National Folk Festival Announces First Major Lineup for 2018

Ten Strings and a Goat Skin
Image Courtesy of Ten Strings and A Goat Skin

After teasing us with six artists for 2018, The National Folk Festival has finally revealed its highly anticipated first major lineup announcement.

Headlining the 2018 lineup are Scottish superstars Breabach, Nashville singer-songwriter Lindsay Lou, American favourite Steve Poltz, Celtic band Cara, acclaimed Canadian trio Ten Strings and A Goat Skin and Indigenous performer Gina Williams.

Joining them will be a bunch of festival favourites along with a few first-timers including Amistat (VIC), Bush Gothic (VIC), Cat and Clint (VIC), Chaika (NSW), Charm of Finches (VIC), Chordwainers (TAS), Chris Duncan, Catherine and Jennifer Strutt (NSW), Chris While and Julie Matthews (UK), The Coconut Kids (SA), Daniel Champagne (NSW), Fred Smith (ACT), The Good Lovelies (Canada), Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys (Canada), Hat Fitz and Cara (QLD), John Flanagan Trio (VIC), Marcia Howard (VIC), Ryan Garth and Emily Wolfe (TAS), Sparrow-Folk (ACT), The Tassie Devil’s Own Band (TAS), The Western Flyers (US) and more.

The National Folk Festival takes place in Canberra over the Easter long weekend, 29th March to the 2nd April. For more information, including how to pick up early bird tickets, check out the official web site here.

The full list of artists announced so far are below:

Amazing Drumming Monkeys, Amistat, Belshazzar’s Feast, Breabach, Bush Gothic, Cara, Cat and Clint, Chaika, Charm of Finches, Chordwainers, Chris Duncan, Catherine and Jennifer Strutt, Chris While and Julie Matthews, The Coconut Kids, Daniel Champagne, Faustus, Fred Smith Band, Frumious, Gina Williams, The Good Lovelies, Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys, Hat Fitz and Cara, John Flanagan Trio, Katey Brooks, Lindsay Lou, Madhouse Circus, Marcia Howard Quartet, Mick Thomas and The Roving Commission, 19-Twenty, Pirateman Michael, Ryan Garth and Emily Wolfe, Sparrow-Folk, Steve Poltz, The Tassie Devil’s Own Band, Ten Strings and A Goat Skin, The Western Flyers

The Summer Hill Folk Festival Returns for 2017

Summer Hill
Image Courtesy of Summer Hill Folk Festival

One of my most unexpected favourite gigs last year was the inaugural Summer Hill Folk Festival in Sydney. Set in the Summer Hill Church, the event featured a wide breadth of folk acts in an acoustically perfect setting – it was such a magic day.

The Summer Hill Folk Festival has announced its return in 2017 with a lineup of 13 different acts over the course of a single Saturday. Headlining this year will be local legends Brian Campeau, Timothy James Bowen and Bonniesongs who will be joined by a who’s who of Timber and Steel favourites including Whoa Mule!, Queen Porter Stomp, Fresh Off The Boat, Richard Ashby Duo, Giffen, The Squeezebox Trio, Chaika and Burrows.

The day will also feature Irish Dancing, a couple of workshops and a tribute to Simon & Garfunkel from the Summer Hill Community Choir.

Artisan markets, food and drink stalls and kids activities will be happening in and around the Summer Hill Church from 11am and best of all the whole thing is free. The event is also alcohol and smoke free.

The Summer Hill Folk Festival takes place on Saturday 4th March from 11am. For more information check out the official Facebook event here.

The full program for the day is below:

11:30am – Whoa Mule! (Old-timey/Appalachian)
12:00pm – Queen Porter Stomp (Gypsy Jazz)
12:30pm – Bonniesongs (New folk/songwriter)
1:00pm – Fresh Off The Boat (Traditional Irish)
1:30pm – Timothy James Bowen (Singer Songwriter)
2:00pm – Richard Ashby Duo (Gypsy Guitars)
2:30pm – Giffen (Indi Country Folk)
2:30pm – Irish Dance Workshop
3:30pm – Summer Hill Community Choir sing Simon and Garfunkel
4:15pm – Vocal workshop with Giffen Choral
5:00pm – The Squeezebox Trio (Gypsy)
6:00pm – Brian Campeau (Solo Folk/Singer Songwriter)
6:30pm – Irish Ceili Dance
7:00pm – Chaika (World)
8:00pm – Burrows (New Folk)

Timber and Steel’s Artists’ Top Albums of 2016

Child Records

You’ve heard what we think the top albums of 2016 were, but lets be honest this is the piece you’ve really been waiting for.

Every year we reach out to the community of folk and acoustic musicians in Australia and around the world to ask them to pick their favourite album or EP of the year, and this year they came through in spades.

So without further waffle may we present to you this year’s Timber and Steel’s Artists’ Top Albums of 2016.

Bill ChambersEagle & The Wolf
Bill ChambersCold Trail
What a record. Bill just turns up when he feels like it and shows us all how it’s done. The title track is one of the best driving songs ever written and we’ve done A LOT of driving this year! This record has been with us on every trip and inspires us as artists of the alt. country genre to dig deep and keep being real, in life and in music. He’s the baddest and the best.

James KenyonAnna Cordell
James KenyonImagine You Are Driving
This album takes me into such a beautiful space, it is so beautifully written and produced, I find myself smiling every time I listen to it – I’m entranced and inspired.

Joe MungovanImogen Clark
Joe MungovanWay Down South
Joe totally embodies the Joni Mitchell quote about songwriting, “The closer you get to your heart is the closer you get to everyone else’s”. This EP is an evolution for him, the production is so sparse and spacey, almost Bon Iver-ish, and very different from the folky style of his first EP. But what remains is Joe’s amazing ability to capture so perfectly the melancholy of the human condition with his beautiful melodies and heart-wrenching lyrics. A big 5 stars from me. Love ya, Joe!

Piers FacciniSam Lee
Piers FacciniI Dreamed An Island
This album only came out a couple of weeks ago but I think needs mentioning in this years crop. Piers is one of the finest male singers and his musicianship is exquisite. It’s an album of great sensitivity with deep thought and poetry inside. The songs are so well formed, he has a knack at creation of timeless soundings orgs.

DD DumboDan Flynn
D.D DumboUtopia Defeated
Oliver has really found his own unique sound while incorporating some diverse influences including folk, electronic and world music. I was really impressed with his songwriting and his ability to draw you in to his strange little world. I also love the production with all those sonic layers that reveal themselves over repeated listens. Amazing debut.

Michael KiwanukaSkyscraper Stan
Michael KiwanukaLove and Hate
I got hooked on this album while touring around New Zealand. The songwriting is melodic, the dynamics are masterful and the closing track, “Final Frame”, kicks me in the guts.

William CrightonJosh Rennie-Hynes
William CrightonWilliam Crighton
I first heard William at Nannup at the start of this year and loved it. He’s a great performer and his songs are top notch. This album captures all of that perfectly. The production is spot on and is a testament to the benefits of what a more DIY approach to recording can achieve.

Bon IverTanya Batt (BATTS)
Bon Iver22, A Million
There have been a lot of amazing releases this year, Canary, Braille Face and Hayden Calnin were three I wanted to choose too. However, it had to be Bon Iver. The most highly anticipated album in my life, it did not disappoint. This album means so much to me, It’s an extremely innovative album within soundscapes and also so raw, filled with emotion. Many tears were shed when I first listened.

MoulettesClaude Hay
MoulettesPreternatural
Moulettes new album Preternatural really grabed me from the first second, Distorted Cello, Oboe, guitar bass drums and they all sing insane harmonies perfectly live….Audio candy

Bill HuntLiam Gale (Liam Gale & the Ponytails)
Bill HuntUpwey
Conversational, melodic, witty and hooky songwriting flood through the beautiful ebb and flow of Upwey, Hunt’s first of many offerings. The songs are hued by a consistent arrangement of drums, bass, violin and Hunt’s subtle and precise guitar style. But they don’t rely on these arrangements; each song a story, assisted by the swell of instrumentation to convey the tales that swing from the near Latin grooves of “Odalik” to the slow sexy grind of “Sea of Love”. At six tracks long, it leaves you wanting more. Perfect.

Childish GambinoSahara Beck
Childish GambinoAwaken, My Love!
Listening to this album is like switching off the real world and stepping into an original and new world. I find it very inspiring.

Oh PepThe Little Stevies
Oh Pep!Stadium Cake
I think the songwriting on Stadium Cake is really interesting. The songs take me to a place that I’m not expecting both lyrically and musically when I begin listening to them and they keep me guessing, which I absolutely love. The arrangements and production are also super cool, and I’m simply just a big fan of talented women and female partnerships doing great things in the arts.

Side PonyFanny Lumsden
Lake Street DiveSide Pony
It seriously makes me the most joy filled human ever. Side Pony is possibly my biggest songwriting envy of late and they just really nail that motown meets pop retro good times.

Nick CaveMiles O’Neil (Miles and Simone)
Nick Cave and The Bad SeedsSkeleton Tree
I was scared to listen to this album due to the tragic circumstances surrounding it. Finally
mustering the courage one bright morning I listened to it through while walking beside the sea.
I stopped many times during that walk to sit and, floored, marvel at the breathtakingly
sadness and beauty captured in what is, to me and I’m sure many others, a masterpiece.

Hayden CalninForest Falls
Hayden CalninCut Love Pt 1/2
Hayden is an absolute stayer of the Melbourne music scene, but it’s for good reason. This record is world-class. Sparse, rich, cinematic, and desperate in its feel, it holds on to you long after the first listen.

Button CollectiveThe Bottlers
The Button CollectiveThe Lonesome Sea
As a softly lilting mandolin emerges from the silence of the opening track, Brodie’s haunting lyrical ballad begins to unravel the story of the heartbreak of a man, torn between travelling the lonesome sea and those who he has left behind. This beautiful yet bittersweet combination of well-travelled wordsmithing and an instrumental palate carrying a nostalgically truthful warmth, could be heard in any far-flung tavern in the dead of night, as tired candles flicker. Finishing with a raucous fling titled “Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy”, the Button Collective’s release concludes on a stirring high, twisting your arm to crave another ale. The EP’s recording, mixing and mastering add a special flair, as you hear the charismatic live-elements that give you a heart-swelling, beer-swilling singalong that you can partake in at any time. Well done fellas!

The Dreaming RoomPhia
Laura MvulaThe Dreaming Room
Her lyrics explore feminism, faith, self-worth, race, and her harmonies, arrangements and production are deep and multi-hued. One of the most exciting songwriters around, unafraid to experiment with multi-genre collaborations, like the London Symphony Orchestra and Nile Rodgers.

JoyGordon Wallace (The Crooked Fiddle Band)
The Peep TempelJoy
This is a great third album by the Melbourne based three piece that has initial flavours of 90s Aussie pub punk/bloke rock (like Cosmic Psychos) but that is just the beginning – the album is musically quite varied, with intelligent, dark, caustically humorous and often political lyrics with moments of honest beauty.

Wartime SweetheartsJoe Gould (The Crooked Fiddle Band)
Wartime SweetheartsSo Long Sparta
It’s always great when a local artist drops something as fully formed and self-assured as Louise Nutting’s second album under the Wartime Sweethearts moniker. Experimental without forgetting the songcraft, it deserves its rightful place amongst the St Vincents, Dirty Projectors and My Brightest Diamonds of the art pop world. Props to local label Art As Catharsis, whose releases in October alone spanned from Wartime Sweethearts to Hashashin’s eastern mathrock and No Haven’s dark hardcore. Eclecticism rules the day!

BeyonceTaryn La Fauci
BeyoncéLemonade
To create and release a piece of work that is so intricately linked and ordered, one you must listen to from start to finish to understand the whole was really refreshing! The film that accompanied the album was also richly interesting, deep and powerful. To address themes such as infidelity and race and then to weave them powerfully into a full album, which on release caused so much controversy and started a conversation world wide, I thought was really great.

Melody PoolKevin Mitchell (Bob Evans)
Melody PoolDeep Dark Savage Heart
Another beautiful record from the most under-rated songwriter in Australia. “Love, She Loves Me” gives me goose bumps every time.

Winter WheatFrank Turner
John K SamsonWinter Wheat
I am a long term partisan of John’s work, so it’s not surprising that I liked this record. But god-DAMN, the man just keeps delivering. This record had me in tears three times on my first listen through, and it gets better with age.

David BowieWilliam Crighton
David BowieBlackstar
My favourite album from 2016 is Blackstar from David Bowie. There were a lot of great albums but I listened to it the most.

TigallerroSteven Barnard (Arbori, Jon Cotton)
Phonte and Eric RobersonTigallerro
Smooth grooves, dope rhymes, sweet melodies. You’d be hard pressed to find another 2016 record his year that has this flow, though Anderson Paaks’ Malibu is a close second. It rolls effortlessly from track to track and the inevitable ass shaking comes with a no “slutty table top twerking” guarantee. It’s rare that a hip hop record explores what it means to be a man of sexual fidelity, a family man, and even man of faith in higher power. Getting hype or turning down, my morning wake up or my party starter, this record has been a solid find.

Julia JacklinJesse Lubitz (TinPan Orange)
Julia JacklinDon’t Let The Kids Win
This album is a gem. The more I listen to this record, the more the songs shimmer and shine with a beautiful honesty. Jacklin’s songwriting is earnest and her voice perfect – it feels like an important voice which dances delicately on a wire between mundanity and profundity.

Bon IverOliver’s Army
Bon Iver22, A Million
Although becoming more and more electronic heavy, Justin Vernon’s signature haunting melodies and dynamic vocals remain consistently endearing. I found the production to be quite bold and experimental, and I love that they’re continuing to explore their sound and push it in new directions. Sonically, it’s spacious and beautiful.

RadioheadKim Churchill
RadioheadA Moon Shaped Pool
My top album of 2016 has probably got to go to A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead. It really hit me at the perfect moment. I was deep in the studio and sometimes getting a bit overly flustered by how complex the process of recording can be. I think Radiohead have done something incredible in the way this album is so relaxed, so subtle, but so powerful. There is this beautiful calm confidence that I am completely in awe of. To be alive whilst their legacy is still being added to is a real treat!

Conor OberstThomas Busby (Busby Marou)
Conor OberstRuminations
Brave, personal and heart achingly real. It feels like you’re in the room with him as he’s pouring his heart out.

Iggy PopEm George
Iggy PopPost Pop Depression
It would be a total lie for me to say that I have been patiently and politely waiting for a new Iggy Pop record because I’ve been extremely impatient and downright rude, mouthing off to my vinyl copy of Lust for Life, begging to the Iggy Pop gods for a new release and then Post Pop Depression hit in March this year. Produced by Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), the entire album is gritty and dark, sharp and tight with that small hint of sadness that lies just under the surface of Iggy Pop’s music. However in true Iggy fashion, the melodies and heavy drums lift the album into something that is hard to define, taking you to another place. My pick for 2016!

KaleoGerrit Gmel (Citizen of the World)
KaleoA/B
I came across these guys on Spotify a few months ago as they were our number one associated artist then. I had never heard of them before but their album has been on repeat ever since. Their album is incredibly varied, with high-energy songs like “Way Down We Go” and soft ballads like “Save Yourself”. An emotional rollercoaster from start to finish.

Gregory PorterJoe Glover (Shelley’s Murder Boys, Backsliders)
Gregory PorterTake me to the Alley
I watched a YouTube clip of Gregory Porter performing on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert and watched it several times over, absolutely mesmerised. The album is just as mesmerising; full of soul, jazz and RnB, beautiful arrangements and Porter’s effortless delivery; just enough grit and soul to keep the jazz interesting! I listen to this album when I want something that will absolutely zone me out of where I am and what I am doing, Porter’s soothing voice is like being wrapped up in blanket and given a cup of hot cocoa.

Bruce MolskyShell Eves (Shelley’s Murder Boys)
Bruce MolskyCan’t Stay Here This a-Way
Bruce Molsky always manages to bring such a rich, unique sound to the old-time classics. His latest album is no exception. His fiddle-singin’ gives me warm fuzzies akin to sitting by a campfire under a starry sky.

David BowieJimmy Murray (Shelley’s Murder Boys)
David BowieBlackstar
It was hot, humid January afternoon driving through a sun-shower when I first listened to David Bowie’s Blackstar album. Released just 2 days after his death aged 69 this is an amazing final piece of work from this incredible artist. The hauntingly beautiful voice and instrumentation echos with songs about finality and death. Listening to this I was filled pure joy, sadness and reflection of this artist’s inspirational legacy.

Black Mountain String bandThe Plough
Black Mountain String BandTime Traveller
This year The Plough discovered the Canberra based Black Mountain String Band and can’t get enough of them. The exuberance and variety they bring to a live show is showcased beautifully in their recording. Their mix of traditional and original songs and instrumentals take the listener back in time through a landscape of high energy Old Time, Western Swing, triangle pumping Cajun and plucky Fiddle polkas. This CD’s been on high rotation in the Lancer’s CD stacker ever since it was launched in the bush capital on a chilly winters night.

TyrannamenFraser A Gorman
TyrannamenTyrannamen
A brilliant, gruff mixture of Memphis Garage-soul blended deep in a gravel filled, VB bottle of Australian 70’s pub rock. Eight tracks long, all killer no filler.

Margo PriceNick Payne (Dear Orphans)
Margo PriceMidwest Farmer’s Daughter
Margo is one of the first of a new breed of Americana artists to come out of the new epicentre of country music in East Nashville. Alongside Cale Tyson, Michaela Anne, Erin Rae, et al., these guys are playing authentic honky-tonk reminiscent of 1970s outlaw country, yet with their own fresh take. Midwest Farmer’s Daughter reminds me of the edgiest tracks from Dolly Parton, and the fact she is the first country act signed to Jack White’s Third Man Records is a testament to the quality of this album.

Oh PepJames Kenyon
Oh Pep!Stadium Cake
Stadium Cake is a brilliant album – brave arrangements, tight pop writing, great lyrics and Liv’s voice is a pleasure. I love the ambition of the album, and the assuredness the result. It’s an inspiring record

Julia JacklinAinsley Farrell
Julia JacklinDon’t Let The Kids Win
I’ve had the chance to see Julia perform these songs over the past couple years so I’ve been very excited for her album. She has an incredible songwriting talent topped by this powerful yet vulnerable voice that’ll break your heart and put it back together again all in one go. If you get the chance to see her and her band live I wouldn’t miss it.

Liz StringerMel Parsons
Liz StringerAll The Bridges
I have been a fan of Liz for a good few years now, I’m completely smitten with her voice – all husk, beauty and pain. I had high expectations for her new album, and All The Bridges delivers and then some, it’s been on repeat in my house since it arrived.

CanaryKathleen Mary Lee
CanaryI Am Lion
I like this because it is a celebration of very big, very beautiful feelings that I reckon have no other way of being celebrated other than through this kind of emotionally epic music. The lyrics are attempts at honesty and the music is always their non verbal emotional equivalent, making the album a very cathartic experience. If you want it to be. A bit of a masterpiece

Eagle and the WolfSam Buckingham
Eagle & The WolfEagle & The Wolf
Sarah brings out Kris’s sweetness and Kris brings out Sarah’s no bullshit strength – making this album the perfect balance of heart and “fuck you”. It just sounds like two musicians being real and having a ball. Awesome songwriting, perfect harmonies – it’s golden.

Sian EvansTori Forsyth
Sian EvansHow Time Has Treated Thee
This EP has only swept across my table recently but it is hands down a stand out. It makes me feel happy, sad and inspired all in one hit!

Songs From DanLucie Thorne
Dan TuffySongs From Dan
Aussie expat (now Dutch resident) and legend Dan Tuffy (Big Low, Wild Pumpkins at Midnight) has made one of my favourite albums not just of 2016 but of all time (seriously!). Co-produced by Melbourne’s Matt Walker, and recorded partly here in Melbourne, and partly in Holland, this album is an extraordinary collection from a true poet who sings straight to the heart of it all. Check it out folks!

Sian EvansHusky Gawenda (Husky)
Damien JuradoVisions Of Us On The Land
While this is Damien Jurado’s twelth album, it is the first I heard of him. Visions is a psychedelic, mystical odyssey, one that takes place within and without. The internal wanderings, the struggles and revelations, mirror an external landscape that is both beautiful and haunting. Each listen draws you further into these mirror worlds and all the while Jurado’s songs and sounds are immediately and undeniably striking.

Tracy McNeilLeah Flanagan
Tracy McNeil and the Good LifeThieves
Thieves is such an enjoyable record to listen to. It’s poppy and catchy yet underneath the veneer of fun singalong good times the songs themselves incredibly well crafted and arranged. Tracey writes a damn good song and if you’re lucky enough to see her band live, you’ll see them play those songs damn well too.

Adora EyeMusketeer
Adora EyeIf You Need A King, I’ve Been Prepared All My Life
This is probably the most raw and enduring folk album I have listened to all year. I am sure that this Swedish singer-songwriter was up all night writing this album in a smokey boat in the Stockholm harbour somewhere. You can almost see him clutching that ink pen with a red right hand, as his pet raven swings in a cage above his head eating dead beetles.

Hiss Golden MessengerDave Powys (The Paper Kites)
Hiss Golden MessengerHeart Like A Levee
I heard this album playing in a record store in London, and as I flicked through racks of vinyl I was drawn into the melodies and depth of his song writing. Every now and then you come across an artist who really moves you, or scratches an itch you never knew you had – this album has done both for me.

The Kill Devil HillsCatherine Traicos
The Kill Devil HillsIn On Under Near Water
This album encapsulates all that I love about the The Kill Devil Hills. A mad racket of noise, it pulses with life and is as ripe with heartfelt ballads as it is with sexy, sinister, badass, guitar driven numbers. Enjoy with whiskey.

Robert Ellis10 String Symphony
Robert EllisRobert Ellis
His first self-produced effort combines thoughtfully crafted songs with unique and interesting arrangements, expertly performed by him and his killer band. It’s the full package real deal and we love it so much.

The Dead MaggiesThe Dead Maggies
The Cloves and The TobaccoAcross The Horizon
TCATT are one of many celt-punk bands making great music in Java, and this album is a standout. It’s straight up driving celtic punk, with big powerful singalong choruses that tug the heartstrings. Good arrangements and musicianship help make this album great. We played with them in their hometown of JogJakarta, in the attic of a vegetarian cafe. The power cut out just before the gig, so the bands went ahead and played unplugged, it was a great moment of sweaty singalongs.

Howe GelbMark Moldre
Howe GelbFuture Standards
Late night meanderings. Laid back, whisky infused jazz piano. Wordplay and lyrical twists that stand alongside the wit of Ira Gershwin and Hoagy Carmichael with the quiet phrasing of Chet Baker. Gelb continues to walk to his own beat – confounding expectations whilst smashing and recreating genres. His history has always hinted towards a love of jazz and occasionally detoured into Monk style musings – here Gelb embraces it wholeheartedly.

TullaraSian Evans
TullaraBetter Hold On
Earthy folk and roots with a dash of dirty grunge, Tullara presents her debut EP Better Hold On. Featuring her superb guitar slinging and percussive finger tapping wizardry, genius pop-roots arrangements and powdery vocals; it’s as if an Aussie Taylor Swift, John Butler and Andy Mckee were entrapped in a love triangle and spawned gold threads of wild honesty weaving together this admirable little Roots record. It’ll jerk a tear and invoke a bit of primal badass equally.

TaliskJake Pember (The Button Collective)
TaliskAbyss
Ever since first hearing Mohsen Amini’s amazing concertina playing earlier this year I have been a little bit obsessed with this band. They have the perfect blend of traditional and modern styles, and each member has such command of their instruments that every track feels as natural and flowing as a conversation.

Max SavageKaurna Cronin
Max SavageTrue Believers
Max has a brilliant ability to invite his audiences into the narrative of his works. With brilliant imagery and musicianship True Believers captures a great snapshot of true Australian culture, while also creating a great sense of nostalgia by grasping that 80’s Australian rock sound perfectly. The perfect soundtrack for an Australian road trip or any suburban household.

Nick CaveAlex L’Estrange
Nick Cave and The Bad SeedsSkeleton Tree
Amongst all the huge artists that dropped albums in 2016, and the loads of Australian artists that arguably dropped career highlights (Ball Park Music, These Guy, D.D Dumbo), there was one album that I found myself frequently listening to, uninterrupted, alone on the hi-fi, and that was Skeleton Tree by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. It’s not necessarily my favourite, I think it’s an impossible task to name a favourite, but it was the first album that came to mind for this list, and that means more than anything. Hearing it coupled with the film One More Time With Feeling was challenging, given its subject matter. But its atmosphere was expertly executed; dynamic, fluid, smooth and heartbreaking. The rooms of Air, La Frette and Retreat studios are beautifully on display in songs like “Girl in Amber”, where the wispy backing vocals of The Bad Seeds hauntingly resonate across the walls. These contrast the desperate and almost maddening mantras of “I Need You”. What makes it a truly extraordinary album, is that it isn’t just doom and gloom. ‘Skeleton Tree’ doesn’t dwell on tragedy, it addresses it as part of the human condition, and there is an underlying beauty in that.

William CrightonClaire Ann Taylor
William CrightonWilliam Crighton
The storytelling and the whole atmosphere created by Crighton on this album is incredible. His dark, brooding voice and emotive style of delivery, commanded my attention from the first moment I heard it.

Andy ShaufWilliam Fitzsimmons
Andy ShaufThe Party
This was my favorite album of the year for one simple reason: MELODY!!! Andy is everything that’s right about classic “pop” music; never playing a note without a damn good reason for doing so, and songwriting that makes you feel something deep in your gut. He’s the worthy musical son of Harry Nilsson that we’ve longingly been waiting for.

LuciusRuby Boots
LuciusGood Grief
I have to choose this album because I’m still, since its release, pulling away the layers on it. Although it’s a predominantly pop record, the lyrical content and melodic arrangements are so intelligent and accessible all at once – a fine line that is hard to walk. The girls’ voices are otherworldly and tend to make me forget where I am and what I’m doing every time I put this album on. I still can’t get enough of it.

WetLacey Cole (Lazy Colts)
WetDon’t You
If you have a soft spot for B-grade pop ballads/R&B this Brooklyn-based three piece may just have written the soundtrack of your 90s-nostalgia drenched dreams. Their latest album Don’t You is a not-so-guilty pleasure of mine. Helmed by the stunning front-woman Kelly Zutrau, her unusual vocal inflections and impassioned delivery suggest an emotional complexity in what may otherwise be confused as banal sentiments (one song is called “Baby, You’re The Best”). Once combined with the lush production and rhythms of the band – assigned with the noble task of turning tears into toe-tappers – these songs are wonderfully earnest, rarely overwrought and exactly what you need right now.

James KenyonJoe Murphy (The Timbers)
James KenyonImagine You Are Driving
I have been lucky enough to see James play a couple of times. His beautifully crafted songs are reminiscent of great songwriters like Paul Kelly. The album is a stunning representation of his work.

JRHMabel Windred-Wornes (Charm of Finches)
Josh Rennie-HynesFurthermore
I love this album. It’s got so much warmth, it’s spacious. I listen to it late at night doing my homework and it’s so calming. It’s like the energy he captured recording it in the hills of Woodford transmits. We met him at Bendigo Blues and Roots Fest this year and felt we’d discovered a rare gem. He’s an amazing songwriter.

Tom BrosseauMatt Bauer
Tom BrosseauNorth Dakota Impressions
Beautiful storytelling, vivid imagery, and an incredible sense of place. I’ve always loved Tom’s records and he’s at the top of his game here writing about his native North Dakota.

Jim JamesTimberwolf
Jim JamesEternally Even
It’s a pretty passionate political plea and America needed a timely voice. He even released it the day before election day. I think his voice is very much from another world, so that’s an important “third person” kind of perspective. It’s a well sequenced collection of songs, and I really love the warm psych and soul inspired production/composition. Maybe I’m just biased because I know that Jim James and Blake Mills would make up my sonic dream-team.

Nigel WearneJustin Bernasconi (The Stillsons)
Nigel WearneDrawing Circles
Nigel has really forged his own fingerpicking techniques on both the banjo and guitar on this album, and his voice tenderly delivers every song with intense concern and passion. Just check out the live version of the title track.

The Kill Devil HillsMark ‘Looch’ Lewis – (Wifey/Handsome Young Strangers)
The Kill Devil HillsIn On Under Near Water
I have always loved this band. In all their incarnations and styles whether that is folk, country, gospel, rock or what I call the “WA dirge” (Kim Salmon, Drones type bass driven tunes). Hard to believe it is now 12 years since the release of their debut Heathen Songs when that “Drinkin’ Too Much” song first got my attention. And while it has been 7 years since the last studio album Man You Should Explode, the good news is that I reckon this is the most cohesive album yet. Cracking harmonies, great playing and strong tunes. Tracks like “The Nets”, “Chinese Burns” and notably “The Kid” are 3 of the best tunes they have released. Let’s hope there is more output and touring to come.

Austin LucasMatt Golotta (The Sweet Jelly Rolls)
Austin LucasBetween the Moon & the Midwest
I spend a fair bit of time on the road traveling to see my partner and this record became the perfect traveling companion for me. Took a few listens to get into and also realise it’s a concept album which draws from Lucas’ own past experiences. Without spoiling the outcome, it follows the luckless musician Richard, his partner Kristie Rae and his best friend William. It features killer song writing with pedal steel, twangy tele, country influences with punk rock subtlety, numerous guest vocals from the likes of John Moreland and Corey Brannan, and a cracker duet with Lydia Loveless “Wrong Side of the Dream”, dealing with the struggles and plights that many musicians face. My song of the record is “William”, the solo acoustic number at the end that makes you feel like you’ve just been kicked in the guts. Songwriting at its finest.

Cody JinksAndrew Cavalieri (The Sweet Jelly Rolls)
Cody JinksI’m Not the Devil
Raw, honest and heartache. That is this album! The first track really sets the mood for the rest of the album, but is broken up by “Chase This Song” which is a damn banger of a driving song! The outlaw vibe flowing from Junks’ music really prepares you for some hard times and disappointment in life. Bloody hell I love this album! Honorable mentions: Murlocs – Young Blindness, Jonny Fritz – Sweet Creep and Mudcrutch – 2.

Wartime SweetheartsLaura Bishop (Chaika)
Wartime SweetheartsSo Long Sparta
A killer voice, some super awesome writing skills, and an obsession with bodybuilders (hello Ms Olympia!) make this my favourite album of 2016. Wartime Sweethearts, aka singer-keyboardist-loop artist-songwriter Louise Nutting, signed to Art As Catharsis Records this year and released an album full of all the beats and electric piano and vocal harmony sounds that I like to hear (and I wish I could make) – and my favourite track “Figure It In, Figure It Out” has all the unexpected twistings and turnings of chord progressions that I wish I could write. One day Chaika will make sounds like this! One day…

Neil YoungTristan Goodall (The Audreys)
Neil YoungPeace Trail
Well with everyone saying we should just put 2016 behind us (although to be honest we should probably be approaching 2017 with a little trepidation too) I’ve decided not to dig too deeply into the past when thinking of my favorite record release of the year. I’ve loved many, but my recent love is the just-released 37th album by Neil Young. Peace Trail is short, musically experimental within its tight three piece band approach, and lyrically angry and poignant. I love it for the drummer’s drummer Jim Keltner and the way his delicate touch chases Neil’s quirky phrasing around the songs. I love it because it captures another freeze frame moment from a restless and undaunted songwriter, and I love it, of course, for those mighty guitar tones.

Davey CraddockLachlan Bryan
Davey CraddockCity West
2016 was a great year for my friends releasing good music. Melody Pool comes to mind, as do The Weeping Willows, Henry Wagons, Ange Boxall and Bill Jackson. It’s actually really hard to contribute to a “best of” list when you’re close to many of the artists – it’s hard to be objective – even after I rule out the records I was actually involved in making. Actually – it’s always hard to be objective, whether you know the artists or not. Furthermore, judging a whole body of work is hard – and for me, more than ever, 2016 was the year of the song (as opposed to the album or EP). And as songs go, the one that’s really stuck with me this year is the song “Number 9” by Davey Craddock. I love the cricket references. I asked Davey if he was a diehard cricket fan like me. He’s not. I was bitterly disappointed.

The Stray BirdsThe Mae Trio
The Stray BirdsMagic Fire
The Stray Birds made our fave album of 2014 and they’ve done it again in spectacular style with Magic Fire. It’s everything about this album and this band, the playing, the three part harmony and songs that are unabashed, true and unadorned. Magic Fire is a reminder of the things that matter, it’s definitely a fire and maybe a little bit magic.

Tori ForsythAndrew Swift
Tori ForsythBlack Bird
This EP is right up there as one of my favourite releases of 2016. From the moment I heard the opening title track, “Black Bird”, I knew that I was in for a treat. The diversity on display within the 5 tracks of Tori Forsyth’s debut release excites me. The songs are so well crafted and presented with such a mature sound, especially for someone so young. I’m eagerly awaiting the next release from one of Australia’s most promising young songwriters.

Hayden CalninRoscoe James Irwin
Hayden CalninCut Love Pt 1
A beautiful album from Melbourne artist Hayden Calnin. Drenched in melancholy and ambient awesomeness, this album had me at hello. (One of my favourite live shows of 2016 as well).

Jordie LaneNadine Budge (The Stetson Family)
Jordie Lane & The SleepersGLASSELLLAND
Have to say I’ve been particularly digging Jordie Lane’s GLASSELLLAND this last couple of months – with mighty input from the multi-talented Clare Reynolds. Let’s face it, Jordie’s a bit of an all-round talented guy!

Melody PoolDavey Craddock
Melody PoolDeep Dark Savage Heart
One of my fave local album’s of the year was Melody Pool’s Deep Dark Savage Heart. I’m a sucker for strings and a massive chorus and I love the way the songs build from really intimate, delicate and ornate passages into full-blown, wailing-on-a-mountain top with Stevie Nicks, 100 soaring bats and a thunderstorm moments. I saw her launch it at the Abbotsford Convent earlier this year and it was a really powerful and affecting show for me.

Methyl EthylTim Guy
Methyl Ethel – “No.28”
I know it’s not an album, but I’ve listened to this song more than any other this year, and it only came out a little while back. It has a lot going for it – great rhythm behind a smart piece of songwriting and then the whole thing is bathed in a deep silver mercury type thing. An Australian classic I swear.

DocksThe Staves
Amanda BergmanDocks
Our favourite album of 2016 is Docks by Amanda Bergman. Her voice is utterly sublime. You want to listen to every word she says. The music is dreamy, deep, soft, moody with melodies that whirr deliciously around your mind for days and weeks on end.

Katie BriannaRaechel Whitchurch
Katie BriannaVictim or the Heroine
I picked this album up when Katie and I did a songwriters showcase together. Sitting beside her listening to her songs was so magical – her voice is one of the most enchanting I have ever heard and her lyrics hit you right in the feels every time. Reminds me of a young Lucinda!

James KenyonMandy Connell (Stray Hens)
James KenyonImagine You Are Driving
James’ lyrics have that magic of time and place usually associated with voices like Paul Kelly or Bruce Springsteen. You can practically smell his scenes. You’re there. This album captures the voice but better than that, like a Tim Winton book, its a record that makes you present in Kenyon’s stories.

Jordie LaneLiz Stringer
Jordie Lane & The SleepersGLASSELLLAND
It’s no secret that Jordie Lane and I are good mates. We grew up together, musically speaking, and I am more familiar with his work than with most other artist’s. His new album, his first full-length release in five years, is called GLASSELLLAND, recorded by Jordie himself in various make-shift recording spaces in North Los Angeles and co-produced by his fiercely talented partner, Clare Reynolds, who also co-wrote half of the songs and sings and plays a heap of instruments on the record. Jordie’s songwriting and musicianship continue to evolve and stretch out with the years and these songs, and the way they’re recorded, ache with longing while driving forward with a swagger and a playful showmanship, melodically rich and hooky as fuck. I always become a bit weepy listening to Jordie sing. And, now, the combination of him and Clare ruins me every time. Beautiful.

David BowieColin Jones (Colin Jones & The Delta Review)
David BowieBlackstar
An exceptional reflection on final days and the unknown. Every note by Bowie, McCaslin and the band emphasize the chaos and fragility of life. There is no better swansong for an artist.

A Moon Shaped PoolEmma Anglesey
RadioheadA Moon Shaped Pool
A Moon Shaped Pool completely surrenders to simple truths that both lie in plain sight and in the messy tangled, kicking and screaming realities of life. The epic levels of angst in the opening track “Burn the Witch” are like an exorcism – Jonny Greenwood’s sharp string arrangement take you right to the edge – and then from there it’s like Alice falling through the rabbit hole of raw emotion and you go deeper and deeper.

DawesTim Hart (Boy & Bear)
DawesWe’re All Gonna Die
Some of the best lyric writing welded on to some pretty simple, but catchy, pop songs. Produced by Blake Mills (Alabama shakes, Laura Marling), this is a great record start to finish if you can forgive some slightly John Mayer sounding guitars that pop their head up from time to time. This I the record I keep coming back to this year

Oh PepRebecca Bastoli
Oh Pep!Stadium Cake
I don’t think I have ever been so entranced, excited or exhausted by the journey of listening to an album start to finish.

Bon IverDustin Tebbutt
Bon Iver22, A Million
Bon Iver has once again exceeded expectations on this release. It’s both familiar and foreign, delicately coloured, softly focused yet angular and stark. It’s brave, honest and all the things that I loved about Justin’s earlier works, without coming close to formulaic. It’s colloquial and conversational, yet inherently profound. Incredible stuff both musically and sonically.

Margo PriceJosie Rothwell (Peasant Moon)
Margo PriceMidwest Farmer’s Daughter
There’s something comforting about Margo Price’s debut album, almost like I’d listened to it before, but not in an overly familiar sort of way. Perhaps there’s something in her glorious voice that reminds me of my parent’s Dolly Parton records. She’s a great story teller, and I want to know more about her heartaches and headaches, particularly when accompanied by her crack band. I’m also proud to say my 4 year daughter keeps calling for “Hurtin’ (on the Bottle)” when we’re in the car – and I can’t think of anything else I’d want her to be listening to right now.

BJ BarthamHarvey Russell (Peasant Moon)
BJ BarhamRockingham
It pains me to say this but BJ Barham’s new-found sobriety has coincided with a serious coming of age as a songwriter. Taking a (very) short break from American Aquarium duties, BJ’s solo release (a genuine side-project) is seriously hard-hitting stuff. It rivals Aquarium’s 2012 release Burn. Flicker. Die. for intensity, but of a completely different nature. With sparse arrangements (often acoustic) Barham, as storyteller, gives you an uncensored and unashamed glimpse into how rural America has been left behind. Not for the faint hearted.

William CrightonSam Newton
William CrightonWilliam Crighton
I’d caught Crighton perform a bunch of times at local venues around Sydney and really dug his tune (and especially the music video) “Woman Like You” prior to this album’s release. So I was anticipating this release. Really excited for it. I was stoked when I heard that he and producer Matt Sherrod came through with the goods. Big time. Highlights for me are “Riverina Kid”, “Priest” and “2000 Clicks”. In my mind, this one is about as strong as debut albums get.

Chaim TannenbaumEliza Carthy
Chaim TannenbaumChaim Tannenbaum
The album that I have most enjoyed and most visited this year is the debut of the kind, quiet genius Chaim Tannenbaum (Storysound Records). I’ve had the privilege of working with Chaim over the years but it was only recently I realised that I have lived with his distinctive voice and gorgeous humility since I first began to love music. It’s his voice that forms the third harmony in “Complainte pour St Catherine” on the first McGarrigle sisters’ album, a song I played over and over as a child until you could almost see through the record, and he has been quiet companion and producer to theirs and their extended family’s work ever since. It’s somewhat typical of his humility that he has waited this long to make an album, produced by his dear longtime friend and collaborator Loudon Wainwright III. It’s a collection of avuncular stories told in his gorgeously expressive voice with beautiful, minimal production. Some trad, some conversational originals covering everything from the fate of the baseball stadium Ebbets Field to living in a depressing grey London in the endless rain in the 1960s. An album to listen to with your eyes closed by the fire. Again and again, and again.

PinegroveQuinton Trembath
PinegroveCardinal
The lyrics on this album read like the private diary of a well spoken (and well read) guy filled with both anxiety and excitement for life. The musicianship and dynamics complement this introspectiveness well, making it perfectly suited for intense solo listening as well as for being cranked on road trips with friends.

Sean McMahonAlison Ferrier
Sean McMahon and the MoonMenShiner
Sean McMahon’s laid back yet somehow intense vocal brings this fantastic collection of songs to life in my living room. Shiner’s ragged elegance is full of the sort of raunchy country rock I can’t get enough of. Stand out tracks for me: “Shiner” and “Here Comes the Night Again”.

WhitneyEddie Boyd
WhitneyLight Upon the Lake
This album just grew and grew on me since my first listen. Simple, catchy tunes that make me wanna dance or go driving for a long time. I think Whitney nailed everything about this album – the instrumentation, the production, obviously the songs. Also, they’re heaps good live.

Secret PathThe Once
Gord DownieSecret Path
The Tragically HipMan Machine Poem
This year was a hard year in Canadian Music. We have a fella here by the name of Gord Downie. He is a legend. He has helped raise Canadians to be more real with his music. He is the frontman for the band The Tragically Hip. There are not many people in Canada who don’t know who The Hip are. Their music has become part of our DNA. Gord, this year, made a statement saying he has terminal brain cancer so he obviously fighting for the men and women of the north. The folks that have needed a voice for far too long. He is being that voice. He is showing us how to be Canadian and that we can’t be without acknowledging the needs of all of our people, without respecting all of our people. This year, instead of succumbing to his illness, he put out two albums. One with The Hip and one solo. Here they are. They are magic and will go down in history in our great nation. It’s amazing to watch one man build his second legacy.

Cash SavageJessica Cassar (Jep and Dep)
Cash Savage & The Last DrinksOne Of Us
This has everything you want from a record. It’s dirty and beautiful, and dark as hell. Cash sings with a thunderous anguish that cracks, rumbles and echoes so perfectly any sorrow you might have ever had. And like any good storm, the album’s darkness reveals a little light, one that roars some sort of painful end, or much needed beginning. I love this record!

Tracy McNeilGretta Ziller
Tracy McNeil & The GoodlifeThieves
I’ll be the first to admit I’m late to the game when it comes to Tracy McNeil & The Goodlife. I caught their set at Out on the Weekend and was captivated! Their 2016 album Thieves is just so dang easy to listen to, I will confess it is turning into a “chilling on the deck summer favourite” of mine! Please, if you haven’t already, pick up or download a copy of this album and chill!!

Bill JacksonRosie McDonald (RAPT, Trippy Hippy Band, Seanchas)
Bill JacksonThe Wayside Ballads Vol. 2
Bills’ reputation had preceded him before I heard him at Fairlight folk with Ruth Hazelton and Pete Fiddler. I grabbed the opportunity to contribute to his The Wayside Ballads Vol. 2 crowd funding campaign to get Bill and Pete over to Nashville to record with some very fine session players. Bill kept me updated with postcards and messages so I felt like a sideline cheerer in this whole project. Then the CD arrived! Magnificent songs, co-written with Bills’ brother Ross. Bills’ time worn voice, rich and mellow, rootsy, Americana-ish but very very homegrown, local accent, stories big and small, tender and big hearted. Pete’s playing shines in amongst the session guys, a great listen. Music for travel, the cabin, the verandah, anywhere.

Kate Burke and Pete WildMelanie Horsnell
Kate Burke and Pete WildLive at St Peters
In my small town we have the most marvellous artists touring through, but I also love our sweet locals, and I adore this live record by Kate Burke and Pete Wild. Pete Wild’s “Mars 1” is a love song about a person who goes on the Mars mission leaving his forever love behind, the Martin-Martin song is an old village favourite and the last love song between Doris and Arthur makes me giggle and lament at the same time. And I adore playing Kate Burkes version of Frozen Man on repeat when everything in life gets a bit much.

MontaigneGretta Ray
MontaigneGlorious Heights
My favourite record that was released in 2016 is without a doubt, Montaigne’s Glorious Heights. What impresses me most about this record is the fact that it is rather evident that the artist went into this project with the intention of experimenting with her sound and taking risks, drawing inspiration from a range of her influences and assuring that each song conveyed a slightly different emotion from the previous track. I believe it was this approach of 20-year-old Jess Sero’s (Montainge) that resulted in the production of what I perceive to be a very imaginative and bold debut album. This record showcases the fact that Jess has, unquestionably, one of the strongest and most commanding voices in the Australian music industry, this being exemplified through the outstanding production and arrangements of the songs that make up Glorious Heights. As well as this, each song is demonstrative of Jess’ incredibly clever and unique songwriting, which I cannot wait to hear more of in years to come; the simplicity yet complexity and quirkiness of a lyric such as “when you touch my skin, I think ‘this isn’t boring'” makes one ponder on such a line, as Jess’ way of writing is different, daring and something that never fails to make me smile. Glorious Heights made me so very excited about how extravagant pop music is becoming in this day and age, and on the whole made me very proud to be a young woman in the Australian music scene.

WhitneyTreetop Flyers
WhitneyLight Upon the Lake
I first started hearing about this band online, so was waiting for the album with anticipation. When it dropped I must have played it back to back straight away, which rarely happens. They are hard to put in a genre, which is really great. No Woman is one of our faves of the year. They are great live and do a version’s of NRBQ’s Magnet, so happy campers over here.

Drive By TruckersShane Nicholson
Drive-By TruckersAmerican Band
In a year of many great records, this stands tall above the crowd. It’s everything I love about the Truckers: gutsy and raw, clever and thoughtful, sometimes irreverent and full of attitude, and sometimes tender and restrained. Imagine a bastard-child born to Son Volt, Matthew Ryan and Uncle Tupelo, but all dressed up in those well-worn and unmistakable Drive-By Truckers clothes. How could that not make for the coolest kid on the block this year?

Conor OberstJack Carty
Conor OberstRuminations
It’s bloody beautiful in its simplicity. Gorgeous songs performed honestly. It seems like every track is a complete performance and any imperfections only enhance the sincerity of it all for me. Such an incredibly good songwriter.

Hayes CarllThe Weeping Willows
Hayes CarllLovers and Leavers
Lovers and Leavers is Hayes Carll’s most personal, introspective and “exposed” album to date, both in terms of the intimate, confessional songwriting and the stripped back arrangements, reminiscent of Heartbreaker era Ryan Adams, never saying too much – or too little. This intimacy draws you in, while Carll’s vulnerability captures you and takes you on a journey through heartache and reflection. Hayes was always in good hands with dynamic duo Joe Henry (producer) and Ryan Freeland (engineer) at the wheel, steering gently towards a common, graceful goal. Henry’s arrangements are characteristically unique yet elegant and tasteful, while Freeland brings his trademark clarity and warmth. Check it out if you’re fans of the late, great Guy Clark and/or Townes Van Zandt or fellow Texans, Steve Earle and Kevin Welch. Stand out tracks: “Sake of The Song”, “The Magic Kid” and “Drive”.

Iggy PopKelly Day (Broads)
Iggy PopPost Pop Depression
Sometimes you’ll find a record that makes you feel high from the moment it begins. Iggy’s new album, channelled through the hooky sounds of Josh Homme and given a Bowie-esque lean, made me grin like a mad person. And then immediately take it for another spin.

Robert EllisMegan Cooper
Robert EllisRobert Ellis
I was waiting to go on air for an interview. While we were pfaffing around getting ready “The High Road” came on. I pretended I knew who Robert Ellis was when I was advised who the artist was that had pretty much hypnotised me in 30 seconds flat. I went out and paid cash money for the album the next day. Every song got me on first listen. Cinematic moments. Super personal bits. Non-standard approaches. Aspirational.

PassengerSam Brittain
PassengerYoung As The Morning, Old As The Sea
Mike has always had a wonderful way of crafting simple and memorable melodies. Combine this with his always captivating lyrics and you have a master songwriter who’s tunes that sneak their way into your day. Songs that sooner or later without realising you find yourself humming whilst waiting in line for your morning coffee. Although often his storytelling veers on on the darker side of heartbreak and loss this latest album has a lighter touch, proving Passenger is and a yard stick for the aspiring modern folk troubadour. A dynamic artist who’s albums have been true to his own brand since day one. Additionally his band on this record are also fantastic live. I recently caught his show to a sold out Vicar Street in Dublin, it was one I won’t soon forget.

Bon IverAde Vincent (The Tiger and Me)
Bon Iver22, A Million
Another great record from Bon Iver – I have loved all three so far. I like how it also pushes into some new and interesting territory with the production. The auto-tuned a cappella of “715 – CR∑∑KS” is a particular highlight

Margaret GlaspyMaia Marsh
Margaret GlaspyEmotions and Math
It makes me feel really empowered whenever I listen to it, as a woman myself playing music. The songs are strong, guitar tone is great and her voice has this amazing growl that cuts through a sincere sensitivy at the same time.

BlondDirewolf
Frank OceanBlond
My hat is profusely off to an artist who can seamlessly bridge so many facets of musical integrity. What I mean by that nonsensical shit is that the entire record is some kind of highly strung soundboard (literally) which either sends you flying high just to get high, or high because you’re just too fucking upset. “Skyline To” and “Seigfried” are perfect examples. The whole collective arrangement kills me too, it’s like listening to recent Bon Iver whilst playing Sega in a radio store – the musicality is superb. I could say a lot more, but I’ll safely surrender by saying it definitely influenced the direction of my mind in doing another record.

Bon IverWildwood Kin
Bon Iver22, A Million
Easily. We’ve never heard anything quite like it. It’s just genius.

Tattletale SaintsGeorge Jackson (The Company, Buffalo Nickel, One Up, Two Down)
Tattletale SaintsTattletale Saints
Nashville based, New Zealand duo Tattletale Saints released their self-titled, second album this year, and it’s beautiful. Cy Winstanley (Guitars, Vocals) can pen songs with the best of them, his offerings on this album range from self-reflective and insightful, to sometimes cynical and cutting but always with a masterful craftsmanship. Vanessa McGown (Double Bass, Vocals) provides both solid and virtuosic Double Bass playing and vintage tinged country vocals. The new album is definitely a departure from their earlier acoustic recordings – but for a new fan, like me coming along, this is a bold and engaging listen complete with a production dripping in vintage tones and depth. Listen, and enjoy!

Genni KaneBill Jackson
Genni KaneSelfies
Ex-member of seminal Australian band, The Flying Emus, Genni Kane has a voice that can’t be denied. This long awaited record shows she is also a very gifted songwriter and the opening track “Little White Dog” is the beginning of a beautiful journey that deserves your attention.

Nancy KerrRuth Hazleton (http://www.billjacksonmusic.com/, Kate Burke & Ruth Hazleton)
Nancy KerrInstar
A heady mix of poetry, politics and social commentary, Nancy Kerr’s Instar is an achingly beautiful collection of original songs framed within the landscape of traditional folk music. Beautifully performed and produced, Instar is, without doubt, one of the masterpieces of folk from 2016 and a work that will inform the tradition for a long time to come.

Fanny LumsdenThe Pigs
Fanny LumsdenSmall Town Big Shot
This album is full of great songs written from Fanny’s heart. She’s the real McCoy. Whenever we see her play live her songs get stuck in our head for weeks after. “Bravest Of Hearts”, “Soapbox” and “Don’t Let The Bastards Get You Down” are just a few of the crackers on this rekid. This is a breath of fresh air for Australian Country Music. We love Fanny! More… More…

Side PonyHannah Acfield (The Acfields)
Lake Street DiveSide Pony
Give me a bit of 60’s sounding soul any day of the week! The songs are catchy, nice melodies and make you wanna move. I’m a sucker for a sterling vocalist. This was fav album for me.

Julia JacklinWillowy
Julia JacklinDon’t Let The Kids Win
An album about the little things in life that somehow manages to sum up the bigger things as well, cutting right through the mess to the heart of it all. Beautifully written and perfectly executed. It’s lovely to see an artist from the Sydney folk music family reaching great heights with an exceptional debut album.

John FlanaganSal Kimber (Sal Kimber & The Rollin’ Wheel)
John FlanaganThere’s Another Way To Where You’re Going

Bill ChambersRicky Pann (The Willing Ponies)
Bill ChambersCold Trail
Jen MizeWarnings and Wisdom
Sam BushStoryman
Bill Chambers is an Australian Journeyman troubadour. Songwriter, producer, sideman and front man, Bills live shows have influenced many and earned him a legion of devoted fans. Cold trail is Bills first studio album in four years and reminds the rock pop acts infiltrating modern country of where the heart of country lies. Cold Trail is a collection of honky-tonk “life lived” country that is the real deal. Produced by Bill and Recorded at his son Nash Chambers foggy mountain studios, Cold Trail is a world class record that draws on many influences to deliver country authenticity with Aussie perspective. A cracker record.
It’s a long way from Jen Mize roots in the Appliacian mountains of Georgia and North Carolina as a decedent of Lumbee Tribe of native Americans to the Sunshine coast of Queensland. Jen Mize is the real deal in every respect. An American songwriter with an incredible voice delivering an album packed with dynamic, well-crafted songs that’s all killer no filler. Shane Nicholson’s earthy production, arrangments and playing provide a tastefully rich sonic pallet that does this fine singer justice. The album glides from old-timey to traditional country and honky tonk, setting a very high bar of authenticity. An absolute stand out record.
Sixty-four-year-old Sam Bush has many stories to tell as a musician, innovator, writer and singer. One of my favourite musicians on the planet, Sam is a bluegrass master and the father of newgrass music spawned from his groundbreaking band the New Grass Revival. Sam is arguably one of the most influential mandolin players in history having played with just about everyone from Bill Monroe to Leon Russell. This record is a collection of finely crafted songs with a crack band featuring vocals from Emmylou Harris and Alison Kraus. A masterful record.

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 13th May

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– World music six-piece Chaika kicked off their east coast tour this week. Details here

Releases This Week

Foy Vance
The Wild SwanFoy Vance
iTunes

Sweet Jean
Monday to FridaySweet Jean
iTunes

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Melbourne Folk Club feat. James Kenyon, The Grand Magoozi, Davey Craddock

James Kenyon

Melbourne Folk Club wraps up this week with their final show. Featuring three amazing artists – James Kenyon (who is launching his new single), The Grand Magoozi and Davey Craddock – this is set to be an amazing night.

Saturday 14th May – Bakehouse Studios, Melbourne, VIC

Gigs Next Week

Andy Golledge w/ The Kev Walsh Band (Kevanescence)
Thursday 19th May – Union Hotel, Sydney NSW

Bluegrass at Yulli’s feat. Golden Whistler & The Plough
Wednesday 18th May – Yulli’s, Sydney, NSW

Brackets and Jam North feat. Tori Forsyth, Eagle & The Wolf, The Wayward Henry’s
Saturday 14th May – Lake Munmorah, NSW

Chaika
Friday 13th May – Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, ACT
Saturday 14th May – Berrima Smalls, Berrima, NSW
Sunday 15th May – Jane’s, Wollongong, NSW
Thursday 19th May – Camelot Lounge, Sydney, NSW
Friday 20th May – The Unorthodox Church of Groove, Newcastle, NSW

Claude Hay
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

Davey Craddock
Saturday 14th May – Melbourne Folk Club, Bakehouse Studios, Melbourne, VIC

Don McGlashan
Thursday 19th May – The Vanguard, Sydney, NSW
Friday 20th May – Paragon Cafe, Katoomba, NSW

FolkSwagon feat. Maia Marsh, The Bean Project, Colin Jones & The Delta Revue
Wednesday 18th May – Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Henry Wagons
Friday 13th May – Newtown Social Club, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 14th May – Howler, Melbourne, VIC

Hootenanny feat. Elwood Myre
Sunday 15th May – Miss Peaches, Sydney, NSW

James Kenyon w/ The Grand Magoozi, Davey Craddock
Saturday 14th May – Melbourne Folk Club, Bakehouse Studios, Melbourne, VIC

Joe & Harmony and the Trippy Hippy Happening
Sunday 15th May – House Concert, Bundanoon, NSW

Joe Mungovan
Friday 13th May – Billyroy’s Blues Bar Bendigo, Bendigo, VIC
Saturday 14th May – Babushka Bar, Ballarat, VIC
Thursday 19th May – Beav’s Bar, Geelong, VIC
Friday 20th May – The Loft, Warnnambool, VIC

Julia Jacklin
Saturday 14th May – Plan B, Sydney, NSW

Kit & The Cub w/ Peta & The Wolf, Gloomchasers Duo
Thursday 19th May – Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW

Little May
Friday 13th May – Max Watts, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 14th May – Waratah Hotel, Hobart, TAS
Friday 20th May – Adelaide Uni Bar, Adelaide, SA

Mark Wilkinson
Friday 13th May – The Basement, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 14th May – Gracelands, Central Coast, NSW
Sunday 15th May – The Music Lounge, Brookvale, NSW
Thursday 19th May – The Jade Monkey, Adelaide, SA
Friday 20th May – Downstairs at The Maj, Perth, WA

Melbourne Folk Club feat. James Kenyon, The Grand Magoozi, Davey Craddock
Saturday 14th May – Bakehouse Studios, Melbourne, VIC

Melody Pool
Friday 13th May – Shadow Electric, Melbourne, VIC
Wednesday 18th May – Grand Junction Hotel, Maitland, NSW
Thursday 19th May – 5 Sawyers, Newcastle, NSW
Friday 20th May – Paddington Uniting Church, Sydney, NSW

Miriam Lieberman Trio
Friday 13th May – House Concert, Katoomba, NSW

Old Man Luedecke
Friday 13th May – Illawara Folk Club, Bulli, NSW
Saturday 14th May – White Eagle Polish Club, Canberra, ACT
Sunday 15th May – Hotel Blue (Live at the Attic), Katoomba, NSW

Patrick James
Saturday 14th May – Brighton Up Bar, Sydney, NSW

Sahara Beck
Friday 13th May – Sooki Lounge, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 14th May – The Workers Club, Geelong, VIC
Thursday 19th May – Newtown Social Club, Sydney, NSW
Friday 20th May – RAD, Wollongong, NSW

The Beards
Friday 13th May – Magnum’s, Airlie Beach, QLD
Saturday 14th May – Dalrymple Hotel, Townsville, QLD
Sunday 15th May – The Jack, Cairns, QLD

The Weeping Willows
Friday 20th May – Bendigo Folk Club, Bendigo, VIC

TinPan Orange
Saturday 14th May – Civic Hall, Mullumbimby, NSW
Sunday 15th May – Old Museum, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 20th May – The Vanguard, Sydney, NSW

Friday Folk Flashback

“Green Eyes” – Colplay

Chaika Announce East Coast Tour

Chaika
Image Courtesy of Chaika

Sydney world music six piece Chaika are hard at work on their highly anticipated third album and have decided to head out on tour this month to show off some of the new material.

Chaika a well known for blending the traditional with unique original music and these shows are not to be missed. Check out the full list of shows below:

Thursday 12th May – Sutherland Acoustic, Gymea, NSW
Friday 13th May – Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, ACT
Saturday 14th May – Berrima Smalls, Berrima, NSW
Sunday 15th May – Jane’s, Wollongong, NSW
Thursday 19th May – Camelot Lounge, Sydney, NSW
Friday 20th May – The Unorthodox Church of Groove, Newcastle, NSW
Saturday 21st May – Wauchope Hall, Wauchope, NSW
Sunday 22nd May – The Rhythm Hut, Gosford, NSW

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 4th December

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– The forth artist announcement for the Port Fairy Folk Festival dropped including Aine Tyrell, Bobby Alu & The Palm Royal Royale, Bullhorn, Emma Donovan & The Putbacks, Greg Champion, Little Georgia, The Mastersons (USA), The Morrisons, Oh Pep!, The Paper Kites, Mick McHugh & The Gathering and The Grand Magoozi. Details here

Kate Miller-Heidke and The Beards have released a cracking Christmas single “I’m Growing A Beard Downstairs for Christmas”. Details here

– After almost immediately selling out her Sydney and Melbourne dates Gillian Welch has added two more shows to her February tour. Details here

– In a very special show next Friday Chaika will be performing with the 17 piece Pickpockets & Rascals Orchestra, supported by Lucy Wise Trio. Details here

The Waifs announced tour dates for January and February 2016. Details here

– Our favourite alt-country and Americana blog Post To Wire is holding a Christmas party in Sydney featuring Fanny Lumsden, Jason Walker, Cruisin’ Deuces, The Weeping Willows, Jep and Dep, James Thomson and De’May along with Post To Wire DJ sets. Details here

– We premiered the brand new single from John Flanagan, “High On High”. Details here

The National Folk Festival added a bunch more artists including The Jerry Cans (CAN), Spiro (UK), Gordie Tentrees (CAN), Keith Donnelly (UK), Joseph Tawadros, Perch Creek, Bush Gothic, Loren Kate, The Chordwainers, Co-cheòl, Catgut (above), Conchillia, Siobhan Owen and Candy Royalle and The Michael Wheatley Band. Details here

– The latest single from Pepa Knight is a cover of Tame Impala’s “Eventually”. Details here

– Melbourne singer-songwriter Ariela Jacobs has announced a new EP, Yesteryear. Details here

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Poke in The Eye Records Launch feat. Todd Sibbin, Tom West, O’ Little Sister

Todd Sibbin

Brand new Adelaide record label Poke in The Eye launch this week with an impressive lineup of their artists – Todd Sibbin, Tom West and O’ Little Sister

Thursday 10th December – The Metro, Adelaide, SA

Gigs Next Week

A Day on the Green feat. Paul Kelly Presents: The Merri Soul Sessions, Lucinda Williams, Kasey Chambers and Marlon Williams
Sunday 6th December – Rochford Wines, Yarra Valley, VIC

Archie Roach
Friday 4th December – Thornbury Theatre, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 5th December – Thornbury Theatre, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 6th December – The Governor Hindmarsh, Adelaide, SA
Friday 11th December – Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle, WA

Chaika with Pickpockets & Rascals Orchestra and Lucy Wise Trio
Friday 11th December – The Basement, Sydney, NSW

Dana Hassall
Sunday 6th December – Longyard Hotel, Tamworth, NSW

Darren Hanlon
Saturday 5th December – Northcote Uniting Church Hall, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 6th December – Monte’s, Alice Springs, NT
Thursday 10th December – Mojos, Fremantle, WA
Friday 11th December – TBD, Nannup, WA

Davidson Brothers
Sunday 6th December – The Fifth Province, St Kilda, VIC

Ed Sheeran w/ Passenger, Foy Vance, Rudimental
Saturday 5th December – AAMI Park, Melbourne, VIC
Wednesday 9th December – Allianz Stadium, Sydney, NSW

Fairgrounds Festival
Saturday 5th December – Berry, NSW

Father John Misty
Saturday 5th December – Fairgrounds Festival, Berry, NSW
Sunday 6th December – Max Watt’s, Brisbane, QLD
Tuesday 8th December – Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW
Wednesday 9th December – The Forum, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 10th December – The Forum, Melbourne, VIC

Festival of Small Halls feat. Irish Mythen, Starboard Cannons
Friday 4th December – Springbrook Community Hall, Springbrook QLD
Saturday 5th December – Mt Nebo Hall, Mt Nebo, QLD
Sunday 6th December – Eudlo Public Hall, Eudlo, QLD
Friday 11th December – CCSA Hall, Caloundra, QLD

Finders Keepers Market feat. Ollie Brown, Katie Brianna, Luke Escombe, Catgut, Maia Jelavic, Taryn La Fauci, Lisa Caruso, The Maple Trail
Friday 11th to Sunday 13th December – Technology Park, Sydney, NSW

Folkswagon feat. Callum Wylie, The Campervan Dancers, Maia Jelavic
Wednesday 9th December – Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Home Sweet Home feat. Caitlin Harnett and Andrew Phelan
Friday 11th December – House Concert, Sydney, NSW

Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes
Friday 4th December – The Pub, Tamworth, NSW
Sunday 6th December – Mudgee Brewing, Mudgee, NSW
Thursday 10th December – Django Bar, Sydney, NSW

Lucinda Williams
Sunday 6th December – A Day on the Green, Rochford Wines, Yarra Valley, VIC
Monday 7th December – Forum Theatre, Melbourne, VIC

Lucy Wise and Justin Bernasconi
Sunday 6th December – Secret Show, Melbourne, VIC

Marlon Williams and The Yarra Benders w/ Ben Salter
Friday 4th December – The Railway, Darwin, NT
Sunday 6th December – A Day on the Green, Rochford Wines, Yarra Valley, VIC
Thursday 10th December – Workers Club, Geelong, VIC
Friday 11th December – The Substation, Newport, VIC

Oh Willy Dear
Sunday 6th December – The Union, Sydney, NSW

Poke in The Eye Records Launch feat. Todd Sibbin, Tom West, O’ Little Sister
Thursday 10th December – The Metro, Adelaide, SA

Rebecca Bastoli and Maia Jelavic
Thursday 10th December – House Concert, Sydney, NSW

Riogh
Sunday 6th December – Figgy Bowlo, Figtree, NSW

Sian Evans
Wednesday 9th December – The Pineapple Lounge, Brisbane, QLD

The Crooked Fiddle Band
Tuesday 8th December – The Metro Theatre, Sydney, NSW

The Morrisons
Saturday 5th December – Hotel Gearins, Katoomba, NSW
Friday 11th December – The Lass O’Gowrie, Newcastle, NSW

The Plough
Sunday 6th December – Coach and Horses, Sydney, NSW

The Shack feat. New York Public Library, Niq Reefman, Margie Salem
Saturday 5th December – Tramshed Community Arts Centre, Narrabeen, NSW

Tim Guy
Saturday 5th December – The Bearded Tit, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 6th December – The Annandale Hotel, Sydney, NSW

Friday Folk Flashback

“Boolavogue/Mrs McLeod’s Reel” – Aly Bain and Davy Spillane

I thought I’d celebrate the week of St Andrew’s Day with the legendary Scots fiddler Aly Bain playing the classic “Mrs McLeod’s Reel” (with some Irish influence from Davy Spillane on pipes).

Chaika Announce Special Show With 17 Piece Orchestra

Chaika
Image Courtesy of Chaika

World-Balkan-folk band Chaika have something very special in store for Sydney this month.

The six piece will be taking to the stage at iconic venue The Basement on Friday 11th December with the 17 piece Pickpockets & Rascals Orchestra. That’s right, a 17 piece orchestra!

This show is the culmination of Chaika’s collaboration with Michael O’Donnell (The Squeezebox Trio) who has arranged the parts for the Pickpockets & Rascals Orchestra.

And to top it all off Chaika will be joined on the night by the Lucy Wise Trio, fresh from their recent Sydney EP launch, who will also be performing some tracks with the orchestra.

All sounds amazing right? If you’re looking for more information check out the official Facebook event here.

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 3rd April

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– Canadian fiddler April Verch released her new video “Belle Election”. Details here

Passenger announced his new album Whispers II. Details here

Bellowhead released their new video “Roll Alabama”. Details here

– US duo The Milk Carton Kids announced details of their new album Monterey. Details here

Dan Managan + Blacksmith released their new video “Mouthpiece”. Details here

– Melbourne singers Fraser A Gorman and Leah Senior released a version of “Blues Run The Game”. Details here

– Sydney artists Direwolf and Willowy announced a co-headline east coast tour. Details here

– The inaugural Bello Winter Music Festival announced its lineup including The Milk Carton Kids, Ash Grunwald, TinPan Orange, Marlon Williams, The Wilson Pickers, Lucie Thorne & Hamish Stuart, Perch Creek, Jack Carty, Karl S Williams, The Mid North, The Button Collective, Starboard Cannons, Sara Tindley, Oh Pep! and many many more. Details here

Vance Joy released his new video “Georgia”. Details here

– UK based chamber-folk band The Leisure Society released their new single “The Fine Art of Hanging On”. Details here

– Adelaide’s Thom Lion & The Tamers have released their new single “Emily”. Details here

Interviews

“We’ve never been on the [National Folk Festival] program before but we have actually played a couple of times as part of the MoFo concert or The Flute & Fiddle asked us to play. We always love doing a blackboard because we have members that are part of other acts, different conglomerates of different things so we’re usually down there. Apart from last year where we didn’t actually play at all as Chaika I think for the last four or five years we’ve had a play around somewhere on The National. But yeah, this is our first time on the program” – Laura Bishop from Chaika chat to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

“We’re looking forward to The National, really excited. This will be my second year – I had a massive ball last year, it’s one of the best festivals I’ve ever been to. We’re looking forward to lots of music, lots of late nights at the session bar and lots of tunes from all our friends from Australia and beyond” – Mairead Hurley from Restless Legs chats to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

“We had this discussion with the band just before we started rehearsing for The National and we decided because we haven’t played Canberra that much, and a lot of people wouldn’t recognise those songs, we’re playing mainly from An Ear To The Earth. I have a couple of new songs which we ended up not having the time to rehearse and just wanted to stick with the songs that were strong”Mark Moldre chats to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

“The folk scene here is amazing. Where we were before in Lismore, if we played three or four gigs a week we’d flood the market in one week and have to wait six months to play any more gigs. Here we can do it as much as we want. And the bands around Sydney in the folk scene have been really supportive, giving us gigs or contacts. It’s amazing”The Button Collective chat to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

“We find when we’re put in the folk festival circuit you get lots of people coming up and saying “this is great that they’ve put some comedy in”. It gives people an opportunity to relax or laugh a little bit. Some folk music can be quite heavy, some of the topics that they talk about can be quite dark or heavy. I totally think it lends itself to comedy. But there’s not a lot of folk comedy people out there so it’s good to get a chance to share what we do”Sparrow-Folk chat to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

“When we were younger and we were being called “bearers of the tradition” there was a weight with that. We felt like we couldn’t touch the traditional song much. With this album we’ve really rearranged the songs to suit our purposes” – Ruth Hazleton from Kate Burke & Ruth Hazleton chats to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

“It’s a bit of a different thing I did with this album [The Wayside Ballads Vol 1]. The last two albums, I did both of those in the US and they were very acoustic based. I had these songs lying around and a good friend of ours Shannon Bourne, who’s a great guitar player, said “let’s try and do an electric album. The story’s still at the centre of the songs but it’s just a different approach to it. We picked these ten songs and went in and did them – I think it took us about a day and a half to record them. It was all done pretty much live. And I had some great players in there – we hadn’t rehearsed or anything like that so it was all pretty organic in that regards. I’m really happy with the way it turned out”Bill Jackson chats to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

Releases This Week

Eddie Boyd
A Lover and a FoolEddie Boyd and The Phatapillars
iTunes

Emily Barker
The Toerag SessionsEmily Barker
iTunes

Windfall
WindfallJoe Pug
iTunes

Sufjan
Carrie & LowellSufjan Stevens
iTunes

Mountain Goats
Beat The ChampThe Mountain Goats
iTunes

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

National Folk Festival

National Folk Festival

How could we not choose The National Folk Festival as this weeks gig pick. It’s going to be a cracker of a festival – will we see you there?

Thursday 2nd to Monday 6th April – Canberra, ACT

Gigs Next Week

Alabama Shakes
Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th April – Bluesfest, Byron Bay, NSW

All Our Exes Live In Texas
Thursday 2nd to Monday 6th April – National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT
Thursday 9th April – Ellington Jazz Club, Perth, WA
Friday 10th April – Fairbridge Folk Festival, Perth, WA

Bluesfest
Thursday 2nd to Monday 6th April – Byron Bay, NSW

Brad Butcher
Thursday 9th April – 12 Bar Blue, Cairns, QLD

Darren Hanlon
Friday 3rd April – Karova Lounge, Ballarat, VIC
Thursday 9th April – The Spotted Cow, Toowoomba, QLD
Friday 10th April – The Zoo, Brisbane, QLD

David Gray
Sunday 5th April – Palais, Melbourne, VIC

Eddie Boyd and The Phatapillars
Sunday 5th April – The Juke Joint Stage, Bluesfest Byron Bay, NSW
Monday 6th April – The Juke Joint Stage, Bluesfest Byron Bay, NSW
Thursday 9th April – Lefties Old Time Music Hall, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 10th April – The Currumbin Creek Tavern, Currumbin, QLD

Elwood Myre
Wednesday 8th April – The Pier, Port Macquarie, NSW
Thursday 9th April – No. 5 Church St, Bellingen, NSW
Friday 10th April – Cardigan Bar, Brisbane, QLD

Fairbridge Festival
Friday 10th to Sunday 12th April – Pinjarra, WA

Festival of Small Halls feat. Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys, Siskin River
Friday 3rd to Monday 6th April – National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT

Frank Turner
Sunday 5th April – Bluesfest, Byron Bay, NSW
Monday 6th April – Amplifier, Perth, WA
Wednesday 8th April – Unibar, Adelaide, SA
Thursday 9th April – The Small Ballroom, Newcastle, NSW
Friday 10th April – The Basement, Canberra, ACT

Heartstring Quartet
Wednesday 1st to Monday 6th April – National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT
Sunday 5th April – Narooma, NSW

Jake Shimabukuro
Sunday 5th April – Lizottes, Newcastle, NSW
Monday 6th April – Lizottes, Central Coast, NSW
Wednesday 8th April – Lizottes, Dee Why, NSW
Thursday 9th April – The Basement, Sydney, NSW
Friday 10th April – The Gov, Adelaide, SA

John Flanagan
Friday 10th to Sunday 12th April – Fairbridge Folk Festival, WA

Jordie Lane
Friday 10th to Sunday 12th April – Fairbridge Folk Festival, Fairbridge, WA

Justin Townes Earle w/ Sam Outlaw
Friday 3rd April – Boogie, Tallarook, VIC
Sunday 5th April – Byron Bay Bluesfest, Byron Bay, NSW
Thursday 9th April – Grace Emily Hotel, Adelaide, SA
Friday 10th April – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC

Kaurna Cronin
Friday 3rd April – Blenheim Music Festival, Blenheim, SA
Sunday 5th April – National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT

Kim Richey
Thursday 2nd to Monday 6th April – National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT

Lucie Thorne
Thursday 2nd to Monday 6th April – National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT

Lucy Wise Trio
Thursday 2nd to Monday 6th April – The National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT
Friday 10th to Sunday 12th April – Fairbridge Festival, WA

Man From Snowy River Bush Festival
Thursday 9th to Sunday 12th April – Corryong, VIC

Marlon Williams
Thursday 9th April – Gasometer, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 10th April – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane, QLD

National Folk Festival
Thursday 2nd to Monday 6th April – Canberra, ACT

Nuala Kennedy
Friday 3rd to Monday 8th April – The National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT
Friday 14th April – Fairbridge Music Festival, Fairbridge, WA

Pokey LaFarge
Wednesday 8th April – Caravan Music Club, Melbourne, VIC
Tuesday 9th April – The Corner, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 10th April – Theatre Royal, Castlemaine, VIC

Rodrigo y Gabriela
Saturday 4th to Sunday 5th April – Bluesfest, Byron Bay, NSW
Tuesday 7th April – The Palais, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 9th April – Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW

Roland Kay-Smith
Thursday 9th April – The Grand Junction, Maitland, NSW
Friday 10th April – Django Bar, Marrickville, NSW

Sam Buckingham
Sunday 5th April – Pyramids Road Wines, Ballandean, QLD
Thursday 9th April – The Rhythm Hut, Gosford, NSW

Skyscraper Stan And The Commission Flats
Saturday 4th April – Grace Emily, Adelaide, SA
Sunday 5th April – The Loft, Warrnambool, VIC

Steve Smyth
Saturday 4th to Monday 6th April – Bluesfest, Byron Bay, NSW
Friday 10th April – Four 5 Nine, Perth, WA

The String Contingent
Saturday 4th April – Flute & Fiddle, National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT
Friday 10th April – Fairbridge Folk Festival, Fairbridge, WA

Timberwolf
Friday 3rd April – Blenheim Camping and Music Festival, SA

Winterbourne
Saturday 4th to Monday 6th April – Fremantle Street Arts Festival, Fremantle, WA
Thursday 9th April – The Milk Factory, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 10 April – The Treehouse, Byron Bay, NSW

Xavier Rudd & The United Nations
Sunday 5th April – Bluesfest, Byron Bay, NSW

Friday Folk Flashback

“Jim Shank” – April Verch

National Folk Festival Interview: Chaika

Chaika
Image Courtesy of Chaika

Sydney world/balkan/bolk/jazz/classical group Chaika will be heading to The National Folk Festival for the first (official) time this year so we thought it was about time to sit one of the band down – multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Laura Bishop – to chat about the band and the big plans they have for 2015.

Gareth Hugh Evans: Chaika is playing at The National this year. You’ve played their before right?

Laura Bishop: We’ve never been on the program before but we have actually played a couple of times as part of the MoFo concert or The Flute & Fiddle asked us to play. We always love doing a blackboard because we have members that are part of other acts, different conglomerates of different things so we’re usually down there. Apart from last year where we didn’t actually play at all as Chaika I think for the last four or five years we’ve had a play around somewhere on The National. But yeah, this is our first time on the program.

GHE: I had no idea. I just assumed you’d played on the program before. I’ve seen you there a number of times.

LB: I know, most people don’t. They think we’re actually part of the program.

GHE: I guess it’s because The National is kind of like your “home” festival.

LB: Well it certainly feels like that to me.

GHE: I guess that goes to show the power of The National Folk Festival – you don’t have to be on the program to feel like you belong there. I just assumed you’d been playing there for years.

LB: Myself and my sister [Susie Bishop] who are one third of Chaika, we’ve been going to The National since we were very very small. Possibly I’ve been going there since before I was born – I haven’t checked out the timing of it. Our parents are born and bred folkies and for many years we were part of our family’s dance band called Crazy for Contra. We used to live in The States and out parents brought back this form of dancing called contra dancing and we just played at The National every year as part of that. And then we started making our own bands and fell into playing there as part of other acts.

GHE: It’s great that there are those venues at The National who do the blackboards or put on non-programmed artists. It must be really nice to feel you can turn up to the festival with the band and still get gigs even if you aren’t on the official program.

LB: Yeah, it’s been great over the years. Before Chaika became Chaika we were a four piece girl group which was based more on Yiddish Klezmer music. It got one of its first gigs at a blackboard at The National. It’s kick started a lot.

GHE: And the other great thing about the festival is it’s not just about singer-songwriters and anglo-celtic folk like a lot of folk festivals are. You guys still find an audience there even though you’re outside of the norm. For some people the “world” music program, for want of a better term, is why they go to The National.

LB: Not just at this festival but at lots of festivals we find audiences who love what we do which is a real mix of genres and influences.

GHE: And it feels like the music you guys are influenced by – klezmer, Balkan, gypsy, Eastern European – is being surfaced more at folk festivals at the moment. It seems to be everywhere.

LB: Yeah, I love it! It’s great! It’s nice to have such a diversity. I feel like we’ve come a long way as a band – our second album is building a lot on the first and we’ve got a third in the works which I think is going to be pretty stellar.

GHE: Does that mean we’ll be treated to some of that new music at The National?

LB: Not yet! Unless you haven’t seen us for a year it’s all going to be highly polished first and second album stuff. In May we’re lucky enough to be the Bundanon artist in residence. I don’t know if you know but the artist Arthur Boyd left his property to the Bundanon Trust for Australian artists just to go and be artistic. It’s a beautiful place – it’s got a river and lots of hills and wildlife. We’re spending a week about a month after the festival working on new material. But sadly no new music in time for the festival

GHE: Highly polished music from your first two albums sounds very exciting regardless. You guys haven’t played much at the beginning of this year, have you?

LB: No. The reason why is that half of the band has been in Argentina with a tango quintet, who were actually at the festival last year. They were the Infinite Elvis winners, Tángalo. My sister was wearing false eyelashes, a crazy wig and a stupid dress. All sorts of hijinks on stage. The bass player [Johan Delin] and the accordionist [Emily-Rose Sarkova] from Chaika were up there as well along with two other wonderful musicians. So yeah, they’ve been in Argentina for a couple of months doing a Jump Start grant, getting some study into that music. So they’ve come back with a whole lot of musical ideas – it’s going to be fun.

GHE: Do you think that will feed into Chaika?

LB: I think it will, yeah. I really do.

GHE: So the guys who are in Tángalo are back in the country now?

LB: Yeah, they got back only a month ago. We got together the day before the Cobargo Folk Festival, did a couple of hours rehearsal and went straight there. They played with a duo that they brought back from Argentina and we played together in some really great concerts for some really wonderful audiences. Apart from a gig that we did in September last year we haven’t played together before then. But it’s amazing to see how quickly we get back on the bike. Like there’s this crazy piece that we’ve written called “Vreme Senvič” which means “time sandwich” in Macedonian – and it is with lots of time signatures sandwiched together. And I was just pissing myself laughing looking at Emily-Rose’s face, the accordionist who takes the melody. Her face didn’t look like it knew what her arms were doing but her arms were doing it just perfectly.

GHE: It’s all muscle memory.

LB: Absolutely. It sounded good, it’s always fun to play with those guys.

GHE: With the band back together and one festival performance under your belt and The National coming up does it feel like you guys are now going to have a bit more of a focus on Chaika in the coming months? Especially as you’re going to the Bundanon residency.

LB: Absolutely. Always the difficulty with it, and with any musical project, is how much to balance against other projects that are happening. We’ll definitely be focusing on new material through May and June. In July I’m going on tour with a Bulgarian choir to Europe so that time with be dead time for me. I’m sure there’s gong to be stuff happening for Tángalo and the other guys. Laura Altman, our clarinettist runs improvised music festivals. Our percussionist Rendra [Freestone] is also in another act at The National called The Rhythm Hunters, which I highly recommend – if you’ve got time to see them they are awesome. Amidst all of that we still really love Chaika and whenever we get the time to do it we’ll be focusing on making new music.

GHE: So anything else you want to talk about before I let you get back to your day?

LB: Actually yes! We’ve got a songbook full of transcriptions that I made of the songs that we’ve written and traditional tunes that we’ve arranged with artwork that Susie and Emily-Rose have drawn in it – which is a pretty cool thing. They’re kind of going like hotcakes so if anybody wants to learn how to play our stuff, that’s where to find it.

GHE: People will have to pick that up early at The National I think instead of waiting until the last minute like I always do. Well thank you so much for that Laura – really appreciate your time!

LB: No worries. Thanks Gareth!

The Joy of Small Folk Festivals

Top Half
Photo of The Top Half Folk Festival by Barry Skipsey

By Guest Contributor Peter Logue*, repurposed political journalist, festival tragic and accordion pest

It’s probably safe to assume that almost all readers of Timber and Steel have been to a music festival: most will have been to a large folk festival e.g. Woodford, Port Fairy, Blue Mountains or The National in Canberra.

Here’s a question, though: how many have been to a small regional folk festival? By small, I’m talking about the likes of Fleurieu in South Australia, Cygnet in Tasmania, Maldon in Victoria, Gulgong in NSW, The Top Half in NT (above), or the one I’m now involved in after eight years on the Board of the National – Cobargo, in the glorious Bega Valley on the NSW Far South Coast.

(There are many, many more small festivals, most of which are listed here)

I ask this because I believe it is important for the folk movement that people younger than me – which is lot of people – get involved in the smaller festivals, either through volunteering, applying to perform, just turning up and doing a blackboard, or paying the usually small amount to attend.

Why? Well, firstly they are just great fun, full of surprises and creators of those special memories that stay with you until you’re dribbling.

Take as an example the Cobargo Festival, in its 20th year this year.

For the pittance you pay, the program is just outstanding, musically diverse, challenging at times, international in flavour and inclusive.

That last word “inclusive” is the key to the success of the smaller festivals. Unlike some of the larger events (I exclude The National because of (a) the session bar and (b) its focus on learning and participation), smaller festivals are family, along with crazy uncles who play the banjo, daft grannies who play the one row button box, and the multi-talented kids who seem to be, and are, much better musicians than were around when I was their age.

Artists are approachable, usually do more than they’re asked to do, the sessions are diverse and sometimes really hot, and most people retire late at night to playing around a campfire, or sometimes a LED lamp.

At Cobargo this year you can meet the cream of Irish musicians, like Arty McGlynn and his wife Nollaig Casey, part of the Heart Strings Quartet. Arty started off playing covers in Showbands and spent many years as Van Morrison’s lead guitarist. (He must be a very patient man).

He wrote the book on guitar accompaniment for Irish music, though Paul Brady reckons – half jokingly – he taught has old friend Arty everything he knows.

Nollaig is an outstanding fiddler, her sister Maire NiChathasaigh is a world class harpist, and if you haven’t seen Chris Newman flat pick a guitar, you’re missing one of life’s big treats.
Cobargo will be their first festival in Eastern Australia, but you will never get as close to them as you will at this festival.

This excellent clip recorded by ABC Radio National on their short visit last year gives you a taste:

That’s the thing about small festivals; international and top level local performers love them, not because they pay well (they don’t) but because it gives them a chance to warm up before the big gigs, to perfect new material, and to see parts of the country they wouldn’t normally see.

Small festivals are also places for new or relatively inexperienced soloists or bands to get noticed. There is a formal and an informal network on the folk scene of promoters, staff and organisers from the big and small festivals and “wise heads” who spread reputations by word of mouth.

That’s how bands like The Waifs, Riogh and The Lurkers and countless others got noticed and built a name.

All of the many small festivals I go to each year have workshops, sessions, spoken word, blackboards and dancing as well as concerts.

Most have good food on site and a bar for relaxing in or singing or playing tunes.

All of them have major local involvement. In the case of Cobargo – which I’ve attended for 14 years – the community engagement is extensive.

Small festivals also build the folk community. Those locals who volunteer without any real knowledge of the folk scene, get the bug. They like that a few thousand people can get together for two or three days, have a rip roaring time, get maggotted, laugh sing and dance, and not a bad word is spoken or a punch thrown.

And they suddenly hear the quality of the music that they would never hear on their local commercial radio station or even on the ABC.

Small festivals are the modern day meeting places for our diverse folk tribes. They are also places of great learning. Ask anyone involved in the running and programming of any of our large folk festivals where they learned their skills and you’ll find a vast majority started with the small festivals.

If you haven’t been, try Cobargo from February 27th to March 1st. www.cobargofolkfestival.com

As well as the Heart Strings Quartet, you can see class acts like Archie Roach, Shellie Morris, Steeleye Span’s Ken Nichol, Chaika, Daniel Champagne, Ami Williamson, Nick Charles, Fiona Boyes and dozens more, all in a geographical setting that will take your breath away. And you can join or meet a very special family.

*Peter Logue is a member of the Cobargo Folk Festival organising committee

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