Banished Now From My Native Shore: The Verse of Frank the Poet

The Frank the Poet demo letter blocks by Stobie Sounds

How rare it is that Australian blues and roots artists take the opportunity to reflect on our own history. It seems to be the case that those paying homage in the contemporary arena tend to look to periods in the USA when society’s movements and the movements in music are well documented and inseparable, which is fine, but comparatively, Australia’s history goes mostly overlooked as a source of inspiration (with the exceptions of the old codgers in the RSLs).

Stobie Sounds, a South Australian community blues & roots record label of tremendously noble creed who previously brought us These Are My Blues: A Tribute to Big Joe Williams, are at it again having put the line out, reaped and collected the finest songs from some of the nation’s best up and coming and established blues and roots artists- all derived from the poetry of one of Australia’s most important early poets, Francis “Frank the Poet” McNamara (listen to The Timbers‘ interpretation of Frank’s poem “Labouring with the Hoe” below). It’s worth noting that amongst the national and international artists contributing to the album, at least half are South Australian. We’ll provide the full track-listing when it is finalised shortly.

As a convict arriving in Australia in 1832, and a man that spent what was his second chance of freedom in a new land incarcerated and condemned to hard labour, Francis McNamara’s poems speak poignantly of the hardships of life in a new and undefined land. This project, graced by dream-team of blues and roots highlighted by the likes of Mia DysonPossessed By Paul James (US), The Timbers, Todd Sibbin, Emily Davis, A.P D’Antonio, Bearded Gypsy Band and Tom West, will provide a beautiful opportunity for a rare link to be made from blues and roots music to the history of Australia and breathe new life into these moving chronicles of our past.

You may have come across Stobie Sounds before. Despite administrating a non-for-profit community record label (gods), they’ve also made a name for themselves for their handmade products using traditional letter-press, lino cuts and screen printing techniques for t-shirts, album covers, CDs, tea-towels, posters and even the odd kick drum. Check out the video of below of the making of the Frank the Poet demo release.

To launch the record, and hopefully reign in a welcome top-up of funds for the project, a fundraiser gig will be held at the Wheatsheaf Hotel in Adelaide on February 11, 2012 featuring Max Savage and the False Idols, The Yearlings and The Tea House Fire. A donation of $20 to the Pozible fundraising page (click here to visit) will get you into the event.

Jesca Hoop’s Australian Tour Dates

Jesca Hoop
Image Courtesy of Jesca Hoop

American songwriter Jesca Hoop has one hell of a bio. Not only has she toured with the likes of Peter Gabriel, Elbow, The Eels, Polyphonic Spree and The Flaming Lips she also has the fairly unique privilege of once serving as nanny to Tom Waits’ children.

Hoop is currently in Australia for the Woodford Folk Festival and she is hanging around for a couple of weeks after for a series of intimate solo shows in Sydney, Jervis Bay and Eumundi. The full list of dates are below:

Wed 28th December – Sun 1st January – Woodford Folk Festival
Tues 3rd January – The Newsagency, Sydney w/ Get Folked, Lyall Moloney
Fri 6th January – Tomerong Hall, Jervis Bay w/ Lyall Moloney, Southerly Change
Sat 7th January – Joe’s Waterhole, Eumundi

The Civil Wars Team with Taylor Swift and The Chieftains

The Civil Wars
Image Courtesy of The Civil Wars

We don’t cover a lot of Taylor Swift’s music here at Timber and Steel because she obviously covered a lot elsewhere. But even if we don’t cover her music we have a lot of respect for what she does – we’d like to think of Taylor Swift as a gateway to twang music to millions of young people around the world and that’s alright with us.

And for the first time ever we’re going to bring you a Taylor Swift song here, albeit a duet with one of our favourite upcoming US artists The Civil Wars. “Safe & Sound” will appear on the soundtrack for the movie adaptation of The Hunger Games, the latest young adult fiction series to make it to big screen. Take a listen below:

The Civil Wars will also be appearing on the upcoming 50th anniversary album from The Chieftains, Voice of Ages, which will be released on the 21st February (more info here). Rolling Stone Magazine is streaming The Civil Wars and Chieftains collaboration “Lily Love” here and we really like what we’re hearing.

Guide to Summer Festivals Part 2: Look the Part

Photo courtesy of Bon Iver

Ok, ok, secretly, I’ve been dying to do a folky fashion story, and what better time than in preparation to hit up the festivals? It all started because of Timber and Steel’s own Evan Hughes who is rarely seen at any folk influenced festival or gig without a vest on. Wandering the roads of Woodford last year, I noticed some particular elements that identified musically like minded people. So let’s go top to toe on how to look your folky best during the festival season.

Bob Dylan Lanie Lane

I’ve spent the last few days looking at photos of some of our favorite Timber and Steel artists to really pin down the look, and to be honest, most of it is about choosing a base and accessorising. Obviously there is always going to be an element of your own tastes and flair or style that will determine your overall look, but here’s a few simpler pieces you can pull together possibly from your Christmas haul and Boxing Day sales if you want to get in the folky spirit of it.

John Butler and Mama Kin

For they guys, the base is easy, jeans and a t-shirt are staples with the shirt usually being plain, though wearing your favorite band shirt will always be acceptable. For the ladies, unsurprisingly the base has followed the recent retro/ vintage fashion trend and more often than not either a floating vintage style dress or a modern floral dress inspired by the retro look. Whack a pair of opaque stockings on underneath and you’re set. That or a high waisted skirts or shorts with a plain top would provide a perfectly suitable base too.

Kate Miller-Heidke at Bluesfest Skipping Girl Vinegar at Snowy Mountains Of Music Festival April Maze Snowy Mountains Of Music Festival

Then it’s time to accessorise. Let’s start at the top.

Hats are great, they protect you from the sun and the rain, keep your head warm at night and can cap off your look, excuse the pun. Broad brim hats are an easy choice for guys or girls, just take a look at Matt Corby and Florence Welsch of Florence and the Machine or even Jack Thompson in his Akubra for inspiration.
  Jack Thompson at Bluesfest

For guys, there’s a broad range of hat style to try until you find the one that suits you, Panama, Trilby and Fedora styles mainly differ in the brim size and shape. The ever popular Flat Cap has a cousin, the Ascot Cap of a very similar style, but rounder and more stiff. Or in a similar but roomier style, there’s always your classic variations of the Gatsby/ newsboy/ train driver cap which work for both guys and girls.

Eric Bibb at Bluesfest  Jeff Lang

For the girls, while you could pick any of the styles I’ve noted for guys, the more vintage looks are far more fun. For a very feminine look, try a cloche like Lisa Mitchell, a 50s style do-rag like Lanie Lane, or just a simple headband as Julia Stone often wears.

Lisa Mitchell Lanie Lane Julia Stone

Elvis Costello at Bluesfest If guys are after a very vintage addition, there’s always bowler and top hats, but it takes a bit of confidence and dedication to carry it off well. A bit zany, but a great look if you own it. And if you are going to own it, you can even go the whole hog with a three piece suit, but that’s not really convenient for Australian summers nor festivals.

CW StonekingWorking down for top to toe, the next item is mainly for the guys. If you’re going for an old style, the a bow tie is a fantastic edition, especially if you can tie a real one yourself rather than the clip on ones. Though I have it on good authority, they’re not terribly comfortable to start with. Not really practical for camping and festivals, it’s a good one to wear out for a night on the town, or as a feature of your look, much like CW Stoneking’s red and white check bow tie on his signature white ensemble.

If ties are not your style, then your options include the quintessential vest, in almost any material, but I know Evan Hughes likes his leather and suede options. Vest have been turning up across genres for years and are a feature for musos and punters both young and old.

Josh Pyke  Cat Empire at Bluesfest Snowdroppers at Bluesfest

If a vest is too warm or not quite your thing, try out the old school suspenders as Johnny Wishbone, lead singer of The Snowdroppers, is frequently seen wearing. Our modern ladies of folk have a true eye for style throwing cardigans and sweaters in to the mix, or using leather belts to create a classic cinched or high waist look.

Snowdroppers at Bluesfest Florence Welsch Secret Sisters at Bluesfest

Boy and BearWhile vintage is a strong theme, the folk style transcends conventional fashion rules, and borrows often from cousins in country genre. Take a leaf out of Henry Wagons’ book and style up every day with country flair. If you think I’m cheating by using alt-country as a folk example, instead take a good look at Boy & Bear who have had multiple members sport checkered shirts, plus a few other folkies teaming a checked shirt with a vest or other accessory. And it’s not just for guys, take a look at how Lisa Mitchell and Jen Cloher carry off bold checks for a country, folky feel.

Henry Wagons at Rhythms Magazine Q&A at Bluesfest Lisa Mitchell Jen Cloher

So, once you’ve got your base, found the accessories that work for you, all that’s left is to throw on some sunnies (Rayban style is a staple) and for the ladies, grab a leather or leather/ animal print look small handbag to sling across your body, slap on some sunscreen and you’re set for a folkin’ good time.

Bob Dylan Florence Welsch Julia and Angus Stone

Once you’ve got the hang of it, you can start to mix and match pieces, create layers and get a group of friends together and take the scene by storm. Maybe some time down the track you’ll even turn up in a future folky fashion post right here!

Mumford and Sons at Laneway Festival SydneyMumford and Sons at Laneway Festival – I love the Panama hat, t-shirt, vest and overalls as shorts combination!

The Good Ship at WoodfordOh the combinations from The Good Ship! Loving the Fedora, bowtie and vest, plus a small gatsby and one out there shirt!

The Gum Ball 2011These two from the crowd at The Gum Ball look great!

TinPan Orange

TinPan Orange combined managed almost the entire shebang, get that group some hats!

The Best Christmas Songs of 2011


At Timber and Steel we’re unapologetic fans of the Christmas song. Whether they be carols, Christmas favourites or new festive singalongs Christmas songs are at their heart folk songs so its no wonder that December sees us decking the halls, hanging the mistletoe and warming up our vocal cords with plenty of Christmas cheer.

Last year we started the tradition of bringing you our favourite Christmas songs from the year as performed by artists on the folkier side of the fence. Being big on traditions we thought this was one worth repeating this year especially given how many Christmas songs we’ve already featured on the site. So put out the beer and cookies for Santa, have another mince pie and get into the spirit with the best Christmas songs of 2011

Josh T. Pearson – “O Holy Night”
Josh T Pearson has capped off a pretty impressive year with the release of a bonus EP of Christmas carols. His haunting version of “O Holy Night” hit the web at the start of the month as a free download – take a listen for yourself.

Achoo! Bless You – “Coming Home (To You This Christmas)”
Getting into the Christmas spirit Sydney duo Achoo! Bless You offer up this sweet Christmas original which is also available for free download.

Jack Carty – “I Only Want Your Presence”
Jack Carty is currently writing and demoing material for a brand new album so to close off the One Thousand Origami Birds part of his career he’s released a free EP featuring B sides from the album plus this brand new Christmas track. In the tradition of Paul Kelly’s “How to Make Gravy” this is a Christmas song with out really being about Christmas.

The Leisure Society – “Christmas Mistakes”
For the second year in a row fantastic UK based folk-blog For Folk’s Sake has released a Christmas album titled For Folk’s Sake It’s Christmas featuring some of the best in indie folk taking on Christmas classics or brand new tunes. Our pick from the album is The Leisure Society’s “Christmas Mistakes”.

Darren Hayman – “Lost In The Snow”
Taken from his Christmas in Haworth EP (as well as appearing on the For Folk’s Sake It’s Christmas Album) this track from Darren Hayman was actually written last Christmas, and the video was shot at the same time.

Eliza Carthy – “Dives & Lazarus”
Eliza Carthy performs this Christmas ballad as part of Bright Young Folk’s December Sessions and then goes on to explain how the song was sung in Victorian times as a warning to give to the poor or risk eternal punishment. Not quite “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”.

She & Him – “The Christmas Watlz”
Get a little less solemn now here’s the first track from She & Him’s indie Christmas hit A Very She & Him Christmas. In true hipster style the album can be ordered complete with Christmas beanie and mittens – so ironically kitsch!

Emmy The Great & Tim Wheeler – “Home For The Holidays”
Attempting to outdo She & Him in the indie-Christmas album stakes the teaming of Emmy The Great and Tim Wheeler has resulted in This is Christmas, an album of all original Christmas songs. Check out the Christmas jumper filled video for “Home For The Holidays”.

Matthew and the Atlas – “Fairytale of New York”
We’re pretty sure this song was actually recorded and released last year but we’ve only just stumbled across it now thanks to folk blog Cover Lay Down. Matthew and the Atlas have produced a pretty faithful of this Pogues classic and Matt Hegarty’s rough-spun voice is perfect for the song.

New Inland Sea Video “The Only One”

Inland Sea
Image Courtesy of Inland Sea

We’re super excited about spending new year at the Peats Ridge Festival because we’ll get a chance to see a bunch of our favourite artists live, some for the very first time. One such band is Brisbane 200*-piece Inland Sea who are not only at Peats Ridge but have also just been announced as part of the Gold Coast leg of the Big Day Out.

Inland Sea are also celebrating the holiday season with the release of their brand new video “The Only One” which mixes their big-folk sound with blues and some very awesome rock and roll. You can check it out below before you see the band at a festival this summer:

*slightly exaggerated

Guide to Summer Festivals Part 1: Preparation

The Gum Ball 2011 Story and photos by KT Bell

Everyone’s excited about Christmas, but here at Timber and Steel we’re gearing up for a huge Summer Festival season, especially for the New Years period. There have been 4 main festivals lining up loads of Timber and Steel friendly acts to get excited about, namely Woodford Folk Festival in QLD (you may remember my 35 Hour Woodford experience from last year), Peats Ridge Festival in NSW and two VIC festivals on either side of Port Phillip Bay, Pyramid Rock Festival and The Falls Festival (also on in Marion Bay, TAS). We’ve managed to rustle up a couple of reviewers to give you the wrap up of some of these festivals in the New Year. But in preparation, let’s take a look at how to make the most of the New Years festival experience.

Our four festivals are all multi-day festivals set in lush settings away from the hustle and bustle of the city, leaving festival goers two accommodation options. 1. pay for a hotel away from the site and drive to and from the event every day (access to some festivals are limited on 31 Dec) and limit your experience ,which is no fun, or, 2. camp. Having camped through a number of different scenarios, here’s a short list of tips which will make your camping festival experience that much better. Peats Ridge offers some sustainable camping tips to check out before the festival too.

Bluesfest Saturday
Tent Options
Woodford offers Tent City which is a great option for those who need to travel light – a tent, bed, light and basics are supplied for an additional fee, you just need to buy tickets with camping and bring your own bedding (pillow, blankets etc).  Peats Ridge has begun offering Tepee camping in recycled Tepees with both 2 person and up to 4-6 person camping options and you even get to take your Teepee sleeping bags home with you.  Both are a stress free, easy way to experience a camping festival, with none of the effort of camping.

For all the other camping events, either take a tent you can stand up right in, or be prepared to spend very little time in your tent, most of which will be in a half sitting/ laying position.

Dealing with Mud and Rain
Proof I was there, in my gumboots. Given the very unseasonal start to Summer, it would be wise to steel yourself for the likelihood of rain and eventual mud. Lots of mud. Best things to do are to take gumboots, extra socks (thick socks deal with chaffing better) and why not think about a gel or wool inner sole for your gumboots while you’re at it – I can say from days dancing in boots at Peats Ridge 2009, your feet will be worn out before the end of the festival.

Take a poncho or rain coat – not umbrellas. Alternately take a couple of heavier hoodies, they’re also quite good at keeping the rain off, but they do soak through. If you’re at Woodford, I did pick up a beautiful waterproof parasol from a vendor who I believe goes regularly and it’s gotten me through a number of both sunny and rainy days since.

Take extra changes of clothes and some gear that you don’t care if it’s ruined by mud. If you are going to go sliding in the mud, whether in clothes or not (yes, another fun Peats Ridge image yet to be removed from my memory), make plans to get through the shower or dip in a creek before your favourite act hits the stage, otherwise you’ll be sweaty, tired and still muddy.

Best tip: Take a bucket, an old towel and/ or a bathmat – leave them outside your tent and use them as a door mat and to rinse off your feet before climbing in to your tent to avoid the mud spread through all your belongings. And make sure to take your gumboots off outside before entering, leave them outside or just inside the door.


There are a couple of elements to the whole multi-day camping festival and keeping yourself clean. Showers are often hugely sought after at the usual peak times, mornings and early evenings. Mind you at both Peats Ridge and Woodford, I walked past the shower blocks very late at night (as late as 2am) and they were well in use. Plan your showering/ bathing times ahead, have a look at the timetable and see if you can pop back from a quick shower before the next act.

Alternately, if you’re tough, you could forgo the showers altogether – in some locations there’s rivers to have a nice dip in and keep yourself fresher, but you will need to wear something in, be decent people. Even if you take to bathing, take along some baby wipes or wet ones and give yourself a good wipe down all over at least once a day and apply deodorant liberally. You might be able to cope with no showering, but the people around you might not cope with your odour.

Toilets at most of these festivals have moved towards the sustainable compostable toilets. No flush toilets can be challenging, especially after a few days in to a festival. Firstly, learn how the toilets work – usually there’s a tub or pile of sawdust available. If you’re heading for number 1s, just go without sawdust, and you can pop some toilet paper in after you if you need. If you’re going number 2s, take a cup/ handful of sawdust to throw in after you’ve finished. If it’s a big number 2, well, take some back up sawdust. ALWAYS close the lid no matter what number you’ve been to so that insects are not attracted to the contents – no one wants to use a fly infested loo. If everyone uses them properly, these toilets can work very well. And boys, you’re always welcome to take to the bushes if that’s easier.

Bluesfest Saturday Most festivals are no BYO and all would be No Glass – there’s nothing worse than some broken glass to ruin your day by slicing your foot, or worse, your butt, open. Some festivals have fire bans – check the FAQs for your festival and check what you can and can’t take in. If you can afford it, budget to buy your meals, it supports the vendors which in turn supports the festival and allows it to go ahead every year. The same goes with alcohol and festival bars, bringing your own alcohol might seem like a sneaky and clever idea but it jeopardises the festivals liquor licence and can have a detrimental effect on the bar provider which may lead them to choosing not to be involved in the future. Everyone likes to save a buck, but bars and food vendors are the life blood of funding for festivals and events, so spend with them to help your favourite festival continue year to year.

Check out your festival’s website for information about the dos and don’t’s at your festival and travel information. Also don’t forget to take some important items that are often forgotten including sunscreen, a hat, jumper/ warm clothes, a water bottle, toothbrush and paste. It’s a good idea to invest in some ear plugs, they cancel out much of the noise and volume but none of the music, you can even hear the lyrics plus they save your hearing. Having now attended a few festivals with ear plugs, they’re a staple in my stash.

Woodford has both an Eating at Woodford and a What to Bring section available from their home page.
Falls Festival has a What to Bring section which reminds punters to bring tickets. Believe it or not, I’ve seen it happen.

If all of that planning and packing seems like too much trouble, you could check out a new venture called Festival Kits which is an online service able to deliver a package to your at home before you depart which contains all the essentials, and they’re catering to all of our festivals and more.

Get In To It!
The Gum Ball 2011
Plan your festival, work out who you want to see, and read the bios of acts you’ve never heard of and check them out, you might find a brand new favourite you would have otherwise missed. Make a note of what non musical things you want to see like arts, workshops, talks and displays so you don’t forget to catch them. A number of the festivals have lantern and New Year parades complete with fancy dress or masquerade themes which you can get right in to the thick of helping create and perform. If you don’t want to be involved, at least make sure you have your camera handy for some amazing photo opportunities.

Bluesfest Saturday If you’re taking technological devices like phones and iPhones, why not download relevant information to your phone, or if you’re lucky, there will be an app for that. However, think twice about how you’re going to power and recharge your device – it’s a good idea to take a car charger with you and plan some time recharging. Also keep an eye out for recharge bars seen at many festivals which allow you to plug in to solar power and recharge your devices. However, you’ll need to stick around and wait for your device to charge as the people running it sure aren’t going to babysit your phone for you.

If you’ve got some time free, or you’re not really feeling the festival experience, try volunteering. All of these festivals rely on volunteers to make the magic happen and being involved in helping the festival run can be really rewarding. All of the volunteering programs have closed except for Woodford, however no matter which festival you’re at, if you’re bored, find the volunteer tent/ center and ask about volunteering. If you do enough hours, you might even get your ticket price refunded – but you will definitely have a unique experience of the festival.

Tickets are still available to all of these festivals, except the Lorne edition of The Falls Festival, however if you feel like crossing the ditch to Tassie, you can still get tickets to The Falls Festival at Marion Bay. Why not treat yourself to an early Christmas present and grab yourself a ticket if you haven’t already!

Plan and prepare now, and stay tuned for our next installment of our Guide to Summer Festivals.

Arcade Fire Release an Interactive Video for “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”

Arcade Fire
Image Courtesy of Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire have never gone the conventional route when it comes to their music videos and their latest, for the track “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”, is no different. Oh there is a conventional video that you can watch right here:

But Arcade Fire have also produced a completely interactive video that allows you, via your web cam, to control the movement of the images on the screen. Check out the (fairly weird) introduction video below and then click through here to have a go for yourself.

Simone Felice Announces Solo Album, Free Download

Simone Felice
Image Courtesy of Simone Felice

Timber and Steel contributing editor Thom Owen Miles decribed The Felice Brothers’ latest album Celebration, Florida as “an album I’d been hoping someone would make for years” when he picked it as his favourite of 2011. So we’re assuming he’s more than a little excited to learn that Simon Felice, the drummer, writer and vocalist for The Felice Brothers, has announced a solo album in 2012.

The self titled debut album is due to be released on the 2nd April next year and was produced by Felice with some help from Ben Lovett (Mumford and Sons). Members of Mumford and Sons guest on the first single “You & I Belong” and the rest of The Felice Brothers and a girls’ choir from Felice’s hometown contribute to the album opener “Hey Bobby Ray”. The full track listing is below:

1. Hey Bobby Ray
2. You & I Belong
3. New York Times
4. Courtney Love
5. Stormy-Eyed Sarah
6. Charade
7. Dawn Brady’s Song
8. Gimme All You Got
9. Sharon Tate
10. Splendor in the Grass

And as an extra special treat Simone Felice is offering up the track “New York Times” as a free download here (and you can also listen to it below).

Asa’s Full Australian So Frenchy So Chic Tour Dates

Image Courtesy of Asa

We’ve mentioned that French/Nigerian sensation Asa would be returning to Australia next year as part of both the Sydney Festival and Adelaide Festival Centre Sessions but we thought we might put all her dates in one place. Asa, along with collaborator Féfé, is taking the So Frenchy So Chic experience throught Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide.

The full list of dates is below:

Sunday 15th January – Nouvelle Vague @ Werribee Park Mansion, Melbourne
Tuesday 17th January – Riverside Theatres, Sydney Festival, Parramatta
Wednesday 18th January – Keystone Festival Bar, Sydney Festival, Sydney
Thursday 19th January – Adelaide Festival Centre Sessions, Adelaide
Friday 20th January – Powerhouse, Brisbane

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