
Dance Tunes

The Forbes Flood

 

Finding Ebb Wren

Ebb would amble into Rob Willis' shop and his raspy voice would announce "I've got another song for you Robbie". Irrespective of any customers who were present he would then sing it for him. Rob's next task was, of course, to record the latest contribution as soon as was practical.

Rob Willis first became aware of Ebb's vast reservoir of songs in the early 1980's and his actual recordings date from October 1984 to late 1990.

He introduced John Meredith to his mate Ebb and the extensive 'Wren' recordings are housed in the National Library of Australia's Meredith collection.

Rob realised there was more to Ebb than just his beloved music, his bush philosophies and attitudes were exciting and years ahead of time. He managed to fit about 120 years of interests into his true lifetime, and, as with many old-timers he was multi talented. Apart from his musical virtuosity on Piano and Button Accordions, Fiddle, Piano, Mouth Organ and Concertina he also tuned and repaired these instruments. A renowned bush mechanic, he could turn his hand to any form of mechanical contrivance, from large steam engines to small water pumps and hydraulic jacks.

Ebb was a qualified steam fireman and engine driver and worked for many years on the railways in this capacity. Some of his stories from these days will be recounted in this Monograph.

John Meredith also made a super 8 movie film of Ebb in 1990. it was to be the last time they recorded him. By this time the emphysema that plagued his latter years was causing him extreme breathing difficulties. Ebb in his usual manner battled on and completed the task. He sings, plays fiddle and piano in the film "Piano Man", the story of Ebb Wren. It is housed in the National Film and Sound Archive.

On numerous occasions Ebb would say:
"I only had to hear something afew times and! had it".
This may account for the large number of items that John Meredith and Rob Willis have recorded.

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