Interview: David de Santi (Illawarra Folk Festival)

David de Santi
Image Courtesy of the Illawarra Folk Festival

On Thursday 17th January, the Bulli Showgrounds will once again explode into colour, life, music, dance and song as the Illawarra Folk Festival kicks into life for 2013.

On a flying visit to Wollongong last weekend to sit on the sidelines of a festival warm-up tunes session at Dicey Riley’s Irish pub, Bill Quinn (Overheard Productions) caught a few precious minutes with the man for whom they need to develop a more descriptive epithet than ‘multi-tasking’, festival artistic director, David de Santi.

(For the time poor, there’s a link to the interview audio at the end of this article)

Bill Quinn: David, 2013: how’s it going?

David de Santi: The year’s going really lovely, and…

BQ: OK! Let’s be more specific!! The festival: how is it going?!

DS: Oh! The festival! Wonderful! We’ve got our program up, and we’re just doing our last scheduling with the last few volunteers, trying to fill in a few gaps.

But looking absolutely fantastic. I’ve got a taste of a few of the artists at Woodford Folk Festival when I was there—it’s looking absolutely magnificent.

BQ: I just read my way through the artists that are there; it’s an eye-watering line-up! They’re all good, but what are the stand-outs? What’s going to be really gripping about 2013?

DS: I think the big thing is that we’ve got more international artists than we’ve ever had. But on top of that we’ve got some great quality local guys.

Some guys like Mzaza from Brisbane – looking forward to seeing those guys. A bit of a Mediterranean music thing. Rory McLeod (Scotland) comes back after many years and that will be fantastic.

We’re going to have a few people we normally wouldn’t have in a folk festival, like Christine Anu, Mike McClellan’s back – he played the festival at Jamberoo many, many years ago. Jeff Lang’s coming back – he came for the first Illawarra Folk Festival at Bulli, so he’s coming back as well.

We’ve got a really great youth program as well, so I’m really pleased about that – lots of young folks doing their thing.

And I guess the thing is there’s 12 venues and over those four days of the festival it’s chock-a-block of absolutely wonderful talent.

Underscore Orkestra’s coming from Oregon.

So there’s some great new acts, and a few old favourites. There’s half The Beez (Don’t Mention The Wall!).

So I think it’s going to be fantastic.

BQ: Speaking of old favourites, I had to have a little chuckle when I saw the themed instrument for this year. Tell us about that!

DS (card-carrying life-time member of the piano accordion-players’ guild): Aw, look, c’mon! 28 years and we finally have the accordion! I mean, like, I have not pushed it, you know?

Yes, it was suggested at committee meetings, so ok, fine!

Actually, there’s some great bands with some great accordionists. Vardos – Sofia from Vardos, Mzaza’s got a lovely accordion player as well. Christian Dolislager who does a lot of playing of French muzet styles.

So we’ve got some amazing accordion players coming along to be part of the festival.

BQ: Last time I looked there was an issue with having enough volunteers. Is that something you’re still looking out for?

DS: Yeah, I think so. I think we could still do with another 20 or 30 or so. We need a few for the bar and a few for traffic control, probably a few more MCs as well. All of those little things that need to be done.

It’s a great way to get into the festival as well, you know. 12 hours of work, and you’re hopefully doing a job that you’re actually enjoying. It’s not real work! So we’d love to have a few more, so people can do that pretty quickly and get on to the web-site.

BQ: Great! Thank you!

The Illawarra Folk Festival will be held in Bulli, NSW (just north of Wollongong) from the 17th to 20th January – for tickets, information and details of the “music train” from Sydney visit the official site here. The audio for this interview is below:

3 Comments

  1. January 10, 2013 at 22:31

    […] So here’s that brief interview, and the text is available at the Timber and Steel blog. […]

  2. January 10, 2013 at 22:34

    This will be my first time performing at Illawara Folk Festival and I am very much looking forward to it!

  3. January 11, 2013 at 14:43

    […] “The festival! Wonderful! We’ve got our program up, and we’re just doing our last scheduling with the last few volunteers, trying to fill in a few gaps. But looking absolutely fantastic. I’ve got a taste of a few of the artists at Woodford Folk Festival when I was there — it’s looking absolutely magnificent.” – Illawarra Folk Festival Artistic Director David de Santi chats to Bill Quinn. Interview here […]


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