Image Courtesy of Eirwen Skye
Shut The Folk Up! feat. Eirwen Skye, Billygoat and the Mongrels, The Green Mohair Suits, The Ryhmer From Ryde and Ron-G-Flex
26th May 2011, Hive Bar
Strangers linked arm in arm, open throats inviting additions to the rich cacophony of “CC Rider” bellowed mellowly across the inviting yellow sooth of the Hive Bar’s second floor by The Green Mohair Suits and Billygoat and the Mongrels. Girls atop the benches with hands at a height for hallelujah, dictating the rhythm of the room with a sway lazier then a Sunday morning. The sweet harmony and melody accompanied, equally overwhelming and welcoming, flooded over the folk club like ripples in a rock pool amidst a sea of kind kisses.
Though we never saw the folk revival of the 60’s and 70’s, and were not alive to witness the end of the Vietnam War or the celebrations that sung its closure on the streets, on record and within the tightly knit folk clicks that litter history, last night we had our own momentous folk moment.
As two bands melted together, harmonies embracing like the strangers all around, mandolin, accordion, bass, banjo, harmonica and guitar casting a warm web around the crowd, allowing vocals to roar, eyes to close and bodies to sway.
Upon completion, in abundance there lay a unity and understanding of the power and potential of community and of music. Shut the Folk UP as never before as our ascending generation of folk musicians were carefully handed the blessings of folkies long gone, with the greatest gift music can bring, unity.
Pardon my hyperbole.
Let’s start from the start. For nights to end on such a high there needs to be a flow and rhythm that prepares the universe for such swell and it started with Eirwen Skye. Draping lighted flower bulbs around her mic stand, this folk pixie delivered thickly rich emotive music, layered skilfully like a wedding cake. She wove guitar loops around each other, like schoolyard braids, adding percussion to link these loops to a heartbeat of rhythm. Her vocals then took hold as feathers on the breeze, painting her narratives effortlessly, filling the dimly lit room with soaring strokes of melodies and sweetly rich, edible harmonies.
To return things back to the word and the rhyme, we then turned to the one and only Rhymer from Ryde. A well known bush poet on the circuit, The Rhymer rhymed his way through a tight set of emotive and comical narratives. Dancing around his microphone, keeping the audience primed for his couplets, The Rhymer reminded Shut the Folk UP of the craft of bush poetry and why our man from Ryde is number one. Jumping from classical, war stained verse to laconic social commentary, from empathetic retellings of natural disasters to out and out humour, The Rhymer from Ryde entertained as a true professional. Our first Bush Poet at Shut the Folk UP, but hopefully not our last.
Next up we had one of Sydney’s best bands, Billygoat and the Mongrels. Fresh from a hiatus where the group worked in the studio, the band and the front man were in blistering form. Billygoat flooded the upstairs with his heartfelt bellow, pounding through a set of classic country covers from the likes of Hank Williams and Bob Dylan as well as the tragic and the life affirming originals he is known for. The two acoustic guitars and acoustic bass traded perfectly in the warm heart of folk club, with soundman Dave “Maddog” Perram layering mindful slide guitar across Billygoat’s purposeful strumming, anchored safely in the arms of the bass. Ending with a sing along that warmly warned of things to come, Billygoat and the Mongrels allowed the crowd to open their throats widely to the music, enticing life to pour forth in audible bites of epic delight.
Ron-G-Flex, the one and only, grabbed the mic soon after. A man known on the scene for the screaming reality and honesty of his poetry, Ron took hold with poems rich in experience, delivered like a final burst of life at first light of Sunday morning, with empty pockets and wild ideas. The crowd baited him and he delivered with poetry rich in wit and wordplay. A man of vocabulary he flooded the room with the bold and brash, upfront repetition of the confrontational, making room between verses to let it wash hot and cold across the room. Daring and unapologetic, Ron-G-Flex returned to the poetry scene with the bravado of language, subject matter and execution he is lauded for.
Finally, as the crowd swelled to capacity we brought forth the feather in the folk cap, the one and only ethereal The Green Mohair Suits. Tapping back into Hank Williams the four piece, huddled tightly about the lone microphone at centre stage, opened their perfectly tuned throats to deliver their achingly pure and beautiful rendition of “I’m So Lonely I Could Cry”. The applause that followed was deafening, an applause equal in wonder and appreciation. There was something magic that surrounded the bluegrass band, as, along with the four mesmerising voices, there was an air of inclusiveness and fun throughout the set that acted as a magnet to draw band and audience closer together. As the members took turns to sing lead the crowd was exposed to each vocalist’s charms and enchantments, which, when layered atop one another became a treacle sweet sonic treat of harmonies and resonance.
As the night drew to a close Billygoat and the Mongrels jumped onto the crowded stage alongside the applauded The Green Mohair Suits for their blistering rendition of “CC Rider”. For everyone who was there, they took home a special gift of folk which they may remember forever, for those who were not there, return to the top of the page.