Their grandmothers came up with the band's name

MUSICAL FORCE: The Waifs, comprising Vikki Thorn, front left, Donna Simpson and 
Josh Cunningham, will perform in Port Pirie.
MUSICAL FORCE: The Waifs, comprising Vikki Thorn, front left, Donna Simpson and Josh Cunningham, will perform in Port Pirie.

The stray talents of The Waifs were first recognised by a couple of senior citizens.

The band formed in Broome, Western Australia, in 1992 when wandering musician Josh Cunningham met sisters Vikki Thorn and Donna Simpson, also troubadours.

“Our paths crossed and there was a bit of musical and personal chemistry and we joined up,” Josh said.

“We kept travelling the country and visited our grandparents. Both my grandmother and the girls’ grandmother described us as ‘waifs’ when they saw us.

“That was 26 years ago. The name kind of chose us.”

The name kind of chose us

Josh Cunningham

For the record, “waif” means something found, especially a stray animal, whose owner is not known.

The Old French language roots go back to “gayf” meaning stray, wandering, vagabond.

But the band has now made its own history with a selection of albums including the song London Still. Their latest single is Higher Ground, a bluesy, groove-based tune. Josh spoke to The Recorder by phone in an interview interrupted  by sneezes because he was too close to a pot of flowers.

The band will perform at the Keith Michell Theatre on Wednesday, October 3.

Josh, who lives on the New South Wales coast, said he had visited Port Pirie previously during a trip exploring the South Australia coast.

“I explored every peninsula in SA and really, really loved the area – beautiful,” he said.

He plays guitar, ukulele and banjo while Donna and Vikki do the bulk of the singing.

Their new double-album, Ironbark, marked their 25th anniversary as a band last year.

“The songs came together in a pretty organic way in my unfinished house on the south coast,” he said. “We all write songs. We don’t tend to write things together (sneeze),” he said.

He said the show would feature the group’s classic songs and extend the celebrations from last year’s 25th anniversary.

“There are lots of songs to choose from,” he said proudly. After being told of Port Pirie’s rich heritage of bandsmen and singers, he said: “There is nothing like live music.” 

One of the most popular songs in the concert is certain to be London Still, the lament of an Aussie girl in the England capital reminiscing about life Down Under and trying to embrace her fresh start overseas.

It was written by Donna Simpson, who imparts a wry Aussie accent to the lyrics. 

The original members are backed by a drummer and bassist.