The Fleurieu Folk Festival Announces 2014 Artists

The Little Stevies
Image Courtesy of The Little Stevies

South Australia’s premiere folk festival, the Fleurieu Folk Festival, has just announced artists for its 2014. Held in Willunga, south of Adelaide, the Fleurieu Folk Festival will this year take place from the 24th to 26th October.

The headliners for this years festival includes Keith Potger of The Seekers, Melbourne sister duo The Little Stevies (above) and Sydney fiddler Marcus Holden (Fiddlers Feast). Joining them will be a bunch of national and South Australian artists including Wheeze & Suck Band, Women in Docs, Warren Fahey, The Weeping Willows, Nigel Wearne, Kaurna Cronin, Chris Finnen, Courtney Robb and many more.

“The interest we receive from interstate musicians wishing to play at the Fleurieu Folk Festival continues to grow every year,” festival organiser Pete Thornton explained. “The festival is recognized nationally as one of the most family-friendly and accessible festivals on the live music calendar. Audiences of all ages love it and performers love to play in it.”

For more information on the Fleurieu Folk Festival, including how to get your hands on earlybird tickets, check out the official web site here. The full list of artists is below:

The Little Stevies, Keith Potger, Wheeze & Suck Band, Women in Docs, Warren Fahey, Marcus Holden, Christine Wheeler & Friends, The Old Empire Band, The Littlest Fox, Grimick, The Weeping Willows, Nigel Wearne, The Lazy Farmer’s Sons, Anna Armstrong & Jordan Farrell, Slim Dime & the Prairie Kings, Bart Thrupp, Louisa Wise, Chris FinnenHalfway to Forth, Junior, Astro Cobalt, Goldstein, Courtney Robb, Maggie Rutjens, Serendipity, Siobhan Owen, The Hushes, Kaurna Cronin, Kevin McCarthy

Man of Constant Sorrow: A Tribute to the Music of O Brother Where Art Thou?

O Brother

The impact of O Brother Where Art Thou?, the 2000 film from the Coen Brothers, and its amazing T Bone Burnett producer soundtrack continues to be felt across the folk scene, it’s probably no surprise that The Vanguard in Sydney is once again holding a couple of tribute nights. Following on from similar sold out nights over the last couple of years, the upcoming events will feature some of Sydney’s best musicians bringing the O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack to life.

The O Brother Where Art Thou? tribute nights will take place on the 7th and 8th May at The Vanguard and will feature performances from the likes of The Morrisons, Ngaiire, Elana Stone, Brian Campeau, Lucky Luke, Marcus Holden and All Our Exes Live In Texas with the night MC’d by acclaimed comedian Tommy Dean.

Tickets to the nights are $25 and will likely sell out fast. For more information check out the official Facebook event here.

New Fiddlers Feast Video, “The Devil Went Down to Tamworth”

Fiddlers Feast
Image Courtesy of Fiddlers Feast

When I was at the Gulgong Folk Festival earlier this year the amazing Marcus Holden thrust the brand new album from his Fiddlers Feast project, Caravan, to give a listen to. What I was presented with was one of the most eclectic folk albums I’ve listened to in recent years – combining elements of celtic ceili music, bluegrass breakdowns, Grappelli-inspired jazz licks and 70s folk revival psychedelia.

One of the standout tracks was the rambunctious, twisted “The Devil Went Down to Tamworth”, a track obviously inspired by the Charlie Daniels Band track “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” but so jam-packed with snippets of other tunes that it deserves multiple listens just to see if you can guess them all. Fiddlers Feast have just released a clip for “The Devil Went Down to Tamworth” which is jam packed full of vintage and found footage. Check it out below:

Review: Gulgong Folk Festival, Gulgong, NSW

The Falls
Image of The Falls Courtesy of The Gulgong Folk Festival

As a country-wide heat wave began to take hold you’d be forgiven for thinking only a crazy man would leave the beach lined coastline of Sydney for a weekend in New South Wales’ central west. And you’re probably right except I was driving over the mountains to take part in the Gulgong Folk Festival, an event I had heard so many good reports on in 2012 and which boasted a 2013 lineup that seemed lifted straight from the pages of Timber and Steel – how could I not attend?

Gulgong, situated about 30kms north of Mudgee and about 4 hours drive from Sydney, seems like a town frozen in time, like the set of some period drama or a recreation of the 19th century, but it’s a very real place and the streets were already abuzz with visitors when we arrived early on Thursday afternoon. Checking into our motel, conveniently located behind the festival’s default main venue The Price of Wales Hotel (with direct access into the pub via a gate in the beer garden) I quickly set about on a pub crawl reconnaissance of the four pubs and one opera house that would be playing host to a myriad of musicians over the next three days.

And it wasn’t long till I was introduced to larger-than-life festival organiser Richard Lawson (with a hug no less) and I started bumping into many of the bands I knew who were on the program – The Falls, Jack Carty, Fanny Lumsden and the Thrillseekers, Bellyache Ben and the Steamgrass Boys and Mustered Courage among others – all doing the same thing I was, checking out the town and finding their feet.

I gave myself three goals at the Gulgong Folk Festival – support all the bands on the lineup that have been featured on Timber and Steel recently, discover new artists and try to catch as many impromteu sessions as possible – and over the course of the three days I was in Gulgong I think I achieved each of those goals.

I definitely wasn’t hard up for choice when it came to seeing some of Timber and Steel’s favourite bands (I know Richard Lawson is a fan of the site and I have a feeling we may have had some input into the programming of the festival). I managed to catch Fanny Lumsden and The Thrillseekers in the town’s Opera House (apparently one of the oldest, if not the oldest in Australia) for a set that, while plagued with sound issues, was as energetic and joyful as always and had me tapping my toes along with every song. The April Maze, a band I’ve been listening to for ages but had never caught live, managed to avoid the Opera House’s sound issues by doing away with microphones and plugged in instruments and making the most of the room’s natural acoustics for a stunning set. Sivan from The April Maze is such a charming and charismatic performer and together with Todd Mayhew put on one of the best performances of the festival – if you haven’t picked up their new album Two yet you should go and buy it right now.

Jack Carty was his usual charming self workshopping a number of brand new songs at the Gulgong Folk Festival after a year touring Break Your Own Heart. After seeing Jack Carty more times than I can count in 2012 it was refreshing listing to new material filling the Opera House. At one point he invited Melinda Kirwin from The Falls up on stage for a duo on “Too Many Things in Too Many Places” (Carty returned the favour the next day appearing during a Falls set) which was absolutley stunning. The Falls themselves sounded beautiful in the Opera House setting with Melinda gushing later that she only wants to play country halls from now on.

The Gulgong Folk Festival was the first time I had caught Wes Carr’s Buffalo Tales project since he stepped on stage at Sydney’s Folk Club last year. Since then Carr has fleshed out the Buffalo Tales persona complete with on stage dream catcher and western clothing, but of course it’s his voice that stands steals the show. Sorting out microphone issues right at the beginning of his Opera House set on Friday, removing any hint of reverb or effects, Wes Carr howled and growled his way through his folk set, preforming songs written throughout his career including the amazing “Blood and Bones”. Mesmerizing.

On the Bluegrass side of the equation I managed to catch Mustered Courage at the Opera House followed by Bellyache Ben and the Steamgrass Boys at the Prince of Wales Hotel. The former put on an amazing show (as always) despite being physically and mentally exhausted after weeks of touring and festivals and battling the sound at the Opera House (which seemed to get worse the more players on stage). Mustered Courage are seriously one of the tightest groups in Australia and even in the face of adversity are able to put on one of the most professional shows of the entire festival. Bellyache Ben and the Steamgrass Boys blew the head off the Prince of Wales Hotel, closing out the Friday night with some amazing jams, some of my faourite covers of theirs (in particular “Sydney From a 747” and “Hard To Love”) and even inviting local banjo maestro Jesse Grover (Gulgong Confessional Singers) up on stage to solo with them. Easily two of my favourite acts of the festival.

And then of course there were the artists I hadn’t seen before that definitely left a lasting impression. The FruiTTrees from the Hunter Valley delighted with their easy listening folk vibes. Marcus Holden (Fiddlers Feast) proved why he is one of the best fiddle players in the country wowing the crowd at the Gulgong RSL with tunes, songs and even some Elvis on a locally procured saw (contributing the to local economy via the hardware store). The bluesy roots of Two Girls Will delayed me at the Prince of Wales (I was passing through to another show at the time) and I’m sure glad they did as they were just amazing live. Singer-songwriters were also out in force at the festival and I caught wonderful sets from Suzy Connolly, Genevieve Chadwick and the absolutely stunning Melody Pool whose music so captured me I had to spotlight on Timber and Steel almost as soon as I returned home.

As for impromptu sessions I only managed to catch one – but what a session! In the beer garden of the Prince of Wales over lunch on Friday members of Mustered Courage, Bellyache Ben and the Steamgrass Boys, Fanny Lumsden and the Thrillseekers along with Marcus Holden, Jack Carty and more had set up a bluegrass session that was attracting a bigger audience than the official program inside the pub. The session was frantic, loose and fueled by beers and is exactly why I like to come to folk festivals. I could have sat their for hours.

Along with the aforementioned persistent sound issues at the Opera House the Gulgong Folk Festival did face some other niggling issues – too many venues leading to smaller audiences at each show, inconsistent ticket checks, early closing hours at the pubs and general festival fatigue from the New Year season – but truth be told none of that mattered because the event itself was absolutely charming from the historic town (and venues) to the super friendly volunteers and locals and of course the sheer calibre of the bands that played there. Richard Lawson took on the organisation of the Gulgong Folk Festival only two years ago and it’s quickly become something very special. I sure am glad I was part of it.

Waking up bleary eyed on Saturday morning after a late night drinking session with many of the festival’s artists (the account of which will have to be left for another time – let’s just say for now that you had to be there) I grabbed some breakfast at The Butcher’s Shop Cafe and then jumped in the car to head back over the mountains. There was still a day’s worth of festival, including the famous street party, to go but I was needed back in Sydney and regrettably had to leave. But for two days and two nights I had become enchanted by this central western town and its festival and I know one thing for sure – I’ll be back! Thank you Gulgong Folk Festival.

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