Indie, Pop, Rock
David Beniuk: Acoustic guitar, lead vocals Johnno Beniuk: Electric guitar, harmonies David Challenger : Electric guitar, harmonies David Crowe: Drums, harmonies Marco Forlano: Keyboards, piano accordion Malcolm Wales: Bass
They were such handsome boys back then, in those pre hair-product days.
Nineties folk/pop faves the Merry Widows are back. The line-up might have evolved, but the band’s passion for playing original cerebral pop songs and energetic live shows remains undiminished.
The Widows include David Beniuk, brother Johnno, and David Challenger.
Beniuk went on to release five critically acclaimed solo albums and become an award-winning singer-songwriter on the folk circuit, while Johnno joined legendary garage grunge band The Unheard and pursued projects with members of Tumbleweed and The Stems.
Challenger worked as a journalist for CNN in Hong Kong for almost a decade, before returning to record and tour his solo catalogue in 2014. He switches from bass to electric guitar for the reunion shows, while original drummer Tim Beniuk is replaced by The Mustard’s Dave Crowe.
Marco Forlano has joined on keyboards/accordion, and Mal Wales will play bass.
A favourite opening act for the likes of Bob Geldof, Died Pretty, Weddings Parties Anything, Richard Clapton and Hunters and Collectors, the group released an EP, Waltz, in 1994.
Reviews described them as “the poetry of Paul Kelly mixed with the serious intent of Midnight Oil”, likening them to influences the Go Betweens, REM, Crowded House and WPA.
The Merry Widow Waltz was the tune interrupted at a Parliament House grand ball to announce the death of the great Prime Minister Ben Chifley in 1951 – hence the band’s name.
Politically conscious in their heyday, the Widows keep up the fight with a reunion EP including new songs Password and Sky and the Sea.
Password is just the second co-write by Beniuk and Challenger, who previously teamed up to pen the Triple J-played My Beautiful Girl Harbour in 1992.
The new track is a love song from the metadata-gathering state, which croons: “I know your password now.”
Merry Widows Fact Sheet
- Formed in Wollongong, NSW, and together1992-95.
- Released single The Perfect Wave, 1992.
- Runners-up Triple J National Campus Band Competition, 1992.
- Recorded at Triple J studios with renowned producer Paul McKercher, 1992.
- Signed to Mighty Management, M Records and Harbour Agency, 1992.
- Released EP Waltz, 1994.
- Played more than 200 shows in Sydney, Wollongong, Canberra, Newcastle
- Played legendary Sydney venues the Metro, Annandale, Sandringham, Three Weeds.
- Opened for the likes of Bob Geldof, Weddings Parties Anything, Yothu Yindi, Hunters and Collectors, Things of Stone and Wood, Shane Howard, Richard Clapton, Died Pretty.
- Includes member David Beniuk, who has lived in Hobart for four years and is a journalist at The Mercury in Hobart. David has made five solo CDs, received a five-star review in The Australian and played the Woodford, Port Fairy and National Folk Festivals. In Tasmania, he has played the Cygnet Folk Festival four times, Mona, the Republic and opened for touring Americans Kristina Olsen and Old Man Luedecke. His latest album, The New Normal, was ABC Tasmania’s album of the week in March 2015.
- Includes member Johnno Beniuk, a member of Tumbleweed offshoot The Unheard.
- Includes member David Challenger, a former CNN journalist and United Nations worker who successfully recorded and toured his solo work in 2014.
- Play high-energy acoustic pop considered a cross between Weddings Parties Anything and the Go Betweens.
- Reforming after 21 years with a new independent EP.
Merry Widows Reunion Tour Dates
Friday, July 1 – The Brewery, Wollongong with The Mustard, Denise Thomas
Saturday, July 2 – LazyBones, Marrickville with The Guilty Three, Steve Robinson
Saturday, July 9 – Dicey Riley’s, Wollongong with Svegies Vegies, Bruno JC Kelly
Saturday, July 23 – The Homestead, Hobart with Dominic Francis Grief Ensemble, Teri Young.