Illawarra Folk Festival Q&A: Stray Hens

Stray Hens
Image Courtesy of Stray Hens

The Illawarra Folk Festival is one of the highlights of the summer folk festival calendar and this year they’re celebrating their 30th anniversary. We thought we’d chat to a number of the Illawarra Folk Festival artists in the lead up to the event and next up is trad favourites Stray Hens.

Timber and Steel: What can audiences expect from your shows at the Illawarra Folk Festival?

Stray Hens: Aside from the usual stunning frontwomen, hot harmonies and exciting tales from the Folk Revival-Revival? The Hens had a huge year in 2014 and are playing at just aboout every Oz festival in 2015. Illawarra comes about a year after the release of our debut seven track album, so the band is tight and well travelled. We’ve got new material ready for Illawarra – we’ll be touring new songs over the next few months getting ready for recording a new full length, long play album. We’ve got a lot of things happening- its going to make our performance really vibrant. And of course, we’ve all got party dresses (and suits) for the Peal Ball!

Timber and Steel: Do you approach a festival show differently from a regular gig?

Stray Hens: Festival shows are always a bit special- the audiences are always a bit excited because there’s been a lot of word of mouth about us, and they’ve read about us in the program. There’s always the opportunity to bring guests up on stage too, which we haven’t had much chance to do in 2014. But ultimately I think we are always a bit excited to be at a festival and that boosts the energy of the set. We’re all festival babies and ge a buzz from the babel of culture at a big gathering- the music, food, seeing people we haven’t seen in ages- meeting new ones.

Timber and Steel: Are there any artists you’re excited to see at Illawarra?

Stray Hens: Mélisande (Canada)! Electrotrad. The Hens’ were formed to play traditional ballads with a new bent- you know, to stick up for ballads in the Maelstrom of nufolk indie songwriters of our time. Sally and Mandy are big big fans of David Francey (Canada as well). Afenginn (Denmark) were incredible at Cygnet 2014. The Shanty Club will be great fun. Mandy recommends the incredible Scott Cook, our friend Enda Kenny and of course Appalachian String Heaven get a mention (Sally and Rich both play with ASH).

Timber and Steel: This is the Illawarra Folk Festival’s 30th Anniversary. How do you think Stray Hens would celebrate their 30th Anniversary?

Stray Hens: We’d have a little festival and invite trad ballad performers to come and play- especially if they used any kind of fusion. Also, one day its our dream to play with all the bands with similar names – Chook Race, Stray Sisters, Stray Birds, Scrub Chooks, Pheasant Pluckers.

Timber and Steel: What’s next for Stray Hens after the Illawarra Folk Festival?

Whew! It’s all coming up! We have our first Melbourne Show in a long time at the Post Office Hotel in Coburg on Friday 20th February. Then the girls head out as a trio to Nannup Music Festival in WA, before rejoining bass and drums for Port Fairy!!! After that it’s back for the Melbourne Folk Club with Breabach (Scotland) on March 18th, and then off to the National Folk Festival at Easter, via Yackandandah Music fest. So much to be excited about!

Stray Hens have four appearances at the Illawarra Folk Festival:

8:45pm Thursday 15th January – Global Green
12:00pm Friday 16th January – Grandstand Restaurant
2:00pm Saturday 17th January – La Petite Grande
5:00pm Sunday 18th January – Miner’s Camp

1 Comment

  1. January 9, 2015 at 16:17

    […] “Festival shows are always a bit special- the audiences are always a bit excited because there’s been a lot of word of mouth about us, and they’ve read about us in the program. There’s always the opportunity to bring guests up on stage too, which we haven’t had much chance to do in 2014. But ultimately I think we are always a bit excited to be at a festival and that boosts the energy of the set. We’re all festival babies and ge a buzz from the babel of culture at a big gathering- the music, food, seeing people we haven’t seen in ages- meeting new ones” – Stray Hens chat to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here […]


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