Listen to the New Thom Lion & The Tamers Single “Emily”

Thom Lion
Image Courtesy of Thom Lion & The Tamers

Adelaide indie-folk favourites Thom Lion & The Tamers have just released their brand new single “Emily”. The quirky, banjo led track is exactly the kind of folk goodness we’ve come to expect from Lion and his band.

Take a listen to “Emily” below:

National Folk Festival Interview: Bill Jackson

Bill Jackson
Image Courtesy of Bill Jackson

Australian folk-country singer-songwriter Bill Jackson dropped his new double-A side “Try/Somebody’s Darlin'” last week, just in time for his appearance at The National Folk Festival this weekend. The single is the first taste of Jackson’s ambitious three album series The Wayside Ballads which he hopes to release over the course of the year. We sat down with Bill Jackson to talk the albums, music and The National.

Gareth Hugh Evans: You’ve just released a Double-A side, “Try/Somebody’s Darlin'” and I really really like them. I’ve been listening to them a lot.

Bill Jackson: It’s a bit of a different thing I did with this album [The Wayside Ballads Vol 1]. The last two albums, I did both of those in the US and they were very acoustic based. I had these songs lying around and a good friend of ours Shannon Bourne, who’s a great guitar player, said “let’s try and do an electric album. The story’s still at the centre of the songs but it’s just a different approach to it. We picked these ten songs and went in and did them – I think it took us about a day and a half to record them. It was all done pretty much live. And I had some great players in there – we hadn’t rehearsed or anything like that so it was all pretty organic in that regards. I’m really happy with the way it turned out.

GHE: I didn’t realise the songs were recorded live. But now that you’ve told me that I can hear it. It’s not overproduced.

BJ: Not at all. On that song “Somebody’s Darlin'” Shannon overdubbed some baritone which is nice – kind of gives it a Ry Cooder sort of sound. But that’s about the only thing that was overdubbed. There was one vocal overdubbed on one of the tracks but very few overdubs at all. It was good – it was pretty easy to mix in that regard. What we had was what we had.

GHE: To me the song “Try” is a political song without having an ideological agenda. It’s more of a social comment. Did you set out to write a political song?

BJ: Not really. With that one I probably just set out to document the confusion and the number issues that are around today. You could probably write another 60 verses to that [laughs]. With all the amount of stuff that’s going on and people who really care are getting really confused about which way to go. I guess it’s a list song in that regard. I sort of tie it together with the Occupy movement and the 99%. It’s an interesting song in that regard but the thing I truly love about that song is the feel that we got through it. I’ve always wanted to do a song, ever since I heard John Hiatt do “Thing Called Love”, with a straight drum feel with swinging guitars. It gives it that really nice cross-edge sort of feel that they used to do in the 50s.

GHE: I was going to say that it does remind me of 50s music. It’s not a rockabilly song but there’s elements in here.

BJ: Yeah. The other one’s got kind of a 50s thing going on as well. A sort of country-soul thing. It’s really interesting – I look forward to hearing the whole album. It’s got quite a variety of songs on there. We like to write a lot of historical songs as well – there’s a song on there about Kate Kelly and there’s also one about Angus McMillan who was one of the original explorers of Gippsland and has since turned out to be a total indigi-butcher. There’s quite a variety songs on there – there’s a couple of acoustic ones but mostly four piece band stuff.

GHE: With the electric feel.

BJ: Yeah. To get the one take thing I didn’t play guitar on a lot of them, I just sang. That helped in lots of ways. I probably played on two songs.

GHE: “Somebody’s Darlin'” feels a lot more personal than “Try”. “Try” is very outward looking while “Somebody’s Darlin'” feels a little more inward looking.

BJ: I don’t know whether you know but I write all of my songs with my brother Ross. He’s a never ending source of ideas and an inspiration. We swap things back and forward lyric-wise, he doesn’t have anything to do with the melodies. So that one I’ve sort of been sitting on for about five or six years, started playing it in the front room. This project The Wayside Ballads Vol 1 is one of three that I have to complete this year. Vol 3 is half finished – I’ve picked another 10 songs that we haven’t recorded and they’re being recorded by other singer-songwriters in Melbourne. We’re going to release that digitally and the proceeds are going to the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre.

GHE: That’s awesome.

BJ: It’s a good way of getting the songs out there as well. Some people have come back with some amazing versions of songs. It’s really good when you give songs to people and they make them their own, it’s really neat. So that’s Vol 3Vol 2 hopefully I get to do over in the US in September. That was the one I was going to do first. I’m going for a big year Gareth! Clear the decks!

GHE: Definitely sounds like it’s going to be a big year! Why the US for Vol 2?

BJ: It’ll be a semi-bluegrassy album that I’ll do over there with the songs that I’ve picked. I want to record with a guy over there called Thomm Jutz. Thomm produced Otis Gibbs’ album [Souvenirs of a Misspent Youth]. He’s been out here a few times, he played guitar with Nancy Griffith the last time he was out here. He’s a beautiful musician and he’s a great producer as well. He did a series of albums over the last year called The 1861 Project, three albums written about the Civil War. So we’ve got similar interests in the historical side of things and we’re going to use a few players over there that Thomm uses. I’ve never had a crack at doing one of those albums that’s really neatly perfect and this will be a bit of an attempt at that. So that was sort of the plan. And we’ve built up a lot of friends, Pete [Fidler] and I, in the US over the last three trips over there. And it’s quite cheap to record there as opposed to here. Hopefully it all comes off – we’ll give it a crack anyway.

We’ve just got such a backload of songs. You do an album and then it’s another two or three years before you do another one. So we thought we’d try and get as many of these ones down and they all sort of got written fairly closely together.

GHE: You’re playing The National this year. Is it just you and Pete Fidler?

BJ: Yeah, just Pete and myself doing it there. We’ll sort of launch the single there because we can do both those songs as a duo. We’ve got a bunch of singles pressed so we’ll take them along. We’ll do three or four tracks off the album and then stuff from the other ones over the past few years. It should be fun – I’m looking forward to it!

GHE: You’ve played with Pete Fidler for a while. He must be a pretty inspiring musician to be up on stage with. He’s one of the best in the business.

BJ: He is. You feel pretty safe with him. We’ve been playing together since about 2006 I think so it’s all fairly intuitive now. We don’t rehearse a hell of a lot but you don’t have to with Pete – he’s very good at having a conversation with the song. He’s an incredible musician. A lot of people don’t see him playing guitar a lot either but he’s a great player. He played a lot of the electric on this album.

Pete was a bit of a legend in the 80s in Melbourne. He was in a really well known, popular psychedelic band called Tyrnaround. He was primarily an electric guitar player up until he heard Gillian Welch I think. That got him onto the dobro.

GHE: She’s enough to turn anyone onto folk and country music! You’re very lucky to have him on stage with you I think.

BJ: He’s a bloody monster player, Pete. He never ceases to amaze me – he’s an intuitive musician and incredibly talented.

GHE: So your set at The National will be a mixture of new and old stuff?

BJ: We’ll do a few things that haven’t been on anything, that might be on the [album] we do in the US, probably about three or four. We’ve been playing those songs for the last year and a half presuming they were going to be the first recording. And a few back catalogue as well – we’ve got a lot to choose from now which is kind of good. We’ll hopefully get a few other people up to play with us at some stage. There’s a guy that plays the Cajón box who’s up their every year – that’s his business, he makes them and sells them – his name is Mark Aspland. If Ruth [Hazleton] is free she might grace the stage with us.

GHE: So is there anything else that we can look forward to from you at The National?

BJ: We’ve got the three official shows and hopefully we’ll play the Flute & Fiddle [blackboard]. That’s still the best gig at the festival if you can get in there because everyone goes through it. Although they’re sort of programming it a bit more than they used to, they’re not leaving as many open spaces. But hopefully we’ll do that one because it’s always a joy to play. That’s about it really.

GHE: Well thanks so much for chatting with me today.

BJ: No worries, it’s been a pleasure.

Listen to the New Leisure Society Single “The Fine Art Of Hanging On”

The Leisure Society
Image Courtesy of The Leisure Society

UK chamber-folk band The Leisure Society have just released the title track to their upcoming album The Fine Art Of Hanging On. The album itself is due on the 13th April – take a listen to “The Fine Art Of Hanging On” below:

Watch the New Vance Joy Video “Georgia”

Vance Joy
Image Courtesy of Vance Joy

Vance Joy may have just wrapped up his Australian tour but he’s not done yet. Joy has just released his latest video “Georgia”, taken from his acclaimed debut album Dream Your Life Away.

Check out “Georgia” below:

The Bello Winter Music Festival Announces Inaugural Lineup

Milk Carton Kids
Image Courtesy of The Milk Carton Kids

This week a brand new festival slipped onto the scene with a lineup that is bound to make any readers of Timber and Steel squeal with excitement.

The Bello Winter Music Festival is a brand new weekend festival held in Bellingen, NSW from the 2nd to 5th July this year. Bello is the sister festival to the magnificent Mullum Music Festival so you know it’s going to be pretty special.

This year’s lineup is headed up by US folk duo The Milk Carton Kids (who are yet to announce any other Australian dates) and also features Timber and Steel favourites like Ash Grunwald, TinPan Orange, Marlon Williams, The Wilson Pickers, Lucie Thorne & Hamish Stuart, Perch Creek, Jack Carty, Karl S Williams, The Mid North, The Button Collective, Starboard Cannons, Sara Tindley, Oh Pep! and many many more.

“Bellingen has a similar counter-culture to Mullumbimby; it’s just back from the coastal tourist destinations and it’s a naturally beautiful area.” Glenn Wright, director of Bello Winter Music Festival and Mullum Music Festival explained. “Just like Mullumbimby, Bellingen has a diverse community, a long history of environmentalism and a vibrant local music scene. A third of the Bello line-up is made up of local musicians from Bellingen and the Coffs Coast area. Both festivals are dedicated to programming new and emerging artists – local, national and international – I’m sure Bello Winter Music, like Mullum Music Festival, will become ‘one to watch’ for exciting new acts. Creating a partner winter festival in Bellingen rather than expanding Mullum Music Festival means another community can reap the benefits of a small scale, community run festival. The Bellingen community is deeply involved in every aspect of the festival. It has been inspiring working with them to create a unique, authentic celebration of their town.”

For more information about the Bello Winter Music Festival check out the official web site here. The full lineup is below:

The Milk Carton Kids (US), Ash Grunwald, Emma Donovan & The Putbacks, Tinpan Orange, Dubmarine, Marlon Williams & The Yarra Benders, Ainslie Wills, Bullhorn, Arte Kanela Flamenco, Rasa Duende, Fourplay String Quartet, The Wilson Pickers, Lucie Thorne & Hamish Stuart, Perch Creek, Jack Carty, Sketch The Rhyme, Jones Jnr, The Seven Ups, Captain Dreamboat, Gabriel & Cecilia, Karl S Williams, Yeshe, Greg Sheehan, Kym Pitman with Chris Judd, The Mid North, The Button Collective, Starboard Cannons, Sara Tindley, Oh Pep!, The Ninth Chapter, Ebb n Flo, Golden Zephyr, Bunya, Jealous Wolfe, Mr Pip, Horns On Helium, DidJital, Tim Stokes, Honey & Knives, Shanteya & Jo, Tegan Wiseman, Yhan Leal, Fish on Fire, The Bollywood Sisters, The Cassettes, Sohum Women’s Choir, Voices From The Vacant Lot, Roundabout Theatre, talks, workshops, Bellingen LeaF (Learning Festival), THE MAGIC BUS and much more to be announced

Willowy and Direwolf Announce Joint May/June East Coast Tour

Image Courtesy of Direwolf

Sydney nu-folk singers Direwolf and Willowy have announced plans to head out on a co-headline east coast tour this May and June. Both Timber and Steel favourites, Direwolf and Willowy have built reputations as must-see acts on the local scene so getting the chance to catch them together is a real treat.

Check out the full list of dates below:

Wednesday 13th May – The Boatshed, Manly, NSW
Thursday 14th May – The Treehouse, Byron Bay, NSW
Friday 15th May – 5 Church St, Bellingen, NSW
Saturday 16th May – The Rhythm Hut, Central Coast, NSW
Thursday 21st May – Symposium, Chippendale, NSW
Wednesday 27th May – The Front Gallery, Canberra, ACT
Thursday 28th May – The Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 5th June – Rad, Wollongong, NSW

National Folk Festival Interview: Kate Burke & Ruth Hazleton

Kate and Ruth
Image Courtesy of Kate Burke & Ruth Hazleton

Kate Burke & Ruth Hazleton are one of the reasons I got back into folk music in a big way as an adult – their albums from the late 90s and early 2000s proved to me that folk music could be for young people as well. After taking a break to start families and explore other musical projects Kate & Ruth return in 2015 with a brand new album – Declaration – and an appearance at this year’s National Folk Festival. I sat down with Ruth Hazleton to chat about the album and get her take on how her festival experience has changed over the years.

Gareth Hugh Evans: So congratulations on the new album Declaration. I’ve been listening non-stop since I got it and I absolutely love it. I think it’s up there with everything else you’ve produced. Congratulations!

Ruth Hazleton: Thank you!

GHE: For Declaration you’ve collaborated again with Luke Plumb as producer. What was it like working with him?

RH: We all met in the early early days, in the late 90s. He was playing music in Tasmania. We’ve always gotten along and always been aware of each other and then of course Shooglenifty stole hime for a long time. I think Kate and I decided about 18 months ago that we would like to do another album as it’s been such a long time in between. And we immediately thought of Luke because we knew that he was starting to do some production work. From the word go he had input – we’d narrowed down a list from about 60 songs to 15 and got it to where it was. He’s been a bit of a silent third member of the band actually. I don’t think the album would have been anywhere near as successful without his input. It’s been an absolute joy actually, not just from a production level but his playing on it is fabulous and also he engineered it as well. He’s just a really lovely person to work with in the actual recording studio situation. Kate and I both with kids and being mums we needed somebody who was level headed to keep us all together.

GHE: I love his production work. And the fact that he’s such an amazing musician as well adds to the production that he does.

RH: I think one of the specialties of Luke is even though he doesn’t sing he’s intensely good with song and finding the meaning in a song and finding the lyrics. He’s a bit of a super-head and we’re a bit proud to have been working with him.

GHE: You said you had to whittle the song choices down from about 60 songs, most of which I assume were traditional. Where do you source your trad songs from? Are you just flicking through the The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs and pulling songs out?

RH: We’ve done it that way in the past. All of us have houses full of Australian Folklore Volume 1 and 2 and the Cecil Sharpe Collections and all of that sort of stuff. We’re also very influenced by contemporary singers. Like “The Queen of Hearts” on the album for example, there’s been a lot of versions of that done very recently. When you play traditional songs you kind of go “does the world need another version of that?”. I think ultimately we just listen really widely and a good part of that process is the three of us all put in 20 odd songs each from all over the place. We basically did this from recordings as opposed to sheet music and books this time around. And it was good because we were challenged by Luke particularly from the word go with what it was about that song – was it the feel, was it the lyrics, was it the story. It made us really think about what we were trying to say. Sometimes you stumble into doing an album and it’s all about enthusiasm and you lose site of what the bigger picture is. And also quite often at festivals you’re sitting down listening to other people singing and you go “I want that song!”. A good song is a good song, however you find it.

GHE: I feel like when you’ve talked about your song choices on stage before you very rarely talk about getting the songs directly from “the source”. More often than not your story behind where you found the song involves you hearing someone’s version first.

RH: Yeah but also I studied post graduate folklore – we’ll start at that point but I always make a point, and so does Kate, of going back and finding the source. So even if we’ve fallen in love with say Linda Thompson’s version of “Bleezin’ Blind Drunk”, I’ll get back in there and do as much research to try and find exactly where that came from. And sometimes that takes an awful amount of time but sometimes it informs the way you sing it, knowing its history.

GHE: Do you ever then find the original version is so different that you’re torn by how to interpret it?

RH: Actually more so on this album. Kate and I took a very different approach to traditional music. When we were younger and we were being called “bearers of the tradition” there was a weight with that. We felt like we couldn’t touch the traditional song much. With this album we’ve really rearranged the songs to suit our purposes. Not to the point of not being recognisable of course! I probably call it the Andy Irvine approach – a song is a song that needs to be sung in its context. To put your own musical input into it you’ve got to be more and more prepared to muck around with the lyrics and muck around with the tune so it suits your purposes better. As I said I think that’s all fine as long as it comes with the respect and the knowledge of the source. I think songs don’t exist if you sing them the same way over and over again for ever.

GHE: I really like it when artists take traditional music and make it their own. The songs are not unrecognisable but you’re singing them from your own context.

RH: Absolutely. I think when you’re young you get so excited by the music that you do tend to cover it as opposed to interpret it. I agree with you, interpretation is the key to singing traditional songs. I’m not a great songwriter – Kate writes more songs than I do – but there’s a similar craft to that reinterpretation as exists to songwriting.

GHE: I’m glad that you’ve got a couple of your own songs on here as well. You’ve got one each on the album. The song you wrote is “Hearts Of Sorrow” which is beautiful, it has lots of contemporary themes running through it. Why that song in particular?

RH: I think it fitted topically. The album is a bit darker in terms of topic. Certainly one of the things that comes through [the album] is women’s stories – domestic abuse and that sort of stuff. I don’t write that many songs so it was a terrifying thing to actually include one on a Kate and Ruth Album. I’ve sung them live but I’ve very rarely released a song of my own. I think both of us are politically charged and politically aware and politically extremely disappointed at the moment. I think we felt like we wanted to make that statement and it just so happens that I had that song sitting on the sideline and it kind of works within the context of the album as a whole. I’m pleased it got on there!

GHE: Do you guys have a rule that you have to have a Bob Dylan song on every single album?

RH: No, but we always come to an album wanting to put a Dylan one on there. It turned out the way that it has.

GHE: I don’t think there’s a Dylan song on every album, that was a bit cheeky of me.

RH: But there pretty much is! I think we do actually go “is there a Dylan song that will fit?”. “Lay Down Your Weary Tune” – Bob Dylan wrote it as is departure from wanting to be a political singer but it’s also got that kind of sentiment that anyone who’s into politics has at the moment, a kind of resignation for the status of bad things that are going on. It’s a reflection of that sort of thing.

GHE: And again it’s the way that you interpret those songs as well. I came to Dylan quite late so I heard your version of “Let Me Die in My Footsteps” before I heard his version, and when I sort his out I thought “this isn’t anywhere near as good as Kate & Ruth’s“.

RH: What a compliment! But if you wanted to compliment the real taker there that would be a musician named Tim Scalan who we pinched that particular feel from. But there you go, there’s the folk process in action.

GHE: You guys are going to be at The National Folk Festival this year which is very exciting. I first saw you guys at The National way back in the late 90s. Does it feel like a bit of a homecoming for you guys?

RH: Absolutely. We met when we were in Canberra, I went to university in Canberra and Kate did her later schooling in Canberra. We learnt and met a lot of people in our folk family in Canberra. So it’s exciting and also slightly nerve wracking after such a long break, going back to it. But it’s definitely home territory and I think it’s the festival we’re the most fond of given our history and how long we’ve been going.

GHE: Has The National changed for you now that you have kids? Does the way you experience the festival differ now that you’ve started a family.

RH: Yeah, it’s a totally different cup of tea. You kind of still think you’re 21 in your head half the time. I’d love to be in the session bar until five o’clock every morning but I’ve got a child who gets up at five thirty [laughs]. It’s a lot harder traveling and being able to get out there, as well because Kate and I live in different states. It’s different at the festival but it’s nice because more people our age are having kids now so there’s an assemblage all of us who were once young now dragging around little kids and changing nappies in odd spots. It’s lovely to expose your kids to the same stuff that you grew up with in a way – it’s really funny watching them pick out instruments and dancing along and knowing all these kooky songs that are very not mainsteam.

GHE: So after The National are you guys taking Declaration out on tour or to any other festivals?

RH: We’re only just getting around to sorting that out. We’re doing the St Albans Folk Festival. It’s been really lovely, people have been inviting us to play a fair bit which is wonderful, but logistically it’s really different to organise all of that stuff. But I think we’re going to sit down after Easter and do some Melbourne launches, try and get up to the Sydney/Newcastle region for a weekend. Kate’s just started post-graduate studies so a lot that revolves around her at the moment. We will launch it but I think we’ll launch it slowly and I think that’s part of what happens realistically when you have kids and you try to get back into the game. We’ll be flogging it for a long time!

GHE: I’m really happy that you’ve chosen to launch it at The National. It will be great to see you guys live. I hope I can actually get into one of your gigs because I imagine they’ll be very popular!

RH: You never know! We’re really looking forward to it.

Listen to Fraser A Gorman Cover “Blues Run The Game”

Fraser A Gorman
Image Courtesy of Fraser A Gorman

“Blues Run The Game” is one of those songs that has been covered by everyone but is always a joy hear a new version of. Melbourne folk-rock singer Fraser A Gorman is the latest artist to tackle the Jackson C. Frank 60s classic with Leah Senior contributing backing vocals. The track is a B-Side for Gorman’s new single “Broken Hands” – take a listen to “Blues Run The Game” below:

National Folk Festival Interview: Sparrow-Folk

Sparrow Folk
Image Courtesy of Sparrow-Folk

Canberra based comedy-folk duo Sparrow-Folk have been making waves on both the folk and comedy festival circuit in recent months with their unique, wry musical take on everyday situations. In what was probably the funniest interview I’ve ever done I chatted to Juliet Moody and Catherine Crowley, the duo who make up Sparrow-Folk, before their appearance at The National Folk Festival this weekend.

Gareth Hugh Evans: You guys have had a massively busy year so far. Just looking at your social media it seems like you’re everywhere, all the time.

Juliet Moody: Not musically, just stalking people.

Catherine Crowley: Have we been stalking the same celebrities?

GHE: [laughs] Has that been a concerted effort from you guys, to make it a big 2015.

JM: Last year kind of found us, rather than the other way around. We were able to The National Folk Fetsival last year which is fantastic. And while we were there lots of people were saying “are you doing this festival, are your doing that one” and we were like “no? We didn’t even know about them”. So last year was the first time we did any sort of folk festival so this year we made a concerted effort to just do every one that we can mixed in with comedy festivals and fringe festivals. We’ve basically done this to ourselves.

GHE: Which is excellent. And you’re obviously juggling jobs and family as well. It’s got to be quite a different audience going to a folk festival compared to a comedy festival.

CC: Yeah, the audience is really down to earth. We have lots of fun – both types of festivals are really exciting and we have different experiences but there’s something really nice about a folk festival and the audience we have there. Folk festivals are all about playing for your family whereas comedy festivals are really you throwing yourself out there. We love folk festivals because we feel we can share all of our music not just our really funny stuff.

GHE: Comedy audiences are a bit more demanding. They sit in front of you and say “right, make me laugh”.

CC: And folkie audiences are arms wide open audiences. They want to get to know you, they want to listen to what your music’s about and how you made the music.

GHE: So last year was the first National that you’ve played at as Sparrow-Folk.

CC: We started life at the blackboard gig in The Bohemia tent. I think it was the first year of the Bohemia tent. That’s where we first discovered each other.

JM: That’s right. We had other people that we were playing with at the time. It was more of an improv set. But our eyes locked…

CC: From across the microphones…

JM: And we went “let’s forget all these other guys on stage, we’ve got something here”. So literally that day we went away and said “we should do something together”. And our music actually started as folk music. I don’t think we ever intended to go into comedy. It’s just that people kept laughing at us. Which really is why we like doing the folk festivals because every now and then we throw in a serious song or a song that really means something to us and folk festival people really lap that up. Comedy people are “Nah. Move on”.

GHE: Folk as a genre lends itself to comedy as well because it’s all about lyrics. And audiences expect you to talk about the song before you sing it.

JM: I agree with what you’re saying. We find when we’re put in the folk festival circuit you get lots of people coming up and saying “this is great that they’ve put some comedy in”. It gives people an opportunity to relax or laugh a little bit. Some folk music can be quite heavy, some of the topics that they talk about can be quite dark or heavy. I totally think it lends itself to comedy. But there’s not a lot of folk comedy people out there so it’s good to get a chance to share what we do.

GHE: And you guys insert social comment into your comedy. And that’s really a folk thing as well, using the music to comment on society.

CC: I don’t think we could ever write funny songs without some sort of comment. We’re socially conscious women.

JM: Everything has an element of truth in it and I think that’s why people identify with our style of music. Even though we’re singing funny songs and they’re about stupid things sometimes they come from a place of truth. It doesn’t mean that the actual story has happened that way but events have happened in our life or we’ve met people and thought “that is hilarious” or “that’s really significant”. I don’t think we ever sit down going “we need to write something funny”, I think something happens to us and we go “let’s write a song”.

GHE: It’s funny that you guys said that you got together at a blackboard concert. So many musicians I talk to say that that was their first introduction to performing at the festival. It’s like a right of passage.

CC: When we were chatting to Pam [Merrigan], the artist director of The National Folk Festival, we told her our story about starting at the blackboard gig she said almost all of [the artists] started that way. That’s what she really loves about the festival, she was saying, that there are lots of these folk bands who started at The National, at a blackboard gig just jamming together. It’s nice.

GHE: After The National Folk Festival are you guys going to be focusing on getting to even more festivals this year?

JM: We try to get to as many as we can. It’s great for us – we obviously love doing them – but it’s also an easy access point for people to come and see us play. Because of the nature of what we do we can’t do these major tours that go on from months and months and months. Doing a festival circuit means that people can access our music first hand which is great.

GHE: And it must be great to play at all of these family friendly festivals as well.

JM: Absolutely. We played at Kangaroo Valley and it was the first festival that we decided we’d take all the family, which was fun. We hired a big house up there and had a great weekend with all the kids. It was crazy at times but it’s another wonderful thing about folk festivals is that they are so family friendly.

GHE: Although you always have to be careful taking kids to comedy-folk acts.

CC: For some of our songs we go “oh no, there’s some kids around”

JM: We do try to put a little warning if we’ve got some naughty stuff in there.

CC: Sometimes parents just come up and go “it’s great, it’s an education”. We keep getting put later and later on the bill for just that reason. We were playing a festival not long ago and started at 10:30pm and we thought “Great! We’ll pull out all our naughty songs” but there was still kids in the front row.

JM: It is a good folk festival thing for kids – they stay up late, run around and have a good time.

GHE: So what’s the evolution of Sparrow-Folk? You talked about how you never intended to be a comedy band. Would you ever focus on the serious side of your music?

CC: Sparrow-Folk seems to be constantly evolving. We have found ourselves in the comedy industry where we’re quite a niche. We’re doing music, we’re doing every day humour, so I think we’re liking the couch we’re sitting on in the comedy industry. But you never know, things are always happening. And of course inspiration for us, ideas for songs, come from everywhere so we never know.

JM: I read an interview with Tim Minchin recently and I kind of liken it to that. He doesn’t like to call himself a comedian so much as he’s a musician who has found himself in that kind of arena. And now he’s gone off and done this musical [Matilda]. If we found ourselves writing more soulful stuff that’s probably the direction we’d go. I guess you’re also in tune with what your audience wants to hear as well. It’s a journey that’s found us and we do what we love. Who knows what’s around the river bend … says Pocahontas.

CC: Who knows the colours of the wind?

JM: I do.

CC: Yours are green as far as I’m concerned.

JM: It’s all the curried egg sandwiches.

CC: What?

JM: Nothing like a good fart joke in an interview.

GHE: Thanks for that [laughs]. So at The National is there anything that you guys are involved in that people should know about?

CC: Yes! We have an [Infinite] Reggae entry.

GHE: That’s very exciting!

JM: We’re playing the greatest reggae song ever written.

CC: The greatest.

JM: We can’t tell you the title but it’s going to be awesome.

CC: You’re just going to have to wait and see. You cannot miss the reggae.

GHE: I’m looking forward to that!

CC: And if you can’t go to the folk festival we are doing the Melbourne Comedy Festival and the Sydney Comedy Festival.

Watch the New Dan Mangan + Blacksmith Video “Mouthpiece”

Dan Mangan
Image Courtesy of Dan Mangan + Blacksmith

Dan Mangan + Blacksmith have just released their brand new video “Mouthpiece”, taken from their new album Club Meds. Check it out below:

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