Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats And C.W. Stoneking Co-Headline Tour

Nate and CW
Image Courtesy of Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

This march it’s time to get your retro-blues and roots on as English band Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats and Australian troubadour C.W. Stoneking announce a co-headline tour.

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats are back in the country following last year’s appearance at Bluesfest and the release of their new EP A Little Something More From. They recently shared the stage in the US with C.W. Stoneking which has led to the tour in Australia.

Check out the full list of dates below:

Friday 3rd March – Perth International Arts Festival, Perth, WA
Tuesday 7th March – Enmore Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Wednesday 8th March – The Tivoli, Brisbane, QLD
Thursday 9th March – Shindig By The Sea, Seaworks, Melbourne, VIC

Hat Fitz & Cara Announce National Tour This January

Hat Fitz
Image Courtesy of Hat Fitz & Cara

Celebrated folk-blues duo Hat Fitz & Cara just released their amazing new album After The Rain and have announced plans to head out on tour this January.

Hat Fitz & Cara have already appeared at the Bridgetown Blues and Mullum Music Festival’s this month and the buzz is that their live show is as tight and entertaining as ever.

Check out the full list of upcoming tour dates below:

Thursday 19th January – Lizottes, Newcastle, NSW
Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd January – Thredbo Blues Festival, Thredbo, NSW
Monday 23rd January – Yackandandah Hall, Yackandandah, VIC
Wednesday 25th January – Caravan Music Club, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 26th January – Milton Theatre, Milton, NSW
Friday 27th January – Bowral Bowling Club, Bowral, NSW
Saturday 28th January – Blues on the Water Cruise, Manly, NSW
Saturday 28th January – The Basement, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 29th January – Odd Fellows Hot Club, Kempsey, NSW
Friday 3rd February – The J, Noosa, QLD
Saturday 4th February – The New Globe Theatre, Brisbane, QLD
Sunday 5th February – Nimbin Bush Theatre, Nimbin, NSW
Friday 17th February – Nightjar Festival, Geelong, VIC
Saturday 18th February – Old Church on the Hill, Bendigo, VIC
Sunday 26th February – Kurunda Amphitheatre, Kurunda, QLD

Listen to the New Colin Jones & The Delta Revue Single “Mama Don’t Weep”

Colin Jones
Image Courtesy of Colin Jones & The Delta Revue

If you’ve been down to regular Sydney night Folkswagon (Wednesday’s at Cafe Lounge) over the last six months there’s a very good chance you’ve been blown away by their amazing house band Colin Jones & The Delta Revue.

The dirty blues band fronted by the enigmatic, gravelly voiced Colin Jones, get rave reviews wherever ever they go and now their delighting their fans with a brand new single “Mama Don’t Weep”.

“It’s a song that has stuck with me,” Jones said of the track. “It’s a song about evolution, a song about rebirth. You’ll get it when you hear it.”

Check out “Mama Don’t Weep” below:

To celebrate the release of “Mama Don’t Weep” Colin Jones & The Delta Revue have a bunch of launch shows in NSW over the next couple of weeks. Full list of dates are here:

Thursday 14th July – The Lass O’Gowrie, Newcastle, NSW
Sunday 17th July – The White Horse, Sydney, NSW
Friday 29th July – Howlin’ Wolf, Wollongong, NSW

Watch the New Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats Video “I Need Never Get Old”

Nathaniel Rateliff
Image Courtesy of Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats

Did you catch Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats while they were in the country for Bluesfest? By all accounts they were amazing, catching the attention of a lot of the local media.

Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats have just released their new video “I Need Never Get Old” which takes the studio based clip to the next level.

“It was a long 15-hour day, the video was fun,” Rateliff explained. “The concept of the video is us struggling over the song for decades, but ironically it took only two hours to record the song in the studio.”

Check out “I Need Never Get Old” below:

Review: 5 things we learned at Bluesfest

Kale plays at Bluesfest 2016Kaleo playing Bluesfest
Photos by Stuart Bucknell

Year after year, Bluesfest manages to bring the big names and the impressive acts to Byron Bay for the annual Easter pilgrimage. Heading to Bluesfest this year, we really didn’t know many of the acts listed on the bill and wondered just what was in store for us, Timber and Steel wise. So here’s 5 things we learned at this year’s wildly successful, ultimate music sampler opportunity that is, Bluesfest.

#1 – Peter Noble knows how to program…

One thing is for sure, Peter Noble knows how to curate an inclusive, diverse and engaging festival. The big names drew enormous crowds to all their sets. City and Colour had the crowd from the first note and Dallas Green was on form all night.  The Decemberists gave their usual charming set delving in to a fabulous back catalogue of favourites. Not to go without a bit of political comment, they also played a song they thought to offer Donald Trump as his new campaign tune, ‘The Calamity Song’. The Cat Empire delivered a solid hour and a half set jam packed with both new tracks and past hits and favourites to wow the crowd. The biggest coup was probably The Original Blues Brothers Band closing out the weekend with a stellar set of their signature blues.

The festival was dappled with big names throughout the program. Archie Roach was in fine form, weaving his musical spell over the crowd and telling the tales of the land with strength and beauty, and a focus on songs from Charcoal Lane, the title track being a particular stand out moment of the set. Jason Isbell had his one an only set up against The Original Blues Brothers Band, so splitting our time between the two was challenging but rewarding as Isbell’s enigmatic style caught watchers in it’s thrall delivering a contemporary counterpoint to the old school blues on the other stage.

Kim Churchill plays BluesfestBut one of the most notable names for me, still playing midday sets, was Kim Churchill. Getting his big break on the Bluesfest Buskers stage all those years ago, Churchill has been a staple name on the line up ever since. His absence in 2015 was noted and the crowds that gathered for this sets this year spoke strongly of his popularity for the Bluesfest crowd. Watching him command the stage, with the occasional accompaniment of a fiddle player or percussionists, was a joy to witness and testament to the following he has. It felt like he had come home, and in the process had evolved from a keen boy with a guitar to a passionate man with a solid musical career stretching before him.

#2 – It’s never just about the Blues. Folk, Country, and Americana all strongly represented in 2016

Strolling from stage to stage, the peeling licks and plucky chords of the more folky persuasion were both notable and popular with punters, letting us stumble across all kinds of gems.  LA based Lord Huron made quite the entrance with a tension building soundscape and crescendo, an upbeat strummy and infectious style, inventive percussion beneath the acoustic lead and an ability to morph between styles, from the old school feel reminiscent of the 50s and 60s summer soundtracks, through alt country and indie folk rock vibes. A particular highlight from the four-piece was ‘Hurricane’, billed as a song about “getting in trouble”, turns out it was aptly named.

Described as an Icelandic Indie pop/rock/folk band, Kaleo was a light and lyrical delight. Building from their delicate opening style to gutsy, rhythm driven choruses, through alt-country sensibilities to deep southern style blues, and a soulful cover of Bang Bang, Kaleo didn’t hesitate to transcend styles and genres to sign off with a blues rock riff and howling vocals when warranted.

The Bros Landreth, hailing from Canada, brought their alt-country and folk laden cover of Wings’ ‘Let ‘Em In’ to break the ice and then let the Americana tinged goodness flow forth. A family affair, big brother David couldn’t attend so father Wally came in his place and whipped the crowd in to a cheering craze.

The Mastersons were touring with Steve Earle & The Dukes, and made appearances both on Earle’s sets and one of their own solo shows for Bluesfest. Their lyrical country styling, featuring voices working together in diverse melodic harmony gave their day opening set a contemplative mood, transporting the crowd to simpler days. Earle’s set was one great big treat of blues soaked tunes with toe-tapping jivey bluegrass edge, all with the sweet country counterpoint of The Mastersons.

Hound mouth playing Bluesfest 2016

It seemed to be a fatherly affair this Bluesfest, with Hussy Hicks welcoming Julz’s dad Greg to their set to deliver some blistering harmonica to their upbeat tempo and at times Joplin-esque wails and passion. Indiana’s Houndmouth however had no dad’s on their line up but did have plenty of twangy blues and American drawl to open their show and unravel your soul where you stood.

#3 – Word of Mouth is King

You know when you look at a line up and you’re not really sure what acts to check out? Well Bluesfest was that way inclined for many but within the first 8 hours, gossip was abuzz with recommendations and wild tales of phenomenal shows and must see acts to catch. So here’s what we checked out based purely on word of mouth.

Steve Smyth plays at Bluesfest 2016

OK, so Steve Smyth isn’t exactly news to us, but the stir on site had his name on the tips of peoples tongues and boy did he live up to the hype. Sheer genius stood on that stage in the form of master lyricist and vibrant stage presence. Smyth’s beautiful voice and stunning vibrato was just powerful solo as with the support backing instrumentalists. His performance of ‘Southland’ blew socks off across the festival.

Shooglenifty, also known as ‘that band I can’t pronounce’, was not what you expect when you read “Celtic” on the program, but a glorious blend of traditional highland derived tunes that were heavy on the fiddle and a mandolin at the ready, intricately twined with modern rhythms, a few electric guitars and a toe tapping beat, drew punters in before they could saunter too far past the heaving tent.

Blind Boy Paxton plays at Bluesfest 2016

The was no way to walk through the site without hearing the name, Blind Boy Paxton. Listening to his set was like a walk through time, from a fiddle calling a country dance and bransles, to a lightning speed banjo frenzy, a soothing guitar tune and even a lone harmonica telling you it’s tale. All this from one man on stage – simply astonishing.

#4 – The Ladies are out in force! And you should catch all of them live

There was a lot of talk about various acts, and word of mouth certainly got us to see some great performers, but thanks to emphatic and multiple recommendations from all kinds of punters, we discovered some of the most phenomenal women who stamped their mark and left as some of the powerhouses of Bluesfest.

We caught Sahara Beck for her last set and were immediately struck by her stage presence, the smooth set up with band and back up singers added the pizazz to her swag and gave her sultry vibe a ‘pop’ on stage.

Elle King had tongues wagging as word spread that after her first, expletive laden set, her set list had to be ‘revised’. However her husky, growling vocal licks were well and truly flowing when we caught her set in a heaving tent overflowing in to the customary Bluesfest rain. Sass and attitude would be the plainest way of describing King, her vibrancy comes from her musical versatility and ability to weave country vibes and bluegrassy panache throughout her ballsy bluesy set. A chameleon of style, King bowled over crowds with big notes, fiery wit and feisty repartee.

Elle King plays at Bluesfest 2016

Hailing from Ireland, via Canada, Irish Mythen is a modern troubadour equipped with a powerhouse voice and emphatic lyrics. Mythen might have been the grittiest, most real musician seen at Bluesfest this year, armed only with her guitar and her stories, she held hundreds of people spellbound, hanging on her every word any time she took to the stage. We caught her multiple times, and laughed, cried, cheered and sung along to songs we had only heard the first time days before. She regularly had the crowd in stitches with her sense of humour and story telling capers, and woe betide any punter brave enough to heckle her! Four stand out moments stayed with me, even though I saw them all more than once. Her performance of ‘Tullamore Blues’ almost defies description, except that the crowd was with her, in that space, singing every word and feeling every sentiment. Jesus is an experience to behold, hilarious in it’s explanation and empowering in it’s performance, I sincerely hope every person gets to experience it live. Her a Capella rendition of ‘The Auld Triangle’ gives me chills and is simply astounding.  And finally ’55 Years’ had me (and most in the crowd) in tears for the beauty it captures in it’s tale. A truly moving experience. Irish Mythen is awe inspiring and we’re excited she’ll be visiting Australia again soon.

Rhiannon Giddens plays at Bluesfest 2016

And finally, probably the all-singing, all-dancing highlight of the ladies was Rhiannon Giddens. Establishing herself originally as a part of Carolina Chocolate Drops, Giddens’ solo work is a sight to behold and a treat to hear. Her stunning vocals are soulful yet soar high in beautiful arcs and trills of an almost Celtic style. The skill of her band melds electric with acoustic in wonderful instrumental breaks, bouncing off one another jamming to a crescendo and returning the spotlight to her lead when the time was right. Her banjo crept through tunes to pounce on you unawares, yet could alternate and become the hero of the song. Old Bob Dylan lyrics never previously turned in to songs until Giddens got her hands on them offered a treasure trove to discover. Doing a Dolly Parton cover can be tough, but Giddens’ rendition of ‘Don’t Let It Trouble Your Mind’ saw her own the song completely, from every element of style through to her emotive connection with both lyrics and sentiment. From start to finish and for each and every set, she wowed the crowd with fiddle, banjo, modern takes on traditional style, soul stirring lyrics and even a step back in time to the 1920s. Her fancy footwork went down a treat and her ability to connect with the audience and tether them to her tale as the most exquisite experience to behold. She could chat to the crowd but make you feel like she spoke to you and you alone, and yet at all times Rhiannon Giddens continued to exist as her own ineffable self.

#5 – Soul is in, along with BIG bands

Now strictly speaking, Timber and Steel doesn’t really cover Soul, but the prevalence of the big band style soul injections at Bluesfest is worthy of admiration and appreciation, so it gets a gong here.

Emma Donovan & The Putbacks were a sight to behold as Donovan put her own stamp on soul, with earthy tones and a voice that rolled over the crowd, calling to them, beckoning them to hear her story. The combination of her stories and passionate, soulful delivery made for a tight set and profound performance.

I wrote down 4 words when seeing The Word, and two of them were expletives… “holy f***ing sh*t wow.” The couple of songs we caught were incredible, full of funky groves and some sweet slide guitar, all topped off with an electric organ. Very smooth and cool indeed.

Ash Grunwald plays at Bluesfest 2016Ash Grunwald hasn’t moved in to soul, but his Bluesfet setup did resemble the big backing bands of the soul acts and boy did it compliment his wailing blues. Never conforming to just one genre, Grunwald drew on bluegrass vibes, some indie rock to his blues and of course his signature commentary on Australian life. Playing River from his new album, Grunwald spoke about the anti-CSG message prevalent throughout his most recent recordings and confirmed he was among friends int he Bluesfest crowd. His set was punctuated with old favourites as highlights, crowds rollicking in his passionate performance and joining in to sing along on choruses, and the utter delight when Kasey Chambers joined him on stage for a brand new song was palpable.

Another of the tongue wagging recommendations was for Vintage Trouble, and my first impression was that lead singer Ty Taylor was sex on legs, with enough swagger stuffed in to a cravat and suit to fell an army. And when the full band kicked in, it blew the show off the Richter scale. A set full of southern blues, call and response, screaming and wailing blues breaks and enough on stage antics to warrant a lie down after watching. This was my kind of place, 1950s style jazzy blues, complete with energy and onstage charisma!

Vintage Trouble plays Bluesfest 2016

Now, if you haven’t yet heard of the phenomenal popularity and praise for Bluesfest debutants St. Paul and The Broken Bones, then you haven’t been doing the internet properly. Of all the word of mouth recommendations, St Paul and The Broken Bones was THE most talked about act at Bluesfest, and not without good reason. A big band blues-laden soul outfit, oozing funk, with a big personality for a front man in Paul Janeway. Opening with an almighty wail and sliding in to a crooning style track, the crowd knew exactly where they stood and were rooted to the spot to witness the explosive show by one of the most engaging acts we’ve seen in years. Janeway, on behalf of the entire band, exclaimed that Bluesfest was the best experience they had ever had and they would definitely be coming back to Australia, to which the crowd erupted with delight. A set filled with rumbling soul, emotive ballads and big, ballsy blues, St Paul and The Broken Bones is sure to be a high rotation favourite on many punters playlists for some time to come.

St Paul and The Broken Bones plays Bluesfest 2016

Without a doubt, Bluesfest’s skillfully curated 2016 lineup was a smash hit success, sure to be spoken of for years to come. Can’t wait to see what Peter Noble comes up with for 2017!

Listen to the New Claude Hay Single “Love No More” Plus May Tour Dates

Claude Hay
Image Courtesy of Claude Hay

New South Wales troubadour Claude Hay returns to a rootsier place with his brand new single “Love No More”. The single is filled with slide guitar and call and response melodies and best of all Hay is giving you the chance to download it free.

Check out “Love No More” and download it below:

To celebrate the release of “Love No More” Claude Hay is heading out on tour this May – the full list of dates are here:

Thursday 5th May – The Brass Monkey, Cronulla, NSW
Friday 6th May – Lazybones Lounge, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 7th May – The Stag and Hunter, Newcastle, NSW
Sunday 8th May – Towradgi Beach Hotel, Towradgi, NSW
Thursday 12th May – The Golden Vine Hotel, Bendigo, VIC
Friday 13th May – The Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 14th May – The Blues Train, Queenscliff, VIC
Thursday 19th May – The Grand Junction Hotel, Maitland, NSW
Friday 20th May – Finnian’s Irish Tavern, Port Macquarie, NSW
Saturday 21st May – The Federal Hotel, Bellingen, NSW
Sunday 22nd May – The Rails, Byron Bay, NSW
Friday 27th May – The Milk Factory, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 28th May – Solbar, Maroochydore, QLD
Saturday 4th June – The Agrestic Grocer, Orange, NSW
Saturday 18th June – The Winter Magic Festival, Katoomba, NSW

Bluesfest inspires Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar - Photo by Stuart BucknellKendrick Lamar performing on the opening night of Bluesfest
Photo by Stuart Bucknell

After a huge weekend opening the hugely popular Bluesfest in Byron Bay, Kendrick Lamar has been receiving praise and compliments on his stellar show ever since and helped to deliver the largest Thursday attendance ever seen at Bluesfest.

Lamar attended the remainder of Bluesfest and caught many acts from side of stage, exclaiming what a great festival and tremendous line up was on show over the Easter long weekend. Australian favourite Kasey Chambers was also in attendance at Bluesfest and joined a number of performers on stage as a guest for their set, including Archie Roach and Ash Grunwald.

Rumour has it that Chambers and Lamar met side of stage while watching City and Colour and traded tips on which acts to catch over the weekend. Having caught Chambers’ guest performances, Lamar has expressed an interest in collaborating with Chambers on a future, more blues and country inspired project.

Lamar reportedly said he is excited to return to the roots of R&B and take on the Blues genre for the foreseeable future and looks forward to bringing a country flavour and Australian talent in to the mix to give a real diversity to the project.

EDIT: Happy April Fools!

National Folk Festival Interview: Andrew Winton

Andrew Winton
Image Courtesy of Andrew Winton

It’s been ten years since I first walked into a random tent at The National Folk Festival and became mesmerised by WA based singer and lap guitarist Andrew Winton so it’s amazing to see him returning again this year. We sat down with Winton to chat about The National, his unique guitar and his brand new album Glorybox Mechanics.

Gareth Hugh Evans: I first saw you at The National about ten years ago. I was wandering into one of your shows knowing nothing about you and was blown away by this amazing performance. It was all slide guitars and knee slapping – just amazing. Is The National a special festival for you?

Andrew Winton: It has been. The first time might have been 2006. We were on one of my first national tours and it was just an experience. We had a caravan and an 18 month old – it was a real whirlwind. It was one of the first bigger festivals where we thought “oh, this is very interesting”. We were put in a bit last minute but we had such a response and we’ve been back a few times.

GHE: I remember you in 2006 well.

AW: Yeah, I had dreadlocks and the whole thing. That was at that point where to play that music you had to have a uniform.

GHE: You were the “other” dude from WA with the dreadlocks and the lap guitar.

AW: Yes! Mr Butler, is that the man?

GHE: And I distinctly remember your 18 month old son with Karen Winton holding him. In fact she may have gotten up on stage to sing with you while still holding him.

AW: Yeah – she’s very strong. I think we’ve been at most of the festivals either pregnant or with a young child. We’ve stopped breeding now but there was a period when we were ready to have a kid it was mid festival. It was a real lifestyle for a while.

GHE: Has having a young family informed your playing folk festivals as opposed to the big blues or rock festivals? They’re a bit more family friendly.

AW: Yeah. It’s interesting, that year or the year after we did that circuit and then got invited to SXSW which is the big rock and roll festival in Austin, Texas. And that’s when we felt like “wow this is a bit different”. At [folk] festivals people will actually listen, it’s not all about drinking. And you don’t have to go to number ten on the energy – people will listen to quieter songs, a range of material. People are actually interested in the instrument, in the playing. On the whole the folk festivals have a diverse audience interested in different things., not just stomping and drinking and hollering.

GHE: Speaking of being interested in the instrument – your guitar is called The Beast right?

AW: Now when you saw me I had a thing called the Winton Beast which was made by a Victorian luthier. Then several years after a small American company saw me and said “we want to endorse you and make weird instruments for you” and that’s still happening these days. What they make is these instruments out of the roots of cyprus trees in Alabama. So the Winton Beast morphed into this instrument that is two in one. The Winton Beast was a seven string and I introduced a six string so it’s a 13 string tree root that I play.

GHE: Do you go to the luthiers and say “this is what I want? Or do they come to you and say “what do you think of this crazy idea”?

AW: In both instances they’ve said they’ll make me anything I want. And I’ve gone a) I don’t know what I want and I don’t know much and b) I just used my limited strange creativeness to invent something and they made it happen. And with the guys in Alabama it was all over Skype. I’m a non-practical person, I can’t hammer and nail – I just said “can we try having this many strings with this type of tuning”. I didn’t know if it was going to work and it’s all very experimental. And it’s mostly paid off and I guess in my own little world I’m known as this person that plays weird instruments.

GHE: I think I saw you play at a guitarist showcase at The National and everybody was just fascinated by your instrument.

AW: That’s right! People are more intrigued by that than me. On stage everyone was looking at my groin! Some could consider that a gimmick but in a landscape where everyone plays the same instrument with the same sort of tunings it’s just something different. And as a soloist it allows you to occupy the bass area, the chordal area and the melody at the same time.

GHE: You’ve been pretty prolific over the years and you’ve just recently released your album Glorybox Mechanics. Did you self produce that album?

AW: I have a friend here who has done a lot of recording for me. I chose to go down the path of not wanting any of the gear in my house – I didn’t want to go down the rabbit hole of recording. But very close to me is a very good engineer and basically I just did it on my iPhone and then went and replicated with him. In some ways it’s self produced but with someone who knows the buttons and the screens and the boring bits.

GHE: It’s always tempting as a musician to become a gear junkie.

AW: I’m anti that [laughs]. Because those guys end up becoming computer engineers and their musical skills fade into the distance.

GHE: You’ve been Glorybox Mechanics quite a bit recently – how’s the reception been so far?

AW: Quite nice actually. It’s tricky because the last album Happy won a bunch of awards and was a whole different level, so there was a little bit of pressure with this one. So it’s nice that ABC Radio National and a lot of community stations, and even one or two of the bigger ones, are playing a couple of songs. It doesn’t change the universe but I was just worried if these were going to work – it’s just my nature. And I’ve been pretty pleased. Especially in a landscape where people don’t buy CDs.

GHE: Except at festivals!

AW: Exactly! It’s the last arena where you go to see an act and straight away go and talk to the person who’s just played and take a bit home with you. It’s that kind of instant performance energy. That’s why these festivals are still trucking along well. As a musician it’s a privilege to play at them because people face your way and they might buy something and you get to talk to everyone.

GHE: At The National Folk Festival this year is it just you solo? Is Karen coming?

AW: Because I’m coming over for a couple of festivals it’s just me – we’ve got too many children now. And I think we’ve got some nice spots there – we’re going to be doing a filming in The Buddawang.

GHE: The National always ends up being quite a collaborative festival anyway so I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up spotting you playing with someone like Liz Frencham.

AW: That’s already been arranged! Liz and I live a long way from each other but whenever we get to the same suburb we do something.

GHE: It wouldn’t be a National Folk Festival if Liz Frencham didn’t play with every single act at some point.

AW: Exactly. I stir her about that [laughs].

GHE: Where else are you playing while you’re on the east coast.

AW: I’ve got gigs at the Django Bar in Sydney and the Union Bar in Melbourne.

GHE: Oh lovely – I’ll have to try and get down to one of those shows.

AW: Great! I haven’t been over there for a while.

GHE: Thank you so much for chatting with me. Looking forward to seeing you play again.

AW: Fantastic – thank you!

All of Andrew Winton’s upcoming dates, including his shows at The National Folk Festival, are below:

Wednesday 23rd March – House Concert, Temora, NSW.
Thursday 24th to Monday 28th March – National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT
– Friday 4:30pm – Budawang
– Saturday 3:15pm – Marquee (Infinite Song Contest)
– Saturday 7pm – Flute ‘n’ Fiddle
– Saturday 9:30pm – Flute ‘n’ Fiddle (Liz Frencham Album Launch)
– Sunday 10am – The Terrace (Lap Slide Guitar Workshop)
– Sunday 9pm – Marquee
Thursday 31st March – Django Bar, Sydney, NSW
Friday 1st April – Selby Folk Club, Selby, VIC
Saturday 2nd April – Union Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 3rd April – House Concert, Mount Franklin, VIC
Friday 8th April – The Herdsman Lake Tavern, Wembley, WA
Saturday 9th April – Caves House Hotel, Yallingup, WA
Sunday 10th April – Settlers Tavern, Margaret River, WA
Friday 15th to Sunday 17th April – Fairbridge Folk Festival, Pinjarra, WA
Sunday 24th April – The Vic Hotel, Perth, WA

Falls Festival Review: Unmissable Acts

general_20160101-2Festival: Falls Music and Arts Festival
Location: Byron Bay – North Byron Parklands
Date(s): Thursday 31st Dec 2015 – Saturday 2nd Jan 2016
Featured Artists: Weird ‘Al’ Yankovic, Meg Mac, Paul Kelly presents the Merri Soul Sessions
Photos by Stuart Bucknell

At every multi-genre festival, there is a variety of acts that are both very folky and others that may only just touch on the concept of what Timber and Steel covers. But at Falls Festival, I had three acts I could not miss, and I wasn’t disappointed.

weirdal_20160101-4I was a huge fan of Weird ‘Al’ Yankovic in my teen years, and I was delighted to see him included on the Falls line up after his string of hit parodies over the last 18 months. Never one to follow the norms, Yankovic started his much anticipated set from a disabled portaloo somewhere out the back of the stage and sang and danced his way to the stage with his hit Tacky – complete with cheerleader dancers. Weird ‘Al’s set was full of colour, energy, costume changes and read much like his early albums with segues and videos of historical footage and mock interviews conveying his quirky sense of humour and making time for his quick costume changes. I think these interludes were lost on a predominantly younger crowd who wouldn’t know how his albums include these kinds of quirks when played start to finish, however his recent hits Foil, Fat and Smells Like Nirvana still whipped up the crowds. I particularly enjoyed his high voltage performance of Now That’s What I Call Polka, a mashup parody of some of 2015s biggest hits from Miley to Psy, Gotye, Mackelmore and much more, really brought the crowd together. He brought both old and new to the stage, Amish Paradise and Word Crimes both got a spot and in all, his set was action packed and full of laughs from start to finish.

megmac_20160101-1Meg Mac is a name I’ve been hearing regularly on the radio and among friends, I’d been looking forward to catching her live and getting a real sense of her style. Performing on New Year’s Day at the Forest Stage, you know you’re on to a winner when crowds scramble to the front at the end of the previous act to wait the 20min turn over before her performance. The crowds were relentless and energised, this would be a great set, no matter what. As Mac took to the stage, resplendent in all black and large sun hat, her smooth, sumptuous tones washed over the crowd and the spell was cast. She commands both the stage and the crowd, sauntering from one side to the other, engaging with her fans effortlessly. Her rendition of Before Trouble only proved her status as a consummate performer, even though she only won Triple J’s Unearthed as recently as 2014.

Black was the uniform and it was a tight performance from all, from her backup singers to each band member. She sipped on honey to sooth her voice throughout  – she says she struggled while performing at Marion Bay, but you couldn’t tell from the superb vibrato and stunning vocals she delivered.

From an absolutely jam packed set, highlights included Never Be, Turning, Every Lie, and of course Known Better received rapturous applause, and every person singing along, only to be outdone by a superb a Capella opening and beautiful performance of Grandma’s Hands.

There is a certain pleasure in hearing an act at a festival sound just like they do on record, but being able to add to the chorus in voice, body and rhythm from the audience takes the whole experience higher. Meg Mac is a star on the rise.

paulkelly_20160101-4

I feel like I have waited my entire adult life to see a collaboration like Paul Kelly presents The Merri Soul Sessions. On the first day of the new year, I lined myself up in the perfect spot to soak up their entire Valley Stage show. From the get go, it was clear this is a slick set of friends who can bounce off each other and share the stage equally. A cool, soulful beat introduced the ladies and gents to the stage, Vika and Linda Bull, Clairy Browne, Kira Puru and Dan Sultan! The Bull sisters took the reigns with their contributions What You Want and Smells Like Rain that held the crowd captivated. I’ve never seen Dan Sultan as a backup singer but he took to the role well and provided his beautiful timbre to the depths of the harmonies.

Kira Puru’s Righteous Woman, achieved a tone of a more Australian soul than the traditional expectation and engaged the whole line up beautifully. Claire Browne, rocking a white full length jacket and matching two piece, gave a lamentful rendition of Where Were You When I Needed You. We are so used to seeing her as a brazen soul sister with her Bangin’ Rackettes, that it’s a wonderful contrast to see her collaborating on the Merri Soul Sessions and delivering something delicate and with a whole new aspect to her repertoire. Dan Sultan brought a more upbeat tempo with Don’t Let A Good Thing Go and had the audience begging for more.

The set suffered a major power outage, cutting everything except some basic stage lighting. A testament to their experience and years of performance, the entire troupe continued on playing, jamming, clapping, singing and engaging the audience in the front who all joined in while the issue was resolved. It took a few minutes to fix and as soon as the lighting and sound came back on, they rounded out their jam and swung straight back to pick up the song right from where they were cut off. It was a spectacular site and a seamless cover for the inconvenience.

The Merri Soul Sessions are a captivating collection of masterful musicians, working together to create mesmerizing, transcendent tunes that make any soul happy. Between them, they each have their specialty, Clairy Browne commands the stage and captivates the crowds with stoic stillness, Kira Puru brings her signature style melded with a gospel soul sound, Dan Sultan’s rock tinged melodies soar over the Bull sisters’ famous close harmonies, all creating planes of sound and story to explore.

In spite of the technical hitch, they played their entire album plus some surprises for the eager audience. The highlight towards the end was always going to be Dumb Things given the full Merri Souls treatment which was met with rapturous applause and every voice joining in from the crowd. But the most beautiful shared moment would have to be the very last, all 6 of them crowded around one microphone to sing, a Capella, a stirring Meet Me In The Middle Of The Air. Words cannot describe the hush of the crowd, the weaving of harmonies, or the electricity in the air. Simply magical.

Check out our Overview of the entire Falls Festival Byron Bay

Read of our Falls Festival reviews

Timber and Steel Highlights at Falls

Falls Festival Finds

Falls Festival Review: Timber and Steel Highlights

The Valley Stage at Falls Festival Byron BayFestival: Falls Music and Arts Festival
Location: Byron Bay – North Byron Parklands
Date(s): Thursday 31st Dec 2015 – Saturday 2nd Jan 2016
Feature Artists: Courtney Barnett, Little May, The Button Collective, Gary Clark Jr.
Photos by Stuart Bucknell

The line up was a great collection of many talented musicians from a vast array of genres. In terms of Timber and Steel acts, there were four main highlight acts to catch at Falls.

Courtney BarnettIt’s been a big year for Courtney Barnett, 2015 has seen her juggernaut debut grow in to dominance of the charts and the hearts of Australians of almost all musical persuasions. Clad in desert boots, jeans and a hat that only lasted a song and a half, Barnett didn’t hesitate to launch with full energy in to her huge set on the Valley Stage for the first day of the new year. The audience sprawled across the lawns, from the raptured fans at the front, to the chilled punters on the grassy slopes at the back, all completely fixated on the multi award winning yet demure figure. Highlights from her set include that rare quiet moment as the entire Valley hushed for the opening notes of Depreston only to then have every voice heard singing along in unison, and her huge hit Pedestrian at best close her set in full rock-goddess energy while the crowd reached the peak of their high spirited, dancing frenzy.

Little May on the Forest Stage at Falls Festival Byron Little May is an act I’ve seen popping up time and time again on my social media feeds and have been keen to catch. The trio took to the Forest Stage on the last day of the festival, with their backing band at the ready and strong audience numbers eagerly anticipating their set. And the ladies did not disappoint. With honey golden vocals trickling through the all encompassing tones of the full band’s live act festival sound, Little May treated the crowd to a full course of sweet temptations. With highlights including a beautiful rendition of the ballad, Seven Hours, to the new track Cease, the trio gave a consistent, high quality musical spectrum for the crowd to relax too, from the folk tinged to the indie pop and alternative sounds. Their repertoire allowed them range from their silky, harmonised ballads to bold, anthemic tones of Dust, through the tale telling of Hide and finishing off the performance with a stellar performance of their Great Southern Land Like a Version cover. I can only hope that Paul Kelly himself caught even a glimpse of this up tempo take on his classic track with  their clever use of vocal layering as it’s the last time they will be playing it for a while.

Button collectiveOver in Lola’s Bar, on New Years Eve, we stumbled upon a likely scene of rag-tag musicians and a tent full of eager punters. It was 2pm but the Button Collective soon had the dance floor packed with joyful revelry. Appearing as a 6-piece line up each day of the Byron stint, the sheer energy and cheer emanating from the stage was infectious. With everything from the traditional folk, to country-tinged tracks that invoke foot stomping, the Collective had a winning combination on their set list. With Barn-dance like hoedowns springing up on the dance floor, and multiple Irish tunes mashed-up to treat the crowd, Lola’s Bar was the scene of frivolity for their entire set. The Button Collective brought sea shanties, bluegrass, folk and an array of short, punchy, fast paced tracks and still bowed to the whim of the crowd, playing more dance tracks whenever the crowd demanded. So spirited was the audience, that a conga-line formed and snaked its way around the dance floor until every punter was a part of the line, and then spontaneously erupted in to a mass hoedown. To say The Button Collective put on a good show would be an understatement… I’m sure the word ‘rollicking’ should be used.

garyclarkjr_20160101-3Finally, on the last night of the festival, I had the pleasure of witnessing the sheer ‘cool’ of Gary Clark Jr. His live sound reminds me of Ash Grunwald sans distortion, they both clearly dig a similar edgy blues style. Clark Jr. weaves effortlessly between styles, from a Lenny Kravitz swagger, to an occasional Hendrix vibe and all while navigating through blues soaked solos. The crowd grew steadily as his wavering wails swept the Valley. Dipping now and then in to old school rock, and then rolling through the blues to keep the audience on edge, it was like watching a master at work. Clark Jr. saturated the audience with electric riffs and transcended into another world onstage, so steeped in the moment and the music. He seamlessly melds his music on stage, from cool blues to upbeat jump around funk blues. Gary Clark Jr. is worth every moment you can fit on your festival planner.

While these four were some of the main focuses of us Timber and Steelers, there was a wealth of talent throughout the Falls line up to whet the appetite.

Read our Overview of the entire Falls Festival Byron Bay event.

Unmissable Falls Acts

Falls Festival Finds

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