The Toongabbie Music Club was started in 1983 by folk singer/songwriter Sonia Bennett and a handful of people interested in playing music together. They all lived in the Greater Parramatta part of Sydney and the intention was to encourage local musicians to perform together. These people had independently or in groups of two or three played in various community settings, but there was no networking between them.
So the Club served as a focal point for professional, semi professional and amateur musicians to
For many of the people who have been involved since then (we have records for more than 150) this has been a powerful and valuable powerful personal experience
In the last three years, however, we have developed quite rapidly as a community resource by taking our music to many community facilities, nursing homes and the like. The Club has become a growing community activity.
The main driver for this has been the tremendous response performances receive from groups and the sense of contributing the group gets as a whole.
NSW Cancer Council,
Parramatta, Blacktown, Holroyd and Baulkham Hills Councils
Bushland 355 Committees
Parramatta’s Third Settlement Park Australia Day (past four years)
Nursing Homes and related facilities
Other local organizations. ( eg – ‘over 55 leisure and learning’)
We have also performed at many Australia Day functions and naturalization ceremonies.
All members of the Club give freely and generously of their time to perform at these functions. The number of members performing have varied from 2 to 15, with 10 about the average.
We have played at over 50 places with the numbers increasing markedly in the last 3 years.
There have been many funny moments over the years - like the day they cut off the power at Olympic Park or the day the wind was so strong that a Club member had to lie down in front of the band and hold our music stands from falling over! There have been times such as the Holroyd Council Historical Day where the audience stayed till dusk and wanted more ! There have been frustrations too . But this is all part of what makes community performance so real.
Many of our members have grown up in the area and have interesting tales to tell of old Parramatta . Some of our members have relatives who lived in the district in the 1890s and worked in the quarries for Moxhams. This links the recent past with the current Parramatta and is a valuable resource for the community in terms of historical information about the area. The Music Club has been a catalyst for this occurring. It is also how local history finds its way into songs written by members thus preserving it and making it part of the living tradition of folk music. A number of members have written and performed local songs and turned poems into songs.