The Railsplitters Announce Woodford Sideshows

The Railsplitters
Image Courtesy of The Railsplitters

With the summer festival announcement season well and truly upon us it’s exciting to see so many visiting artists now announcing headline shows while they’re in the country.

The latest band to drop tour dates is Rocky Mountain five-piece The Railsplitters. The band, known for their high-energy fussion bluegrass, will be touring throughout January including shows at Woodford and the Cygnet Folk Festival.

Check out the full list of dates below:

Friday 29th December to Monday 1st January – Woodford Folk Festival, Woodford, QLD
Tuesday 9th January – Old Museum, Brisbane, QLD
Wednesday 10th January – No 5 Church Street, Bellingen, NSW
Thursday 11th January – Wauchope Arts Hall, Wauchope, NSW
Friday 12th to Sunday 14th January – Cygnet Folk Festival, Cygnet, TAS
Friday 19th January – Rosny Barn, Hobart, TAS
Saturday 20th January – Mountain Mumma, Sheffield, TAS
Sunday 21st January – Django Bar, Sydney, NSW

Eleanor McEvoy Returns for January Tour

Eleanor McEvoy
Image Courtesy of Eleanor McEvoy

Irish music legend Eleanor McEvoy has announced she’ll be back in Australia this January with a bunch of East coast dates.

Having already been announced for the Woodford Folk Festival, the Cygnet Folk Festival and the Illawarra Folk Festival, Eleanor McEvoy is rounding out her visit with a bunch of headline shows in New South Wales, Tasmania and the ACT. Check out the full list oif dates below:

Friday 29th December to Monday 1st January – Woodford Folk Festival, Woodford, QLD
Saturday 6th January – Sussex Inlet Surf Club, Sussex Inlet, NSW
Sunday 7th January – Petersham Bowling Club, Petersham, NSW
Friday 12th to Sunday 14th January – Cygnet Folk Festival, Cygnet, TAS
Monday 15th January – Masonic Hall, Lindisfarne, TAS
Tuesday 16th January – Mountain Mumma, Launceston, TAS
Wednesday 17th January – Jack Duggans, Bathurst, NSW
Thursday 18th January – Irish Club, Canberra, ACT
Saturday 20th to Sunday 21st January – Illawarra Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW
Sunday 21st January – Petersham Bowling Club, Petersham, NSW

The Ahern Brothers Announce Huge Until Next Time Tour

Ahern Brothers
Image Courtesy of The Ahern Brothers

2017 has really been The Ahern Brothers’ year. After releasing their debut album back in June (which we guarantee is going to be on a bunch of “Best of” lists this year) The Ahern Brothers have wowed audiences with a bunch of sold out shows and a support slot with the legendary Tex, Don & Charlie.

The Ahern Brothers have just announced that they’re heading back out on the road at the beginning of 2018 with a bunch of shows around the country including appearances at the Cygnet Folk Festival, Nannup Music Festival and Port Fairy Folk Festival.

Check out the full list of dates (so far) below:

Friday 12th to Sunday 15th January – Cygnet Folk Festival, Cygnet, TAS
Friday 19th January – The Old Museum, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 20th January – Rous Mill Hall, Rous Mill, NSW
Sunday 21st January – Pelican Playhouse, Grafton, VIC
Thursday 1st February – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW
Friday 2nd February – 63 First Ave, Sawtell, NSW
Saturday 3rd February – Stag & Hunter, Newcastle, NSW
Sunday 4th February – Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, ACT
Thursday 8th February – Sooki Lounge, Belgrave, VIC
Friday 9th February – Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 10th February – Major Toms, Kyneton, VIC
Sunday 11th Ferbruary – Old Church On The Hill, Bendigo, VIC
Friday 2nd to Monday 5th March – Nannup Music Festival, Nannup, WA
Friday 9th to Monday 12th March – Port Fairy Folk Festival, Port Fairy, VIC

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

Watch the Charm of Finches Video “Home”

Charm of Finches
Image Courtesy of Charm of Finches

Charm of Finches are a young sister duo from Melbourne who make really sweet folk music together. The duo is made up of Mabel and Ivy who at the ages of 12 and 14 are creating some very mature music.

Check out their latest music video “Home”:

Charm of Finches will be appearing at the Cygnet Folk Festival and New Stead Live over the coming weeks. Check out the full list of dates below:

Friday 9th to Sunday 11th January – Cygnet Folk Festival, TAS
Friday 23rd to Monday 26th January – Newstead Live Music Festival, VIC
Wednesday 28th January – Some Velvet Morning, Melbourne, VIC

The Woodford Files: John Smith (UK)

John Smith
Image Courtesy of John Smith

John Smith is performing at Woodford Folk Festival, and at the time of writing has just finished his last show at The Duck.

While that’s bad news for anyone on site who missed his gigs, or for anyone who got along and just wants to see more, the good news for John is that he can now find a shady tree and try to keep cool for the rest of the festival.

“This weather is too hot for my blood!” he observed to the lunchtime crowd of Duck Eggs, as he referred to them, in a friendly way.

While pumping up the nachos at The Chef’s Table and their other gastronomical delights.

Bill Quinn was phonetically challenged….

I’m sorry, I’ll read that again.

Bill Quinn was challenged in terms of phone access which left John with some extra time to enjoy the shade of the Coopers Bar, but they eventually caught up for a chat:

Gig dates for John Smith’s Australian tour:

Saturday 3rd January – The Junk Bar, Brisbane, QLD
Wednesday 7th January -The Melbourne Folk Club @ Bella Union, Melbourne VIC
Thursday 8th January – Django Bar, Sydney, NSW
Friday 9th to Sunday 11th January – Cygnet Folk Festival, Cygnet, TAS

John Smith’s First Ever Australian Tour

John Smith
Image Courtesy of John Smith

Acclaimed UK folk singer John Smith is in the country for his first ever tour of Australia. As well as appearing at the Woodford and Cygnet Folk Festivals, Smith will be bringing tunes from his latest album Great Lakes to Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

Check out the full list of dates below:

Saturday 27th December to Thursday 1st January – Woodford Folk Festival, QLD
Saturday 3rd January – The Junk Bar, Brisbane, QLD
Wednesday 7th January -The Melbourne Folk Club @ Bella Union, Melbourne VIC
Thursday 8th January – Django Bar, Sydney, NSW
Friday 9th to Sunday 11th January – Cygnet Folk Festival, Cygnet, TAS

Afenginn’s Australian Tour Dates

Afenginn
Image Courtesy of Afenginn

When Gordon Wallace from The Crooked Fiddle Band picked Lux from Danish folk band Afenginn as his top album of 2013 for Timber and Steel he explained that he’d been a fan of their “bastard ethnopunk” for some time. So it’s no surprise that when Afenginn announced an Australian tour The Crooked Fiddle Band snapped up their Sydney support.

This January will mark Afenginn’s first visit to Australia with a couple of festival spots at the Cygnet Folk Festival and the Illawarra Folk Festival as well as some headline dates on the east coast. The band “takes an anarchic approach to traditional musical structures … always seeking to cross borders and push limits” and their live shows are said not to be missed.

Check out the full list of dates for Afenginn’s Australian tour below:

Thursday 9th January – Caravan Club, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 10th to Sunday 12th January – Cygnet Folk Festival, TAS
Monday 13th January – MONA, Hobart, TAS
Tuesday 14th January – Lizotte’s, Newcastle, NSW
Wednesday 15th January – Lizotte’s, Central Coast, NSW
Thursday 16th January – The Basement, Sydney, NSW
Friday 17th to Saturday 18th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW

30th Cygnet Folk Festival Announces Artist Lineup

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Andrew Winton
Image Courtesy of Andrew Winton

Tasmania’s premiere folk event, the Cygnet Folk Festival, will be celebrating its 30th year in 2012 and they’ve just released a pretty amazing program of artists for the occasion. Held in Cygnet, south of Hobart, the Cygnet Folk Festival takes place from the 6th to the 8th January.

Headlining the event this year are European folk group Ethno in Transit, Tennessee based singer songwriter Hannah Aldridge, US guitar master Dale Miller, trad autoharp players and multi-instrumentalists Cindy Harris and Eileen Kozloff, two of the UK’s finest young fiddle players, Simon Bradley and Anna Wendy Stevenson, performing with the Simon Bradley Trio, Melbourne based My Friend the Chocolate Cake and WA’s The Miles to Go Trio.

The lineup is also peppered with Timber and Steel favourites including Andrew Winton (above), Evan and Mischa, Evelyn’s Secret, Fred Smith and Liz Frencham, Penny Larkins & Carl Pannuzzo, Quarry Mountain Dead Rats, The Crooked Fiddle Band and many many more.

Tickets and more information are available from the official Cygnet Folk Festival web site. The full list of performers is below:

AP Dantonio, Adam Cousens Band, Aluka, Andrew Marshall, Andrew Veivers, Andrew Winton, Andy Baylor’s Possum Stole the Pumpkin, Benny Walker, Blue Cow, Bohemian Nights, Brett Campbell, Bruce Watson, Ceo Draoicht, Cindy Harris, Dale Miller, David “Odd socks” Wanless, Dominic Francis, Eileen Kozloff, Ethereal, Ethno in Transit, Evan and Mischa, Evelyn’s Secret, Fred Smith and Liz Frencham, Gretel Templeton and Friends, Halfway to Forth, Hannah Aldridge, Harlequin, Helen Thomson sings Gregorian Chant, Hot Club Romanesca, Hot String Band, Jay Fraser, John Flanagan & the Begin Agains, John Francis Carroll, Josh Durno, Junior Bowles, Kate Rowe and Ryan Morrison, Kavisha Mazzella, Kym Pitman, Le Blanc Bros Cajun Band, Madre Monte, Mahuts, Melisande, Miles To Go Trio, Mr Beep’s Magic, Music, Mayhem and Mirth, My Friend The Chocolate Cake, Nadia Sunde, Neil Adam and Judy Turner, Neil Gardner and Friends, New Holland Honey Eaters, Nick Osborn, Papa Chango, Penny Larkins & Carl Pannuzzo, Peter Miller, Quarry Mountain Dead Rats, Roaring Girls, Shanachie, Silkweed, SiSi & The Sonics, Sugarloaf, Susan King & Christine de Trincaud la Tour, Tabasco Tom and Doc White, Taliska, Tas and Mick Fleming’s Hawaiian Duo, The Crooked Fiddle Band, The Hazelman Brothers, The Hobart Smiths, The Lamplights, The Old Lyric Theatre, Uisce Reatha, Unsung Heroes of Australian History, Voicestrings, WhistleBlower and WoodSmith Mead

Cygnet Folk Festival Early Bird Tickets

Spooky Men's Corale

Tasmania’s Cygnet Folk Festival is gearing up to be an absolute cracker in 2011. Held from the 11th – 16th January in the town of Cygney, 50mins drive from Hobart, the festival already has an impressive lineup of artists including Amanda Connell, Daniel Champagne, Fred Smith and The Spooky Men’s Chorale (above), Jason and Chloe Roweth and many more.

As an added bonus the festival has just released early bird tickets available from Centertainment. Check out the official Cygnet Folk Festival web page for more information

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