We all have them. Sometimes they take a long time to become visible. I've been planting seeds for years in a attempt to bring my grandfather Jack O'Hagan's story and music back into focus. The State Library of Victoria supported my cause with a Creative Fellowship in 2012 and continues to offer much appreciated encouragement and assistance. My friend and neighbour, Bill Armstrong, has provided unwavering support and enthusiasm. Bill introduced me to Barry Humphries a few years ago and I could not wish for two greater champions than these.
Barry Humphries, as artistic director of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2015, celebrated the legendary baritone Peter Dawson and composer Jack O’Hagan in the world premier of Peter & Jack on 7 June 2015. Jack O’Hagan wrote many wonderful songs. The audience knew the Australian standards Along the Road to Gundagai, Where the Dog Sits on the Tuckerbox and Our Don Bradman. But it’s the songs and stories that are almost forgotten that enlightened them to what a great talent Jack was. As Barry said to me when we met, ‘If Jack had been born in America, he would have been world famous’. So now we have the Peter & Jack show, the website, Facebook and You Tube Channel with the biography close to completion. It's been a long haul but now that I have something to see it's immensely satisfying.
Long live the 'love' job!
'Peter & Jack', Barry and us.
Adelaide Cabaret Festival.
Credit: Left to right, Jack’s grand daughters Janine Dauncey and Jo Gilbert, with Barry Humphries and Eve Gilbert, Jack’s great grand daughter.
Peter & Jack was a huge success. Barry Humphries was narrator, Rodney Fisher writer director, Vanessa Scammell musical director, baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes, soprano Greta Bradman and The Idea of North the singers, with The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and the Voice of Transition Choir. You couldn't ask for a better combination of wonderfully talented and passionate people.
I contributed research from the biography I have almost completed on Jack and worked closely on development with Barry, Rodney and Vanessa. The show was sold out and given a standing ovation. Backstage everyone involved said they loved working on such 'big' songs. Two of Jack's granddaughters were there - my sister Janine Dauncey and myself - and one of his great granddaughters - Eve Gilbert.
The reviews have been fantastic - here's a few quotes:
'Peter & Jack was a major historic 'piece de resistance'. It was an incredible artistic achievement of national significance. We all learned with pride what great artists Peter and Jack were."
– Frank Ford, Adelaide Festival Centre
'More than a nostalgia trip, Peter and Jack was a revelation'.
– Murray Bramwell, The Australian
'No glitter, no glamour, no gladdies, no need. An elegant, sophisticated, poised man, chatting to his buddies about two dinky-di Aussies, baritone Peter Dawson and songwriter Jack O’Hagan. If they were Americans, he fulminates, there would be streets, towns named after them, museums of their stuff “including their underwear”. But here? No statues, no theatres named for them. Shame on us. This concert set out to tell us why, and did, via the songs Peter made famous by singing them around the world and those penned by Jack, all delivered by ultra-worthy performers...A triumph. Lucky, lucky us'.
– Elizabeth Silsbury, The Advertiser, Adelaide Now
'Mr Humphries et al, you had us at Gundagai...'
– Gordon Forester, Limelight Magazine
Check out the website www.jackohagan.com.au for some 1931 footage of Jack performing his own songs, directed by Frank Thring Senior, Efftee Entertainers.