The Snowy Mountains of Music Reveals Second Artist Announcement

Blue King Brown
Image Courtesy of Blue King Brown

Our favourite Winter festival, The Snowy Mountains of Music, last week announced its second round of artists for 2013. Heading up this round of artists are roots legends Blue King Brown (above) and Kylie Auldist, leading lady from The Bamboos, with her band the Glenroy All Stars. Also added to the lineup are Gang of Brothers, The Fraudsters, Oh Pep!, Sunas and Mzaza. These artists join the likes of Jeff Lang, Mikelangelo and the Tin Star, Mustered Courage and more.

The Snowy Mountains of Music is held in Perisher over the June long weekend, Friday 7th to Monday 10th June. For more information and tickets check out the official site here.

Review: Blue Mountains Music Festival

Blue Mountains Music Festival
Image Courtesy of the Blue Mountains Music Festival

To start, an admission: I’m a terrible festival attendee. My handful of must-sees quickly gives way to a fickle drifting, distracted eyes and ears rarely attentive for a whole set. I’m also, as you’ll quickly discover, musically illiterate yet fascinated and enthralled by a language I don’t understand. Lyrically, I feel adept to make comment; instrumentally I flounder and use inappropriate and often incorrect words. You’ve been warned: what follows is a review of the beautiful Blue Mountains Folk, Roots and Blues Music Festival by a musical illiterate with a deep love and appreciation for what she hears.

Thanks to Timber and Steel’s Editor in Chief Evan Hughes plans to marry one of my oldest (very youthful) friends, the lovely Sarah Tuz, and my convenient home in the misty, mystical Blue Mountains, I’m writing my first review for Timber and Steel.

Like many fellow festival attendees, I spent the preceding week checking the weather forecast, anticipating a repeat of last year’s perpetual rain and shin-deep mud bath (not atypical in the Bluies). Yet I also knew, as you can read in Evan’s review of last year’s festival, that the residents of the Blue Mountains and those attending from afar, are resilient and undeterred by a bit of soggy trudging between venues, and well-equipped with assorted gumboots and waterproof parkas.

The seventeenth Blue Mountains Musical Festival was, as the program described, the usual motley affair of folk, roots, blues, latin, world, jazz, bluegrass, Indie, reggae, blessed with artists from the quirky, theatrical The Beez, to the determined and socially conscious Blue King Brown. Young local musicians such as the passionate young Claude Hay played just metres away from the iconic Judy Collins, tackling themes from the intimate to the comical to the political and everything in between.

A “favourite five” glimpse of what we saw:

Fred Smith and Liz Frencham

Fred Smith is a songwriter of 15 years. He’s also an Australian diplomat who has been posted to far corners of the earth – from Bouganville to Uruzgan. Skilfully, he combines these two personas as a master storyteller, conjuring hope, despair and laughter in his audience. I was suitably curious to see him on both Friday and Saturday evening.

Fred began his collaboration with the beautiful, cheeky, passionate Liz Frencham at the National Folk Festival in 2002. Liz on vocals and cello brought balance and intimacy to Smith’s performance on Friday night, enthralling the audience with her vivacious enjoyment of her instrument, balancing Fred’s dry humour with a distinctly feminine presence onstage. The evening mixed the political – such as “Blue Guitar”, reflecting on his time in the Solomon Islands, to the everyday and personal, such as “In My Room”.

Throughout Saturday evenings Dust of Uruzgan (the title of his new album) performance, Smith used a combination of story, song and multi-media to tell of his time posted in the Uruzgan province of Afghanistan. What left the audience hopeful, despite his often tragic stories of distrust and fear, was Smith’s wry yet playful sense of humour, and his overt belief that in spite of the everyday horrors he witnessed, peace is still possible.

Liz Frencham and the rest of the band served as instruments by which Smith added life to his stories. Smith gave voice to the men and women of the armed forces in the province, describing the monotony of constant threat, the loss and death and ceaseless dust. It was not all bleak- from within the reality of war; Smith described uplifting friendships, a spot of ‘Schwafelen’ (brush up on your Dutch to translate this one) and plenty of laughter. A memorable and poignant experience.

Abigail Washburn and Kai Welch

Abigail Washburn’s sweet drawl and croaky laugh is just as compatible with Bluegrass as with traditional Chinese folk songs (hand gestures included). Vivacious, Nashville-based Washburn, complimented by co-writer and singing partner Kai Welch, blessed their Blue Mountains audience with some ramblin’ afternoon tunes, from the delicate “Dreams of Nectar” to the traditional Chinese folk song whose title (ironically for the weekend) translates ‘The Sun Has Come Out and we are so Happy’. Some soul-quietening, smile-delivering entertainment to bring in the Saturday evening.

My Friend the Chocolate Cake

Aptly described by our MC as ‘fizzy and effervescent pop’, My Friend the Chocolate Cake played us a range of tunes from their 21 years at the forefront of Australian Music.

Pianist and vocalist David Bridie started us on a melancholy note with “Strange Crumbs From the Suburban Fringe”, quickly swinging between the carnival and the cinematic in a set filled with songs you recognise but can’t quite place – probably from their presence on a plethora of Australian film and TV soundtracks.

Having never seen them before, I’m unsure if this is typical, but apart Bridie steering the show, and quirky Hope Csutoris on Violin, the rest of the band played along unobtrusively as if willing the audience to ignore the band and draw upon and use the music to conjure up their own images and memories. Bridies’ lovely shy young daughter joined the band on vocals for a rollin’ rendition of “25 Stations”, as My Friend the Chocolate Cake used suburban symbols integral to the Australian identity, music like the voice of a familiar and comfortable old friend.

Harry Manx, Judy Collins, Claude Hay

Bringing in Saturday evening, living up to my wandering tendencies our 7pm timeslot was filled with three very different artists I was very curious to see.

Firstly, a storytelling session with the diverse and bewitching Harry Manx accompanied by the extraordinarily talented and energetic virtuoso Hammond Organ musician Clayton Dooley. I sat, mesmerised as Manx minimised talk between songs, telling tale after tale, fusing eastern musical traditions with the Blues. Disappointingly, our time was cut short by the desire not to miss out on the legendary Judy Collins.

We skilfully edged into the jam-packed Big Top tent for a glimpse of Judy Collins, looking radiant, relaxed and all decked out in glitter and grin. At 71, Judy’s career spans more that half a century, and judging by the composition of the audience, attracts fans spanning many generations and backgrounds. The air was thick with nostalgia, and the voices of hundreds of festival attendees reminiscing in unison. The lyrics of Bob Dylans’ “Mr Tamborine Man” could no doubt be heard halfway up Katoomba St, Judy leading the crowd. Unfortunately, due my partner’s sore foot (see below paragraph), we hobbled across to the RSL stage where we discovered a whole generation perhaps untouched by Judy Collins.

Claude Hay had a collection of Blue Mountains youth dancing furiously to his Blue and Roots tunes. Feeling strangely old (especially compared to the rest of our time at the festival), we sat and watched the ‘young people’ shake and groove and chant along to defiant lyrics, while we polished our dentures and moaned about our arthritis.

Eric Bibb

A beautiful conclusion to my second Blue Mountains Music Festival. Eric Bibb, accompanied by Swedish guitarist Staffan Astner, bestowed upon the audience an exceptional set of traditional and contemporary folk-blues tunes. It was Erics’ fourth Blue Mountains Festival, and second time visiting the Mountains in the space of a year- he played at Blackheath Community Centre in April 2011.

Everything about Eric contrasted with the pervasive fog outside the tent, from his bright orange shirt to his infectious and radiant smile. Staffan, dressed in black, hat obscuring his eyes and occasionally bemused smile, was Eric’s quiet yet brilliant shadow. From “Stagger Lee”, “Floodwater”, “Troubadour”, “Tell my Baby” and “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad”, Eric played a mixture of covers and originals which created a warm and contented audience, pleased to be sharing the moment and the music with hundreds of others in the Big Top, rather than outside in Katoomba’s best mist and drizzle.

New Blue King Brown Video “The March” feat. Jah Mason

Blue King Brown
Image Courtesy of Blue King Brown

This article goes out to everyone heading to WOMADelaide this weekend. Blue King Brown have released the video to their single “The March” featuring reggae star Jah Mason just in time for their appearance at this year’s festival. Take a look at the video below and stay tuned for Timber and Steel’s coverage of WOMADelaide coming soon.

Australia Day Gets Folky at The Rocks, Sydney

Sam Buckingham
Image Courtesy of Sam Buckingham

If you’re a fan of live music and find yourself at a loose end in Sydney this Australia Day, the 26th January, you should really head down to The Rocks for the The Australia Day Festival of The Voice. A bunch of music stages, markets and historic pubs – what more could you want? How about a lineup of artists that include a who’s who of Timber and Steel favourites including Sam Buckingham (above), Boy Outside, Harry James Angus, Busby Marou, Archie Roach, Ngaiire, Mikelangelo and The Tin Star, Rescue Ships, Blue King Brown and Caitlin Park.

The event is absolutely free and we have the full set times below. Check out the official web site for more information.

Harbour Song – Campbells Cove
11.30am – 12pm Sam Buckingham
12.15pm – 12.45pm Boy Outside
1.15pm – 2pm Hey Big Aki
2.30pm – 3.15pm The Harry James Angus Band
3.45pm – 4.30 Emma Louise
5pm – 6pm Busby Marou
6.30pm – 7pm Archie Roach

Street Song – George Street
12pm – 12.45pm Steve Smyth
1pm – 1.45pm Ngaiire
2.15pm – 3pm Ernest Ellis & The Panamas
3.30pm – 4.15pm Mikelangelo and The Tin Star with Saint Clare
4.45pm – 5.30pm Rescue Ships
6pm – 7pm Mojo Juju
7.30pm – 8.30pm Blue King Brown

Play Song – The Rocks Square
11.45am – 12.15pm Circular Rhythm
12.30pm – 1pm Circular Rhythm
1.15pm – 2pm Electric Lunchbox
2.30pm – 3.15pm Dodadums
3.45pm – 4.30pm Mark Wilkinson
5pm – 5.45pm Ali Hughes & Daryl
6.15pm – 7pm Caitlin Park

Bluesfest Announces 3rd Round of Artists

Dawes
Image Courtesy of Dawes

You’d think that Bluesfest would be happy enough to rest on the laurels of their already impressive 2011 lineup but it looks as though the festival is just going to get better and better with yet more amazing artists added this morning.

The announcement includes Timber and Steel favourites such as Dawes (above), Josh Pyke, Busby Marou and Blue King Brown as well as 90s legends Sublime. The full list of artists added today is below – check the official Bluesfest site for the full lineup and ticket information:

Sublime with Rome
Zappa Plays Zappa
Dawes
James Vincent McMorrow
Josh Pyke
Blue King Brown
Eileen Jewel
1814
Busby Marou
Melbourne Ska Orchestra

Blue Mountains Music Festival Announces First Artist Lineup

Beoga
Image Courtesy of Beoga

The Blue Mountains Music Festival was by far one of our favourite events on this year’s music calendar (despite the torrential rain – check out our review here) so we got pretty excited this morning when the first round of artists for next years event landed in our inbox. The Blue Mountains Music Festival celebrates music from a variety of genres but it definitely always has a strong folk, roots, blues and bluegrass contingent on its roster and next year is no different.

Rather than try and single out our favourites from the first announcement we though we’d just give it to you in one hit and let you see just how good it is. Ready? Here we go:

Judy Collins (USA), Abigail Washburn (USA), Harry Manx (UK/Canada), Pierre Bensusan (French Algeria), Staffan Astner (Sweden), Krystle Warren (USA), Ben Sollee (USA), Blue King Brown, The Shane Howard Band, Fred Smith, Eddi Reader (Scotland), April Verch (Canada), Noriana Kennedy (Ireland), Truckstop Honeymoon (USA) While and Matthews (UK), My Friend the Chocolate Cake, Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band (USA), The Beez (Germany), Frigg (Finland), Beoga (above – Ireland), ahab (UK), Afro Mandinko, The Buddy Knox Blues Band, Alwan, The Quarry Mountain Dead Rats, Chris Wilson, Fiona Boyes, Rescue Ships, Claude Hay, George Kamikawa and Noriko Tadano, Cass Eager, Phil Davidson, Daniel Champagne, Tonks Green, The Simpson 3 and more.

Pretty impressive eh? The Blue Mountains Music Festival is held in Katoomba, NSW from the 16th to the 18th March. Earlybird tickets are available from now until the 31st December. Check out the official site for more information.

First Artists Announced for WOMADelaide

Eddi Reader

We’re getting pretty good at this prediction thing. In the last month we have started rumours around festival appearances next year from Eddi Reader (above) and Sharon Shannon and lo and behold they’ve both been announced for the 2012 WOMADelaide festival.

And its looking to be another Timber and Steel friendly event again next year with Blue King Brown, First Aid Kit, The Pigram Brothers and The Bearded Gypsy Band also making the WOMADelaide first lineup.

Obviously this is just a taster of what’s to come next year but it’s a very exciting taster. WOMADelaide is held from the 9th to the 12th March in Adelaide. The full lineup so far is below:

Blue King Brown (Australia)
Diego Guerrero y El Solar de Artistas (Spain)
Eddi Reader (Scotland)
First Aid Kit (Sweden)
Groundation (Jamaica/USA)
Johnny Clegg (South Africa)
Lo’Jo (France)
Master Drummers of Burundi (Burundi)
Sharon Shannon Big Band (Ireland)
Shivkumar Sharma (India)
Staff Benda Billili (Democratic Republic of Congo)
The Pigram Brothers (Australia)
Tinariwen (Mali)
The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (UK)
The Bearded Gypsy Band (Australia)

Indie Award Nominations Thick With Folk

Jordie Lane

The Jagermeister Independent Music Award nominations were announced today and as could be expected folk, roots and acoustic artists were thick on the ground. Timber and Steel alumni Busby Marou, Emma Louise, Blue King Brown, Bonjah, Gurrumul, Jordie Lane (above), Davidson Brothers, Kasey Chambers, Shane Nicholson, Wagons and Elixir featuring Katie Noonan all picked up nominations.

We’ve listed our top categories and nominees below. For the full list check out the exclusive over at Your Daily Spa.

Best Independent Artist
Abbe May
Adalita
Art Vs Science
Seekae
The Jezabels

Breakthrough Independent Artist of the Year
Adalita
Big Scary
Busby Marou
Emma Louise
Oscar & Martin
The Holidays

Best Independent Album
Abbe May – Design Desire
Adalita – Adalita
Art vs Science – The Experiment
Drapht – The Life Of Riley
Seekae – +Dome

Best Independent Single or EP
Adalita – “Hot Air”
Emma Louise – “Full Hearts and Empty Rooms”
Illy – “It Can Wait Featuring Owl Eyes”
Stonefield – “Through The Clover”
The Jezabels – “Dark Storm”

Best Independent Blues and Roots Album
Blue King Brown – Worldwize (Part 1, The North and South)
Bonjah – Go Go Chaos
Busby Marou – Busby Marou
Gurrumul – Rrakala
Jordie Lane – Blood Thinner

Best Independent Country Album
Davidson Brothers – Here To Stay
Halfway – An Outpost Of Promise
Kasey Chambers – Little Bird
Shane Nicholson – Bad Machines
Wagons – Rumble Shake and Tumble
Troy Cassar-Daly – Live

Best Independent Jazz Album
Allan Browne, Marc Hannaford, Sam Anning – Shreveport Stomp
Daniel Gassin Sextet – Daniel Gassin Sextet
Elixir featuring Katie Noonan – First Seed Ripening
Mark Isaacs Resurgence Band – Aurora
Sandy Evans – When The Sky Cries Rainbows
Shannan Barnett Quartet – Country

Great Southern Blues Festival Announces First Round Artists

Great Southern Blues Festival
Image Courtesy of Chugg Entertainment

The Great Southern Blues Festival, held in Batemans Bay from the 30th September to the 2nd October, has just announced its first round of artists and it’s pretty amazing. Known for attracting big name overseas acts, The Great Southern’s first lineup announcement is almost an Australian only affair with Kasey Chambers, Backsliders, Jeff Lang and Blue King Brown all on the bill. The only non Australian act announced so far is acclaimed multi-instrumentalist and is widely renowned as a modern swamp-blues master Kenny Neal, direct from the USA.

Considering that this is just the first round of artists then you’re right to be very excited by The Great Southern Blues Festival. Tickets go on sale on the 1st July which is also the date we’ll get the full lineup. Stay tuned for more details as we get thm.

Gurrumul & Blue King Brown Release Collaboration “Gathu Mawula [Revisited]”

Image courtesy of Skinnyfish Music

A large portion of Timber & Steel‘s writers are about to head to the Botanic Park in Adelaide for the pre-Womadelaide media conference before the gates open later in the evening. I think we’d silently decided to sign off from all other distractions in the world of music for the festival duration and focus on the coverage, but I can’t help but make this one last fitting post. If you read our interview with Shane Howard from Goanna a month or so ago then you’d know that Womadelaide is a festival with a very strong interest in Indigenous Australia and the wealth, beauty and significance of the art coming from our indigenous communities. Which is why today, of all days, is such a fitting one for Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu and Blue King Brown– two of Australia’s most celebrated acts- to release a collaboration they undertook together called “Gathu Mawula Revisited”. The song is notably contemporary in comparison to Gurrumul’s debut album, but the song is fantastic- with a strong and righteous message. You can purchase the song from iTunes here, or watch the video below. Natalie (BKB) wrote a really interesting blog about the experience as well, which you can read here.

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