Running from the cold up in New England
I was born to be a fiddler in an old time string band
My baby plays a guitar, I pick a banjo now
– “Wagon Wheel” Old Crow Medicine Show
Like many music writers I’m a frustrated musician. I play a decent fiddle and mandolin (and mediocre guitar) but my lack of commitment when it comes to practicing coupled with how intimidated I get with the amount of talent that’s out there has meant I’ve never really taken it further than backyard jams and open mics.
The truth is that Timber and Steel didn’t start life as a blog. The first incarnation of Timber and Steel was a band playing covers of artists that we’d discovered through Laura Marling and the burgeoning UK nu-folk scene – bands and artists like Mumford & Sons, Johnny Flynn, Noah and the Whale, Emmy The Great, Pete Roe, Jay Jay Pistolet and more. Most of these bands went on to make a mark on the international music scene in some way or another but at the time we saw our band Timber and Steel as a vehicle to bringing these unknown artists and songs to an Australian audience, essentially continuing the folk process of sharing songs that has been happening for centuries.
Timber and Steel the blog was born during the band’s jam sessions from comments like “surely there’s music like this emerging in Australia as well” or “why isn’t anyone in Australia writing about this music?”. The blog was born out of the desire to share the music we were uncovering from Australia and around the world outside of what we were able to share on the stage. The rest, as they say, is history.
What I love most about the folk scene is its inclusiveness. My musical exploits may be purely amateur but if I go to a folk festival I will always arrive with at least one instrument in tow. My favourite regular nights in my home town of Sydney are the ones that involve a participation element like a jam session. My fondest memories from gigs are the ones that have ended back stage or at a local bar with a couple of guitars and a group of people keen to continue the music. My entire monthly gig and festival going experience is built around where I can pull out my fiddle or mando and have a play. Over the last six years I have jammed with some of the best in the business.
In what other genre of music can you participate to this degree? This is why I love folk music.
Timber and Steel the band still exists and still performs occasionally at low key nights and small festivals. Coming up we have shows at FolksWagon in Sydney on the 25th May and at the Top Half Folk Festival in Darwin over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in June. The blog is still a reflection of the music we’re discovering and want to share as well as helping us discover and connect with shows and festivals we may want to play.
Seeing Timber and Steel moving into its sixth year is surreal. The blog that was conceived my lounge room between working out Laura Marling songs was only ever going to be an outlet for sharing music, little did we know where it would take us. I’m incredibly proud of Timber and Steel and constantly humbled by how much we’ve been welcomed into the folk scene in Australia. I’m looking forward to many more years of watching, playing and even occasionally writing about folk music.
Happy 6th Birthday Timber and Steel!
Gareth Hugh Evans
Editor in Chief