Thank Folk It’s Friday – 21st February

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

- Michael Franti and Spearhead have announced a single Bluesfest sideshow in Brisbane with Nahko and Medicine For The People in support. Details here

- Melbourne duo The Little Stevies released their ode to unattached – the video for their single “I Hold My Breath”. Details here

- A brand new Laura Marling track – “Born to Love” – made its way onto the internet thanks to NPR’s eTown show. Details here

- Canadian born, Melbourne based singer-songwriter Tracy McNeil has a video out “Wilcats”. Details here

- Sally Seltmann will be taking her album Hey Daydreamer out on tour this April. Details here

- Georgia Fair have released the video to their new single “Are We Not Alive”. Details here

- If you’re into folk music and helping sick animals (and who isn’t?) get along to the Lomand Hotel in Melbourne this Saturday for the Wombat Orphanage Bushfire Benefit. The live music lineup includes Lucy Wise, Stray Hens, Rob Zielinski, Staffan & Rowie and more to be announced. Details here

- Tasmania’s Christopher Coleman Collective have released their new video “Go Home” along with details of their new album and a bunch of tour dates in March. Details here

- Sydney prog-folk artist Wyatt Moss-Wellington is set to release his new album Sanitary Apocalypse in March with guests that include a who’s who of the local scene. Details here

- Sydney singer-songwriter Huckleberry Hastings released his debut single “Huckleberry Blues”. Details here

- Nickel Creek revealed all the juicy details of their upcoming album A Dotted Line including cover art, track listing, release date and a stream of the song “Love of Mine”. Details here

- The Snowy Mountains of Music has changed its name to Peak Festival and has announced the first artists for its 2014 lineup. Details here

- Tonight up-and-coming singer-songwriter Martha Marlow will be launching her new EP These Days in Sydney. Details here

- Another new Simone Felice track, “Running Through My Head”, has surfaced online. Details here

- The Paper Kites have announced a massive tour this May and June. Details here

- Blues and roots legend Ash Grunwald is heading out on a solo tour. Details here

- The BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards were held this week and we collected all the winners and videos of the perfomances in one place. Details here

- If you’re looking for something a little heavier this St Patrick’s day Sydney folk-punk outfit The Bottlers have a series of gigs over the weekend. Details here

Reviews

Gigs

“While Laneway is an indie festival at heart it always brings me back for the smattering of folky, acoustic goodness that features on the lineup each and every year”Gareth Hugh Evans reviews the Sydney leg of St Jeromes Laneway Festival. Review here

Releases This Week

Oh Hunter
Oh HunterHayden Calnin
iTunes

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Wombat Orphanage Bushfire Benefit feat. Lucy Wise, Stray Hens, Rob Zielinski, Staffan & Rowie

Lucy Wise

Listen to folk music and help raise money for sick and injured animals? Sounds like a productive night out! We recommend heading down to the Lomond Hotel in Melbourne on Saturday to watch Lucy Wise (above) and co. helping the world one folk song at a time. Love it!

Saturday 22nd February – Lomond Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Gigs Next Week

Adelaide Fringe Festival
Friday 14th February to Sunday 16th March – Adelaide, SA

Apollo Bay Music Festival
Friday 28th February to Sunday 2nd March – Apollo Bay, VIC

Andy Irvine
Friday 21st February – House Concert, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 22nd Febraury – House Concert, Harcourt North, VIC

Ann Vriend
Saturday 22nd February — Tree House, Byron Bay, NSW
Sunday 23rd February — Black Bear Lodge, Fortitude Valley, QLD

Cobargo Folk Festival
Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd February – Cobargo, NSW

Eddie Vedder
Saturday 22nd February – QPAC Concert Hall, Brisbane, QLD
Sunday 23rd February 2014 – QPAC Concert Hall, Brisbane, QLD

Frances Folk Gathering
Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd February – Frances, SA

James Teague
Wednesday 26th February – The Workers Club, Melbourne, VIC

Josh Pyke
Friday 21st February – Paradiso Spiegeltent @ The Garden Of Unearthly Delights, Adelaide, SA
Saturday 22nd February – The Factory Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Friday 28th February – Twilight Series @ Melbourne Zoo, Melbourne, VIC

Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes
Friday 28th February – Thornbury Theatre, Melbourne, VIC

Leah Flanagan w/ Tom Hespie
Thursday 27th February – Vic on the Park, Enmore, NSW

Lior
Friday 21st February – Southern Peninsula Arts Centre, Rosebud, VIC
Thursday 27th February – The Playhourse Theatre, Hobart, TAS
Friday 28th February – Devonport Tas Entertainment Centre, TAS

Little Features feat. Mimi Gilbert, The Maple Trail, Packwood, Charlie Gradon
Saturday 22nd February – Hibernian House, Sydney, NSW

Martha Marlow w/ Jess Pollard
Friday 21st February – 505, Sydney, NSW

Nannup Music Festival
Friday 28th February to Monday 3rd March – Nannup, WA

Neko Case
Thursday 27th February – Fly By Night, Perth, WA

Okkervil River
Friday 21st February – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 22nd February – Corner Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

One Up Two Down and Oh Pep!
Friday 21st February – No.5, Bellingen, NSW
Saturday 22nd February, Carrington Bowling Club, Newcastle, NSW
Sunday 23rd February – House Concert, Karuah, NSW

Sam Buckingham
Friday 21st February – Fringe Festival, Adelaide, SA
Wednesday 26th February – The Rhythm Hut, Gosford, NSW

The Beez
Saturday 22nd February – George Kerford Hotel, Beechworth, Vic
Sunday 23rd February – Gerogary, VIC
Friday 28th February – The Piping Hot Chicken Shop, Ocean Grove, Vic

The Little Stevies
Saturday 22nd February – Summersault Festival, Melbourne, VIC

Wombat Orphanage Bushfire Benefit feat. Lucy Wise, Stray Hens, Rob Zielinski, Staffan & Rowie
Saturday 22nd February – Lomond Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Friday Folk Flashback

“Slipjigs and Reels” – Steve Tilston

It’s the Fairport Convention version of this song I’m most familiar with but I just had to reach back to the song’s writer, Steve Tilston, for today’s FFF. Such a good song!

Ash Grunwald Announces Autumn Tour

Ash Grunwald
Image Courtesy of Ash Grunwald

Australian blues and roots legend Ash Grunwald is returning to his roots this March with plans for a solo, one man tour throughout the country. Grunwald has been touring recently with the Living End’s rhythm section in support of his new album Gargantua so he’s taking the opportunity with his next tour to return to some of his favourite haunts as the lone troubadour he’s best known as.

Check out the full list of dates for the tour below:

Thursday 6th March – The Unibar, Wollongong, NSW
Friday 7th March – Great Northern, Newcastle, NSW
Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th March – Port Fairy Festival, VIC
Thursday 13th March – Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, NSW
Friday 14th March – The Abbey, Canberra, ACT
Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th March – Blue Mountains Music Festival, NSW
Thursday 20th March – Ramsgate Hotel, Adelaide, SA
Saturday 22nd March – Bleach Festival, Gold Coast, QLD
Wednesday 26th March – Harvey Rd Tavern, Gladstone, QLD
Thursday 27th March – Magnums, Airlie Beach, QLD
Friday 28th March – Tanks Art Centre, Cairns, QLD
Saturday 29th March – Base Backpackers, Magnetic Island, QLD
Thursday 24th April – The Espy, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 25th April – Barwon Heads Hotel, Barwon Heads, VIC
Saturday 26th April – Westernport Hotel, San Remo, VIC

Review: The Falls Festival, Marion Bay, Tasmania

Ponchos are the latest fashionPhotos by Stu B.

So now to the fun bit, the music!

Day 2, Monday 30th December, rolled around and as we planned our day, we were a bit excited about some unknowns and some stalwart festival acts, it was going to be a great day.

First up, on the Field Stage, at a very reasonable lunch hour was local Foster a Band competition winner Lulu an The Paige Turners. Knowing little but what I gleaned from the Falls Festival App description, I was hopeful for something interesting, lo and behold, the Paige-Turners turned out to be a bigger than expected group of young men, resplendent in white dress shirts, black suspenders and bowties complete with drums, cello, banjo, acoustic guitar, keyboard and who knows what else! Lulu herself stepped on to stage looking like she stepped out of an old timey movie in a frilled lavender dress that would either float beautifully or become her own personal parachute in the windy conditions. Obviously a lot of friends were in the crowd, or at least local and loyal fans, as many shouts of encouragement met them before they even played a note.

Lulu and The Paige Turners Opening with ‘Begin-agains’ from their EP Bookends and Begin-again delivered a strong, strummy guitar intro, quivering vocals, subtle backing harmonies and touches of a soul pitch to her vocals. It’s a very indie pop style but very easy to lose yourself in. To follow up their opening, the slower track, ‘The Mean Reds’ also from the EP mellowed out the audience, becoming solemn at times. With a strong banjo melody and sweet, hushed tones of the harmonies, it was more like the lullaby style we’ve seen from a number of singer/songwriters but with a surprise build with drum and electric bass almost reminiscent of a Mumford and Sons hoedown.

The rest of her set was equally diverse with bluesy bass lines, cool vibes, raspy, rolling, gravely gutsy verses, sentiments stripped down to a Capella accompanied by clicks and whistling, and of course, many a banjo solo from probably the happiest Banjo player I’ve seen of late.

It’s a wonderful mix on stage, of piano intros, rhythm on a snare drum played by Lulu, tales of a broken heart, dischordant harmonies to really set the tone, not to be out done by angsty, angry, passionate vocals. Lulu is a multi-instrumentalist playing percussion, guitar and violin, but also delivering vocals reminiscent of Kate Miller Heidke or Tori Amos. All of this she achieves while also performing with a cold that would likely render her voiceless after her set.

Well in with the audience, they brought out a brand new song, ‘Bright Eyes’, a song she was not sure what it was actually about but “sometimes the universe gives you a song for a reason”. Beautiful lightly treated, stripped back sound with just the simplest of accompaniment graced the enraptured field. Their musicianship was all about the lyric weaving it’s way across the melody, and the 3 piece harmonies by the Paige-Turners with room for an instrumental break and some epic violin by Lulu, like she and it had a private dance to complete. ‘A Little Secret’ changed the mood, with a very country feel to the full instrumental sound and beat yet cleverly walked the fine line mixing between full sound and stripped back line “little secret”. Amusingly, keyboard and the banjo had almost a russian dance off mid song.

Their final song was full of thanks and appreciation for the crowds support, and delivered their first single release, a definite favourite, ‘The Music Box’. A stuccato piano intro, great harmony based vocals  and full band sound behind string and catchy melody had us all nodding to the beat. There was even an instrumental break showcasing the cello and of course a huge violin presence Lulu in breaks. I found it really catchy and could easily hum it all day with it’s killer vocals, Lulu’s passionate stage presence, it all makes for a warning: keep an eye out, Lulu and the Paige-Turners should take stages by storm.

Big Scary at Falls Festival Marion BayWe popped over to the Valley stage to check out Big Scary with their big piano and drum sound and 2 part harmonies. They’re certainly genre-defying and on the Falls stage, combining their slow piano stylings with heavy base and drums, created an ethereal quality to their set and sound. A really pleasant poppy, chill out band for the setting and time.

Paper Kites at the Falls Festival Marion BayWe headed back to the Field stage to catch The Paper Kites and watching their band tune a banjo, it struck me that I wanted to renaming this stage the Banjo Stage! It’s always promising when a banjo is sound checked, almost guaranteed a good hoedown. The five piece, opened with a strong drum beat/line and mellow guitar over the top and calm vocals wafting on the breeze. The crowd grew quickly, attracted to their ethereal indie quality. Their set saw great cohesion of vocal and instruments, working as one, blending when needed, separating when wanted.

They played “Young”, a more synth based track with finger plucking strings over the top. There was a steady crowd dancing up the front, from within, someone releases glitter across the top of the crowd and it floated over them much like the lyrics and vocals. A very mellow set with a solid under current of instrumental indie cool.

At times their set is airy, with floaty piano intros and breathy yet strong vocals. Other times, like when playing “Bloom”, an older song that the crowd can sing along too, a more plucky vibe sets the the crowd screaming and intensifies the atmosphere while still delivering beautiful harmonies that even a crowd can carry. Then they effortlessly add drums and banjo to truly catchy effect. I love the whistling break, crowd tried to whistle along and ended up sounding like drunk birds.

Their new song, “Cold Kind Hand”, is a more indie rock vibe with the femanine vocals playing beautifully off the big earthy drums beats. Staying true to their sound, their new stuff is as equally welcome as their old stuff. Take that Regurgitator.

James Vincent McMorrow at Falls Festival Marion BayI’m a complete novice when it comes to  James Vincent McMorrow, so when we headed to the Valley stage to catch his set, I was delighted to see a crowd had already formed, eagerly anticipating his set. Walking on stage to a rousing welcome from the audience, McMorrow opened with his breathtaking falsetto, reminiscent of early Matt Corby ethereal vocals, over simple piano chords, building to a faster speed with clapping, percussion and backing vocals. I saw in an instant the appeal and why so many are clamouring for his music. The crowd continued to stream in to the field as overall sound, now filled with bass to round out the effect, rolled up the ampitheatre. His voice delivers tones of Bon Iver but devled deeper within himself, ultimately creating an earthy, grounded effect.

His set celivered variety, with synth beat under harmonised vocals, the simplicity and stripped back nature of which was mezmerising. He is skilled at gently bringing new instruments in to the tracks, I didn’t even notice the piano build in to one song, and yet it ended solely on a tight vocal/piano harmony. He claimed nervousness as it had been a year and a half since his last big performance. He merely hoped his nerves were endearing, but to everyone present, not a nervous moment had been witnessed. Launching back in to his moody and soft, almost tentative vocals and delicious piano, echoing drum beats herald crowd favourites and everyone is lost in the performance.

London Grammar at Falls Festival Marion BayI’m one of those people who has heard of London Grammar, and has probably even heard their hits, but having been a bit of a musical hermit of late, I was keen to catch them in full swing on the Valley stage. The haunting intro and her voice flowing off the stage accompanied by keyboard and little else told me I was in for a wonderful show. “Hey Now” had a hypnotic effect on every member of the audience, ending in the kind of silence where you can hear a pin drop. And then there was the rapturous applause.

I can see why Hannah has been compared to Florence Welsh and Kate Bush, her voice dominates over the bass, electric guitar and djembe. But, not just a beautiful voice, she can take on the keys, build a melody that emerges alone only to wend through her soulful, lilting lyrics. She is a statuesque leading lady, yet manages stillness, poise, focus and delivers pitch perfect, stunning vocals that had the audience entranced. Whether they need to engage the audience with more in the way of stage presence is debatable, what they don’t have in presence, they make up for with atmosphere and sheer soundscape.

Hannah was experiencing the worst hayfever she has ever had because there is a unique type of grass in Tasmania and nowhere else in the world. With that revelation, it was amazing her vocals weren’t affected. Their wildly popular cover of Kavinsky’s “Nightcall” was to be expected, a popular choice with the crowd with it’s keys opening making way for the whining, stripped back electric guitar, reminiscent of The xx’s sparse production style.

With the crowd thoroughly in the mood, a staffer comes on stage with a giant birthday cake to celebrate Hannah’s birthday, for which the crowd sang happy birthday and she was incredibly excited as the cake was gluten free meaning she could actually enjoy eating it after their set. Fittingly, they celebrated the moment with a song the crowd could all sing along to, “Caught in the Middle”. To wrap up, they delighted the audience with “Metal and Dust” with it’s midway upbeat synth beats and keys which created a wall of sound crawling up the hill from the valley stage.

Violent Femmes at Falls Festival Marion BayI am of the age to have just been alive when their first, and arguably most famous, album was released, but I sure as hell knew about them and have danced in to many a late night with Blister In The Sun blaring. So needless to say, I was at the Valley stage for the Violent Femmes set. Just walking on stage they received a huge welcome from the crowd. And with out any ado at all, they cracked straight in to it with “Blister in the Sun”. They played like their album release was last year, like they do it all the time, and most of the crowd was up and dancing without a second thought. Naturally, with their time in the industry and their experience, they could play each track with a kind of laid back delivery, but full of cheer and that cool swagger attitude. Effortless in fact. They dubbed themselves the Grandfathers of folk-punk and to be blunt, they’re dead right on that call. And of course, they are one of those acts that can play their album from start to finish and hold every person in the palm of their hands for every single track, in spite of us all knowing what would come next. “Kiss Off” went off, the big slappy bass tones of “Please Do Not Go” had the crowd going crazy,  “Add It Up” had everyone singing every word at the top of their voice, and I was having a bit of a Reality Bites flashback. It was a glorious set, they sounded almost exactly like they did the day it was released and they were such a joy to watch, clearly having a great time on stage.

The Cat Empire at Falls Festival Marion BayOur final folky act of the night was our name sake and one of our favourite acts, The Cat Empire. I wanted to make notes and recall all they played, highlight the nuances of their set, but in true Cat Empire style, they just nailed it. They have this ability to cheer a crowd as soon as they walk on stage, talk to us all like we’re personal friends just jamming at their place, and have us all singing, dancing, grooving and jumping along to every track. They played a great selection of their back catalogue interspersed with tracks from Steal The Light and they generally got the party really pumping. We, as a crowd moved and grooved as one, loving every second. They, as always, nailed it. I read a Faster Louder review of the Marion Bay Falls  that put the Cat Empire down to a “pale imitation of The Roots” due to their scheduling, but clearly the reviewer was at an alternate universe version of the same gig, because we saw nothing of that. In fact, The Roots were a disappointment to us, nothing like we expected, so much so, that we left half way through their set and headed to bed. We must have missed the good bit.

Finally the penultimate day rolled around. Day 3, Tuesday 31st December - New Years Eve and the reason we were all there.

Gossling at Falls Festival Marion BayAfter a lazy lie-in, we headed to the Field stage to see one of our favourites, Gossling who we enjoyed seeing back in 2011. What a difference 2 years makes, from opening spot on the main stage at Lorne to a modest crowd, to a mid afternoon Marion Bay Field Stage spot absolutely packed with punters. Having not yet caught the latest offering from Gossling, I wasn’t quite that sure what to expect but bouyed by her unassuming start and complete skipping of any kind of chattering intro, Helen and band kicked straight in to the set with glee and abandon. Her set was heartfelt yet forthright, pulling tracks predominantly from the new album Harvest of Gold. The intimate setting allowed Helen to tell the stories behind the songs; the  love song about a couple who had been together a long time, whose spark was there in the beginning but is no longer there and the resulting mutual break up; her early experiences with social media as an artist and that anyone can say anything they want online and she just has to stop being a little pussy; and the day to day observations and experiences of life. Particular highlights included “Songs of Summer” (co-written with Steve Parkin) and that lamentable opening line “On a  Friday night, a thousand weeks ago” replete with male vocals (by Alexander Burnett of Sparkadia on the record) as well as the sheer frustration meets pop sensibilities of “Challenge” and it’s social media mayhem. All in all, another delightful afternoon spent with Gossling.

The John Steel Singers at Falls Festival Marion BayHustling from one stage to the next meant we could get a glimpse of The John Steel Singers on the Valley stage and their dedicated fans clamouring to tyhe front of the stage. Their set was upbeat and at times delivered a psychedelic vibe to the over all indie sound. I’ve heard a bit about the group, especially because TnS contributor Haz is a bit of a fan boy, but I was truly delighted by their tight harmonies and elegant guitar work. An oldie but a goodie, “Strawberry Wine” was a particular favourite with the crowd and as we made our way to our next stop, the set was in full swing, crowd singing and dancing along and glimpses of harmonised spleandour taunted us.

Later in the day we found ourselves back at the Field stage to catch complete unknowns, Bombino. Within an instant, our reaction was “They’re so cool!” Rocking traditional garb albeit of shiny material, and sporting electric guitars, this was an outfit set to impress. Opening rocky riffs drew an instant crowd to dance along. Singing in their native language, inspite of having no clue what was being said, their music translated with a sense of storytelling that spoke directly to the soul each member of the audience.

Bombino at Falls Festival Marion BayThe easiest way to describe their sound is a kind of a meeting of world music and indie stylings. Band members hail from West Africa, Niger, so it’s desert music that they play with touches of a Reggae feel to their beat. Bombino delivered a consistent energy and tempo throughout their set, holding the crowd in their groove through to the end, with a huge cheer from the audience to thank them for the performance. This is the kind of group I think Ash Grunwald would love to jam with!

Emma Louise at Falls Festival Marion BayRecovering from Bombino, we were set put to catch Emma Louise at the Field stage. Having missed a lot locally for the last 18months, I was curious to see just how far from folk Emma Louise had moved. With a heady mix of synth keyboard, acoustic guitar and stripped back drum kit, it was hard to predict just what would arrive. She walked out on stage looking super slick, breathy backing vocals began and she strapped on her acoustic guitar, much to the appreciation of the volminous audience. Stunning, breathy harmonised vocals wafted over the crowd creating a haunting and still opening. She has really matured and grasped the ethereal indie sound that Matt Corby toyed with a few years ago but delivers it with strength, confidence and delicate handling of the style.

“Toys”  gave a clever meld of synth, guitar and those evocative vocals, smooth as butter and just as addictive. Her stage presence has come leaps and bounds since I last saw her at Falls in Lorne, a true professional graces the stage now and captures the audience, holding them with every lick of a lyric.

The crowd, as one, responded to each synth-laden ethereal moment creating a sense of anticipation. “Tessalate” erupted from a mournful synth opening, trilling guitar and tantalising snare that broke in to a solid bass drum rhythm. Emma Louise’s Florence-esque vocals wound their way through the soundscape, met with harmonised backing, building to a beautiful crescendo before a delicate ending.

The set was peppered with new and old tracks including the strong keyboard, drum rhythms and intertwined angelic vocals of “Atlasize” and the rolling intimacy of “Keep Me Warm” allowed her great vocal range to tip in to and out of melancholic, interlocking harmonies to create an incredible, dreamlike atmosphere. And naturally, she ended with that favourite and original hit, “Jungle” which had the already large crowd heaving with enthusiasm and joy.

Crystal Fighters at Falls Festival Marion BayWhen we headed to the Valley stage for the Crystal Fighters, we had no real idea what to expect except that their bio included the word folktronica, so of course, I was there. The crowd were very excited for them and as they entered the stage they made an amazing visual impact as they were all dressed for the occassion. It seems this is what happens when a strange mix of percussion, glittery costumes and acoustic meets electric cohesion. No matter their cross-genre mix, the crowd were instantly dancing.

It all got a bit folkalicious when their txalaparta came into it’s fore (for those playing along, it’s like a giant xylophone played by two people at once), it was almost tribal in nature, matched with a thumping drum rhythm in an altogether stripped backing style to the vocals before the synth and full ensemble sound built in to a massive presence with crowd jumping and dancing feverishly. Did I mention they manage to include a ukelele in their dance music ensemble?

Love is all I’ve got for this act. Infectiously fun and impossible not to enjoy! I mean, you’ve got to love a bit of electric, hyper ukelele. They managed the crowd beautifully, taking us musically down to the beach (the real beach we could see from our vantage point), down through a
mellow, strummy intro in to the calyspo feel backing and harmonised vocals of “Plage”, where the synth builds before a big electric guitar line joins the party. I also adored the epic cow bell that features in “I Love London”. I think this is one of my favourite, highlight acts from the whole festival, a must see and a must to track down some of their back catalogue!

Grizzly Bear at Falls Festival Marion BayComing down from such a high energy set, we stayed at the Valley stage to catch Grizzly Bear
It was their second New Year’s Eve in Tassie and they seemed quite happy with their lot. Their opening number, “Speak in Rounds” brought with it the haunting quality of their vocals and the woozy atmospherics their sets are renowned for. They moved from one set to the next with such grace and ease that at times you’d forgotten that one song ended and another begun. The inextricably mellow and chilled resonance segued effortlessly in to echoey lament only to give way occasionally to a bluesy rock beat or to a revel in synthesizer gait.

Their performance is one of those truly enrapturing experiences, where their dreamy set can transport you to another reality, parrallel to the often frenetic energy of Marion Bay on a special occasion.

Neil Finn at Falls Festival Marion BayThe final folkishly influenced act on the Valley stage that night was the irrepressible, Neil Finn. We saw Finn take the stage back in Lorne and while that was a fun set, there was something more this time around. Whether the vibe of the Marion Bay festival or the hubbub of New Year’s Eve, either way, in that inimitable personality and presence, the audience was putty in Finn’s hands.

He crafted together a set filled with nostalgia, of hits and favourites as well as braw new works from recent album Dizzy Heights. Of the old songs, there was once voice as the crowd sang in unison, word for word, proving just how timeless Crowded House and Split Enz are. Of the new works, my favourite was the transidental temporary insantiy of “Pony Ride”, or that could just have been Finn’s explanation for the song and somehow we were all suddenly riding rainbows on unicorns with him, likely in hysterics. Title track “Dizzy Heights” and “Flying in the Face of Love” also were received well, but it was moments like Kirin J Callinan jumping in for a guitar solo on the Crowded House track “Locked Out” that made the set memorable. The spine tingling closer, one man on his knees and one guitar with no amped sound while crew changed over behind him for the next set, the thousands strong crowd with just the utterance of it’s opening  had us off singing “Better Be Home Soon” and claimed the defining moment of the night.

I don’t recall much of the actual New Year, with MGMT running over time, a quick countdown before kissing and hugging your nearest and dearest, or the random crowd members beside you, and then finally The Wombats hitting us with an onslaught of hits and subsequent dancing frenzy, it all just blurs together to be an energy filled night of frivolity with a matching hangover the next morning.

But, if you’re going to wake up with a hangover anywhere in the world, Falls Festival Marion Bay just moved up my list of acceptable places to do so.

Blue Mountains Music Festival Announces First Lineup

Xavier Rudd
Image Courtesy of Xavier Rudd

The Blue Mountains Music Festival, which will be held from the 14th to the 16th March next year, is one of our favourite events throughout the year. Close enough to Sydney that it’s accessible (we’ve been known to watch the last act on a Sunday and then catch the last train back) yet far enough away that you feel like you’re getting away from it all, the Blue Mountains Music Festival has the best of both worlds.

The first lineup for the 2014 festival was announced this week and as usual it’s the perfect combination of folk, roots, indie and world music from Australia and around the world. Heading up the festival will be Xavier Rudd (above), Ash Grunwald and Lior, who will be joined by the likes of Rory McLeod, Eleanor McEvoy, Hanggai, Blair Dunlop, Peter Rowan Band with Richard Greene, Rose Cousins, Eric Bogle, Jeff Lang, Slava & Leonard Grigoryan, Flap!, Sunas, The Woohoo Revue, The Pigs, The BordererS, The Tiger And Me, Jack Carty, Mustered Courage, George & Noriko, Hat Fitz & Cara, Dan Parsons, The Mae Trio and many many more.

Tickets for the festival are on sale now. For more information check out the official web site here. The full lineup so far is below:

Xavier Rudd, Ash Grunwald, Lior, The Good Lovelies, Rory McLeod, Eleanor McEvoy, Hanggai, Chipolatas, Blair Dunlop, Swamp Thing, Peter Rowan Band with Richard Greene, Rose Cousins, Eric Bogle, Jeff Lang, Slava & Leonard Grigoryan, Flap!, Roesy, Jesse Valach & Blues Mountain, Grace Barbe, Sunas, The Woohoo Revue, The Pigs, The BordererS, The Tiger And Me, Benny Walker, Jack Carty, Mustered Courage, George & Noriko, Hat Fitz & Cara, Dan Parsons, Equus, Circus Solarus, Allan Caswell, Rachael Brady, Snez, Andrea Soler, The Mae Trio, Cole And Van Dijk, Belle Jar, Wagana Dancers, Gregg Borschmann’s Heartland Conversations, Poets’ Breakfasts

Port Fairy Unveils First Artists for 2014

Port Fairy
Image Courtesy of Port Fairy Folk Festival

It looks like the festival announcements are set to continue this week with the Port Fairy Folk Festival the latest event to release its lineup. Port Fairy have been “leaking” the lineup over the last couple of weeks but today the first round of artists was officially released.

On the international side of things we have the likes of Altan (Ireland), Blair Dunlop (UK), Jon Cleary & The Absolute Monster Gentlemen (USA), Madeline Peyroux (USA), Rory McLeod (UK), Rose Cousins (Canada) and many many more.

And while that’s pretty impressive, the list of local artists on the lineup is just as impressive including Archie Roach, Ash Grunwald, Bobby Alu, Daniel Champagne, The Mae Trio, The Pigs, The Tealeaves, The Tiger & Me, Things of Stone and Wood and many more.

The Port Fairy Folk Festival takes place in Port Fairy from the 7th to 10th March. For more information check out the official site here. The full lineup so far are below:

Alaska String Band, Altan, Antonio Serrano, Archie Roach, Ash Grunwald, Ben Salter, Blair Dunlop, Bobby Alu, Chris Wilson’s Crown of Thorns, Daniel Champagne, David Bridie & The Pills, Dog Trumpet, Gleny Rae Virus & her Playboys, Grace Barbé, Jaaleekay, Jon Cleary & The Absolute Monster Gentlemen, Lunasa, Madeline Peyroux, Margret RoadKnight, Marisa Quigley, Mic Conway’s National Junk Band, Pokey La Farge, Rory McLeod, Rose Cousins, The Band Who Knew Too Much, The JVG Guitar Method, The Mae Trio, The Pigs, The Tealeaves, The Tiger & Me, The Topp Twins, Things of Stone and Wood

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 10th August

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

- The Falls Festival kicked off the week with their third artist announcement which included a bunch of Timber and Steel friendly acts including Angus Stone, Ash Grunwald, Jinja Safari, Lisa Mitchell and Matt Corby. Details here.

- Leroy Lee gifted us with two tracks “Morning Ballad” and “Arcadia” from his new EP Arcadia. The former features backing vocals from the wonderful Lanie Lane. If you managed to catch Lee at his EP launch last night you’ll know what a talent this man is. Details here and here.

- The remarkable Fanny Lumsden & the Thrillseekers announced the details of the their upcoming EP Autumn Lawn which was produced by Ian Pritchett (Angus & Julia Stone, The Beautiful Girls). Lumsden and co will be launching the EP with shows in Sydney and Melbourne at the end of the month with regional dates still to be announced. Details here.

- New Zealand alt-country stars The Eastern are returning to our shores at the end of September and Timber and Steel is very proud to be presenting their national tour, including a Sunday afternoon slot at The Workers Club in Melbourne. Details here.

- Speaking of presenting tours, Timber and Steel have also been tapped to present the upcoming All About To Change tour from Patrick James. He is one of our favourite singer-songwriters coming out of Sydney at the moment and we’re so proud to be involved. Details here.

- The April Maze went the homemade route when creating the video for their cover of The Beatles’ “I’ve Just Seen a Face”. Shot entirely on an iPhone App the video is very cute and well worth a view. Details here.

- Canadian folkies The Wooden Sky have announced their brand new album Every Child a Daughter, Every Moon a Sun to be released on the 1st October. Details here.

- As a thank you for all the support his fans have given him over the years John Butler has re-recorded his iconic instrumental track “Ocean” and is offering it as a free download. Details here.

- Mumford and Sons revealed the details of their Australian Gentlemen of the Road mini-festival, set to take place in Dungog, NSW. Joining them on the bill are Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Sarah Blasko, Matt Corby, Husky, Willy Mason and Yacht Club DJs. Details here.

- In other Mumford and Sons news the band have released a stream of the first track off the upcoming album Babel, “I Will Wait”. Details here.

- The first single from Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson’s new duo album Wreck and Ruin, “Adam & Eve”, has a pretty strange but wonderful video. Details here.

- After a successful launch last month Communion Melbourne is back with their August lineup including Fraser A. Gorman, Castlecomer, Roller One and Elle Graham as well as screenings of the latest Sideshow Alley videos. Details here.

- UK folk supergroup Bellowhead have announced the followup to their wildly successful 2010 album Hedonism. Titled Broadside, the album is due for release on the 15th October. Details here.

- Bluegrass five-piece Trampled by Turtles teamed up with the team behind Adult Swim’s animated show Squidbillies to create their brand new blip “Walt Whitman”. Details here.

- To increase his profile in Australia Frank Turner has announced a brand new 15 track album Last Minutes and Lost Evenings featuring favourites and rarities. Details here.

- The Paper Kites have announced a massive national tour this October to celebrate their new EP Young North. Supporting them will be Art of Sleeping and Battleships. Details here.

- The Fleurieu Folk Festival in SA has announced their 2012 with something for everyone. The festival takes place from the 26th to 28th October in Willunga, SA and features the likes of Eric Bogle, The Go Set, The Stetson Family, The Timbers, Barry Skipsey and more. Details here.

- Country and bluegrass singer Kristy Cox released her brand new video for the track “Miles and Timezones”. The song was co-written by Lachlan Davidson, one half of Timber and Steel favourites The Davidson Brothers. Details here.

Interviews

“I cut my teeth doing small theatre shows in Canberra, you know, friends doing theatre and doing opening gigs for their shows. Sometimes you might get three, four people. And it is harder to play to three or four people because there’s nowhere to hide! So small doesn’t scare me”Fred Smith chats to Bill Quinn.
Interview here

Releases This Week

Arcadia
ArcadiaLeroy Lee
iTunes

Gigs Next Week

Darwin Festival
9th to 26th August – Darwin, NT

Faith Lee
Sunday 12th August – The Vanguard, Sydney, NSW

Fred Smith & A Few Good Spooky Men (with Liz Frencham)
Friday 10th August – Notes, Newtown, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 11th August – The Lobby, Parkes, Canberra, ACT

Jinja Safari
Friday 10th August – The Hi-fi, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 11th August – The Hi-Fi, Melbourne, VIC
Wednesday 15th August – ANU Bar, Canberra, ACT
Thursday 16th August – Bar On the Hill, Newcastle, NSW
Friday 17th August – Metro, Sydney, NSW

Lanie Lane
Friday 10th August – Stones of the Yarra Valley, Coldstream, VIC
Saturday 11th August – Westernport Hotel, San Remo, VIC
Sunday 12th August – Caravan Club, Oakleigh, VIC
Thursday 16th August – The Lighthouse, Darwin Festival, NT
Friday 17th August – The Lighthouse, Darwin Festival, NT

Little Bastard (with The Mountains, Jack Dawson and Callithump)
Thursday 16th August – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney, NSW

MoFo feat. The Leichhardt International Ukestra and Stephen O’Hern
Friday 10th August – The Gaelic Club (Upstairs), Sydney, NSW

Nick and Liesl
Friday 10th August – Catharsis at The J Theatre – Noosa, QLD
Sunday 12th August – The Front, Canberra, ACT
Wednesday 15th August – Astra Lodge, Falls Creek, VIC
Friday 17th August – The Albion, Albury, NSW

Passenger (with The Falls)
Thursday 16th August – The Hi-Fi, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 17th August – The Hi-Fi, Sydney, NSW

Punch Brothers
Friday 10th August – Adelaide International Guitar Festival, Adelaide, SA

Roland K Smith & The Sinners with Handsome Young Strangers and Handasyd Williams and the Brothers Primitive
Wednesday 15th August – Sandringham Hotel, Sydney, NSW

The Beautiful Girls
Friday 10th August – Coolum Civic Centre, Coolum, QLD
Saturday 11th August – The Tivoli, Brisbane, QLD
Wednesday 15th August – Prince of Wales, Bunbury, WA
Thursday 16th August – Settlers Tavern, Margaret River, WA
Friday 17th August – Fly By Night, Fremantle, WA

The Falls
Saturday 11th August – Hellen Rose Schauersberger Laboratorium, Sydney, NSW

The Good Ship
Saturday 11th August – The Rails, Byron Bay, NSW
Sunday 12th August – Nimbin Hotel, Nimbin, NSW

The Rescue Ships
Saturday 11th August – The Clarendon Guesthouse, Katoomba, NSW

TinPan Orange
Saturday 11th August – Adelaide International Guitar Festival, Space Theatre, Adelaide, SA

Friday Folk Flashback

“Sailing to Philadelphia” – Mark Knopfler

Mark Knopfler has, in his solo work, revealed his love of folk music. This story song chronicles the coming to America of Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon to survey the Mason-Dixon line. The original recording features a duet with James Taylor.

Third Round of Falls Festival Artists Revealed

Angus Stone
Image Courtesy of Angus Stone

Monday mornings are never the most exciting time of the week but that’s all about to change as we reveal the third artist announcement for this year’s Falls Festival. A whopping 12 artists have been revealed this morning including a smattering of Timber and Steel favourites – Angus Stone, Ash Grunwald, Jinja Safari, Lisa Mitchell and Matt Corby.

They join the likes of First Aid Kit and Boy & Bear it what is shaping up to be a really exciting festival. The Falls Festival takes place each New Year at Marion Bay in Tasmania and Lorne in Victoria. The full lineup (so far) is below with more to be announced soon:

Angus Stone, Ash Grunwald, Ball Park Music, Beach House, Best Coast, Bombay Bicycle Club, Boy & Bear, Coolio, Cosmo Jarvis, Django Django, First Aid Kit, Hilltop Hoods, Hot Chip, Jinja Safari, Lisa Mitchell, Matt Corby, Maxïmo Park, Millions, Sampology Presents A Falls Anniversary Live AV Show, SBTRKT, Sharon Van Etten, The Flaming Lips, The Hives, The Vaccines, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Two Door Cinema Club, Willis Earl Beal

Review: The Gum Ball 2012

Review by KT Bell, photos by Stu B.

In spite of all our good efforts, enthusiasm and eager anticipation following last year’s fantastic Gum Ball, Stu and I found ourselves behind schedule driving in to the darkness from Sydney, desperate to get to Lower Bedford for the 2012 Gum Ball and it’s stellar line up. We arrived at 9pm, just in the nick of time before the gates closed for the night. In the headlights of the car we set up our modest camping facilities only a few hundred meters from the main festival area with the roaring set of The Tongue as our soundtrack.

To my delight, we managed to catch the last act of the night, the newly reformed The Bakery. While not really folk, they’re worth checking out in their new format. After an extended period of absence, the band took on a new line up for the 2011 Woodford Folk Festival and their act has been going from strength to funky strength ever since. As the festival’s sound system fell silent, the crowd migrated to the silent disco to revel on in to the early morning. Amusingly to those watching from the outside, it looked like a silent, shuffling human zoo exhibit with the occasional rousing group rendition of some classic chorus. As the silent disco serenaded us with another round of “they paved paradise to put up a parking lot, ooooh, bop bop bop…” we headed to bed in readiness for a huge Saturday to come.

In the morning light, we rose to discover the sprawling tent city nestled among the gum trees and the impressive set up of the seasoned gum-ballers surrounding us. Complex lounge room style common areas complete with couches, tarps stretched over cars, vans and tents, lean to’s and all manner of camping comfort and conveniences. We stumbled off to the festival arena in search of coffee and breakfast, passing impromptu camp kitchens, gas cookers perched on tow bars and the likes with eggs, bacon and all manner of delicious smelling DIY breakfasts taunting and tempting us the whole way. Eating your breakfast in the very grounds of the festival watching the place slowly waking up as the morning fog burns off certainly starts that excited feeling that only this kind of festival can inspire.

Just prior to 10am, Stu and I positioned our camping chairs just to one side of the sound mix tent where we had an excellent view of the side by side stages, ready and comfortable for a long day of The Gum Ball. To start off the day and brighten up the morning for some rather dusty heads, the Perch Creek Family Jug Band bounded on to stage not dissimilar to the endless enthusiasm of the Brady Bunch or Partridge Family, and we’re bedecked in much the same garb. A 5 piece family outfit saw the stage awash with banjo, washboard and jug, acoustic guitar, harmonica and double bass all blending together in a wholesome family vibe. They produced great rhythm and a great way to start the morning. Recently turned 17, Christi has become the bad boy of the family, proving his status with a cover of Justin Townes Earl’s “If you ain’t glad I’m leaving, girl you know you ought to be”. The crowd quickly grew as daughter Eileen delivered a sultry cover of “Minnie the Moocher”. A bit kitsch but a whole lot of fun, their onstage family banter must have been what it was like for our Evan Hughes growing up in a folk family, as the kids all complain to mother Camilla that, in spite of her Train Whistle opening, they “don’t do the ready stances anymore”. But after some ‘gentle’ motherly advice and encouragement from the crowd (would I do a thing like that? *looks innocent*) they struck their very silly and quasi rock star poses and launched in to a bit of honky tonk, country tinged, bluegrass. It was all very cheesy, but in the right way for that time of the morning. I had to question whether there is anything this family don’t do? They are all multi-instrumentalists, Eileen tap dances with a mini banjo, the vocal harmonies while all the time sharing the spotlight and the instruments equally. And to round things out they finally brought out the jug in time for Christi to accompany the jug playing a saw in a lullaby style number. Family nights at their place must be amazing.

A little later in the morning we were treated to the Irish lilt of Roesy. A modest chap, he thanked his family, saying he wouldn’t be here without them. Performing solo with just his acoustic guitar, full voice and genuine story telling style, Roesy told tales and drew the audience in to his melody of worlds. Enjoying his set, I often felt like we may not have been at a festival but relaxing in Roesy‘s backyard while he told us tales of the songs his Dad used to sing.

Benjalu is a name I have heard but not a band I have followed so I was interested to see what they had to offer. From the outset, it was clear they were on fire, sounding really tight with an excellent mix of acoustic guitar and electric. Their indie sound is heavily grounded in roots with a dash of rock and a touch of folk to round out their style. With their subtle harmonies and great energy, they had the crowd up and dancing instantly and it’s no surprise their infectious sound had the audience in raptures. I really enjoyed their song about being hungover complete with bongos for that pounding headache feel with strummy acoustic guitar and harmonized melody to sooth the soul. We’d seen him lurking at the back of stage but it was a great delight to see a cameo performance on their last song by none other than tour buddy Kim Churchill. It was clear that they had great rapport which delivers an excellent collaboration, they worked well together on stage and brought their set to a crescendo finish. Benjalu was an utter highlight and I shall be watching them like a hawk.

You all know that we here at TnS love Kim Churchill and we’re always very happy to see him on a festival line up. He took to the stage in his one man band style as we’re so used to seeing him. He opened with echos of “Waltzing Matilda” woven throughout “Loving Home” which attracted a big crowd to his set, it was clear people were drawn to him and his sound. In such a picturesque setting, it was easy to appreciate such musical layers all produced live by one person! Currently touring with Benjalu, it was clear they are all very good friends. He told the story of how Benjalu‘s van had broken down 2 days ago, that they have been saving every cent from every EP sold to record a new album and that he would hate to see that money to go to a van. During his next song, “Revolution”, donation buckets were going around collecting donations to help fix the van. Using his ethereal loop echo to advantage his passionate performance in songs both new and old, (like his LA song, telling how he dislikes the big cities), Kim’s raw performance energy is apparent. Close up, you can see him tremble as he performs, hands as they strum, face as he plays harmonica. Title track from his new album “Detail in Distance” is very reflective, he has learned over the years that sometimes distance is the thing that helps you see clearly. Kim likes to tell stories between songs, of how they came about. By far the most compelling was about a song written in French Polynesia while on tour, “Bathed in Black”, and how on a bad day he chose to change his own mindset and outlook. How a man in his early 20s could be so wise is beyond me, but I am grateful Kim Churchill is such a keen and regular performer who can bring this wisdom to us all through his enthusiasm and music.

Wagons wasted no time getting deep in to the bluesy country goodness as they burst forth onto the stage. In the between song banter, Henry Wagons dedicate a song to all those bad choices made at festivals, and “I Blew It” rang around the festival arena. Jovial with the crowd, Wagons was not shy of dedicating the next song to all there, especially a woman in the crowd looking at him skeptically who he was determined to win her over in one song. A deep, pounding rendition of “Love Me Like I Love You” may well have succeeded. An emphatic “Willie Nelson” had the crowd singing along and Si the Philanthropist’s hip hop gave Henry a moment to wipe his brow and take to the drum kit. Wagons whirled through their set getting the crowd totally involved for an energy filled finale that left the gum trees ringing.

Mat McHugh had quite the following gathered at front of stage well before his set began. His solo set up included an acoustic guitar and laptop to provide a variety of additional backing sounds as he launched in to “My Mind is an Echo Chamber”. I thought to myself that he sounded like a stripped back Jack Johnson or Xavier Rudd. I looked him up on The Gum Ball site and realised he is the lead singer and songwriter of The Beautiful Girls. Cue the moment of feeling really ignorant, no wonder he sounded familiar. After touring solo in support of John Butler Trio, Matt discovered his new stripped back solo career and the Gum Ball audience seemed impressed with his new solo exploits.

I’ve been a fan of Ash Grunwald for a while and enjoyed interviewing him at Bluesfest last year, but Stu had hardly even heard of him and looked at me dubiously as I enthused about his upcoming set with Vika and Linda Bull. As Stu stood in the audience ready to photograph the set, he casually chatted to the crowd who not only echoed my sentiments, but got Stu intrigued and pumped for the set. Ash delivered a powerhouse opening, engaging the crowd with thumping kick drum, strumming rhythm guitar and wailing vocals, brought down to a cool, bluesy lament. With notes like gospel howls, Ash’s voice took over the Gum Ball arena and the crowd was transfixed. He then welcome Vika and Linda to the stage and using a loop recorded in Melbourne of Linda, which according to her “sounds like my grandpa” brought a whole new dynamic of sound to the festival. Ash sang and delivered running commentary throughout the set, nothing phases him. He explained that the chorus of his next song was inspired by The Hangover II, the tattoo faced “Demon in Me” from his new release Trouble’s Door. A diverse set, the next song built from a slow start into a speedy intro for “Shake that Thing”. With out hesitation he slid in to a cover of “Sail”. Ash’s voice carried over everything, electronic backing track, the swagger of the guitar and sultry backing vocals by Vika and Linda. An a Capella with a gospel style changed the feel of the set but still had the audience clapping and singing along. A grungy recorded backing loop accompanied “Raw” which true to it’s name has a raw sound and heavy dirty beat. At the end of the set, he thanked good friends Vika and Linda as this was their last performance together in the collaborative format for some time as Ash moves forward with promotions and tour for his new album Trouble’s Door. After the set had finished, Stu returned to our spot, grinning. Turns out Ash Grunwald had been awesome.

We had munched on some terrific festival food including the Wagons‘ endorsed wood-fired pizzas, and enjoyed dutch poffertjes for dessert and then it was time for the dessert finale of Jinja Safari. Their excitement was evident as they took to the stage, full of energy and life. Without hesitation they delivered their ethereal, tribal drum soaked intro, layered with harmonies and rich melodies oozing forth over the crowd with everyone swaying in time. Their set was smooth and sweet like treacle and the perfect ending to a rolling, rollicking, eclectic day of music. The keyboard was fanciful and lyrical and they all danced with their instruments while they performed, the bongos energetically shooting between phrases of songs.

We collapsed in to our camp beds exhausted but very satisfied by a fantastic festival with a well considered and varied line up to cater to a wide range of audience tastes. It’s hard to believe that The Gum Ball has been going for 8 years and hasn’t yet exploded in size or grown too big for it’s earthy and natural soaked site. We arrived home just after lunch and were really impressed to have fit a trip out of Sydney and so much music in to one weekend and still have time to relax before the working week started. Clearly the folks at Lower Belford and the surrounding Hunter Valley know how to put on a truly inclusive and inviting gig and the locals have discovered what a gem it is, now the Sydney-siders and Central Coast people just need to clue on and The Gum Ball will soon become a sell out success year after year. This year some punters had traveled form Canberra just to see headline act Custard and they wouldn’t have been disappointed with their set as well as the whole event. So it’s a sure thing that next year’s Gum Ball will have just as brilliant a line up and hopefully, as they note in their wrap-up blog post, a whole lot more people will come and enjoy the festival alongside the regulars.

Preparing for The Gum Ball

The Gum Ball 2011The Gum Ball 2011 by KTBell

After last year’s taste of The Gum Ball, we are very keen to be heading back to Belford for what is sure to be a folkin’ great weekend away. We’re making plans to catch as much of the weekend as possible by packing the car on ANZAC day so we can get the jump on the traffic on Friday afternoon. We’ve got our gumboots at the ready, just in case of rain, and we’ve been going over the playing times and are hanging out to see the newly reformed The Bakery, TnS fave Kim Churchill, the country swagger of Wagons, raw roots power of Ash Grunwald with Vika and Linda and can’t wait to see where Jinja Safari are taking their tunes too. And they’re only the ones we’re familiar with, with the Perch Creek Family Jug Band opening Saturday’s bill and a raft of our faves from other genres, this is going to be an exciting festival in the perfect setting!

With less than a week to go, and with a spate of struggling festivals cancelling across media headlines for months, it’s dishearteneing to see a news story this past week about the struggle the event is experiencing with lower than anticipated ticket sales and the bureaucratic red tape faced every year. The most inspirational part to come out of the struggles is that the festival still manages to support Beyond Blue, The National Depression Initiative.

In an effort to make the Bedford location more accessible for all, The Gum Ball have announced on their facebook page that they will run a shuttle service from Newcastle on Friday with a return service at 10am Sunday, all accessible by train from Sydney. Bookings for all are essential for all services info@thegumball.com.au.

The Gum Ball 2011

That’s all well and good if you live near-by, but this festival is really the perfect escape for any Sydney-sider but it’s like Sydney just haven’t grasped that yet. Perhaps The Gum Ball needs to be compared to something a little more familiar. Stu and I have been looking forward to the Gum Ball for a year, and I’ve been contemplating why. The Gum Ball has the crowd participation and pleasure of The Falls Festival (Falls is like the Op Shop Bop on steroids), the atmosphere and idyllic setting of Peats Ridge Festival and the community spirit and village vibe of Woodford Folk Festival, it just doesn’t have the sense of occassion of New Years Eve.

Perhaps the problem is the comfort zone – the big, established festivals are a given and punters will make the trek. It’s boutique festivals like The Gum Ball, tucked away in the most divine bush setting, that are an unkown quantity, but music lovers should bite the bullet and make the effort because what awaits you is a spectacular and unique experience. Still not convinced? Check out their blog for details of the Op Shop Bop, Sid’s Circus Playground, Yoga, Tai Chi and Hula Hoop workshops, the Silent Disco for all those night owls that want to rage in to the early hours of the morning. If you’re worried about camping and food – the festival food on site is guaranteed to be great once again – we’re not planning to pack anything to eat! However, it is a BYO festival (no glass!), so no queues at the bar and no disappointment at having to choose from drinks you don’t like.

In reality – this is the kind of festival punters have been crying out for for years after over-regulation of the large scale events have placed more rules and regulations on the festival experience. This is the chance to get back to great music and a brilliant music festival experience. With tickets still available for only $120 for Saturday or $165 for the whole weekend, plus a tank of petrol split between some friends – this is the perfect way to spend a cheeky weekend away with mates.

The Gum Ball 2011

Not coming this year means you might not get another chance if numbers don’t rise. So come and support Australian music and a family run festival. They’re welcoming you on to their property, we guarantee you’ll welcome them in to your hearts.

The Gum Ball Announces First Round of Artists for 2012

The Gum Ball
Image Courtesy of The Gum Ball

The festival season juggernaut just keeps rolling on with the announcement today of the first round of artists for the 2012 Gum Ball. Set on a farm in the Hunter Valley, NSW The Gum Ball presents some of the nation’s best music in a relaxed, family atmosphere. Our contributor KT Bell described last years festival in her review as an “inspired event that creates one of the best feelings of ‘community’ that I have seen in a long time” and it looks like 2012 is going to deliver much of the same.

The first lineup for this years Gum Ball, held on the 27th and 28th April, has just been announced and once again it’s full of folk, roots and alt country goodness. Joining headliners Custard (who definitely aren’t folk!) are Jinja Safari, Ash Grunwald (feat. Vika & Linda Bull), Wagons, Kim Churchill and many many more.

With the first round of Early Bird tickets already sold out we recommend you get in quick for the second round which you can pick up via The Gum Ball web site. The full list of announced artists is below:

Custard
Jinja Safari
Ash Grunwald feat. Vika & Linda Bull
Wagons
Sietta,
Kim Churchill
Fire! Santa Rosa Fire!
Benjalu
The Joe Kings

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