Our Story

The Water Runners hail from Kiama and Gerringong, South Coast NSW Australia, and have become a popular act at pubs, clubs, festivals and other events in the Illawarra, Shoalhaven, the Snowy's, far South Coast, Sydney and beyond. They play a high energy blend of original, bluegrass-infused Australian folk that also draws on country, roots and traditional folk.

John Littrich (guitar, vocals, harmonica) and Neil McCann (banjo, mandolin, backing vocals) have played in various bands and made music together for over 25 years. Together with friend Paul McGee,  John and Neil have received many top 10 ASA (Australian Songwriters Association) song writing awards and were thrilled when UNICEF selected "Turn Down The Heat" to promote the State of the World Children's Report. Neil formerly played with Australian folk legends, Wongawilli.

On percussion and vocals, Dom Littrich (usually busy behind the kit in popular South Coast rockers, Pacific Avenue, rapping as Big Twisty or hanging with influencers The Inspired Unemployed) keeps things bouncing along. Due to recent success with these bands it is now unlikely for Dom to be available to play, however he features on all the albums.  In 2017, they were joined by Danita Harris on violin and sweet vocals. Danita has played in various bands including folk roots band Strung6teen and, more recently, the Garth Brooks Tribute Show. In mid July 2019 Clayton Condon, the young whiz on double bass got his wish and was called up to the army to work with helicopters! Fortunately, Gerringong double bass legend and dairy mechanic, James Turk (Salty), has been able to step into the breach and take up where Clayton left off.

The Water Runners have played at numerous festivals such as the Perisher Peak Festival, Kiama Folk By the Sea, Kiama Jazz and Blues, Kiama KISS ARTS Festival, Illawarra Folk Festival, Viva la Gong Wollongong, Jamberoo Music Festival, Folk in the Frost, Kangaroo Valley Folk Festival, Yass Irish and Celtic Festival, Sydney Folk Festival, Majors Creek Folk Festival, Yackandandah Folk Festival, Fleurieu Folk Festival, Bundanoon Folk Festival Cygnet Folk Festival and in 2020,22,23 Tamworth Country Music Festival (where in 2020 they were joined by the talented Jake Pember from The Button Collective.) They have supported international acts including Scotland's The Elephant Sessions and the USA's Chris Henry and the Hardcore Grass and played for the South Sydney Folk Club, The Loaded Dog, The Troubadour Folk Club at Woy Woy and The Illawarra Folk Club. Apart from many local venues, they have played at pubs and other venues up and down the east coast including The Servo at Port Kembla, The Heritage at Bulli, Upstairs at Fred's at Camden, 3 weekend residencies at the Tathra Hotel along with Sydney venues: The Gasoline Pony, The Newsagency, Upstairs at Yullis, Petersham Bowling Club, The Manly Fig and Lazy Bones. In late 2021 they were commissioned to play Blighty Hall and Borroorban Hall for New South Wales South West Regional Music Conservatorium which was a real treat!

Their EP, Too Young To Be This Old, was released in 2016, followed by their first album, Heading South, in early 2017. The Water Runners have twice been runners up in the Illawarra Folk Festival Song competition and in in 2018 received a Kiama Council Cultural Grant to help with the recording of a new album incorporating songs based on local stories. That album, Point of No Return, recorded at Kangaroo Valley under the guiding hand of Australian bluegrass legend, John Kane (The Flying Emus), was finished in January 2019, launched in April 2019 and can be purchased from this website.

As a result of the devastating  South Coast New Years Eve Bushfires, The Water Runners wrote a song called The End Of The Year and recorded it after encouragement received from audiences who heard it at The Illawarra Folk Festival and Tamworth Country Music Festival. It is available from this website as a free download.

In April 2020 The Water Runners played several Live Stream gigs for the Social Distance Inn as well as performing for the Kiama Sea Tunes Live Stream-notching up over 5000 views on each occasion. They have been interviewed by multiple radio stations including in the UK, and received great airplay and exposure. At the end of 2020 they won Best Band and Second place in the Open Category for The Australian National Busking Championships which was held online. 

In Sydney Jan 2021, they recorded a brand new album Further Down the Road with multiple award winning producer Matt Fell ABC (The Recording Studio) which was released in July 2021. They were also delighted to be selected to perform for Sounds Australia and Folk Alliance Folk Unlocked Iso-laid Festival 2021 which streamed internationally. Another honour has been a nomination for The People's Choice Award from Australian Folk Alliance. As a result they played at The National Folk Festival held Easter in Canberra 2022. They were also awarded finalists in the 2022 Songs for Social Change Renaissance Artists and Writers Association song contest, competing against other songwriters from across the globe. In 2023 they won the  Judith Crossley song writing award at South Australia’s  Fleurieu Folk Festival. 

The Water Runners sing songs of bushrangers, Aboriginal warriors, grisly murders and ghostly tales...as well as the odd song about love and, of course, love gone wrong. They especially love to sing about south coast (Dharawal and Yuin country) and look forward to bringing their special blend of music to somewhere near you soon. In the meantime, they'll be writing more songs,  performing wherever they can...and tuning the banjo!

Awards and Achievements

John Littrich, Neil McCann, Paul McGee.

2010 ASA songwriters’ award. 8th place in Songs for Children Category with Rockalot.

2010 ASA songwriters’ award. 6th place in Australian Category with Lest We Forget.

2010 Commissioned to write an album of songs for the Illawarra Children’s Services Blast Off.

2011 UNICEF State of the World’s Children Report Used Turn down the Heat to promote.

2011 ASA songwriters’ award. 8th place in Australian Category with Australia Remembers.

2011 ASA songwriters’ award. 9th place in Songs for Children Category with Happy Mother’s Day.

2012 ASA songwriters’ award. 10th place in Spiritual Category with Five Thousand People.

2012 ASA songwriters’ award. 2nd place in Songs for Children Category with Father’s Day.

2014 ASA songwriters’ award. 5th place Australian Category with John Simpson Kirkpatrick.

2016 Tamworth Songwriters Association Award Semi-finalist Anzac Song of the Year for Mothers Arms.

The Water Runners.

2017 Tamworth Songwriters Associations Semi-finalist Alt Country/Roots/Bluegrass section for Kate Kelly's Dream

2017 Illawarra Folk Festival Song Writing Competition. 2nd Place with Too Young To Be This Old

2018 Illawarra Folk Festival Song Writing Competition. 2nd Place with Pemulwuy

2018 Kiama Council Cultural Grant

2020 Tamworth Songwriters Association  Semi-finalist Bush Ballad Section for The Braidwood Mail and Gospel Lay That Burden Down

2020 Tamworth Songwriters Association Finalist Bluegrass Song of the Year The Point Of No Return

2020 Australian National Busking Championships Winner Best Band and second place Open Category.

2021 Sounds Australia and Folk Alliance International selected Australian artist for Folk Unlocked Iso-Laid On line festival.

2021  Folk Alliance Australia Finalists Australian Folk Music People's Choice Award

2021 Tamworth Songwriters Association Semi-finalists Bluegrass section for Fire in the Stone and Stand on Your Own Two feet, Traditional Country Song Woodhill Mountain and Take Me Home, Alternate Country Eureka and Gospel Further Down The Road

2021 New South Wales South West Regional Music Conservatorium. Commissioned to play Blighty Hall and Borroorban Hall 

2022  Australian Country Music Peoples Choice Finalists Best Song- Stand On Your Own Two Feet

2022 Renaissance Artists and Writers Association (International) Finalist in the Songs for Social Change 2022 song contest with Water From The Well

2023 Winners of the Judith Crossley Memorial Songwriting Award Fleurieu Folk Festival South Australia with the song The Emily Smith

2023 Regional Arts Australia/Nsw Funding to attend Cygnet Folk Festival.

2023 Tamworth Songwriters Association Semi-finalists Murrumbigee and Light at The End of the Road


First Place in the Judith Crossley Song Writing Award, Fleurieu Folk Festival