The Spooky Men's Chorale
|This article relies too much on references to primary sources. (January 2014)|
|The Spooky Men's Chorale|
|Origin||Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia|
The Spooky Men's Chorale are a group of Australian male singers. Most reside in the Blue Mountains region of New South Wales, but some are from Western Australia. Their repertoire consists largely of songs either written or arranged by their director (or "spookmeister") Stephen Taberner, on topics ranging from power tools to covers of ABBA songs. They also perform traditional Georgian music, a major influence on their compositions, harmonies and vocal style.
The group performs in a humorous, idiosyncratic manner that is informed by archetypal male behaviour and demeanour.
"It is not possible to state when the existence of the Spooky Men first came to light . Early settlers in the Blue Mountains reported attacks on livestock and evidence of scats and the occasional pawprint. It is only in recent years that sceptics have been disabused of the notion that the Spooky Men's Chorale is the stuff of fanciful legend." 
The Spooky Men's Chorale were created by Stephen Taberner and made their first appearance in August 2001 as part of an evening called "This was nearly my life" at Paddington Uniting Church, Sydney. Taberner claims he called up every man he knew who could sing and "taught them 3 songs, and asked them to show up wearing black and with an interesting hat." The three songs were "Vineyard", a Georgian church song, "Georgia", a mock Georgian original, and "The Mess Song". The latter was an existential rumination on the aftermath of breakfast written by New Zealand’s Don McGlashan and Harry Sinclair of The Front Lawn.[not in citation given]
In the first couple of years the group performed and rehearsed sporadically until the National Folk Festival of Easter 2004, held in Canberra, which effectively launched the group and where, thereafter, they became cult figures. The gig at the National was also the debut of what would become the Spooky theme song ("We are the Spooky Men, We dream of mastodons ...") which typified the brand of humour they were beginning to define. The attention received at the National Folk Festival in 2004 gave rise to a series of opportunities to put their music before a wider audience. This included a wide range of festivals in Australia, appearances on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and regular annual tours of the United Kingdom.
In the words of Taberner, the Spooky Men's Chorale is still "a work in progress, and more than every so often we are no more than spectators to the pure spirit of manbooferie [sic] which inspires us."
The Spooky Men's Chorale typically perform with between 12 to 16 singers, the exact number at any one time depending on the particular circumstances, locations and so on. When touring in the UK, the group are joined by some local singers.
- Tooled Up (2005)
- Stop Scratching It (2007)
- Urban Sea Shanties (2009) - Fred Smith and the Spooky Men's Chorale
- Deep (2009) with DVD
- The Spooky Man in History (2013)
- Big (2011) containing three tracks ("Big", "The Thing", "The Man in the 17th Row")
The group mainly performs in Australia, appearing regularly at the National Folk Festival and other similar events. Since 2006 the group have regularly toured in Britain, including gigs at various festivals such as the Sidmouth Folk Week, Shrewsbury Folk Festival and the Towersey Village Festival.
- The Origins of the Spookymen
- “The foolishness came later” - a history of the spookymen Stephen Taberner's Blog, 2 June 2010
- The Front Lawn (1993) More Songs from the Front Lawn.