Timber and Steel’s Artists’ Top Albums of 2017

Record Collection

Always our most popular post of the year! Once again we’ve sent out the request to the incredible community of folk and acoustic musicians covered on Timber and Steel and they’ve responded overwhelmingly with their favourite albums of 2017.

We’ve already given you our top 25 albums and EPs – now we turn it over to the artists. So much new music still to discover! So without further waffle may we present to you this year’s Timber and Steel’s Artists’ Top Albums of 2017.

Sarah BelknerAlison Avron
Sarah BelknerBut You Are, But it Has
This album release was a long time coming and it was totally worth the wait. The lyrics are so easy to relate to, the production is sophisticated, warm and intriguing. Sarah’s voice and songwriting are absolutely sublime.

Gretta ZillerMichael Carpenter (Carpenter Caswell)
Gretta ZillerQueen Of Boomtown
Apart from having one of the most honest and accomplished voices in the Australian alt-country world, Gretta Ziller has developed into a world class writer in the genre. This album showcases how far she’s come in such a short time, combining her take on contemporary writing, with the amazing production of Paul Ruske. The album is strong and sensitive, ballsy and ambitious, without losing any of the heart you’d expect with the songwriting content. An outstanding release from an artist who has truly arrived, and drawn a line in the sand for the genre.

The East PointersÁine Tyrrell
The East PointersWhat We Leave Behind
What an impossible task, top albums, as I am only just sinking my teeth into so many of the amazing 2017 albums at the moment like Jen Cloher’s Jen Cloher, Declan O’Rourke’s Chronicles of The Great Irish Famine and so many more. But one album that has been top of my play list since release has been The East Pointers’ What We Leave Behind and I never tire of it, which is a sign of a great album. This album has great depth to it musically, lyrically and in production. There is a stunning simplicity to the way the three lads work together that creates a joyous sound much bigger than a three piece and I think they have captured it on CD which is sometimes hard to do. I love that they have been able to honour and respect their tradition and push its boundaries into some modern places. One of the stand out tracks for me is their co-write with Liz Stringer, “82 Fires”.

SOHNRosie Evelyn (Liam Gale and The Ponytails)
SOHNRennen
The general vibe is darkly sexy future blues, with simple, soulful vocals, driving percussion, major synth, and just enough movement to keep you going. A little bit James Blake, a little bit Allan Rayman.

Jed RoweLes Thomas
Jed RoweA Foreign Country
This album grabbed me instantly with the strength of its songwriting, quality of musicianship and directness of emotion. Very few songwriters I know can deliver the goods as writers and players like Jed can. The song “Tailem Bend” – a small town story with universal resonance – shows the level of accomplishment and expression he’s achieved and it’s a beautiful thing to hear.

Stu LarsenAMISTAT
Stu LarsenResolute
Not only is Stu a beautiful human being but also an incredible singer songwriter! Every song on this album is just beautiful and comes from a very honest and humble place.

Mexico CityM.E. Baird
Mexico CityWhen The Day Goes Dark
Why? Because they represent the real deal to me – no ego, no frills, no pretense, just damn good songs and tunes.

Hiss Golden MessengerBrooke Russell and the Mean Reds
Hiss Golden MessengerHallelujah Anyhow
There’s something about MC Taylor’s voice that makes me so happy. I’m fairly new to his music and while I’m diving into his back catalogue, this new one has arrived and I’m in love. Beautiful band sound, fab songs – something sentimental in it that feels warm to me. My rekkid for the summer!

Ryan AdamsRyan Oliver (Oliver’s Army)
Ryan AdamsPrisoner
I love that it’s a revered, adored singer-songwriter at the top of his fame, dealing with genuine emotions and pain in the public spotlight. It may be tragic, it might be self inflicted, but I still feel like he’s a true artist who is his own worst enemy and that comes across in his heart-break ballads.

The Homeless Gospel ChoirFrank Turner
The Homeless Gospel ChoirNormal
I’ve been doing shows with Derek in Pittsburgh for a few years and he’s always been good, but this record is the sound of an artist finding his voice and spreading his creative wings. It’s been absolutely jammed in my stereo since I got hold of it.

Brooke RussellKelly Day (Broads)
Brooke Russell and the Mean RedsThe Way You Leave
This year one album really ticked all my boxes – which sounds too clinical really for something that made me splashy cry while I was driving. I particularly love that it sits outside the kind of music I tend to lean towards, but great albums are often the ones that transcend your usual inclinations. Brooke has absolutely NAILED it with this release. Stunning production, exquisite songwriting, and the most luscious, authentic, rich voice that feels like someone blowing softly on the back of your neck.

Gretta ZillerMandy Connell
Gretta ZillerQueen Of Boomtown
Put together with care and love, produced beautifully, and full of arrangements that feel perfect, unpredictable and just right. Every song inspires a depth of feeling, making it a really rich listen all the way through.

Offa RexMackenzie Shivers
Offa RexQueen of Hearts
Being a true lover of Celtic music, this album inspired me as an artist more than any other. From quirky folk-rock (“Queen of Hearts”) to haunting ballads (“The First Time I Ever Saw Her Face”), there is just enough variety of instrumentation and mood to keep the listener completely captivated. And Olivia Chaney’s voice is arrestingly beautiful. Favorite track: “The Old Churchyard”

Fanny LusdenMelody Moko
Fanny LumsdenReal Class Act
I love the way Fanny has cemented her unique way of writing with the record, her blend of social commentary, vivid imagery and Australian culture is unlike anyone else. The production is lush and thoughtful and brings the album together beautifully.

Moses SumneyTulalah
Moses SumneyAromanticism
Choosing a favourite album is a hard ask, the first one that comes to mind (probably because I’m currently listening to it) is Moses’ masterpiece, Aromanticism. It’s impeccably well constructed; colour, texture, mood, feel, groove – it ticks all of the boxes and ticks them damn well.

The War On DrugsThe Once
The War on DrugsA Deeper Understanding
A super strong, sonically rich and atmospheric follow up to previous album, Lost in the Dream. Sounds like Ryan Adams, Bryan Adams and Bruce Springsteen adopted a kid in the seventies and this is the result of that happy home.

Jason IsbellBrad Butcher
Jason Isbell & the 400 UnitThe Nashville Sound
To make my decision for album of the year I simply refer to which album I’ve listen to most. It’s an easy choice really – The Nashville Sound by Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit. All class as usual, amazing sounds all throughout the record and Isbell’s songwriting is up there with the best of the best.

Jed RoweCat Canteri
Jed RoweA Foreign Country
Jed paints a beautiful and lush portrait of predominantly Australian characters and landscapes, past and present on this record. The depth of field and attention to detail in his songwriting is just wonderful and comes across as completely effortless. Sonically the album is paired back, which allows the strength and quality of the songs, performances and Jed’s voice to shine. If I can write a song like “Where The Water Meets The Sky” or “Tailem Bend” some day, I’ll be well pleased.

LordePepi Emmerichs (Oh Pep!)
LordeMelodrama
Melodrama hits me in the heart every time. It’s lush, poignant, groovy and the songs make me think, all the while being incredibly catchy. Those are pretty much most of my favourite things in music!

TajMoLloyd Spiegel
TajMo: The Taj Mahal & Keb’ Mo’ BandTajMo
The first time I heard Keb’ Mo’ I said “Man, this guy should sit in with Taj”. It’s about time they listened to me. Both these artists have the rare ability to modernise the blues genre while still giving it’s roots and traditions their rightful respect. Combined, this CD hit a nerve with me, in particular the gutbucket tracks “Don’t Leave Me Here” and “Diving Duck Blues”. Really though, you can’t put those two in a room and expect anything less.

Valerie JuneEmily Barker
Valerie JuneThe Order of Time
I learned about Valerie June on my trips to Memphis as she lived there for many years and has worked with a lot of the musicians I know out there. I heard “Long, Lonely Road”, the first song on the record, and I knew from then on I was going to love it. There’s so much space in the recordings and her unusual but beautiful vocals grabbed me instantly. I love how the production and her songs seamlessly blend a mix a folk, soul, pop and desert blues. It sounds fresh and cool, powerful and feminine.

The Ahern BrothersJoel Barker & The Low Company
The Ahern BrothersThe Ahern Brothers
Charming and insightful songwriting combining two voices made to sing together. Deserves to be in front of the masses. Astonishing live performances to boot!

Cigarettes After SexHusky
Cigarettes After SexCigarettes After Sex
It’s a fog of romance and nostalgia you can’t help but get lost in. Reminds me of being 16 and love sick, listening to Mazzy Star.

Lisa KnappSam Lee
Lisa KnappTill April Is Dead – A Garland of May
English folk singer Lisa Knapp has captured in this album a stunning insight into the melodic and archaic realms of May-time when all of England is blooming and the sense of ancient rites and mysticism is emerging from the dark winter. It’s an album that casts a rich and hauntingly magical spell and gives that sense of contemporary ancientness that all good folk singers are masters of.

Greg StepsFour In The Morning
Greg Steps & The Not For ProphetsThe Overland
There have been a lot of great releases this year, but our favourite from around Melbourne has to be The Overland by Greg Steps. The songs just scream of someone who has worked hard at honing their craft. Tightly woven lyrics painting little snapshots of Australia, from early morning walks in Melbourne to trains clattering across Queensland. It’s all underlaid with a warm, folky vibe that feels authentic without being derivative. The stand out track for us is “Famous Last Words”. It’s a folk song in the true sense of the word and weaves together thoughts on fame, colonialism, and folk heroes. It also introduced us to the amazing story of Breaker Morant.

Novo Amor and Ed TullettWildwood Kin
Novo Amor & Ed TullettHeiress
This is the perfect album to listen to when in need of some peace and tranquility amongst a busy schedule. They have released a set of live performance videos that capture their sound together so well; the two voices blend harmoniously together, creating an unbelievable sound of completeness and perfection. You can’t help feeling relaxed when hearing their music!

Leif VollebekkRiley Pearce
Leif VollebekkTwin Solitude
You know how people say they’ve had this CD in their car and have listened to it on repeat since they got it and you’re like “yeh right, no you didn’t”. Well now I understand that feeling. This album is everything. It’s emotive, it’s clever, it’s stripped and simple and it’s f#@king great!

The Teskey BrothersPaddy McHugh
The Teskey BrothersHalf Mile Harvest
When I first heard the track “Crying Shame” I thought that I was listening to a bunch of old African American soul men from Memphis. Then I saw a picture of the band and thought I was listening to a bunch of young white soul dudes from Memphis. Then I read they are from bloody Warrandyte in Victoria. I invited them to play live on my radio show Three Chords & The Truth and they absolutely killed it. Since then I have had the pleasure of playing on a few bills with them and can also report that they are top blokes to boot.

Big TheifFraser A. Gorman
Big ThiefCapacity
Adrianne Lenker is easily the most eloquent and beautiful songwriter I’ve heard in years.

Neil McSweeneyJon Boden
Neil McSweeneyA Coat Worth Wearing
I’ve chosen an album by Neil McSweeney, a stalwart of the Sheffield scene for many years. A Coat Worth Wearing is a fantastically literate collection of songs beautifully arranged and produced, and displaying the talents of a brilliant band of musicians including renowned folk stalwarts Ben Nicholls and Sam Sweeney. It’s an excellent album on so many levels and definitely my pick for album of 2017.

YirrmalKetch Secor (Old Crow Medicine Show)
YirrmalYoungblood
I met Yirrmal Marika in Melbourne at the Australian Americana Honors Awards this past October. Yirrmal stole the show. He is a culture man. I picked up Yirrmal’s new EP Youngblood; it is the best Americana record I heard all year long. It’s got 50,000 years of soul. Crank it up.

Nadia ReidTaryn La Fauci
Nadia ReidPreservation
This record was on repeat for many many months in my car this year. I had really been craving an exquisite, cohesive and beautiful album that I could fall for, hard. This album did all of that and more, which is why it is my album of the year for 2017. I also got to see Nadia play in Sydney at The Golden Age Cinema in April and the show was stunning, it made me want to run home and learn how to play my guitar with that kind of verve.

Ryan AdamsImogen Clark
Ryan AdamsPrisoner
This album sounds to me like beautiful chaos and distress. Ryan Adams has a way of tapping into human vulnerability and woe like I don’t think I’ve ever heard from another artist. This record is just another example of his way with words and melodies that together, form the most melancholy but simultaneously kick-ass comments on the human condition you’ll ever hear from any modern day songwriter.

Sgt PepperJames Daley (The Morrisons, Diamond Duck, Tawny Owl String Band)
The BeatlesSgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – 50th Anniversary Edition
I feel a bit a strange choosing a reissue as album of the year, but who cares, it’s Sgt Peppers. After all the music I have listened to in my life, nothing has ever captured my imagination the way The Beatles have. It is the most astonishing body of work in pop music, the same way Bach is to classical music or Shakespeare to literature. I discovered The Beatles as a teenager after I got a copy of The White Album for xmas one year and my life has never been the same. Hearing all the remastered tracks and outtakes on this reissue was a wild journey and reinvigorated my love for this music in a way I hadn’t anticipated – I have been listening to The Beatles non stop since it came out, like I’m rediscovering it all over again. There are some absolute pearlers on this – the alternate takes of “Strawberry Fields”, “Lucy In The Sky” and “Day In The Life” are really interesting. Hearing how they built these songs into what we know and love is a fascinating process. However the most astonishing track is the instrumental take of “She’s Leaving Home”. Being able to hear all the subtlety, intricacy and beauty of George Martin’s arrangement for strings/harp was such a joy. A real masterclass in arranging – plus you can sing over and pretend you are Paul McCartney, ha.

The War On DrugsDirewolf
The War on DrugsA Deeper Understanding
Don’t you just adore things that need only a moment to take a firm grip around your mind, heart and/or soul? Like a one in a million barista made coffee or takeaway Thai? Not that I’m directly drawing comparisons between those things and what I consider to be a modern day classic album. However that is how my body reacted when the first second of “Up All Night” passed by. The unmistakable soundscape, verb soaked /grunge driven guitars, the synergy of acoustic/electronic driving “Dire Straights” percussion, Adam Granofsky’s/Bob Dylan’s often confused voices are but the tip of a very large and colourful iceberg that make up the record at large. We’re only supposed to be confined to one sentence, and since I’ve already profoundly broken that line I’m going to insist you put this record on in the background and see how long it takes you to stop needle poking around on the internet and gain A Deeper Understanding.

Scott CookLiz Frencham
Scott CookFurther Down The Line
I listen repeatedly to a lot of albums for my work as an accompanist. Rarely does such an album make it past that stage into my ‘listening
for pleasure’ category let alone become my favourite. But Scott Cook’s warm and beautiful Further Down The Line is one such album. It captures his arresting live delivery and the songs are rich in detail and real, visceral experience.

Dermot KennedyHarrison Storm
Dermot KennedyDoves & Ravens
I remember stumbling upon Dermot’s music on Spotify and instantly connecting with it. I became really intrigued with his music and read in an interview where he explains his sound as a cross between Bon Iver and Drake, which is pretty accurate. This EP is full of rich lyrics and interesting sounds and each listen uncovers a phrase or sound you may have missed in the previous listen. This EP definitely inspired me this year and I am looking forward to what he releases in 2018.

Laura CorteseThe East Pointers
Laura Cortese & The Dance CardsCalifornia Calling
If there’s one album we could pick from 2017, we’d have to choose California Calling by Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards. These girls are ridiculously talented (watching them perform live makes you want to go home, practice and write better songs). Their latest album combines Americana, trad, pop and folk so perfectly. Organic, yet slick. Can’t see how anyone wouldn’t like it!

FeistAinsley Farrell
FeistPleasure
Pleasure is so intimate and fragile, yet very powerful. It tugs at all my heartstrings. I recently got the chance to see her live performance at The Opera House and it blew me away.

Leif VollebekkDustin Tebbutt
Leif VollebekkTwin Solitude
My good friend Hayden Calnin introduced me to this guy over a late night whisky, and I have been listening ever since. The lyrics verge on stream of consciousness without being aimless, while vocally, Leif somehow manages to ride the line between being completely vulnerable and completely in control at the same time. Put this on top of some of the tastiest drum sounds I’ve heard in a long while, and simple but stunning keyboard playing, and you’ve got yourself one hell of an album. There are few bells and whistles, there aren’t really any production tricks or shoe shine here, just honest stories, and raw but precisely executed sounds.

Phoebe BridgersWilliam Fitzsimmons
Phoebe BridgersStranger in the Alps
I came upon Bridgers from my bandmate, who had done some touring with her and I was pretty caught up in it immediately. Her voice is special and there is a wisdom in her words beyond her young years. The most exciting thing for me, however, isn’t the album itself, it’s knowing that there is only more and even better from her to come. Listen to “Smoke Signals”.

The Mae TrioThe Northern Folk
The Mae TrioTake Care Take Cover
We finally caught The Mae Trio at Dorrigo Folk this year after hearing good things for so long, and they blew us away. This is the kind of album that reminds you of how amazing our folk scene can be- heartspoken, cleverly arranged, beautifully performed and catchy as anything. “Call Me Stranger” is a particular favourite of ours, but each song on this record is so strong.

R.L. BoyceDom Turner (The Backsliders)
R.L. BoyceRoll and Tumble
It is the second album from a man at the heart of the Mississippi hill country blues tradition. It contains all the style and swagger, grit and power that comes from a musician who sets perfectly gritty grooves overlain with heartfelt vocals to achieve maximum emotion.

The Button CollectiveJoe Glover (Shelley’s Murder Boys, The Backsliders)
The Button CollectiveHall on the Hill
This album has been on constant repeat in my car, my workshop, and my Spotify from the first day I bought it – so beautifully recorded so that you feel like you are in the room with them as they emotionally belt out fantastic songs written by Brodie and brought to life by a bunch of great musicians. Hall on the Hill is an absolute cracker of an album and I think I’ll be religiously listening to it for some time to come – perhaps until their next one is released.

Willie WatsonShelley Eves (Shelley’s Murder Boys)
Willie WatsonFolksinger Vol.2
This album is such a clear winner for me, I’ve had it on high rotation since its release. Once again Willie brought his own feel to some classic folk songs, from the delightfully joyful harmonies in “Samson and Delilah” to his haunting take on “Gallows Pole”.

All Our Exes Live in TexasJimmy Murray (Shelley’s Murder Boys)
All Our Exes Live in TexasWhen We Fall
Such a pleasure to finally hear this debut album after hearing the band grow and play over the past few years. What an amazing collection of songs and of course the incredible vocal performances from all 4 of these superstars. I really loved the production on the album as well by producer Wayne Connolly which added lovely colour to the beautiful songs. ARIA award winners 2017!

Kat GoldmanRuth Hazleton (Kate Burke and Ruth Hazleton, Bill Jackson)
Kat GoldmanWorking Man’s Blues
Nina Simone once said “It’s an artist’s duty … to reflect the times [in which we live]”. It’s been a fantastic year of new releases, though I’d like to highlight an album that nails the above brief and more. Canadian writer Kat Goldman’s Working Man’s Blues is challenging, at times fragile, brutally honest and incredibly insightful. Collectively, the songs explore contemporary working-class culture, often from the perspective of a lover who struggles to understand and accommodate the struggles of the working man. I’ve long been a fan of Kat Goldman’s writing. Her unique sound, mesmerising voice, distinctive compositions and feet-on-the-ground approach to her music make her a formidable artist of great integrity. Working Man’s Blues has been on high rotation here, and will be for some time to come.

Jed RoweBill Jackson
Jed RoweA Foreign Country
First thing that struck me about this record was the vocals and these songs provide a beautiful vehicle for a great voice. Next thing, the sparseness – the way I have been accustomed to hearing Jed over his journey. Jed Rowe has something to say – I admire that and this record puts him up there with the very best. Standout track for me is “Tailem Bend”. Beautifully produced by Jeff Lang.

Lilly HiattJames Allsopp (Ralway Bell)
Lilly HiattTrinity Lane
Picking one standout release for 2017 was pretty impossible in what was a year of exceptional music. Locally, Joel Barker and the Low Company’s Unchartered EP was a stand out. Otherwise, I’ve been talking up Lilly Hiatt since the moment I finished listening to Trinity Lane. Like all my favourite albums, it’s rooted in personal struggle, ebbs and flows perfectly, is filled with outstanding musicianship, and doesn’t try too hard sound like any one genre in particular. 10 stars!

Body CountMatt Black (The Bottlers)
Body CountBloodlust
Body Count’s sixth studio album Bloodlust emblazons a brutally honest sociopolitical conscience and fire eyed world view, teetering on the honed end of a pistol sight. I feel this is Ice T and band’s tried and true return to form with pinpoint, stand out tracks such as the narrative charged, “Black Hoody” and controversy ladened, “No Lives Matter”. A must listen for those thirsting for the truth beyond a media blurred world.

Bob DylanThe Welcome Wagon
Bob DylanTrouble No More – The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981
You might call this choice dirty pool, as the music was recorded nearly 40 years ago, but it’s only now getting a proper release, so I’m technically in the clear. This is a collection of live tracks, demos, and outtakes from Bob Dylan’s so-called “Born Again” period, stuff folks (me included) have been downloading from various sketchy websites for years, and for good reason. The songs are great – check “Solid Rock” for a straight Gospel stomper, cue up “I Believe in You” for an arresting spiritual ballad – and so are many of the live performances (the backing choir is consistently blistering). Whether you’re a believer or not, Dylan clearly is here, and it makes all the difference.

The Mae TrioJohn Flanagan
The Mae TrioTake Care Take Cover
Sisters Maggie and Elsie Rigby have such beautifully contrasting songwriting styles, Maggie is a stone cold killer Americana writer and Elsie writes stunningly original melodies with uplifting pop hook choruses. With (no exaggeration) some of the best folk harmonies in the WORLD and Anita’s impressive rhythmic cello playing, this is a truly unique and heart-grabbing band and this album is them going all out with tasteful and at times epic production.

Georgia State LineNick Payne (Dear Orphans)
Georgia State LineHeaven Knows
These guys applied to play at the Americana Music Association of Australia’s takeover of Late Night Alt at Tamworth in January. Paul Heggart from The Heggarties chose them site unseen from the applications purely based on what he heard when he listened to their pre-release recordings of this album. Hailing from country Victoria these guys are a six piece featuring Georgia Delves on vocals, and songwriting. They’re all accomplished instrumentalists in their own right and Georgia’s songwriting authentically channels the best of sophisticated country songwriting from the 60s and 70s.

Fanny LusdenSam Buckingham
Fanny LumsdenReal Class Act
I’m not just picking this album because Fanny and Dan are two of my favourite people! This album is, as the title suggests, all class. Fanny’s songwriting is beautifully Australian and the album is joyful, brilliantly performed by all involved, and completely without any ego – despite the outstanding success these guys have been earning. Fanny gives us all a lesson on how to be a ripper indie artist and how to make music that’s undoubtedly, authentically, your own. Roll on kids

LCD SoundsystemEm George
LCD SoundsystemAmerican Dream
I was moderately (read as *very*) excited when there were rumblings of talk about a new album from these guys, but like anything that was laid to rest, one always is slightly concerned that the revival won’t live up to what has come before it. So when LCD Soundsystem released their new album, I cautiously gave it a first listen and it did not disappoint. Every beat and melodic turn is so completely in tune to what has become their signature sound; that build up of tension and release, excitement and sadness, with inflections of irony that James Murphy grabs the listener with in his choice of lyrics marked with wit. There’s a touch of darkness and melancholy as each song seems to question the ending of things, the loss of once was, but that bright spark of beat this band is known for keeps it somewhere higher and closer within reach, slightly unobtainable so you keep wanting to hear it on repeat from start to finish again and again.

Aldous HardingCharm of Finches
Aldous HardingParty
Party swept us off our feet. Moody and textural, impeccable production awash with aural spectres. Horizon is addictive and moving. Aldous’ compelling voice and haunting poetics have us in thrall.

The Teskey BrothersMark Wilkinson
The Teskey BrothersHalf Mile Harvest
Amazing vocals and killer tracks full of old school soul. Sounds like neat whiskey and smokey bars.

The NationalBANFF
The NationalSleep Well Beast
I eagerly awaited The National’s next record, after Trouble Will Find Me kept me wrapped me up in its flawlessness for the last four years or there abouts. This year Sleep Well Beast won me over, with Matt Berninger’s candid yet agitated words luring me back into that deeply thoughtful, emotional and hauntingly beautiful sound I would’ve always come back for. The National perfectly blend understated harmony with organised chaos throughout all of their records, and this was no exception by any means. The meticulous musicianship and purposeful, but somewhat ambiguous lyrics continue unravelling more layers to this beast in itself every time I listen. This was the best record of 2017 for mine.

LankumKarine Polwart
LankumBetween The Earth and Sky
I can’t get enough of the murky drone-scapes and vocal edges of Lankum’s Between The Earth and Sky. In particular, the raw, reedy singing of Radie Peat on album opener “What Shall We Do When We Have No Money?” sounds like the ages. It’s the absolute antithesis of sweet.

The Wood BrothersBen Prest (Echo Deer)
The Wood BrothersLive at the Barn
I know it’s a live album but this release was my first exposure to the brother’s amazing songs, chops and harmonies. Their sound owes a lot to The Band, and “the barn” is at Levon Helm’s farm where he held concerts before he died, making the fantastic closing cover of “Ophelia” and dedication on “Postcards from Hell” all the more meaningful.

Jess LockeHollie Matthew (Echo Deer)
Jess LockeUniverse
A revisiting of the 80’s Australian rock sound ala Go Betweens with more sadness and slacker vibe. Killer matter of fact lyrics and chorus-y guitar sounds. Even better live. 5 Stars.

SamphaSimon Wegman (Echo Deer)
SamphaProcess
I hadn’t been aware of Sampha’s previous EP releases, but after Shazaming “Blood on Me” while in a tragically trendy sneaker store, I was moved to hunt down the British singer and producer’s debut LP. Sampha Sisay’s sensitive, soulful vocals and meditative piano (reminiscent of James Blake at his best) form the backbone of this record, while the thoughtful production touches throughout make me want to hit “play” again the second it finishes.

All Them WitchesAlexi Grivas (Echo Deer)
All Them WitchesSleeping Through the War
The latest album by All Them Witches has been my most played record this year. A four piece from Nashville – but they aren’t a country band – All Them Witches is a great new-wave heavy psychedelic band, with moments of light and shade. This record has them growing as writers and players, bringing new instruments and sounds into the mix. Can’t wait to see it live.

Sam OutlawRick Hart
Sam OutlawTenderheart
Simple, yet endearing melodies, layered with beautiful storytelling. It’s an album that is strong from start to end, in many ways reminding me of some of the great traditional country songwriters whom I love. Favourite tracks are “Now She Tells Me”, “She’s Playing Hard To Get (Rid Of)” and “Bougainvillea, I Think”.

Courtney Marie AndrewsJames Ellis and the Jealous Guys
Courtney Marie AndrewsHonest Life
I knew what my favourite album of the year was going to be when I saw Courtney Marie Andrews play in Melbourne in July this year. She’s got a tremendous voice and the lyrics stand apart from almost everything else I’ve heard this year in their insight and honesty. What makes her songs exceptional is the way they all seem to come directly from her own story and experience. These are her songs and this is her life. It’s an honest life.

Mike BarnettHamish Davidson (Davidson Brothers)
Mike BarnettPortraits in Fiddles
As a fiddle player and bluegrass fanatic, I am thrilled to see Mike Barnett create a record which to me is like a cross section of all the bluegrass fiddle music I’ve devoured in the last 27 years. He collaborates with some of bluegrass music’s most vibrant talent and shines new light on a great selection of fiddle masterpieces.

Angel OlsenKate Barker (Whoa Mule, Golden Whistler)
Angel OlsenPhases
I just can’t seem to get enough of Angel Olsen’s vocals and songwriting. Her work inspires me to sing like there’s no tomorrow!

George HarrisonTim Guy
George HarrisonWonderwall Music
I know this is a turn up for the books, this was released in 1968. I was in India a few weeks back, and as we descended into the ancient blue city of Jodhpur, I had this on in my headphones and seriously guys, it was incred. Place and time – but you know what I mean.

Sarah BelknerMel Parsons
Sarah BelknerBut You Are, But It Has
Sydney producer and songwriter Sarah Belkner knocks it out of the park with But You Are, But It Has. This record and its predecessor the Humans EP have been on high rotation for me all year. Brilliant songwriting, interesting and super clever arrangements and impeccable production. I will continue to listen obsessively.

Bill OrcuttMark Moldre
Bill OrcuttBill Orcutt
Orcutt wanders in and around the destruction, renovations and construction sites of melody. Tearing a well worn musical phrase apart and rebuilding it. Disassembling a traditional like it’s a jigsaw puzzle and putting the pieces back together in all the wrong places with gaffer tape and super glue. Attacking the guitar with a ferocious tenacity, short angry, dogged outbursts are followed by meditative beauty. “When You Wish Upon A Star” dances about the melody without ever really clearly stating the theme. “Ol’ Man River” is soft and dripping with the peaceful lapping of the Mississippi whist remaining dark and haunting, broken and fractured. Reminiscent of the solo work of Marc Ribot, Fred Frith or even the sonic explorations of Tom Verlaine in its angular assault to the senses. Jazz, traditional folk and the avant-garde smash headlong into each other with little regard for the trail of damage and re-creation left in their wake. Dissonant yet sweet, contemplative while remaining challenging. Bravely free and uncensored.

Loene CarmenCatherine Traicos
Loene CarmenLovers Dreamers Fighters
I’ve always loved the way Lo’s voice manages to be strong, vulnerable, sassy, gentle and flirty all at the same time, and on this record it achieves that in spades. Also the pacing and the production of this record are spot on.

King Gizzard And The Lizard WizardJeff Lang
King Gizzard And The Lizard WizardFlying Microtonal Banana
This is a rocking album, really fun to listen to. The band gets up quite a head of steam, the rhythm section powering with a relentless forward momentum and the various microtonal electric guitars stabbing and chattering over the top. Great riffs all over the album, fantastic energy and an adventurous, explorative mood throughout. It sounds to me like they’re having a load of fun.

Ryan AdamsJosh Rennie-Hynes (The Ahern Brothers)
Ryan AdamsPrisoner
Adams has so many albums and this is one of his best. Great songs, production and tones

Pony FaceCat Leahy (This Way North)
Pony FaceDeja Vu
I’ve always been fascinated with the sonic scapes that Pony Face create. I’m a massive fan of Shane Omara’s musical mind too, so when I heard he was a new member of Pony Face, it just made so much sense. This album really speaks to me. The way the songs tail in and out, the mesmerising, pulsing tremolo on “Mt Deja Vu” the driving groove in “Justine”. It’s pretty magical. Simon’s voice is just heavenly. He’s like some kind of grungy, modern-day crooner.

Nikki LaneRuby Boots
Nikki LaneHighway Queen
I tried to pick another album for fear of seeming biased, but I really do love Nikki’s album from back to front and no matter how I tried, I couldn’t get past it for this year’s top pick, I fell in love with it on first listen and over 50 listens later it still remains my fave. There’s a storyline in every song that is so easy to latch on to and make your own whilst still being cleverly written, that and the infectious melodies that take up the prime real estate on this record are the things that almost make you feel like she’s written the album just for you, the listener, yet there is enough sincerity in there to know that it’s just as much for her as it is for you, the perfect balance really! Fave song on the album: “Foolish Heart”.

Nai palmTommy Spender (Mama Kin Spender)
Nai PalmNeedle Paw
I started listening to this record while I was having a bath and it felt like it really complimented the complete surrender to the hot water. I love Nai’s passion to her artistry. She is truly gifted with a confidence and commitment to her voice that verges on punk, but her vocal has such a developed technicality, it blows me away. It’s so great hearing where she is at without the sinewy and muscular musicality of Haitus Kaiyote winding around her sound.

Scott CookAlanna and Alicia
Scott CookFurther Down The Line
Scott Cook is a natural storyteller; his songs glow with empathy, wit and warmth. This is a beautiful album, but he is even better live.
His performance on the porch at Enda Kennedy’s house concert in Northcote, Melbourne was a passport to the heartland of folk songs as they should be, as they have always been.

Colter WallHarvey Russell (Peasant Moon)
Colter WallColter Wall
This is a sparse, flawless debut from an extraordinarily talented 22 year-old Canadian possessing an absurdly weathered baritone. Arranged mostly with acoustic guitar and pedal steel only, these songs are written with the assuredness and self-knowing of a veteran songwriter. At times channelling Haggard, others Townes, the dark, vivid storytelling is magnetic and stunning. These songs feel lived in, shaped by wisdom and experience. Here we have a voice of country music’s future.

Caroline SpenceJosie Rothwell (Peasant Moon)
Caroline SpenceSpades and Roses
I’ve adored Spades and Roses this year. The songs are gentle, personal, universal, with gorgeous, sonically diverse but simple instrumentation. From the gender politics of “Softball” to the twang of “Hotel Armarillo” to the cute, lyrically playful “Wishing Well” and yearning of “Slow Dancer”, they’re songs I love to listen to, to be swept away by – what a songwriter!

Bad // DreemsMark “Looch” Lewis (Wifey, Handsome Young Strangers)
Bad // DreemsGutful
A cracking second effort from the best thing to come out of Adelaide in a long time. Big old school pub rock sound, quality songs, gruff vocals and a solid rhythm section make these guys a step above the other contenders. Bad // Dreems have always been a fantastic live act and this album gets closer to nailing that intensity and rawness. There is a reason they supported Midnight Oil recently! Can’t wait to see what comes next.

Gang of YourhsGretta Ray
Gang of YouthsGo Farther In Lightness
It wasn’t a challenge in the slightest to fall completely, head over heels in love with Gang Of Youths’ record Go Father In Lightness. The lyrics throughout this album are phenomenal, philosophical, pegging together lines of innovative poetry such as “a weight that’s in youth” soon to be followed by more casual, laid-back slang “..that makes a dick of us all”. I felt that the literature, interwoven with conversational speech in this way served to make this album, an album that discusses and reflects on the pros and cons of one’s “limited life” as well as the exploration of what it is to be “human”, unbelievably moving and relatable. As a writer myself, but more importantly a listener, I perceived it to be nothing less of an honour to see the world through writer and frontman Dave Le’aupepe’s eyes whilst listening to this record, that is more than deserving of all of the acclaim it has received over the duration of this year.

Kasey ChambersTom Busby (Busby Marou)
Kasey ChambersDragonfly
I’ve spent a bit of time with Kasey and the Chambers family over the last couple of years and the more I’ve been able to watch her off stage, the more I have realised that she is a true and prolific songwriter. Constantly singing, always creating, forever exploring. That is what this record is, just like her, brave and genuine!

Kendrick LamarSahara Beck
Kendrick LamarDamn
This album has worked for me no matter what mood I’ve been in all through 2017. It’s one of those albums that, to me, will always be a classic. Driving down to the lake with the windows down loving every moment of each song. Thank you for making my 2017 that much better Kendrick.

Leif VollebekkHayden Calnin
Leif VollebekkTwin Solitude
Never has an album been so important. I’ve listened to this every second day, and it still feels as good as the first listen. It’s come to the point that I’ve started a petition to bring this talent to Melbourne. I’m addicted to the feeling Leif gives to me. Enjoyed best walking through chaos on a sunny day, forgetting the world around you.

Ulrika SpacekTom Stephens (Tesse)
Ulrika SpacekModern English Decoration
A lesson in the art of denial, an element is there and then it’s not. It’s driving and heavy, commanding attention, but somehow you can drift away at the same time. Melodies that have to be revisited again and again and then again.

Valerie JuneMatt Golotta (The Sweet Jelly Rolls)
Valerie JuneThe Order of Time
I listened to the first few songs online of The Order of Time when it first came out, then began calling record stores instantly to see if they had it in stock because I had to own it. This record seriously has everything I look for, its soulful, rocky, bluesy and country, with the right amount of sadness. I think I’ve listened to “Love You Once Made” every day this year since buying the record. “Got Soul” is a stunning pairing of soul and country that is this perfect happy way to close the record.

Daniel RomanoTamara Lindeman (The Weather Station)
Daniel RomanoModern Pressure
Definitely the record I listened to most this year. Just great. Perfect pop songwriting, wonderful wild drumming, insane bass playing, great solos, crazy organ jams, great everything (and every note played by Romano of course). What else do you want?

Big ThiefCy Winstanley (Tattletale Saints)
Big ThiefCapacity
After being introduced to ‘Paul’ from 2016’s Masterpiece on a late night drive, and subsequently watching their Tiny Desk concert, I have been enthralled with this band. I love Adrianne Lenker’s poetic, yet coherent and often confronting lyrics, and the stark arrangements of harmonically rich songs played with a nonchalance that belies their mastery.

Sara TindleyLucie Thorne
Sara TindleyWild & Unknown
There’s an extraordinary richness and directness to Tindley’s voice that is truly stunning. Wild & Unknown is a brave and beautiful collection of songs that’ll have you dancing one moment, weeping the next. A quiet masterpiece that creeps up under your skin and plants itself in your soul. I love this album.

Jen CloherAlison Ferrier
Jen CloherJen Cloher
I love everything about Jen Cloher’s self-titled fourth album. This comes close to the perfect album for me, it’s brilliantly written, performed, recorded and produced. Jen’s bare-faced honesty is incredibly brave and inspiring. Favourite tracks: “I Forgot Myself” and “Strong Woman”.

The Secret SistersThe Weeping Willows
The Secret SistersYou Don’t Own Me Anymore
Selecting your favourite album of the past 12 months is made all the more difficult when three of your favourite acts (Jason Isbell, David Rawlings and The Secret Sisters) all release LPs within the same calendar year. But whilst Isbell and Rawlings delivered sublime albums (as to be expected), the Sisters’ album is “all killer, no filler”, their best work yet, with no temptation to reach for the “skip” button! You Don’t Own Me Anymore is the charming trad-country harmony duo’s third album and most personal project to date. The writing is at times confessional, at others, nostalgic for simpler times; strength juxtaposed with vulnerability. Their soulful songs were lovingly and tastefully produced by good friend Brandi Carlile. Stand out tracks include “Tennessee River Runs Low”, murder ballad “Mississippi” (sister song to the wonderfully haunting, “Iuka” from their 2014 album, Put Your Needle Down), “Little Again” and title track, “You Don’t Own Me Anymore”. Check them out if you’re fans of sibling harmony (eg. The Everly Brothers) and/or the southern gothic stylings of Gillian Welch and The Civil Wars.

Lilly HiattSophie Klein (Little Wise)
Lilly HiattTrinity Lane
I saw Lilly perform at Third Man Records at AmericanaFest in Nashville, but the gravity of her songwriting only hit me afterwards, listening to her rocking 2017 album Trinity Lane on my headphones traveling around the States. The production, by Michael Trent of Shovels and Rope, is big, loud, gritty and more indie rock than Nashville alt-country. But Lilly’s voice still has a southern twang to it though and the melodies and words kick around my brain for days on end. “I just wanna rock n’ roll, scream out my and burn real slow” she sings on “Records”, and it makes me want to do the same.

Jamie WyattGretta Ziller
Jamie WyattFelony Blues
Although it’s been out for most of the year I’ve only just discovered Jamie Wyatt’s Felony Blues! It’s a rare thing for me to listen to something on repeat but since I’ve discovered her it’s all I’m listening to!!! It’s unashamed, uncomplicated, catchy, good old fashioned country music.

Christopher Coleman CollectiveThe Dead Maggies
Christopher Coleman CollectiveAh Winter
This is a work of art, from a guy that’s had a hard run and put his heart on his sleeve. The result is a deep, personal and moving album of mature songwriting. Musically it sits somewhere between Bright Eyes and Neil Young.

Steve EarleTristan Goodall (The Audreys)
Steve Earle & The DukesSo You Wanna Be An Outlaw
Equal parts devilish invitation and cautionary tale, this killer record was a tour van favourite as we hit the road after a break this year. Steve is in fine form, as usual, and while the album is boisterous and swaggering, it also manages to highlight his songwriting craft. Highlight: Willie Nelson growling “if you wanna be an outlaw you can never go home”. Giddy-up!

LogicSteve Barnard (Jon Cotton and The Book Keepers)
LogicEverybody
Riding my push bike past all the kids and their mothers, heads adorned in their icon of piety, devotion and religious identity. The burka is far more common in this corner of Sydney than most and it puts a smile on my face to see children enjoying their walk home from school with Mum. An old bogan crossing the road to the pub yells racial cliches about going back where you came from and then turns to me for my approval of his vitriol. I inform him I’m from overseas too, I just happen to be white and he is guilty of the grossest and purest type of racism. Racism is as blatant as the inability to see past difference and as subtle as the apathy that accompanies privilege. Everybody suffers either in their oppression or privilege. Everybody.

Lawrence GreenwoodTanya Batt (BATTS)
Lawrence GreenwoodP.S. I’m Haunted
Lawrence has been a favourite of mine for a long time with his previous project. It feels so nice to have a new album from him and my gosh wow. The melodic and lyrical genius within this album actually made me cry the first time I heard it. The journey this takes you on from start to finish is incredibly special. All of the amazing detail within the album leaves you finding something new each listen.

Gretta ZillerAndrew Swift
Gretta ZillerQueen Of Boomtown
Maybe I’m a little biased after spending so much time on the road with Gretta, but credit where credit’s due. Queen Of Boomtown is a solid record from start to finish. With underlying blues tones throughout, Queen Of Boomtown will have you tapping your feet, singing along and wiping away a tear or two again and again. Ziller is quickly being recognised as one of this country’s best songwriters and without a doubt one of its best vocalists.

Raise By EaglesSam Newton
Raised By EaglesI Must Be Somewhere
There is a great mix of upbeat and slow-burner tracks with a sprinkle of country here and there. The record is filled with great songwriting and heartfelt lyrics.

Ben SalterShane Nicholson
Ben SalterBack Yourself
I have a lot of favourite albums of 2017. It’s been a good year. But for me, one stands above the rest – Ben Salter’s Back Yourself. It’s equal parts diverse, brave, accomplished, intelligent, exciting, original, and just plain incredible, superior record-making.

Frank OceanThe Campervan Dancers
Frank OceanBiking
Ryan is arrested by the nostalgic visions of meatophorical bike-riding. Chelsea is delighted by how they manage to execute an extensive shouting outro with great aplomb.

The East PointersThe Little Stevies/Teeny Tiny Stevies
The East PointersWhat We Leave Behind
This recommendation is just as much about the album as it is about the live show, because TEP have done what is often very difficult to do and that’s to capture the energy and magic of their live show on record. As a band they’ve got the full package; great songs, impressive multi-instrumental musicianship, rich 3-part harmony, and to top it off they’re genuinely nice people. My favourites on the album are the vocal lead songs because I love a catchy melody and riff. But I also really enjoy the instrumentals because they include some super interesting harmonic changes through them that don’t always go where you’re expecting them to go. It’s an album that’s made a non-fiddler make it their new years resolution to learn how to play the fiddle, so it must be pretty good.

Songs From DanMelanie Horsnell
Dan TuffySongs from Dan
I loved Dan Tuffy’s record Songs from Dan because I love the quiet back of the valley live sound and the song “The biggest bastard who ever rode the west” is every musician-having-a-low-down-day’s anthem. And I loved King Curly’s new EP but biased as now we are making a record together, so not allowed to vote for that.

Les Poules a ColinJesse Periard (Ten Strings and a Goat Skin)
Les Poules à ColinMorose
Les Poules à Colin have never been a band to limit themselves. They are constantly pushing boundaries and exploring uncharted territory, which sets them apart from so many traditional music groups. They’ve grown so much as a band and Morose is a true representation of where they stand in the realm of traditional Québécois music and I couldn’t be more proud of them. This album has so many complex and beautiful layers to it, and has inspired me and taken me to places I didn’t expect.

Sarah BelknerJulia Johnson
Sarah BelknerBut You Are, But It Has
A record I have returned to repeatedly, finding more with every listen. The textures and arrangements glisten, but have this earthy, warm undercurrent. Her lyrics unfolded the more I honed in on them. Where I was wondering of their meaning upon first listen, months later her songs are resonating deeply with chapters and moments in my life. For me, there’s nothing more wondrous than finding a song that exposes one’s painful or wonderful experience as universal, and this album is rich with those gems. Standout track: “Cellophane”.

Jesca HoopAinslie Wills
Jesca HoopMemories Are Now
I describe this album to other people as “assertive folk” in that it has folk sensibilities and instrumentation but the song ideas are quite robust and angular at times which make it really memorable (ha! Pun not intended). Also, It has no drums which to me was really refreshing as most things these days are so banger/beat driven.

Trad AttackJoe Gould (The Crooked Fiddle Band)
Trad.Attack!Kullakarva / Shimmer Gold
Every so often I spend some time seeking out what’s happening in other local scenes around the world, and Crooked Fiddle’s musical equivalents therein – thus leading me to Estonia’s Trad.Attack! (punctuation included). Part melodic folk pop, part updated trad folk complete with Estonian bagpipes, they sometimes come across as a Baltic equivalent to Ireland’s Kila, especially on the epic title track.

Big ThiefAngie McMahon
Big ThiefCapacity
I’ve fallen in love with this band and this album. The intimacy of the songwriting has captured me, and the so many moments in the lyrics and music have brought me to moments of realisation and clarity. Some albums make you really grateful for music and the power it has over your mind, and this year, for me, it’s been this one.

Lana Del ReyTori Forsyth
Lana Del RayLust for Life
I love that Stevie Nicks has a little part of this record, she also experiments with some rad sounds. Also, lyrically this record is incredible.

This Is The KitEmily Staveley-Taylor (The Staves)
This Is The KitMoonshine Freeze
We met Kate, Rozi and Jamie at The Funkhaus during the Michelberger festival in Berlin last year and thought they were all wonderful people making wonderful music. Then we saw them play this album live at Eaux Claires festival in the summer and were blown away. The record has so many lovely, rounded sounds on it. It feels soft, but it has a driving energy that keeps pushing it forward. Kate’s voice has a familiar, kind quality when she sings – who doesn’t want to feel like they’re having a conversation with a friend when they listen to music? It’s a self-assured album by a band who seem to really know who they are. And that’s a comforting presence to be in. Plus the tunes are fucking banging. And the horns rule.

Sun Kil MoonNigel Wearne
Sun Kil MoonCommon As Light and Love Are Red Valleys of Blood
This year Sun Kil Moon has been on high rotation. Common As Light and Love Are Red Valleys of Blood is so different, that I honestly can’t remember hearing anything else like it. Spoken word poetry, prose, and random stories (including a Chameleon vs a Cat), diary entries, muses on David Bowie and Ali augmented by busted-up Dad hip hop. It’s completely whacked and compelling. A slow burn that requires the lyrics booklet.

National Folk Festival Adds Even More Artists for 2018

Elephant Sessions
Image Courtesy of Elephant Sessions

The next round of artists for the 2018 National Folk Festival were announced this morning featuring a bunch of internationals, returning favourites and local gems.

The announcement is led by Scottish trad-quintet Elephant Sessions (above) who will be in the country for the festival season. Joining them are the likes of WÖR (Belgium), The Young Folk (Ireland), Trouble in the Kitchen, All Our Exes Live in Texas, My Friend The Chocolate Cake, Fiona Ross (Scotland) and Ken Nicol (England), The Melbourne Scottish Fiddle Club, Low Down Riders, Jugularity, Davidson Brothers, Electric Tommy Johnston, Frets Patrick, Loren Kate, Zac Saber, Matilda Rose, Meyers and McNamara, Benji and the Saltwater Sound System and The Quick and The Dead along with choirs Grassroots Union Choir of Tasmania, Alleycats Community Choir, InterVarsity and Ukestral Voices plus the inclusion of the Compánach Irish music concert.

This lineup announcement also features a bunch of poets and spoken word including Keith McKenry, Sandra Renew, Andrew Galan, Daniel J Townsend, Peter Mace, Jacqui Malins with cellist Julia Horvath, Dick Warwick, Martin Pearson, BAD!SLAM!NO!BISCUIT!, Gregory North and Glover and Sorrensen.

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 Port Fairy Folk Festival Announces More Artists for 2018

Port Fairy
Image Courtesy of Port Fairy Folk Festival

The early bird tickets for the 2018 Port Fairy Folk Festival have just gone on sale and the festival has just announced a bunch of new artists on the lineup.

This time around Port Fairy has announced Amistat, Ben Waters Band (UK) with Derek Nash (UK), Black Sorrows, Blair Dunlop (UK), Davidson Brothers, Frank Burkitt Band (NZ), Lily & King, Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band, Rory Ellis Trio, Ted Egan, Victoriana Gaye, Brian Nankervis, 10 String Symphony (USA), The Grigoryan Brothers with Adam Page, Hillbilly Goats, Hussy Hicks, Josienne Clarke & Ben Waters (UK), King Marong & Afro Mandinko, La Busca, Lost Ragas and more.

They join the likes of Alan Kelly Gang, Gordie MacKeeman & His Rhythm Boys, Harry Manx, The Ahern Brothers, The Teskey Brothers and many more.

The Port Fairy Folk Festival is held in Port Fairy, Victoria from the 9th to the 12th March. For more information check out the official site here.

Out on the Weekend Announces 2017 Lineup

Justin Townes Earle
Image Courtesy of Justin Townes Earle

This morning Australia’s premiere Americana festival Out On The Weekend released their 2017 lineup and as expected it’s pretty impressive.

Heading up the lineup is the incomparable Justin Townes Earle who will be taking to the stage with a full band in tow. Joining him from the US will be the legendary Son Volt and Americana super group Traveller featuring Jonny Fritz, Robert Ellis and Cory Chisel.

The rest of the lineup is simply cracking with a who’s who of the local and international scene including All Our Exes Live In Texas, The Deslondes, Robbie Fulks, Fanny Lumsden, The Sadies, Joshua Hedley, Raised by Eagles, Freya Josephine Hollick, Davidson Brothers and The Moonee Valley Drifters.

“It’s a continued pleasure to bring music lovers the finest sounds in the international and local Americana scene to the glorious Seaworks venue,” promotors Love Police said. “Four years strong and building, we aim to put on an excellent day of cultural and important entertainment hand picked for your pleasure. We used to talk up the fine food and booze selections on offer, but that goes without saying now. Its always the best! Avoid imitations and late comers, Out On The Weekend is the real deal. Authentic presentations by passionate people with colourful experience. Buy a ticket, get your look on, study up on acts you don’t know, and see you in October for the good times.”

Out On The Weekend is held at Seaworks in Melbourne on the 14th October this year. For more information including how to get your hands on tickets check out the official site here.

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 23rd June

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

Angus & Julia Stone returned with their new single “Snow”. Details here

– Folk music legend Martin Simpson announced his new album Trails & Tribulations. Details here

Dashville Skyline announced their first round of artists for 2017 including Mark Olson & Ingunn Ringvold, Tim Easton, Songs From Dan, Mel Parsons, The Roamin’ Jasmine, Cash Savage and The Last Drinks, William Crighton, Immigrant Union, Claire Anne Taylor, Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes, Pony Face, Emma Russack and Roadhouses. Details here

Fleet Foxes released their new single “If You Need To, Keep Time On Me”. Details here

– Brisbane based alt-country singer-songwriter Brad Butcher has announced plans to release his new album From The Bottom Of A Well. Details here

Iron & Wine has just released his first single in four years titled “Call It Dreaming”. Details here

– Singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin released her new video “Eastwick”. Details here

– Irish-born, Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Áine Tyrrell released her confronting new video “Don’t Be Left Crying”. Details here

– The Mullum Music Festival announced 10 artists for their 2017 event including Jon Cleary & The Monster Gentlemen, Frazey Ford, Marlon Williams & The Yarra Benders, Lindi Ortega, Too Many Zooz, Z-Star Delta, Gabriel Garzón-Montano, The East Pointers, The Teskey Brothers and Jazz Party. Details here

– English singer-songwriter Johnny Flynn released his new video “In The Deepest”. Details here

– Bluegrass favourites Davidson Brothers kick off their east coast tour tonight in Canberra. Details here

– Troubadour Stu Larsen released his new single “Chicago Song”. Details here

Reviews

Track by Track

“A couple of weeks ago Sydney based singer-songwriter Timothy James Bowen highly anticipated new EP Bloom. Bowen describes the EP as bookending everything that’s happened to him in the last year – much of which he spent fighting a type of blood cancer”Timothy James Bowen takes us his EP Bloom. Track by Track here

Releases This Week

Jeff Tweedy
Together At LastJeff Tweedy
iTunes

QPS
Follow The RiverQueen Porter Stomp
Bandcamp

Ahern
The Ahern BrothersThe Ahern Brothers
iTunes

Tulalah
The QuestionTulalah
Bandcamp

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Queen Porter Stomp w/ Giffen, Whoa Mule

Queen Porter Stomp

Dirty swamp masters Queen Porter Stomp launch their new album Follow The River in Sydney this weekend supported by Giffen and Whoa Mule

Saturday 24th June – Django Bar, Sydney, NSW

Gigs Next Week

All Our Exes Live In Texas
Friday 23rd June – Jive, Adelaide, SA
Saturday 24th June – Babushka, Perth, WA
Sunday 25th June – Fly By Night, Fremantle, WA
Friday 30th June – Heritage Hotel, Bulli, NSW

Amber Lawrence & Catherine Britt w/ Fanny Lumsden
Friday 23rd June – Rainforest Ranch, Rockhampton, QLD
Saturday 24th June – Carrier’s Arms Hotel Motel, Maryborough, QLD
Thursday 29th June – Club Barham, Barham, VIC
Friday 30th June – Commercial Club, Albury, NSW

Andy Golledge Band, Caitlin Harnett, Ruben Neeson
Friday 30th June – LazyBones Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Anna Cordell w/ Hollie Joyce
Saturday 24th June – Longplay, Melbourne, VIC

Anne of the Wolves
Friday 23rd June – The Thornbury Local, Melbourne, VIC

Argyle Sun-Sets at Fred’s feat. Larissa Tandy, Sam Newton, Nick Payne
Sunday 25th June – Upstairs at Fred’s, Camden, VIC

Ben Ottewell
Tuesday 27th June – Mojo’s Bar, Fremantle, WA
Wednesday 28th June – Four5Nine, Perth, WA
Thursday 29th June – Crown and Anchor, Adelaide, SA
Friday 30th June – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC

Ben Salter
Friday 23rd June – Theatre Royal, Castlemaine, VIC

Blue Mountains Winter Magic Festival
Saturday 24th June – Katoomba, NSW

Brad Butcher w/ The Weeping Willows
Friday 23rd June – House Concert, Geelong, VIC
Saturday 24th June – House Concert, Carrum, VIC
Sunday 25th June – House Concert, Bittern, VIC
Friday 30th June – The Singing Gallery, McLaren Vale, SA

Broads
Friday 23rd June – The Junk Bar, Brisbane, QLD
Sunday 25th June – Bellingen Brewery, Bellingen, NSW

Busby Marou
Friday 23rd June – The Northshore Tavern, Perth, WA
Saturday 24th June – Mundaring Weir Hotel, Mundaring, WA
Sunday 25th June – The Boston, Perth, WA
Friday 30th June – Darwin Entertainment Centre, Darwin, NT

Carus Thompson
Friday 23rd June – Wesley Anne, Melbourne, VIC

Catherine Traicos
Sunday 25th June – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 29th June – Fly By Night, Fremantle, WA

Daniel Champagne
Friday 23rd June – The Tea Club Nowra, Nowra, NSW
Saturday 24th June – Polish White Eagle Club, Canberra, ACT
Sunday 25th June – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 29th June – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 30th June – NightQuarter, Gold Coast, QLD

Davidson Brothers
Friday 23rd June – Harmonie German Club, Canberra, ACT
Saturday 24th June – Nethercote Hall, Nethercote, NSW

Devil Goat Family String Band
Saturday 24th June – Bar Open, Melbourne, VIC

Dusty Ravens w/ Low Down Riders
Friday 30th June – Django Bar, Sydney, NSW

Emma Davis
Friday 23rd June – Frank’s Wild Years, Thirroul, NSW

Folk Fun Fiesta feat. Den Hanrahan and the Rum Runners, Fred Smith, Zumpa
Saturday 24th June – Centro CBD, Wollongong, NSW

FolkSwagon feat. Pilot Hergé, Ethan Conway, Hannah Robinson
Wednesday 28th June – Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Hanny J w/ Emmy Hour, Squid Fishing, Quinton Trembath
Sunday 25th June – Reverence Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Hayden Calnin
Friday 30th June – Hudson Ballroom, Sydney, NSW

Honey & Knives
Friday 23rd June – 5 Church St, Bellingen, NSW
Friday 30th June – 63 First Ave, Sawtell, NSW

Instrumental (adj.), Hinterlandt, Brian Campeau
Friday 23rd June – 107 Projects, Sydney, NSW

Jacob Diamond
Friday 23rd June – Odd Fellow, Fremantle, WA
Friday 30th June – The Milk Factory, Brisbane, QLD

James Ellis and the Jealous Guys w/ Georgia Mulligan, Ainsley Farrell
Friday 23rd June – Botany View Hotel, Sydney, NSW

Jasmine Beth, Melanie Horsnell, Tidal Moon
Saturday 24th June – Lovett Chapel, Yass, NSW
Sunday 25th June – Bundanoon Memorial Hall, Bundanoon, NSW

Jen Mize
Friday 23rd June – Bohemian Bungalow, Eumundi, QLD
Saturday 24th June – The Basement, Nambour, QLD

Kuranda Roots Festival
Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th June – Kuranda, QLD

Larissa Tandy w/ Brooke Russell and The Mean Reds
Friday 23rd June – Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 25th June – House Concert, Camden, NSW
Friday 30th June – Baha, Rye, VIC

Leah Senior
Saturday 24th June – Golden Age, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 29th June – The End, Brisbane, QLD

Les Thomas
Friday 23rd June – Kingsbury Bowls Club, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 30th June – Kingsbury Bowls Club, Melbourne, VIC

Liam Gerner
Saturday 24th June – The Wesley Anne, Melbourne, VIC

Lisa Crawley
Thursday 29th June – Paris Cat Jazz Club, Melbourne, VIC

Lisa Mitchell and Dustin Tebbutt w/ Alex The Astronaut
Friday 23rd June – Newport Hotel, Fremantle, WA
Saturday 24th June – Badlands, Perth, WA
Thursday 29th June – Corner Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 30th June – Corner Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Liz Stringer’s Big Tuesday String-a-long feat. Mick Thomas
Tuesday 27th June – The Gasometer, Melbourne, VIC

Lloyd Spiegel
Friday 23rd June – The Piping Hot Chicken Shop, Ocean Grove, VIC
Friday 30th June – The Skylark Room, Upwey, VIC

Lowdown Hokum Orchestra
Friday 23rd June – Burrinja, Upwey, VIC

Lucy & Rowena Wise, John Flanagan
Saturday 24th June – House Concert, Melbourne, VIC

Mr Alford Country
Saturday 24th June – Union Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Music on a Mission feat. Hussy Hicks, Leopold’s Treat
Wednesday 28th June – Miami Marketta, Gold Coast, QLD

Newport Folk Festival
Friday 30th to Sunday 2nd July – Newport, VIC

Nigel Wearne
Sunday 25th June – Blarney Books & Art, Port Fairy, VIC

Queen Porter Stomp w/ Giffen, Whoa Mule
Saturday 24th June – Django Bar, Sydney, NSW

Ramblin’ Nights feat. Katie Brianna, De’May, Jemma Nicole
Wednesday 28th June – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW

Slava & Sharon Grigoryan
Friday 23rd June – St Paul’s Lutheran Church, Shepparton, VIC

Sofar Sounds Melbourne
Saturday 24th June – Melbourne, VIC

Sofar Sounds Sydney
Thursday 29th June – Martin Place, Sydney, NSW

Song Seshes feat. Gentle Leader, Jess Keating Music, Pyjama Sam Productions, Rita B
Saturday 24th June – Gasoline Pony, Sydney, NSW

Songs of the Land and Sea feat. The Cutting, Andy Alberts
Saturday 24th June – Port Fairy Lecture Hall, Port Fairy, VIC

Sunday Sessions feat. Mitch Power
Sunday 25th June – The Public Brewery, Melbourne, VIC

Taryn La Fauci
Thursday 29th June – Townsville, QLD

The Ahern Brothers
Thursday 29th June – Treehouse, Byron Bay, NSW
Friday 30th June – 5 Church Street, Bellingen, NSW

The Bean Project
Friday 23rd June – Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, ACT
Saturday 24th June – That Little Brewery, Melbourne, VIC

The Grigoryan Brothers
Sunday 25th June – Wesley of Warragul, Warragul, VIC
Friday 30th June – Kyneton Town Hall, Kyneton, VIC

The Heggarties w/ The Cherry Pickers
Saturday 24th June – The Retreat Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

The Spooky Men’s Chorale
Friday 23rd June – Newcastle City Hall, Newcastle, NSW
Saturday 24th June – Wollongong Town Hall, Wollongong, NSW
Wednesday 28th June – The Old Museum, Brisbane, QLD

The Wayward Henrys
Friday 23rd June – Flow Bar, Old Bar, NSW

Tom Stephens w/ eush, Bonniesongs, Sam Hughes
Saturday 24th June – RAD, Wollongong, NSW

Toni Swain
Sunday 25th June – Union Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Vardos Trio
Saturday 24th June – Bocskai Centre, Melbourne, VIC

Friday Folk Flashback

“All The Pretty Little Horses” – Odetta

Putting the creepy back into lullabies.

Davidson Brothers Announce East Coast Tour

Davidson Brothers
Image Courtesy of Davidson Brothers

Sibling bluegrass duo Davidson Brothers will be heading out on tour from this week with shows planned up and down the East Coast. The tour will also see Davidson Brothers appearing at a couple of festivals including the Gympie Music Muster and the Deni Ute Muster.

Davidson Brothers will be touring their latest album All You Need Is Music – check out the full list of dates and their latest video “Take A Little Drive” below:

Friday 23rd June – Harmonie German Club, Canberra, ACT
Saturday 24th June – Nethercote Hall, Nethercote, NSW
Saturday 8th July – Union Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 20th August – Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 24th August – The Milk Factory, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 26th & Sunday 27th August – Gympie Music Muster, Gympie, QLD
Friday 29th September – Deni Ute Muster, Deniliquin, NSW

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 31st March

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

Laura Marling added Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne dates to her tour schedule this June. Details here

Folk ‘Til Ya Punk Records announced Brisbane folk-punk festival BRISFOPO featuring The Dead Maggies, Fox n Firkin, The Button Collective, The Rogue Scholars, Andy Paine, The Dangerous Folk, Quinton Trembath and Jim Mongrel and more. Details here

– The Davidson Brothers released their new video “Take A Little Drive”. Details here

Emily Barker released her new video “Sunrise” and announced that she’s in Australia this week and next with tour dates in south west WA, Sydney and Melbourne. Details here

Releases This Week

Imelda May
Life Love Flesh BloodImelda May
iTunes

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Broads

Broads

Melbourne alt-country duo Broads launch their new album Vacancy in their home town.

Saturday 1st April – Toff In Town, Melbourne, VIC

Gigs Next Week

Amber Lawrence & Catherine Britt
Friday 31st March – Red Hot Music, Devonport, TAS
Saturday 1st April – Granada Tavern, Hobart, TAS
Friday 7th April – Rooty Hill RSL, Rooty Hill, NSW

Archer, Sweet Jelly Rolls, Simone East
Saturday 1st April – Django Bar, Sydney, NSW

BATTS
Sunday 2nd April – Some Velvet Morning, Melbourne, VIC

Bill Chambers, Raechel Whitchurch
Thursday 6th April – House Concert, Parkes, NSW
Friday 7th April – Club Mudgee, Mudgee, NSW

Bonnie Raitt
Friday 7th April – State Theatre, Sydney, NSW

Broads
Saturday 1st April – Toff In Town, Melbourne, VIC

Brigadoon Highland Gathering
Saturday 1st April – Bundanoon, NSW

Darcy Fox
Friday 31st March – The Newsagency, Sydney, NSW
Wednesday 5th April – The Grace Emily, Adelaide, SA

Emily Barker
Tuesday 4th April – The Cidery and Blackwood Valley Brewing Company, Bridgetown, WA
Wednesday 5th April – Little Village Music, Dunsborough, WA
Thursday 6th April – Babushka, Perth, WA

Eveleigh Works Grand Opening feat. The Sweet Jelly Rolls, Indigo Rising, Skyscraper Stan
Sunday 2nd April – Eveleigh Works, Sydney, NSW

Fanny Lumsden
Friday 7th April – Rooty Hill RSL, Rooty Hill, NSW

FolkSwagon feat. Georgie Fisher, Burden Man, Maia Marsh
Wednesday 5th April – Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Grigoryan Brothers
Saturday 1st April – City Recital Hall, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 2nd April – Lizottes, Newcastle, NSW
Tuesday 4th April – Macquarie Conservatorium of Music, Dubbo, NSW
Wednesday 5th April – Capitol Theatre, Tamworth, NSW
Thursday 6th April – TAS Hoskins Centre, Armidale, NSW
Friday 7th April – Bellingen Memorial Hall, Bellingen, NSW

Heartbreaker Sessions feat. De’May, Bill Hunt
Sunday 2nd April – The Bearded Tit, Sydney, NSW

Hinterlandt
Saturday 1st April – 5 Church Street, Bellingen, NSW
Sunday 2nd April – The Unorthodox Church of Groove, Newcastle, NSW

Hollie Matthew, Swamp Fat Jangles
Saturday 1st April – Bearded Tit, Sydney, NSW

Holly Throsby
Friday 31st March – Babushka, Perth, WA

Irish Mythen
Friday 31st March – Old Castlemaine Gaol, Castlemaine, VIC
Saturday 1st April – Baby Black, Bacchus Marsh, VIC
Sunday 2nd April – Old Church on The Hill, Bendigo, VIC
Wednesday 5th April – Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, ACT
Thursday 6th April – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW
Friday 7th April – The Heritage, Bulli, NSW

Jack Carty
Friday 31st March – Paddington Uniting Church, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 6th April – Ellington Jazz Club, Perth, WA
Friday 7th April – Always Good Nights, Bunbury, WA

Jeff Lang
Friday 31st March – Trinity Sessions, Adelaide, SA
Saturday 1st April – Lefties, Whyalla, SA
Thursday 6th April – Royal Oak, Launceston, TAS
Friday 7th April – Republic Bar, Hobart, TAS

Josh Rennie-Hynes
Friday 31st March – Trinity Sessions, Adelaide, SA

Kasey Chambers
Friday 7th April – Theatre Royal, Hobart, TAS
Saturday 8th April – Country Club Showroom, Launceston, TAS
Sunday 9th April – Burnie Arts Centre, Burnie, TAS

Kate Miller-Heidke
Friday 31st March – Perth Concert Hall, Perth, WA
Friday 7th April – Canberra Theatre, Canberra, ACT

Kasey Chambers
Thursday 6th April – Devonport Entertainment Centre, Devonport, TAS
Friday 7th April – Theatre Royal, Hobart, TAS

Last Weekend at The Newsagency
Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd April – The Newsagency, Sydney, NSW

Les Poules à Colin
Friday 31st March – Illawarra Folk Club, Wollongong, NSW
Wednesday 5th April – Upper Landsdowne Memorial Hall, Upper Landsdowne, NSW
Thursday 6th April – House Concert, Newcastle, NSW

Liv Cartledge
Saturday 1st April – Wesley Anne, Melbourne, VIC

Mal Webb and Kylie Morrigan
Sunday 3rd April – Bar 303, Melbourne, VIC

Martha Tilston
Friday 31st March – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 1st April – Heritage Hotel, Bulli, NSW
Sunday 2nd April – Brass Monkey, Cronulla, NSW

Peasant Moon w/ Sam Shinazzi and Arna Georgia
Thursday 6th April – Gasoline Pony, Sydney, NSW

Rick Hart’s Bare Bones Quartet
Friday 7th April – The Drunken Poet, Melbourne, VIC

Sarah Belkner
Friday 31st March – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 6th April – Wesley Anne, Melbourne, VIC

Sleepy West, James Franklin, Cat Canteri
Saturday 1st April – Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC

Sydney Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Get-together
Friday 1st April – Annandale Neighbourhood Centre, Sydney, NSW

The Bean Project w/ Patrick Wilson
Friday 7th April – The B.East, Melbourne, VIC

The Button Collective
Friday 31st March – The Milk Factory, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 7th April – The Two Goats, Armidale, NSW

The East Pointers
Friday 31st March – Tanks Arts Centre, Cairns, QLD
Saturday 1st April – Sol Bar, Sunshine Coast, QLD
Thursday 6th April – Club Mullum (Mullumbimby Ex-Services Club), Mullumbimby, NSW
Friday 7th April – Eatonsville Hall, Eatonsville, NSW

The Man From Snowy River Festival
Thursday 30th March to Sunday 2nd April – Corryong, VIC

The McClymonts
Friday 7th April – Goulburn Workers, Goulburn, NSW

The Mountain Goats
Thursday 6th April – Badlands, Perth, WA
Friday 7th April – Fowlers Live, Adelaide, SA

The Sauerkrauts
Friday 7th April – House Concert, Nowra, NSW

The Waifs
Saturday 1st April – Enmore Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 2nd April – The Governor Hindmarsh, Adelaide, SA
Tuesday 4th April – Bangalow Hall, Bangalow, NSW
Wednesday 5th April – Bangalow Hall, Bangalow, NSW
Thursday 6th April – The Tivoli Theatre, Brisbane, QLD

This Way North
Saturday 1st April – Prince Of Wales Hotel, Bunbury, WA
Sunday 2nd April – The Carine, Duncraig, WA

Tim Guy
Friday 7th April – Edinburgh Castle, Melbourne, VIC

Violent Femmes
Friday 31st March – Twin Towns, Coolangatta, QLD
Saturday 1st April – The Shed at Aussie World, Sunshine Coast, QLD

William Crighton
Friday 5th May – Bella Union Trades Hall, Melbourne, VIC

Friday Folk Flashback

“Stags Bellow” – Martha Tilston

Watch the New Davidson Brothers Video “Take A Little Drive”

Davidson Brothers
Photos by Elizabeth Walton

Victorian bluegrass legends Davidson Brothers have just released their brand new video “Take A Little Drive”. The track is a taster of the duo’s eighth studio album All You Need Is Music which is due on the 7th April.

“Take A Little Drive” is a wonderful slice of classic country and bluegrass music – check out the video below:

To celebrate the release of All You Need Is Music Davidson Brothers just announced an album launch show at the newly opened Longhorn Saloon in Melbourne on the 28th April. For more information check out the official Facebook event here.

2017 Blue Mountains Music Festival – The Wrap

Paul Kelly and Charlie Owen doing Funeral Songs

Words and Pictures by Elizabeth Walton

“Can’t wait for this to start – Paul Kelly is Australia’s answer to Bob Dylan.”  So the murmur of the audience flows while revelers wait in the light filled entrance to the Lurline Pavilion at the 2017 Blue Mountains Music Festival.

“Nah mate, Bob Dylan is America’s answer to Paul Kelly,” comes the well whittled retort, a fitting reflection on the loyalty of the Australian pilgrimage to the Blue Mountains Music Festival, where Australia’s tower of song – Paul Kelly – has appeared many times.

The punters flood the moment with favourite festival stories, washed down with a good pint of Guinness. Mustering the strength to move past the thousands to the front of stage where you can really get lost in the experience – that’s what they are pausing at the entrance to do, for this is the festival’s main event – and that’s all part of the show.

Katoomba may be the original decaf soy latte kinda town, but the Blue Mountains Music Festival is still a double ristretto kind of event. Headliners including Kelly and The Waifs may have returned countless times, but you’d wonder why you would want to change something that clearly ain’t broke.

As the rain pours down, the mud slides up. The cafes flow with conversations filled with passionate responses to Gregg Borschmann’s Heartland Conversations, the virtues of six dollar gumboots, and the best fashion statement you can make with a plastic yellow poncho without face planting in the mud.

Paul Kelly hit the stage with his latest project, Death’s Dateless Night, an album of funeral songs recorded with collaborator Charlie Owen on dobro and keys, tenderly harmonized by Kelly’s own clan of daughters, the beautiful Memphis ad Maddie. The audience loved it, but loved it even more when the band eventually visited the song man’s own material. Though Kelly invited the audience to lay him down a pallet on the floor, and to just let it be, the cheers definitely grew louder when “To her Door” finally opened on centre stage.

The festival opened with acts including Caiti Baker, whose vocal style leaves you feeling that she wants to blow the walls of the theatre down, get out into the open where she can feel the  wind moving in her hair. The space seems a little small for her raging sound, verging from lyrical blues to a good decent growl. She tells us on Saturday she’ll be down on the Lurline Pavilion, the main outdoor stage at the show, though she pronounces it less like the colloquial Lur-lign, and more like Lur-Leene, rhyming the venue with Dolly Parton’s Joe-line, and soon has the audience singing along with her to an impromptu bash at Dolly’s favourite tune.

On Saturday night the Big Tent looks like it might fill with water, instead it’s a flood of grey hair and beanies, people moshing around in the mud in their comfy hand-made  knits and sensible weather wear. But if that gives a distinctively silver streaked view of the pilgrims, that’s only because the young ones are moshing at the front of the Main Stage, grooving out to Urthboy with his dub overlays and ultra chill. If you’re lucky this weekend you’ll only have gone through three pairs of water-ready shoes a day, your children won’t have sunk chin-deep in the mud, and you will be very happy with the new era of sounds washed in by Urthboy – where it’s standing room only up near the doof as the crowd gets all up close and personal like, pressed in so close that they leave the rest of the pavilion entirely empty. Up close and personal is the real thing when techo fans assemble to watch a row of straight standing personnel in front of a giant DJ desk, laying down the riffs over a deep sonic tonic.  Meanwhile,  a raft of festival volunteers politely excuse themselves from duty so they can catch the last 15 minutes of boyfilled Urth. This has always been a festival that knew its demographic well, and takes no umbrance with serving up something for everyone. From Blue Grass to Trad Folk, the genres represented expand the very notion of what seems like a 360 degree perpetually evolving spectrum of musical styles.

In a world where festivals are born, reach their peak and quickly fade, this event is now hosting third generation folk who wouldn’t have this gig played out any other way. The audience is right at home with the cabaret style humour of The Loveys, who’ve flown all the way from Mullum, bringing along their jokes about yoga and farmers’ market twee. They clink their way through a set in German,  which slips past their too-red lips and over-stated eyewear, their gentrified hats, and putt great-grandma’s Royal Doulton to a new, unintended use as the china tinkers out a syncopated funk. Midway through the gig one of the ladies asks for LSD – but it turns out she isn’t craving the hallucinatory type, she’s just after a Latte Soy Dandelion. Nailing the piss-take on all things modern circa 2017, from transgender marital departures to personality disorders – even the pursuit of happiness isn’t spared from their material. But they’re not popular just for their good humour, they’re a festival highlight because they’re absolutely gorgeous and very bloody good – especially the well grounded Bass Uke of Madeleine Liddy, who churns out a phat sound reminiscent of McCartney’s Hoffman – a sound others in the same venue struggled to achieve.

Perhaps that’s just down to luck, or it could be technique, but Liddy doesn’t think so. “It’s because it’s preloved,” she says. “And it’s well-worn in,” she adds with a cheeky wink, much like the general spirit of these grand duchies. “Oh, and it hasn’t got any varnish”.  Well that’s definitely it, wouldn’t you think? Some might think it’s just a great attitude shared amongst these ladies, including Janet Swain, who appears clad in a spectacular green velvet robe, reclaimed from some Victorian widow’s wardrobe.  She wears her threads comfortably as she honks and hauls her bassoon like a baritone sax.

A honkin and a yankin in some unintended direction is all par for the course, from the street buskers grooving overdubbed percussive raps on part-filled glass bottles, to Mic Conway’s Junk Band, giving himself an onstage vasectomy with a saw played so nostalgically that the audience asks “who is that woman singing with that distinctive voice”. It’s not a woman singing, it’s Conway’s vitals begging for mercy as he slashes out his aptly nervous and wobbly tune. His side kick is the amazing sousaphone player dubbed “Marjorie Snodgrass” for this line up, who sometimes cameos in the Cope Street Parade.  She spends an hour after the event lavishing praise upon Lewis the Sound Guy for “getting” that she is the bass – whether she’s pumping her sousa, or an impeccably rendered mouth-impro bass jug. They don’t call it a junk band for nothing. The mutual admiration continues until Lewis and most of the band discover they’re all neighbours in Sydney’s eclectic inner west.

Lewis covers the event every year, bringing his own mics to work his room, The Clarendon Theatre, whose plush trim is renowned for delivering a distinctively flat sound that Lewis successfully overcomes without the aid of the high end, crystal clear gear and production values of the main stages. It’s a challenge, but like all Blue Mountains Festival devotees, one which he could perhaps best be described as pathologically drawn to. The rigors of the job are largely performed by the unknown and the unthanked, but the dooers of these unseen tasks are usually destined to return.  Once the festival gets into the blood, it’s a well fixed hooked.

True to form the mountains throws its unaustralian weather – unaustralian because even folk from the Arctic Circle cry that it’s freezing cold. In the Arctic at least when it rains it falls as snow – a dry white dust that easily brushes off. The Blue Mountains offer a unique kind of soak that seeps right into your soul. Then come the complaints from the uninitiated, rain weary after three days trudging around in it. “I’d rather live in Canada than live in this!” Yes, you probably would, but that’s part of the attraction of the mountains, and it’s why all those silver streaks are standing there happily in their sensible outdoor gear. There’s a saying in the mountains – there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear. Get the good gear and you’re right to go.

Yet for the musos actually from the Arctic Circle such as The Jerry Cans, they’ve found their ‘other world’, a far departure from the Australian places they’ve previously played, melting  in the heat, discovering only then that the reason they developed a style of playing so fast was to stop themselves from freezing to death. From Adelaide to Darwin they preserved their organs from overheating on frenetic energy at a gazillion degrees. The weather doesn’t seem to have impeded their throat singing, electrified fiddle and squeeze box filled riot of a style. Here they discover they can finally crank it up and get back to their original pace. And the crowd rises to meet them, foot stomping in the newly created dance pit at the front of the Guinness tent – a welcome inclusion in an event that has always been considered a  ”concert” festival – one where you can expect to be able to sit comfortably in your bucket seats without your view being jiggled into obscurity – now there is room for both kinds of audience – the dancers and the dedicated listeners, and a wonderful world it is that can comfortably accommodate the two.

David Ross Macdonald presents a twangy six strings of metal  guitar that looks as if it could do with a bit of new brass, but it comes across sweet like a classical guitar, using a capo fretted style so soft and light that the end result is not unlike a uke. He invites the audience to join him as he croons upon how badly he craves to be held, and though his guitar looks like it might have seen better days, it’s perfect for such a setting on a night like this, offering a sound that’s subtle yet delivers a surprising level of depth.

The Mission Songs Project brings new life to the voices of the stolen generation and indigenous Australians who were splintered from their cultures when they were made to sing in a foreign language. Today, traditional languages are so far removed from their vernacular that singing in English has become the mainstay, the local languages have become the foreign tongue. Yet everything has its resurgence if you can claim it before it achieves vanishing point. The stories are heartfelt and beautifully sung – perhaps not with the campfire instruments of their natural settings, but the end result is one that adapts well to the contemporary stage and travels to a diverse and broad audience – for The Mission Songs Project, this is mission accomplished, and accomplished incredibly well.

In a festival world where every  outfit seems to have developed the mandatory uke moment, comes the strident yards of  a bush ranging balladeer – uke man William Crighton – nine parts murderer and one part hipster, tantalising the drama enthralled-audience, half of whom are  scared out of their minds that he might wield his tiny stringed box like an axe and murder them on the spot as he thumps between the rows– the other half of whom are hoping to hell that he will! Yet William makes his way back to the stage and continues his conquest to drown you in his jaded and heartbroke view of the world without ever shedding even a drop of blood.

Meanwhile the ground becomes a cup more filled with water-making-mud than one half empty, and the deserted stalls and food courts in the school grounds stand forgotten as no-one can reach them without a plank.

The 2016 Youth Award Winners The Bean Project  pulled off a surprisingly sorrowful set of sadness for ones who’ve yet to spend their youth. The brass section of this mighty duo invokes the gentlest French horn, muted the old fashioned way, with a palm holding back the full force of the sound. It is reserved, civilized, and remains gentlemanly, until Bryce Turcato takes away his hand and builds to a punchy solo, fluid with delicately placed 9ths and unresolved 7ths, while his mate Ben Langdon stares at him earnestly through his horn rimmed glasses, and flicks back his long blonde bob as he deftly states to his departed love, “I’ve never been alone more than I am here in your bed”.  The rays of light reached down and kissed him when she left, he says, before telling us that they cut their teeth in noisy pubs where not even the walls were listening. It’s an unsettling surprise now, here, in this theatre, he tells us, to finally have our attention. After Bryce finishes ripping through his brass staccato, he falls back into a noble style, summoning images of a call to hunt, all regal caps and whips and beagles.

“This next song will be sung in Islamic,” says the singer from My Bubba. This is a duo of damsels, one of whom looks like she’s emerged from legal secretarial school, with her closed-toe cloth pumps and knee length linen black shift, a look finished with a single strand of plastic aqua coloured pearls. They sing with the restraint of those who might be found in the dusty chambers of the law academy, yet the result of all that restraint produces something akin to an angelic ascendance, with soft harmonies beautifully entwined around a heavenly, harp like instrumental style. They look as though they might butterfly kiss each other at any moment with a naked eyelash.  These are the kind of virginal maidens that can maintain their composure and remain incongruously well groomed amidst a sea of people with wet hair and faces flung with splats of rain. If you can imagine the restraint that may invoke in their vocalising, then you’ve grasped the concept.

By Sunday, Stage 6 is dubbed Big Top Lake, and the Tantric Turtle along with all the other venues on the green are pulled.  A quick rethink and the audience and most of the acts are all reshuffled. No-one who has already played misses out. A new program is issued, the details are publicised on social media, and everyone is right to go. According to the seasoned stage crew who have built this mini city countless times and painstakingly pack it all down at festival end, this decision was more to do with the indoor lake and wanting to make sure everyone had a great time than anything else. Though folklore may want it remembered differently, it was less to do with the depth of the mud, which as far as outdoor events go, wasn’t as bad as it might have been. You might say it was deep enough, but not as deep as the festival from somewhere up north, where once upon a time some chick went so far down in the mud that she completely disappeared and has never been seen since, or so the story goes. Perhaps she showed up sometime later in the Manning Bar at Sydney Uni. But this is the Blue Mountains, where you’d have to think she selected her moment of re-emergence to coincide with first beers at the ever popular Boho Bar, run by all the dedicated mums and dads and rank and file members of Katoomba’s P & Cs. The festival is the major fund raiser, and the flush of funds surging through the veins of the schools for the past 21 years has made for a formidable contribution to a cash strapped cultural enclave of a town that couldn’t have achieved this in any other way. It’s an undeniable contribution to the advancement of wellbeing for the local munchkins, but you’ve got to wonder how they get on when the playground is as trashed as this – yet Katoomba is a town with a can-do kind of pride, a place where people are going to make do with whatever they’re handed to make do with. At least there’s no cars bogged in at 3am with volunteers desperately trying to pull them out, in a push-me-pull-you kind of experience never to be forgotten. And never to be repeated, now that parking is banned from the grounds.

The full gamut of natural disasters may have threatened to unleash the doors of doom upon the festival many of times– yet they never have. From deep mud to the high winds that huffed and puffed til they blew Lurline Pav down before opening a few years back, to this year’s  demise of the main indoor venue – Katoomba RSL – which burnt to the ground just a couple of weeks ago, this festival, like Katoomba itself,  is a foot soldier of survival. You can blow her big top down, you can burn her to the ground, but the show will go on, and the founding Festival Co-Directors Bob Charter and Al Ward are well seasoned masters of the quick switch.

Though this year sees the departure of co-founder Al Ward after 21 successful years in production, Bob still managed to pull off the switch and brought the shy wallflower that is the Palais Royale into play while the cinders at the RSL were still hot. Even the most established K-Town aficionados were not yet acquainted with this grand old dame of art deco Katoomba, who willingly submitted her services to the impromptu role of third venue for the festival.  The plush comfort and stately grandeur of the Palais Royale was well admired by all – a venue whose grandiose chandeliers set  the mood for dulcet tones that could woo even the most jaded festival goer.

Reaching out to this venue is a master stroke for the festival, and you can be sure bands and revelers alike will definitely want her back. It’s too good a venue to refuse for a festival that stands proud amongst a battlefield of fallen events. And as the much loved Blue Mountains Music Festival heads towards her quarter century of service, long may she reign.  All hail The Festival, and all she represents.

– Elizabeth Walton is a freelance writer, photographer and musician

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 3rd February

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– UK blues and roots legends Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats and Australian troubadour C.W. Stoneking are teaming up for a co-headline tour this March. Details here

– Indie-folk singer-songwriter Sam Buckingham released her new single “The Water” and announced east coast tour dates. Details here

Davidson Brothers announced details of their eighth studio album All You Need Is Music. Details here

– Melbourne based alt-country crooners Broads announced their new album Vacancy. Details here

– This Saturday some of Perth’s finest songwriters including Timothy Nelson, Helen Shanahan, Joel Barker, Jacob Diamond and Billie Rogers are coming together for 1x1x1 at Fringe World. Details here

Lucie Thorne and The Yearlings have announced a joint east coast tour later this month. Details here

Old Crow Medicine Show started streaming their previously unreleased track “Black-Haired Québécoise”. Details here

– Alt-country singer Luke Collings released his debut single “If You Bring The Whiskey (I’ll Bring The Blues)”. Details here

Releases This Week

Eliza Carthy
Big MachineEliza Carthy and The Wayward Band
iTunes

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Pekka Kuusisto and the Australian Chamber Orchestra with Sam Amidon

Sam Amidon

Classical music mastermind Pekka Kuusisto teams with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and American folkster Sam Amidon for a series of shows titled Murder Redemption

Saturday 4th February – Llewellyn Hall, Canberra, ACT
Sunday 5th February – Hamer Hall, Melbourne, VIC
Monday 6th February – Hamer Hall, Melbourne, VIC
Tuesday 7th February – Adelaide Town Hall, Adelaide, SA
Wednesday 8th February – City Recital Hall, Sydney, NSW
Friday 10th February – City Recital Hall, Sydney, NSW

Gigs Next Week

1x1x1 feat. Timothy Nelson, Helen Shanahan, Joel Barker, Jacob Diamond and Billie Rogers
Saturday 4th February – Fringe World, Fremantle Town Hall, Fremantle, WA

Alanna Eileen w/ Brendon Moon
Thursday 9th February – The Newsagency, Sydney, NSW

Amanda Palmer
Friday 3rd February – Melt Festival, Powerhouse, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 4th February – Melt Festival, Powerhouse, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 10th February – MONA, Hobart, TAS

Andy Irvine w/ Luke Plumb
Friday 3rd February – House Concert, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 4th February – The Tablelands Community Centre, Ruffy, VIC
Sunday 5th February – Duckpond House Concert, Healesville, VIC
Thursday 11th February – House Concert, Harcourt North, VIC

Beecroft Bushdance feat. Currawong Bush Band
Saturday 4th February – Beecroft Community Centre, Sydney, NSW

Courtyard Sessions Presents BUOY
Friday 3rd February – Seymour Centre, Sydney, NSW

Courtyard Sessions Presents Frank Sultana
Friday 10th February – Seymour Centre, Sydney, NSW

eüsh
Friday 3rd February – Phoenix Rising Cafe, Nimbin, NSW
Saturday 4th February – Treehouse On Belongil, Byron Bay, NSW
Sunday 5th February – The Farm Byron Bay, Byron Bay, NSW
Thursday 9th February – Slyfox, Sydney, NSW

Fanny Lumsden
Friday 3rd February – Country Rocks’ Braidwood Servicemens Club, Braidwood, NSW

Folkswagon feat. Bill Hunt, Willowy, Liam Gale & the Ponytails
Wednesday 8th February – Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Hat Fitz & Cara
Friday 3rd February – The J, Noosa, QLD
Saturday 4th February – The New Globe Theatre, Brisbane, QLD
Sunday 5th February – Nimbin Bush Theatre, Nimbin, NSW

Heartbreaker Sessions feat. Skyscraper Stan, Lisa Caruso
Sunday 5th February – The Bearded Tit, Sydney, NSW

Hootenanny feat. Grizzlee Train
Sunday 5th February – Miss Peaches, Sydney, NSW

James Taylor w/ Kasey Chambers, Bernard Fanning
Thursday 9th February – Botanic Park, Adelaide, SA

James Thomson & The Starnge Pilgrims, Andy Golledge Band
Sunday 5th February – Marrickville Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW

Jess Locke w/ Shiny Coin
Friday 3rd February – The Haunt, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 4th February – The Foundry, Brisbane, QLD
Sunday 5th February – 4zzz Carpark, Brisbane, QLD

Kasey Chambers w/ Thelma Plumb
Friday 10th February – Taronga Zoo, Mosman, NSW

Kenta Hayashi
Sunday 5th February – Sooki Lounge, Melbourne, VIC

Lior
Thursday 9th February – Camelot Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Lucie Thorne & The Yearlings
Friday 10th February – Bella Union, Melbourne, VIC

Mat McHugh
Friday 3rd February – The Northshore Tavern, Hillarys, WA
Saturday 4th February – Mojo’s, Fremantle, WA
Sunday 5th February – Caves House Hotel, Yallingup, WA

Merry Muse feat. The Lowlands
Sunday 5th January – Canberra Irish Club, Canberra, ACT

Miriam Liberman
Saturday 4th February – Church On The Hill, Bendigo, VIC
Sunday 5th February – Caravan Music Club, Melbourne, NSW
Friday 10th February – Django Bar, Sydney, NSW

Mitch Power w/ Jen Mize
Friday 3rd February – Two Goats Cafe, Armidale, NSW
Saturday 4th February – Rambling Nights, Django Bar, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 5th February – House Concert, Maitland, NSW
Wednesday 8th to Friday 10th February – Sungold Field Days Festival, Warrnambool, VIC

Moonshine Grooves feat. Craig Woodward & The Lonely Dogs, Tenderfoot, Johnny Romeo & The Big Love
Friday 3rd February – The Hideaway Bar, Sydney, NSW

Paddy McHugh & Browny
Friday 3rd February – The Bearded Lady, Brisbane, QLD

Passenger
Saturday 4th February – Freo Arts Centre, Fremantle, WA

Pekka Kuusisto and the Australian Chamber Orchestra with Sam Amidon
Saturday 4th February – Llewellyn Hall, Canberra, ACT
Sunday 5th February – Hamer Hall, Melbourne, VIC
Monday 6th February – Hamer Hall, Melbourne, VIC
Tuesday 7th February – Adelaide Town Hall, Adelaide, SA
Wednesday 8th February – City Recital Hall, Sydney, NSW
Friday 10th February – City Recital Hall, Sydney, NSW

Picking in the Park
Sunday 5th February – Banjo Patterson Park, Sydney, NSW

Ramblin’ Nights Post Tamworth Party feat. Lachlan Bryan, Mitch Power, Jen Mize, Peasant Moon
Saturday 5th February – Django Bar, Sydney, NSW

Skyscraper Stan
Friday 3rd February – The Front Gallery, Canberra, ACT
Sunday 5th February – The Bearded Tit, Sydney, NSW

Sweet Jelly Rolls
Sunday 5th February – Shady Pines, Sydney, NSW

The Backsliders
Saturday 4th February – Tuggeranong Arts Centre, Canberra, ACT

The Bean Project w/ Burrows
Friday 3rd February – Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, ACT

The Beaut Utes, The Roadside Ashes, Roland Kay Smith
Sunday 5th February – Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW

The Cat Empire & Xavier Rudd
Saturday 4th February – Red Devil Park, Byron Bay, NSW
Sunday 5th February – Sandstone Point, Bribie Island, QLD

The Jimmy Davis Duo w/ Luke Escombe
Friday 10th February – The Acoustic Picnic, Sydney, NSW

The McClymonts
Friday 3rd February – The Juniors, Kingsford, NSW
Saturday 4th February – Revesby Workers, Revesby, NSW
Thursday 9th February – Bairnsdale RSL, Bairnsdale, VIC
Friday 10th February – Village Green Hotel, Mulgrave, VIC

The Morrisons
Friday 10th February – Franks Wild Years, Thirroul, NSW

The Porch Sessions feat. Winterbourne, Riley Pearce, Alice Haddy
Friday 5th February – House Concert, Adelaide, SA

The Spooky Men’s Chorale
Friday 3rd February – Orange Regional Convervatorium, Orange, NSW
Saturday 4th February – BMEC, Bathurst, NSW

The Timbers
Thursday 9th February – South Coast Folk Club, Port Noarlunga, SA

Tom Stephens
Thursday 9th February – Golden Age Cinema and Bar, Sydney, NSW

Tori Forsyth
Friday 3rd February – Lizottes, Newcastle, NSW
Saturday 4th February – Rooty Hill, Sydney, NSW

Waiting for Guinness
Saturday 4th February – Camelot Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Willing Ponies
Sunday 5th February – The Union, Sydney, NSW

Winterbourne
Friday 3rd February – SUB Beanbag Gigs, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 4th February – Workers Club, Geelong, VIC
Sunday 5th February – Porch Sessions, Adelaide, SA
Thursday 9th February – The Front, Canberra, ACT
Friday 10th February – Rad, Wollongong, NSW

Friday Folk Flashback

“Ruby” – The Morrisons

Can you tell we’re excited for The Morrisons’ debut album on Monday?

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