Folk ‘Til Ya Punk Records Announce BRISFOPO Folk Punk Festival

BRISFOPO
Image Courtesy of Folk ‘Til Ya Punk Records

Following the huge success of the inaugural folk-punk festival HOBOFOPO (Hobart’s Original Folk Punk Orgy) Folk ‘Til Ya Punk Records are heading north and doing it all again in Brisbane this May.

BRISFOPO will celebrate Brisbanes burgeoning folk-punk scene from the 25th to 28th May. The festival will take place in venues across Brisbane with a focus across the wide rand of folk-punk sub genres (sub sub genres?) – from Celtic punk to Australiana bluegrass to acoustic protest songs and more.

A number of bands have already been announced for BRISFOPO including The Dead Maggies, Fox n Firkin, The Button Collective, The Rogue Scholars, Andy Paine, The Dangerous Folk, Quinton Trembath and Jim Mongrel with many more to be announced.

To find out more information check out the official BRISFOPO site here.

Laura Marling Announces More Australian Dates

Laura Marling
Image Courtesy of Laura Marling

When Laura Marling was announced as part of the VIVID LIVE lineup in Sydney this year we new it would only be a matter of time before the rest of Australia was treated to dates as well.

This week Marling has announced further shows in Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne this June. She will be touring her amazing new album Semper Femina – check out the full list of dates below:

Thursday 8th June – The Triffid, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 10th June – The Gov, Adelaide, SA
Sunday 11th June – The Forum, Melbourne, VIC
Monday 12th June – Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 24th March

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– Brisbane alt-folk four-piece Elbury released their new video “Past Life Memories”. Details here

Bob Evans announced a national tour kicking off this April. Details here

– Indie-folk duo Oh Pep! released their new video “Crazy Feels”. Details here

– Queensland duo Busby Marou have announced national tour dates. Details here

– Melbourne electro-folk artist BATTS released her new song “For Now”. Details here

– Melbourne alt-country duo Broads announced national tour dates. Details here

William Crighton announced a May tour plus the release of his new 7-inch vinyl “Hope Recovery”. Details here

Blog

“Trad purists will no doubt look down there nose at Ed Sheeran’s folky offerings on ÷, the same way they have with other pop crossover songs over the years. Some of that will be justified – in reality “Galway Girl” is not a great song despite Beoga’s influence – but much of this will be a knee jerk reaction to a perceived popularisation of the tradition”Gareth Hugh Evans argues that the trad inspired songs on Ed Sheeran’s new album are a good thing for the scene. Blog here

Reviews

Gigs

“The full gamut of natural disasters may have threatened to unleash the doors of doom upon the festival many of times– yet they never have. From deep mud to the high winds that huffed and puffed til they blew Lurline Pav down before opening a few years back, to this year’s demise of the main indoor venue – Katoomba RSL – which burnt to the ground just a couple of weeks ago, this festival, like Katoomba itself, is a foot soldier of survival. You can blow her big top down, you can burn her to the ground, but the show will go on, and the founding Festival Co-Directors Bob Charter and Al Ward are well seasoned masters of the quick switch”Elizabeth Walton reviews this year’s Blue Mountains Music Festival. Review here

Releases This Week

Chapter One
Chapter OneDarcy Fox
iTunes

Johnny Flynn
SillionJohnny Flynn
iTunes

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

The Button Collective

Button Collective

Folk favourites The Button Collective hit up shows in Wollongong and Byron this week before the official launch of their new album Hall on the Hill in Brisbane next Friday with The Long Johns and Paddy McHugh in support

Friday 24th March – Howlin’ Wolf, Wollongong, NSW
Thursday 30th March – Treehouse on Belongil, Byron Bay, NSW
Friday 31st March – The Milk Factory, Brisbane, QLD

Gigs Next Week

Amber Lawrence & Catherine Britt
Friday 31st March – Red Hot Music, Devonport, TAS

Argyle Sun-Sets @ Freds feat. Ackers, Ali Morgan, Nicole Issa
Sunday 26th March – Upstairs at Fred’s, Camden, NSW

Belle Jar
Friday 24th March – The Old City Bank, Katoomba, NSW

Boy & Bear
Sunday 26th March – A Day on the Lawn, Hobart, TAS

Burrows w/ James Teague, Happy Axe
Saturday 25th March – Some Velvet Morning, Melbourne, VIC

Craig Woodward
Sunday 26th March – Bluebonnet BBQ, Melbourne, VIC

Darcy Fox
Saturday 25th March – House Concert, Gippsland, VIC
Friday 31st March – The Newsagency, Sydney, NSW

Dusty Ravens
Saturday 25th March – The Bearded Tit, Sydney, NSW

Eddi Reader
Friday 24th March – Fly By Night, Fremantle, WA

Elwood Myre
Saturday 25th March – The Stag & Hunter, Mayfield, NSW

FolkSwagon feat. Mat Morgan, Mama Schultz, Liam Gale & The Ponytails
Wednesday 29th March – Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Frank Sultana and The Sinister Kids
Friday 24th March – Southern Comfort Carnival, Surly’s American BBQ, Burgers & Beer, Sydney, NSW

Get Folked Punk 1st Birthday Party
Thursday 30th March – Lazybones Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Grigoryan Brothers
Saturday 25th March – Prom Coast Seachange Festival, Foster, VIC
Sunday 26th March – Frankston Arts Centre, Frankston, VIC

Hinterlandt
Friday 24th March – Jane’s, Wollongong, NSW

Holly Throsby
Saturday 25th March – Jive, Adelaide, SA
Sunday 26th March – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 30th March – Mojos, Fremantle, WA
Friday 31st March – Babushka, Perth, WA

Irish Mythen
Friday 24th March – Lizotte’s, Newcastle, NSW
Saturday 25th to Sunday 26th March – Yackandanda Folk Festival, Yackandanda, VIC
Thursday 30th March – The Toff in Town, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 31st March – Old Castlemaine Gaol, Castlemaine, VIC

Jack Carty
Saturday 25th March – Bella Union Trades Hall, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 31st March – Paddington Uniting Church, Sydney, NSW

Jeff Lang
Friday 24th March – Golden Vine, Bendigo, VIC
Saturday 25th March – Suttons, Ballarat, VIC
Friday 31st March – Trinity Sessions, Adelaide, SA

Jessie Lloyd: The Mission Songs Project
Friday 24th March – Eltham World Music Cafe, Melbourne, VIC

Josh Rennie-Hynes
Saturday 25th March – Stone Pony, Wilunga, SA
Friday 31st March – Trinity Sessions, Adelaide, SA

Kate Miller-Heidke
Friday 24th March – Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 25th March – Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW
Friday 31st March – Perth Concert Hall, Perth, WA

Les Poules à Colin
Friday 24th to Sunday 26th March – Yackandandah Folk Festival, Yackandandah, VIC
Friday 31st March – Illawarra Folk Club, Wollongong, NSW

Martha Marlow
Monday 27th March – Nowra, NSW
Wednesday 29th March – Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW

Martha Tilston
Friday 24th March – Newham Hall, Newham, VIC
Saturday 25th to Sunday 26th March – Yackandandah Festival, Yackandandah, VIC
Thursday 30th March – Lizottes, Newcastle, NSW
Friday 31st March – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW

Martha Wainwright
Friday 24th March – Capital Theatre, Bendigo, VIC

Ocean Rhythms Music Festival
Saturday 25th March – Old Bar Beach, Old Bar, NSW

Peasant Moon w/ Rick Hart
Saturday 25th March – Retreat Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Papa Pilko And The Binrats
Saturday 25th March – Southern Comfort Carnival, Surly’s American BBQ, Burgers & Beer, Sydney, NSW

Quarry Mountain Death Rats, The Scrims
Friday 24th March – Bar Open, Melbourne, VIC

Raised By Eagles
Saturday 25th March – The Melba Spiegeltent, Melbourne, VIC

Roland Kay-Smith
Thursday 30th March – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW

Sancha & the Blue Gypsies
Sunday 26th March – Django Bar, Sydney, NSW

Southern Comfort Carnival
Wednesday 15th to Saturday 25th March – Surly’s American BBQ, Burgers & Beer, Sydney, NSW

Steampacket Sessions Irish Music Weekend
Friday 24th to Sunday 26th March – Steampacket Hotel, Nelligan, NSW

The Basin Music Festival
Friday 24th to Sunday 26th March – The Basin, VIC

The Button Collective
Friday 24th March – Howlin’ Wolf, Wollongong, NSW
Thursday 30th March – Treehouse on Belongil, Byron Bay, NSW
Friday 31st March – The Milk Factory, Brisbane, QLD

The East Pointers
Friday 24th March – Unorthodox Church of Groove, Newcastle, NSW
Saturday 25th March – Wauchope Community Arts Hall, Wauchope, NSW
Sunday 26th March – Cedar Bar, Bellingen, NSW
Thursday 30th March – Bellevue Hotel: Townsville Folk and Acoustic Music Club, Townsville, QLD
Friday 31st March – Tanks Arts Centre, Cairns, QLD

The Man From Snowy River Festival
Thursday 30th March to Sunday 2nd April – Corryong, VIC

The McClymonts
Friday 24th to Sunday 26th March – CMC Rocks 2017, Ipswich, QLD

The Morrisons
Friday 24th March – 5 Church Street, Bellingen, NSW
Saturday 25th March – Oceans Rhythm Festival, Old Bar, NSW

The Northern Folk
Thursday 30th March – The Evelyn Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

The Séamus Begley Trio
Saturday 25th March – The Fly By Night Club, Fremantle, WA

The Spooky Men’s Chorale
Friday 24th March – Darwin Entertainment Centre, Darwin, NT

The Waifs
Saturday 25th March – The Odeon Theatre, Hobart, TAS
Sunday 26th March – The Don Centre, Devonport, TAS
Tuesday 28th March – The Ulumbarra Theatre, Bendigo, VIC
Wednesday 29th March – Hamer Hall, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 30th March – Hamer Hall, Melbourne, VIC

This Way North
Thursday 30th March – Settlers Tavern, Margret River, WA

Timberwolf
Friday 24th to Sunday 26th March – The Hills Are Alive, South Gippsland, VIC

TinPan Orange
Friday 24th and Saturday 25th March – Yackandandah Folk Festival, VIC
Sunday 26th March – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC

Violent Femmes
Friday 24th March – Waves, Wollongong, NSW
Saturday 25th March – Annies Lane, Queanbeyan, NSW
Monday 27th March – Darwin Entertainment Centre, Darwin, NT
Wednesday 29th March – The Tivoli, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 31st March – Twin Towns, Coolangatta, QLD

Warrandyte Festival
Friday 24th to Sunday 26th March – Warrandyte, VIC

Yackandandah Folk Festival
Friday 24th to Sunday 26th March – Yackandandah, VIC

Friday Folk Flashback

“Minute 5” – Beoga

If you’ve listened to Ed Sheeran’s “Galway Girl” here’s the tune that’s playing behind it.

William Crighton Announces East Coast Tour and 7-Inch Vinyl

William Crighton
Image Courtesy of William Crighton

On the 31st March celebrated singer-songwriter William Crighton will be releasing his brand new 7-inch vinyl (and digital signal) “Hope Recovery”.

To celebrate its release William Crighton will be hitting the road for a series of East Coast dates throughout May and June, and those shows are set to offer up a bunch of surprises for fans.

“I don’t want to give too much away,” Crighton explained. “Expect a host of special guests and a mixture of unplugged and electric sounds, but essentially it’ll be unlike anything else we’ve ever done.”

Check out the full list of dates below:

Friday 5th May – Bella Union Trades Hall, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 7th May – Grampians Grape Escape, Halls Gap, VIC
Friday 12th May – Leadbelly, Newtown, NSW
Saturday 13th May – Smiths Alternative, Canberra, ACT
Saturday 20th May – Old Museum, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 27th May – 48 Watt St, Newcastle, NSW
Friday 9th June – The Ex-Services Club, Mullum, NSW
Saturday 10th June – Diggers Tavern, Bellingen, NSW

Ed Sheeran and Beoga: Pop’s Latest Flirtation with Trad Music

Ed Sheeran
Image Courtesy of Ed Sheeran

A couple of weeks ago Ed Sheeran cemented his status as the biggest male popstar on the planet with the release of his smash hit new album ÷ (pronounced Divide).

If you follow the trad music or Irish music press you’ll know that for at least two of the tracks on ÷ Sheeran collaborated with Northern Irish trad group Beoga.

The first of these tracks, “Galway Girl” (not the Steve Earle track of the same name), was actually inspired by Beoga’s fiddle player Niamh Dunne and features their tune “Minute 5” over the chorus. The lyrics of “Galway Girl” are peppered with trad references (this may be the first number one track to reference Irish song “Carrickfergus”) and Dunne gushed about Sheeran’s love of “Planxty, The Chiefains and … Irish music” in recent interviews.

The second track on ÷ with a piece of Beoga trad is “Nancy Mulligan”, inspired by the story of Sheeran’s Irish grandparents. The track has more trad feel than “Galway Girl” and even features a bit of an Irish-pub-like-singalong during the lead break.

“Galway Girl” was released as a single on St Patrick’s Day and hit the top 10 in a bunch of countries. In an interview with The Guardian Sheeran said that he had to fight to keep the “folk” songs on the album.

“They were really, really against “Galway Girl”, because apparently folk music isn’t cool,” Ed Sheeran explained. “But there’s 400 million people in the world that say they’re Irish, even if they’re not Irish. You meet them in America all the time: “I’m a quarter Irish and I’m from Donegal.” And those type of people are going to fucking love it. My argument was always: well, the Corrs sold 20 million records. The label would say, “Oh the Corrs, that was years ago,” but who’s tried it since the Corrs? There’s a huge gap in the market, and I promise you that in two years’ time there will be a big folk band that comes up that’s pop, and that will happen as a result of labels being like: “Oh shit, if he can put a fiddle and uilleann pipe on it, then we can try it as well”.”

As Sheeran points out trad music in pop music isn’t new. The Corrs practically owned the folk-pop genre in the late 90s and early 2000s. B*Witched 1998 hit “C’est la Vie” was has an Irish whistle solo played over DJ scratching. Even the oft-criticised-for-not-being-real-folk-music Mumford and Sons kick off their track “Roll Away Your Stone” with the Irish trad fiddle tune “Merrily Kissed the Quaker”.

Trad purists will no doubt look down there nose at Ed Sheeran’s folky offerings on ÷, the same way they have with other pop crossover songs over the years. Some of that will be justified – in reality “Galway Girl” is not a great song despite Beoga’s influence – but much of this will be a knee jerk reaction to a perceived popularisation of the tradition.

In truth having an artist of Ed Sheeran’s stature declare his love for Irish trad music can only have upside for the genre.

Think of Sheeran as a trad gateway drug. For many of his fans “Galway Girl” and “Nancy Mulligan” will be their first exposure to this kind of music and even if only a small percentage follow the influences of the songs back to Planxty, The Dubliners, The Chieftains and beyond, that’s still a bunch of music fans that may never have discovered this music otherwise.

While trad may have a reputation in the wider community as twee or old fashioned those “in the know” know it’s a vibrant genre with a bunch of really exciting young artists coming up through the ranks. If you’ve ever caught a set from Trouble In The Kitchen, Tolka, Sásta or any of the other amazing local trad bands around the country you’ll know how much their music can capture your attention, can fill you up and most importantly can make you want to dance.

The best case scenario is the local and international trad scene will see a spike in activity and interest thanks to Sheeran’s flirtation with the genre and that can only be positive. Every fan who clicks a “like” button on social media, watches a Youtube video, comes to a gig or session featuring traditional music because they’re new favourite song is “Galway Girl” is a new part of our community.

So when you hear “Galway Girl” and “Nancy Mulligan” blaring on a pop radio station or out of your kid’s Spotify account take a moment to recognise that this could be the first step on the trad music journey for a new fan. That’s got to make you happy.

Broads Announce National Tour Dates

Broads
Image Courtesy of Broads

Melbourne alt-country duo Broads have announced plans to hit the road this April, May and June to celebrate their brand new album Vacancy.

Vacancy, which was released at the end of February, has already garnered a bunch of critical acclaim. These shows are not to be missed – check out the full list of dates below:

Saturday 1st April – Toff In Town, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 27th May – The Bearded Tit, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 28th May – Hardy’s Bay Club, Central Coast, NSW
Friday 23rd June – The Junk Bar, Brisbane, QLD
Sunday 25th June – Bellingen Brewery, Bellingen, NSW
Saturday 15th July – Grace Emily, Adelaide, SA

Listen to the New BATTS single “For Now”

Batts
Image Courtesy of BATTS

Melbourne musician BATTS (aka Tanya Batt) has just released her brand new single “For Now”. The track is a slight change of direction for BATTS who has been very electronically influenced in recent years – “For Now” is more acoustically driven with an ambient slant you’d expect from artists like Bon Iver or Daughter.

We really love everything BATTS does and this is one of our favourite tracks yet – take a listen below:

To celebrate the release of “For Now” BATTS has a residency on Sunday’s through April at Melbourne bar Some Velvet Morning – the full list of dates is below:

Sunday 2nd April – Some Velvet Morning, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 9th April – Some Velvet Morning, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 23rd April – Some Velvet Morning, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 30th April – Some Velvet Morning, Melbourne, VIC

2017 Blue Mountains Music Festival – The Wrap

Paul Kelly and Charlie Owen doing Funeral Songs

Words and Pictures by Elizabeth Walton

“Can’t wait for this to start – Paul Kelly is Australia’s answer to Bob Dylan.”  So the murmur of the audience flows while revelers wait in the light filled entrance to the Lurline Pavilion at the 2017 Blue Mountains Music Festival.

“Nah mate, Bob Dylan is America’s answer to Paul Kelly,” comes the well whittled retort, a fitting reflection on the loyalty of the Australian pilgrimage to the Blue Mountains Music Festival, where Australia’s tower of song – Paul Kelly – has appeared many times.

The punters flood the moment with favourite festival stories, washed down with a good pint of Guinness. Mustering the strength to move past the thousands to the front of stage where you can really get lost in the experience – that’s what they are pausing at the entrance to do, for this is the festival’s main event – and that’s all part of the show.

Katoomba may be the original decaf soy latte kinda town, but the Blue Mountains Music Festival is still a double ristretto kind of event. Headliners including Kelly and The Waifs may have returned countless times, but you’d wonder why you would want to change something that clearly ain’t broke.

As the rain pours down, the mud slides up. The cafes flow with conversations filled with passionate responses to Gregg Borschmann’s Heartland Conversations, the virtues of six dollar gumboots, and the best fashion statement you can make with a plastic yellow poncho without face planting in the mud.

Paul Kelly hit the stage with his latest project, Death’s Dateless Night, an album of funeral songs recorded with collaborator Charlie Owen on dobro and keys, tenderly harmonized by Kelly’s own clan of daughters, the beautiful Memphis ad Maddie. The audience loved it, but loved it even more when the band eventually visited the song man’s own material. Though Kelly invited the audience to lay him down a pallet on the floor, and to just let it be, the cheers definitely grew louder when “To her Door” finally opened on centre stage.

The festival opened with acts including Caiti Baker, whose vocal style leaves you feeling that she wants to blow the walls of the theatre down, get out into the open where she can feel the  wind moving in her hair. The space seems a little small for her raging sound, verging from lyrical blues to a good decent growl. She tells us on Saturday she’ll be down on the Lurline Pavilion, the main outdoor stage at the show, though she pronounces it less like the colloquial Lur-lign, and more like Lur-Leene, rhyming the venue with Dolly Parton’s Joe-line, and soon has the audience singing along with her to an impromptu bash at Dolly’s favourite tune.

On Saturday night the Big Tent looks like it might fill with water, instead it’s a flood of grey hair and beanies, people moshing around in the mud in their comfy hand-made  knits and sensible weather wear. But if that gives a distinctively silver streaked view of the pilgrims, that’s only because the young ones are moshing at the front of the Main Stage, grooving out to Urthboy with his dub overlays and ultra chill. If you’re lucky this weekend you’ll only have gone through three pairs of water-ready shoes a day, your children won’t have sunk chin-deep in the mud, and you will be very happy with the new era of sounds washed in by Urthboy – where it’s standing room only up near the doof as the crowd gets all up close and personal like, pressed in so close that they leave the rest of the pavilion entirely empty. Up close and personal is the real thing when techo fans assemble to watch a row of straight standing personnel in front of a giant DJ desk, laying down the riffs over a deep sonic tonic.  Meanwhile,  a raft of festival volunteers politely excuse themselves from duty so they can catch the last 15 minutes of boyfilled Urth. This has always been a festival that knew its demographic well, and takes no umbrance with serving up something for everyone. From Blue Grass to Trad Folk, the genres represented expand the very notion of what seems like a 360 degree perpetually evolving spectrum of musical styles.

In a world where festivals are born, reach their peak and quickly fade, this event is now hosting third generation folk who wouldn’t have this gig played out any other way. The audience is right at home with the cabaret style humour of The Loveys, who’ve flown all the way from Mullum, bringing along their jokes about yoga and farmers’ market twee. They clink their way through a set in German,  which slips past their too-red lips and over-stated eyewear, their gentrified hats, and putt great-grandma’s Royal Doulton to a new, unintended use as the china tinkers out a syncopated funk. Midway through the gig one of the ladies asks for LSD – but it turns out she isn’t craving the hallucinatory type, she’s just after a Latte Soy Dandelion. Nailing the piss-take on all things modern circa 2017, from transgender marital departures to personality disorders – even the pursuit of happiness isn’t spared from their material. But they’re not popular just for their good humour, they’re a festival highlight because they’re absolutely gorgeous and very bloody good – especially the well grounded Bass Uke of Madeleine Liddy, who churns out a phat sound reminiscent of McCartney’s Hoffman – a sound others in the same venue struggled to achieve.

Perhaps that’s just down to luck, or it could be technique, but Liddy doesn’t think so. “It’s because it’s preloved,” she says. “And it’s well-worn in,” she adds with a cheeky wink, much like the general spirit of these grand duchies. “Oh, and it hasn’t got any varnish”.  Well that’s definitely it, wouldn’t you think? Some might think it’s just a great attitude shared amongst these ladies, including Janet Swain, who appears clad in a spectacular green velvet robe, reclaimed from some Victorian widow’s wardrobe.  She wears her threads comfortably as she honks and hauls her bassoon like a baritone sax.

A honkin and a yankin in some unintended direction is all par for the course, from the street buskers grooving overdubbed percussive raps on part-filled glass bottles, to Mic Conway’s Junk Band, giving himself an onstage vasectomy with a saw played so nostalgically that the audience asks “who is that woman singing with that distinctive voice”. It’s not a woman singing, it’s Conway’s vitals begging for mercy as he slashes out his aptly nervous and wobbly tune. His side kick is the amazing sousaphone player dubbed “Marjorie Snodgrass” for this line up, who sometimes cameos in the Cope Street Parade.  She spends an hour after the event lavishing praise upon Lewis the Sound Guy for “getting” that she is the bass – whether she’s pumping her sousa, or an impeccably rendered mouth-impro bass jug. They don’t call it a junk band for nothing. The mutual admiration continues until Lewis and most of the band discover they’re all neighbours in Sydney’s eclectic inner west.

Lewis covers the event every year, bringing his own mics to work his room, The Clarendon Theatre, whose plush trim is renowned for delivering a distinctively flat sound that Lewis successfully overcomes without the aid of the high end, crystal clear gear and production values of the main stages. It’s a challenge, but like all Blue Mountains Festival devotees, one which he could perhaps best be described as pathologically drawn to. The rigors of the job are largely performed by the unknown and the unthanked, but the dooers of these unseen tasks are usually destined to return.  Once the festival gets into the blood, it’s a well fixed hooked.

True to form the mountains throws its unaustralian weather – unaustralian because even folk from the Arctic Circle cry that it’s freezing cold. In the Arctic at least when it rains it falls as snow – a dry white dust that easily brushes off. The Blue Mountains offer a unique kind of soak that seeps right into your soul. Then come the complaints from the uninitiated, rain weary after three days trudging around in it. “I’d rather live in Canada than live in this!” Yes, you probably would, but that’s part of the attraction of the mountains, and it’s why all those silver streaks are standing there happily in their sensible outdoor gear. There’s a saying in the mountains – there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear. Get the good gear and you’re right to go.

Yet for the musos actually from the Arctic Circle such as The Jerry Cans, they’ve found their ‘other world’, a far departure from the Australian places they’ve previously played, melting  in the heat, discovering only then that the reason they developed a style of playing so fast was to stop themselves from freezing to death. From Adelaide to Darwin they preserved their organs from overheating on frenetic energy at a gazillion degrees. The weather doesn’t seem to have impeded their throat singing, electrified fiddle and squeeze box filled riot of a style. Here they discover they can finally crank it up and get back to their original pace. And the crowd rises to meet them, foot stomping in the newly created dance pit at the front of the Guinness tent – a welcome inclusion in an event that has always been considered a  ”concert” festival – one where you can expect to be able to sit comfortably in your bucket seats without your view being jiggled into obscurity – now there is room for both kinds of audience – the dancers and the dedicated listeners, and a wonderful world it is that can comfortably accommodate the two.

David Ross Macdonald presents a twangy six strings of metal  guitar that looks as if it could do with a bit of new brass, but it comes across sweet like a classical guitar, using a capo fretted style so soft and light that the end result is not unlike a uke. He invites the audience to join him as he croons upon how badly he craves to be held, and though his guitar looks like it might have seen better days, it’s perfect for such a setting on a night like this, offering a sound that’s subtle yet delivers a surprising level of depth.

The Mission Songs Project brings new life to the voices of the stolen generation and indigenous Australians who were splintered from their cultures when they were made to sing in a foreign language. Today, traditional languages are so far removed from their vernacular that singing in English has become the mainstay, the local languages have become the foreign tongue. Yet everything has its resurgence if you can claim it before it achieves vanishing point. The stories are heartfelt and beautifully sung – perhaps not with the campfire instruments of their natural settings, but the end result is one that adapts well to the contemporary stage and travels to a diverse and broad audience – for The Mission Songs Project, this is mission accomplished, and accomplished incredibly well.

In a festival world where every  outfit seems to have developed the mandatory uke moment, comes the strident yards of  a bush ranging balladeer – uke man William Crighton – nine parts murderer and one part hipster, tantalising the drama enthralled-audience, half of whom are  scared out of their minds that he might wield his tiny stringed box like an axe and murder them on the spot as he thumps between the rows– the other half of whom are hoping to hell that he will! Yet William makes his way back to the stage and continues his conquest to drown you in his jaded and heartbroke view of the world without ever shedding even a drop of blood.

Meanwhile the ground becomes a cup more filled with water-making-mud than one half empty, and the deserted stalls and food courts in the school grounds stand forgotten as no-one can reach them without a plank.

The 2016 Youth Award Winners The Bean Project  pulled off a surprisingly sorrowful set of sadness for ones who’ve yet to spend their youth. The brass section of this mighty duo invokes the gentlest French horn, muted the old fashioned way, with a palm holding back the full force of the sound. It is reserved, civilized, and remains gentlemanly, until Bryce Turcato takes away his hand and builds to a punchy solo, fluid with delicately placed 9ths and unresolved 7ths, while his mate Ben Langdon stares at him earnestly through his horn rimmed glasses, and flicks back his long blonde bob as he deftly states to his departed love, “I’ve never been alone more than I am here in your bed”.  The rays of light reached down and kissed him when she left, he says, before telling us that they cut their teeth in noisy pubs where not even the walls were listening. It’s an unsettling surprise now, here, in this theatre, he tells us, to finally have our attention. After Bryce finishes ripping through his brass staccato, he falls back into a noble style, summoning images of a call to hunt, all regal caps and whips and beagles.

“This next song will be sung in Islamic,” says the singer from My Bubba. This is a duo of damsels, one of whom looks like she’s emerged from legal secretarial school, with her closed-toe cloth pumps and knee length linen black shift, a look finished with a single strand of plastic aqua coloured pearls. They sing with the restraint of those who might be found in the dusty chambers of the law academy, yet the result of all that restraint produces something akin to an angelic ascendance, with soft harmonies beautifully entwined around a heavenly, harp like instrumental style. They look as though they might butterfly kiss each other at any moment with a naked eyelash.  These are the kind of virginal maidens that can maintain their composure and remain incongruously well groomed amidst a sea of people with wet hair and faces flung with splats of rain. If you can imagine the restraint that may invoke in their vocalising, then you’ve grasped the concept.

By Sunday, Stage 6 is dubbed Big Top Lake, and the Tantric Turtle along with all the other venues on the green are pulled.  A quick rethink and the audience and most of the acts are all reshuffled. No-one who has already played misses out. A new program is issued, the details are publicised on social media, and everyone is right to go. According to the seasoned stage crew who have built this mini city countless times and painstakingly pack it all down at festival end, this decision was more to do with the indoor lake and wanting to make sure everyone had a great time than anything else. Though folklore may want it remembered differently, it was less to do with the depth of the mud, which as far as outdoor events go, wasn’t as bad as it might have been. You might say it was deep enough, but not as deep as the festival from somewhere up north, where once upon a time some chick went so far down in the mud that she completely disappeared and has never been seen since, or so the story goes. Perhaps she showed up sometime later in the Manning Bar at Sydney Uni. But this is the Blue Mountains, where you’d have to think she selected her moment of re-emergence to coincide with first beers at the ever popular Boho Bar, run by all the dedicated mums and dads and rank and file members of Katoomba’s P & Cs. The festival is the major fund raiser, and the flush of funds surging through the veins of the schools for the past 21 years has made for a formidable contribution to a cash strapped cultural enclave of a town that couldn’t have achieved this in any other way. It’s an undeniable contribution to the advancement of wellbeing for the local munchkins, but you’ve got to wonder how they get on when the playground is as trashed as this – yet Katoomba is a town with a can-do kind of pride, a place where people are going to make do with whatever they’re handed to make do with. At least there’s no cars bogged in at 3am with volunteers desperately trying to pull them out, in a push-me-pull-you kind of experience never to be forgotten. And never to be repeated, now that parking is banned from the grounds.

The full gamut of natural disasters may have threatened to unleash the doors of doom upon the festival many of times– yet they never have. From deep mud to the high winds that huffed and puffed til they blew Lurline Pav down before opening a few years back, to this year’s  demise of the main indoor venue – Katoomba RSL – which burnt to the ground just a couple of weeks ago, this festival, like Katoomba itself,  is a foot soldier of survival. You can blow her big top down, you can burn her to the ground, but the show will go on, and the founding Festival Co-Directors Bob Charter and Al Ward are well seasoned masters of the quick switch.

Though this year sees the departure of co-founder Al Ward after 21 successful years in production, Bob still managed to pull off the switch and brought the shy wallflower that is the Palais Royale into play while the cinders at the RSL were still hot. Even the most established K-Town aficionados were not yet acquainted with this grand old dame of art deco Katoomba, who willingly submitted her services to the impromptu role of third venue for the festival.  The plush comfort and stately grandeur of the Palais Royale was well admired by all – a venue whose grandiose chandeliers set  the mood for dulcet tones that could woo even the most jaded festival goer.

Reaching out to this venue is a master stroke for the festival, and you can be sure bands and revelers alike will definitely want her back. It’s too good a venue to refuse for a festival that stands proud amongst a battlefield of fallen events. And as the much loved Blue Mountains Music Festival heads towards her quarter century of service, long may she reign.  All hail The Festival, and all she represents.

– Elizabeth Walton is a freelance writer, photographer and musician

Busby Marou Announce Australian Tour this May and June

Busby Marou
Image Courtesy of Busby Marou

Queensland acoustic duo Busby Marou are hitting the road this May and June for a series of shows around the country to support their new album Postcards From The Shell.

The tour coincides with the announcement Busby Marou will be appearing at Bluesfest this April. Supporting them on tour will be The Teskey Brothers.

Check out the full list of dates below:

Thursday 13th to Monday 17th April – Bluesfest, Byron Bay, NSW
Thursday 25th May – 48 Watt Street, Newcastle, NSW
Friday 26th May – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 27th May – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 28th May – Heritage Hotel, Bulli, NSW
Thursday 1st June – Southern Cross Club, Canberra, ACT
Friday 2nd June – Launceston Country Club, Launceston, TAS
Saturday 3rd June – Wrest Point Casino, Hobart, TAS
Thursday 8th June – Miami Marketta, Gold Coast, QLD
Friday 9th June – Triffid, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 10th June – Sea & Sound Festival, Sunshine Coast, QLD
Sunday 11th June – Great Northern Hotel, Byron Bay, NSW
Thursday 15th June – Fat Controller, Adelaide, SA
Friday 16th June – Corner Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 17th June – Workers Club, Geelong, VIC
Sunday 18th June – Sooki Lounge, Belgrave, VIC
Thursday 22nd June – Settlers Tavern, Margaret River, WA
Friday 23rd June – Northshore Tavern, Hillarys, WA
Saturday 24th June – Mundaring Weir Hotel, Mundaring, WA
Sunday 25th June – The Boston, Perth, WA
Friday 30th June – Darwin Entertainment Centre, Darwin, NT

Watch the New Oh Pep! Video “Crazy Feels”

Oh Pep
Image Courtesy of Oh Pep!

Australian indie-folk duo Oh Pep! continue to take the world by storm with the release of their new single and vieo “Crazy Feels”.

The video is the latest from Oh Pep!’s excellent album Stadium Cake – check it out below:

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