Review:Riverboats Music Festival

Brian Nankervis-7
Photos by Stuart Bucknell Photography

Here at Timber and Steel, we’ve been to a fair few festivals. From huge national events, to small and intimate gatherings celebrating local. For quite some time, The Riverboats Music Festival on the Victorian border has been on our radar, and 2020 was the year we made the trek.

We are used to Folk Festivals being set on gorgeous land with camping facilities and asense of remoteness. The Riverboats Music Festival however is nestled in the center of bustling Echuca in a natural reserve come ampitheatre. With modern accommodations surrounding the venue, a strong local supporter base, and performer curation to die for, the festival clearly is on a winning ticket. See our full gallery on our Facebook page, and read on for our full review.

Welcome to Country-3

We were welcomed on Friday with the caress of the afternoon sun and a Welcome to Country that gave a great account of Yorta Yorta country and its history, delivering a friendly warm welcome in local language. The festival kicked off with the Americana stylings of charismatic Matt Joe Gow. He wowed the crowd with an assortment of pieces, changing pace and rhythm to mix things up, sliding some blues in and telling great stories and tales of how songs came to life between. Amongst his tales, the truth behind Break Rattle and Roll lit up the crowd as the favourite track echoed across the space. A perfect opening to a weekend of great music.

 

Dyson Stringer Cloher-11

Next was a delight, surprise, and treat wrapped in one – Dyson Stringer Cloher, the trio made up of Jen Cloher, Mia Dyson, and Liz Stringer. Dusting off their 2013 collaboration project, and bringing recent debut album to life on stage, the exceptional trio were a vision in technicolour. In fact, if The Wiggles were an all female indie band, this would be it. Their clever multi-layered vocals complimented the inspired guitar, creating rich captivating aural textures. Their beautiful harmonies reflected the beauty of the setting sunbeams shining through the leafy green glen. Sultry harmony soaked ballads slipped innocently between upbeat indie fun times, and the stage was set for the night.

To round out the opening night of the three-day festival, Country star Troy Cassar-Daley made his own dreams come true, finally taking to the Riverboats stage. He was at once friendly, yet charismatic, filling the stage with his presence. The set revolved around his storytelling prowess, drawing upon his family heritage to weave musical magic. He played both instrument and audience perfectly, switching from country to blues, kicking up in to higher gears, bringing the tone back down with harmonica trills, and the audience singing along.Troy Cassar-Daley-2

Saturday morning brought a number of options for festival goers – the morning was full of sideshows on the water, with one-hour riverboat cruises. But the main gates and festival tunes kicked off in the early afternoon with delightfully insightful Ainslie Wills. Performing as a 3 piece, the clear, scintillating harmonized duet reached out grabbed attention. Storytelling intertwined with her own musical style uncovered tricky relationships past, fear of missing out, and treated the crowd finishing with Triple J hit favourite I Blame Society.

Hailing from Go-Betweens fame, Robert Forster’s presence on stage filled the ampitheatre with an indisputable warmth. Working alongside talented musicians, the troubadour was revealed as tales tall or true build vivid imaginings whether a scandal or a flood, a secret rendezvous, the stories unraveled in front of a willing crowd, with a big  city dreams flowing.

Horns Of Leroy Feat. Thando-9Switching gears, the Horns of Leroy, featuring Thando turned the energy up to 11. With their own take on nostalgic track Dancing in the Moonlight, they serenaded the newly wed couple who chose the Festival as their wedding reception location! The party was truly started as combos of instrumentals, smooth vocal tracks, sassy blues, hit covers, hip hop and rap, soul, blues and more and big booming voices got the crowd up and grooving. They delivered a toe tapping, head nodding good time from start to finish. The clincher was the finish, a rendition of I Wanna Dance with Somebody, and the entire festival singing along word for word.

Mama Kin Spender-7

Two long-time friends made their festival debut together as Mama Kin Spender. Mama Kin, and Tommy Spender have a stripped back duo style that allows music to rattle, roll and tremble forth. They knew how to whip up a crowd, bringing a soulful opening, punctuated with clever harmonies and snippets of sass. Their spellbinding on stage rapport was elevated by the amazing 15 piece choir on stage throughout to bolster and support their music to deliver moving moody melodies alongside a playful, eclectic, inclusive and engaging repertoire of rejoicing in song.

As the night set in, Something for Kate took to the stage amongst rapturous applause. Opening with Electricity, it was an apt description as the crowd quickly swelling to see nostalgic favourites and Paul Dempsey in the lead did not disappoint. They kept the energy going, moving in to Echolalia much to everyone’s delight, and then delivering new album tracks that had the unmistakable, iconic sound and emotive edge we’ve come to know and love from Something for Kate. Using a haunting red stage lighting, Stop had the crowd enraptured, before rounding out their set with a rousing performance of Captain.

Something For Kate-15

As the night came closer to an end, the much anticipated performance of the night was finally here. Bernard Fanning took to the stage to huge applause and enthusiastic crowds waiting to sing the night away. He was in fine form, warm yet rugged, and a knowing look in his eye, ready to take us all on a journey. A robust musical tone, strong and vibrant, built an anticipation and eagerness as the musicians melded their prowess in to an all round satisfying and comforting blanket of music. Highlights of course included an emphatic Songbird, the set was a walk down memory lane as Day You Come, and Wish You Well particularly carried the crowd on a tide of good wishes.

 

 

Mama Kin Spender-16

Sunday morning saw the customary festival breakfast treat the crowds who snapped up tickets to see some of the festival acts do it all again in a more intimate setting offsite.

As the Festival proper kicked off late morning, the somewhat smaller crowd (perhaps some sore heads from the night before) gathered to appreciate the dulcet tones of Jess Locke. Her mellow tunes were a perfect, lilting, comforting way to wake up to the final day, her style not dissimilar to Julia Jacklin (appropriate given she toured with Jackiln), had an understated passion and vibrancy to enliven the day.

Bob Evans-7

Bob Evans received a very warm welcome from the crowd as he took to the stage, his set eagerly anticipated. His quintessential rapport with the audience, with nothing but his acoustic guitar and wit set his charisma filled set on fire. With backing from violin punctuating through the gum-scented air, the singalong was strong and a happy crowd lapped up every reminiscent note that hung in the air.

Australian music royalty took to the stage, filling the audience with reverence and anticipation. Archie Roach’s magical storytelling took the crowd on a journey through different times, both dreamtime and modern, with dreamlike qualities to transport the mind, heart and soul. A passionate and engaged crowd lapped up every moment, giving Roach attention and energy to uplift his voice. It’s no surprised his set ended to a standing ovation.

Kate Miller-Heidke-5As the sun started to shine through the trees, signaling the impending sunset, the final act of the festival, probably the most anticipated performance took to the stage. Kate Miller-Heidke, to rapturous applause took her place on stage and beamed just as brightly as the sunbeams soaking her in gold hues. A lively set full of energy to the biggest crowd really was the most magnificent end to a weekend full of mirth and joy. Miller-Heidke’s set was laced with all the big songs you wanted to hear, and her genuinely delightful demeanour and powerhouse performance had every set of eyes glued to the stage. Her set transitioned from slow and insightful to upbeat and poppy, adding a lively breath of fresh air to the ampitheatre and every attention was captured by her mesmerizing vocals. Zero Gravity was of course the finale and was every bit as breathtaking as the audience had hoped. A stellar performance that absolutely stole the show.

All in all, Riverboats Music Festival is probably the most comfortable festival to attend – accommodation is nearby, the venue is easy to navigate and facilities excellent. The curation of the line up ensures a great variety of complimentary acts. MC Brian Nankervis of RocKwiz fame kept acts rolling and entertainment between sets going – never have we seen so much dedication from a crowd to either quiz answers or a Frisbee competition.Brian Nankervis-3

With programming allowing late starts so festival goers can appreciate surrounding businesses is a great way to integrate the local community in to the whole weekend vibe, it’s like all of Echuca is the festival, not just the grounds. No doubt the 2021 line up is going to be just as great (but we won’t know what it looks like until 12 October), and the die hards with their chairs for the central ‘island’ will be there bright and early each day to secure their best position – so be sure to get your tickets early, make your way along to pick a spot, set yourself up for a full weekend of great music, no matter who is on stage.

 

Fairbridge Folk Festival Announces First Round Of Artists for 2018

The Lost Brothers
Image Courtesy of The Lost Brothers

The Fairbridge Folk Festival have just announced their first round of artists and I think it’s time to start booking flights to WA.

This year’s lineup includes UK Euro-gypsy-ska group Sheelanagig, Irish harmonic duo and Timber and Steel favourites The Lost Brothers (above), Victorian favourites Perch Creek, the brand new collaboration Mama Kin Spender, UK math-pop-punkers Ganglions, Scottish and Irish trad band Cara, indigenous artist Kankawa Nagarra (Olive Night), Canadian traditional favourites Ten Strings and a Goat Skin, local WA singer songwriter Carla Geneve and Indian classical ensemble Indian Eye.

Based in the town of Pinjarra in WA, the Fairbridge Folk Festival is held from the 20th to the 22nd of April. For more information, including how to get your hands on tickets check out the official site here.

The full list of announced artists is below:

Mama Kin Spender (WA), Perch Creek (VIC), The Lost Brothers (UK), Ten Strings and a Goat Skin (CAN), Sheelanagig (Dublin, Ireland), Carla Geneve (AUS, WA), Ganglions (UK), Kankawa Nagarra (Olive Night) (AUS, WA), Cara (DE, SCT), Indian Eye (IND, AUS)

Mama Kin Spender Announce November Tour Dates

Mama Kin Spender
Image Courtesy of Mama Kin Spender

Mama Kin Spender, the collaboration between roots singer-songwriter Mama Kin and multi-instrumentalist/producer Spender, have announced plans to hit the road this November with a series of festival dates plus headline shows in Sydney and Melbourne.

The project debuted at this year’s Bello Winter Festival and they have an album, Golden Magnets, due in February next year.

The latest taste from Golden Magnets is the new single “Bird In Your Tree” which also comes with a brand new video.

“”Bird In Your Tree” is a kind of stream of consciousness catharsis, a song about yearning for a lover, burning alive inside, but having to keep it cool on the outside,” Spender says. “The stuff about coffee is really because I love it strong and black.”

“That bitter taste somehow helps quench the unfulfilled thirst for someone,” says Mama Kin. “While at the same time celebrating the creative power it unleashes. This song playfully explores the gritty side of desire – bitter, dirty, rusty.”

Check out the video for “Bird In Your Tree” below:

The Mama Kin Spender tour kicks off at the start of November including an appearance at Australian Music Week, Mullum Music Festival and the Queenscliff Music Festival. The full list of dates are here:

Thursday 2nd November – Australian Music Week, Cronulla, NSW
Friday 3rd November – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 5th November – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th November – Mullum Music Festival, Mullumbimby, NSW
Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th November – Queenscliff Music festival, Queenscliff, VIC

Details of the Mullum Music Festival Opening Night Gala

All Our Exes
Image Courtesy of All Our Exes Live In Texas

To help kick off their 10th anniversary the Mullum Music Festival has announced the Mullum Music Festival Opening Night Gala.

The Gala, to be held on Thursday 16th November, is a limited ticket event and will feature past Mullum Music Festival patrons Mama Kin and Harry James Angus alongside the current patron Suzannah Espie as well as performances from Lindi Ortega, The Teskey Brothers, All Our Exes Live in Texas, Wallis Bird, Greg Sheehan, Ethno Folk Orchestra and the Youth Mentorship winner. Tickets for the event are available on the Mullum Music Festival site.

The Mullum Music Festival takes place in Mullumbimby, NSW from the 16th to the 19th November. For more information including how to get your hands on tickets check out the official site here.

Details of the New Mama Kin And Spender Collaboration

Mama kin
Image Courtesy of Mama Kin Spender

This weekend’s Bello Winter Music festival saw the debut performance of Mama Kin Spender – the brand new collaboration between celebrated singer-songwriter Mama Kin and Melbourne multi-instrumentalist/producer Spender.

Their coming together has resulted in art that is greater than the sum of its parts. Mama Kin’s soulful roots music collides with Spender’s slick pop production.

Their first single is “Air Between Us” which is taken from their album Golden Magnets, due in March next year. Bask in the track’s joy below:

Mama Kin Spender will be appearing at BigSound, Australian Music Week and the Queenscliff Music Festival throughout the remainder of this year – details are below:

Tuesday 5th to Thursday 8th September – Bigsound, Brisbane, QLD
Wednesday 1st to Friday 3rd November – Australian Music Week, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 25th November – Queenscliff Music festival, Queenscliff, VIC

The Queenscliff Music Festival Reveals First 13 Acts

Queenscliff Music Festival
Image Courtesy of Queenscliff Music Festival

Fan favourite music festival the Queenscliff Music Festival, has just announced the first 13 artists for its 2017 event and as always there’s plenty for Timber and Steel fans to get excited about.

The list of announced artists includes 30/70, The Beautiful Girls, Bernard Fanning, Freya Josephine Hollick, GL, Hot Potato Band, Jon Cleary & The Absolute Monster Gentlemen, Mama Kin & Spender, Nai Palm, The Temper Trap, The Teskey Brothers, Xavier Rudd and Yothu Yindi & The Treaty Project.

The Queenscliff Music Festival is held in Queenscliff, Victoria from the 24th to 26th November – check out the official site for more details.

The Woodford Folk Festival Drops 2014 Lineup

Lau
Image Courtesy of Lau

There were a ton of folk festival announcements all over the weekend but the one that everyone is talking about is the 2014 Woodford Folk Festival lineup. The full musical program dropped yesterday with the usual mix of folk, roots, trad, singer-songwriter and I-don’t-know-why-they’re-at-a-folk-festival artists.

The lineup itself is too huge to list here (you can see it for yourself here) but the highlights include the likes of Violent Femmes (USA), The Cat Empire, Archie Roach, Nahko and Medicine for the People (USA), Jeff Lang, Lau (SCOT), Tiny Ruins (NZ), We Two Thieves, Shooglenifty (SCOT), Flap!, Husky, Lior, Mama Kin, Siskin River, Andrew Clermont, The Mae Trio, Fred Smith, Lucy Wise Trio, Oh Pep!, Betty & Oswald, The Company and so so so much more.

The Woodford Folk Festival takes place from the 27th December to the 1st January. For more information including how to get your hands on tickets check out the official site here.

The John Butler Trio Announce Regional Queensland Dates

JBT
Image Courtesy of John Butler Trio

With their new album Flesh & Blood doing big things around the world and a national tour already under their belts for the year the John Butler Trio are setting their north for a bunch of regional Queensland dates this October. It’s been a while since the John Butler Trio made it out to regional Queensland so fans are no doubt excited at the prospect of their return.

Mama Kin has been announced as the support for the tour. Check out the full list of dates below:

Saturday 4th October – Caloundra Music Festival, Sunshine Coast, QLD
Sunday 5th October – Empire Theatre, Toowoomba, QLD
Tuesday 7th October – Moncrieff Entertainment Centre, Bundaberg, QLD
Thursday 9th October – Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre, Mackay, QLD
Friday 10th October – The Venue, Townsville, QLD
Saturday 11th October – Kuranda Amphitheatre, Kuranda, QLD

Timber and Steel’s Top Albums of 2013

Vinyl Records

2013 has provided yet another year of amazing music from the folk, acoustic, traditional, roots, alt-country and singer-songwriter scene. There’s been a number of strong local releases this year and some definite highlights from our favourite artists from overseas.

This also feels like a year where more artists are embracing the full length album again. There have been some outstanding EPs and standalone singles of course but the album format really seems to have made a resurgence.

Once again we’ve asked each of the Timber and Steel contributors to give us their favourite albums or EPs of 2013 and the results are once again eclectic, interesting and most certainly unique.

So without further ado we bring you Timber and Steel’s Top Albums of 2013:

Gareth Hugh Evans

Melody Pool

1. Melody PoolThe Hurting Scene
At the Gulgong Folk Festival in early January I stumbled across Melody Pool and was transfixed. Pool’s music was both timeless and fresh. Her sound was a dash of Laura Marling, a smattering of Emmylou Harris and a generous dose of Joni Mitchell but all the while unique. I’ve heard people refer to Melody Pool as an “old soul” and think that captures her – there’s a depth and an age to her lyrics and her voice that you don’t hear in artists twice her age. When I picked up The Hurting Scene following its release a month or two after the festival it was put on high rotation and I was reminded just what had captured me when I saw her live. I’ve recommended The Hurting Scene and Melody Pool to everyone since, seen her live a number of times throughout the year and even awkwardly chatted to her when she support The Milk Carton Kids. I think there’s big things in Melody Pool’s future – pick up The Hurting Scene and you’ll think so too.

2. Anaïs Mitchell and Jefferson HamerChild Ballads
3. Laura MarlingOnce I Was An Eagle
4. Patrick JamesAll About to Change
5. Gregory Alan IsakovThe Weatherman

HannahA

Melody Pool

1. Melody PoolThe Hurting Scene

The song writing on this album is skillful and honest – I love that. Additionally I’m partial to a great singer, Melody has a sweet delicious voice that draws me into the song. Finally, I liked the production which had interesting space and dynamics. And those rich string arrangements are just gorgeous!

2. Mustered CouragePowerlines
3. Dan ParsonsDan Parsons
4. Rose CousinsWe Have Made a Spark
5. Matt CorbyResolution EP

Haz

The Melodic
1. The MelodicEffra Parade

This is an album that immediately brought a smile to my face. A blend of traditional folk harmonies, older (even baroque!) instruments, tied together with afro-latino rhythms and strings of the charango, and the ever present melodica of their namesake. For me comparisons include the hugely underrated Grand Union, the music of Paul Simon, the bass driven melancholy of Australia’s Sodastream, and certainly, as a number of other reviewers have mentioned, The Decemberists. All comparisons considered, this is an upbeat album, that is lyrically adventurous, and interspersed with story, without being at all heavy. Though released for the colder UK months, Effra Parade sits coolly and comfortably in the summer of the southern hemisphere, that can (and will!) accompany many a lazy Sunday cocktail or weekend roadtrip.

2. The Heavy BlinkersHealth
3. Twin ForksTwin Forks EP
4. The Avett BrothersMagpie and the Dandelion
5. Jim JamesRegions of Light and Sound of God

JDX

Laura Marling

1. Laura MarlingOnce I Was An Eagle

In this album’s first single “Master Hunter”, which is a statement in itself, Marling swaggers and snarls in front of her pounding rhythm section. “I’ve cured my skin, so nothing gets in. Nothing as hard as it tries.” A friend said she sounded kind of scary. I like that. I like to think this is a protest album against gender stereotypes, but she’s much more than a woman scorned. The music is sparse, sprawling, full of odd angles and surprises. Sometimes it’s challenging, sometimes it’s beautiful. But it’s her voice that always catches me off guard. It’s one of the most expressive instruments in music. And that’s what this is about. With all the lush musicianship stripped away, Marling proves once again that she is one of the most intriguing and independent voices in 21st century music. And if this album isn’t considered a classic, it’s only because the next one will be better.

2. The Cat EmpireSteal the Light
3. The Milk Carton KidsThe Ash and Clay
4. Mama Kinthe Magician’s Daughter
5. Brighter LaterThe Wolves

KT Bell

Mabon

1. Jamie Smith’s MabonWindblown
I came across Jamie Smith’s Mabon at a London gig earlier this year, Wales at Cecil Sharp House, and they were the stand out for me wherein I bought their latest album, Windblown, on the spot. Since then, this lyrical and lilting Welsh Folk has strummed and jigged its way in to my heart and is one of the most frequent spins on my playlist. Stu decided it’s the type of house music for a Welsh Bar, so if you see such an establishment pop up here in Australia, don’t be surprised to see us behind the bar.
2. Mike VassDecemberwell
3. Paper AeroplanesLittle Letters
4. Boy & BearHarlequin Dream
5. Josh PykeThe Beginning And The End Of Everything

Mackajay

Anais Mitchell

1. Anaïs Mitchell and Jefferson HamerChild Ballads

When I first listened to this album I was immediately impressed by the way the modern, American arrangements breathed new life into these old, old English ballads. What is far more surprising is that I am still finding the album fresh and inspiring many months later. This is my clear winner this because of it’s routinely high rotation on my stereo.

2. Vance JoyGod Loves You When You’re Dancing
3. Laura MarlingOnce I Was An Eagle
4. Laura ViersWarp and Weft
5. Boy & BearHarlequin Dream

Nikita Andrea

Jordie Lane

1. Jordie LaneNot Built to Last

Devoid of cliché, this ultimate storyteller voices lyrics of the present moment through warming crystalline vocals. This release is a welcome sound evolution of Lane’s alternative country style. I chose Not Built to Last because for one this is an EP showcasing songs that clearly prove this musician has something to say and also for the fact that I heavily dislike anything country so this man should be heavily commended for bringing such full and palatable music to the table for all tasters.

2. Bob EvansFamiliar Stranger
3. Oh Pep!II
4. Bears With GunsOnly The Quick and the Hungry
5. Sleepy DreamersCreatures

Serena Skye

Mama Kin

1. Mama KinThe Magician’s Daughter

I liked this album from the outset, when I first reviewed it, and throughout the year it has grown on me even more. Danielle Caruana’s vocal is sublime, and each track offers a different vibe both sonically and emotionally, but they still work together as a cohesive album. “Bosom of Our Bed” is still my favourite track, closely followed by “Rescue,” and I cannot wait to see their next offering.

2. The Cat EmpireSteal the Light
3. Vance JoyGod Loves You When You’re Dancing
4. Laura MarlingOnce I was an Eagle
5. Melanie HorsnellThe Cloud Appreciation Society

Thom Owen Miles

Phosphorescet

1. PhosphorescentMuchacho

Despite Phosphorescent consistently releasing album after album for the past ten years, Muchacho is the first to truly appeal to me and capture my imagination. Muchacho is a product of tall ambition, of bold choices and unfettered creative vision. For an indie-folk record, it is delightfully untraditional in its production and utilisation of mediums unfamiliar to the genre. “Song For Zula” is perhaps the best song to speak for the album, in all its poetic bliss and compositional glory.

2. Radical FaceThe Family Tree: The Branches
3. The Milk Carton KidsThe Ash & Clay
4. Brown BirdFits of Reason
5. Night BedsCountry Sleep

Port Fairy Second Announcement

Port Fairy
Image Courtesy of Port Fairy

Another festival to announce their lineup over the weekend was Port Fairy, who released their second round of artists on Sunday night. Joining an already packed lineup are the likes of Breabach, Damien Dempsey, Love Over Gold, Hanggai, Mama Kin, Oh Pep!, Sásta, Shane Nicholson, Tolka, Totally Gourdgeous, The Twoks and many many more.

The Port Fairy Folk Festival takes place in Port Fairy, Victoria from the 7th to 10th March. For more information check out the official site here. The full second lineup announcement is below:

International: Breabach (Scotland), Damien Dempsey (Ireland), Love Over Gold (USA), The Good Lovelies (Canada), Hanggai (Mongolia), The Jammin’ Divas (USA)

National: Bruce Mathiske, Claymore, Cole & Van Dijk, Deborah Conway & Willy Zygier, John Patrick & The Keepers, Mama Kin, Nick Charles, Oh Pep!, Rapskallion, Saoirse, Sammy J, Sásta, Shane Nicholson, Suzette Herft & The Heartstrings, Tolka, Totally Gourdgeous, Tom Richardson, The Twoks, Yirrmal And The Yolngu Boys.

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