Riverboats Music Festival Announces 2018 Lineup

Image Courtesy of Riverboats Music Festival

The Murray River’s annual celebrations of live music, the Riverboats Music Festival, has just announced its 2018 lineup and Timber and Steel fans have so much to look forward to.

The headliners next year will be none other then Neil & Liam Finn, Kasey Chambers and Josh Pyke.

Joining them will be The Black Sorrows with Vika & Linda Bull, The Teskey Brothers, Henry Wagons & The Only Children, Gawurra, Mojo Juju, Neil Murray, Caiti Baker, Jazz Party, Tracy McNeil & The GoodLife and Eaten By Dogs.

Riverboats 2018 will present arguably the festival’s most eclectic and exciting lineup to date,” Festival Director David Frazer said. “It’s been a dream of ours to welcome Neil and Liam Finn to Riverboats for many years, and to be presenting these phenomenal artists alongside Australian icons including Kasey Chambers and Josh Pyke. is something we’re incredibly proud of.”

The Riverboats Music Festival takes place in the twin-towns of Echuca-Moama, two and a half hours north of Melbourne, from the 16th to the 18th February. For more information including how to get your hands on tickets check out the official web site here.

Cobargo Folk Festival Announces First Headliners for 2018

Eric Bogle
Image Courtesy of Eric Bogle

Wait, we’re talking about 2018 festivals already? Where has this year gone!

The Cobargo Folk Festival, held in the NSW south coast village of Cobargo, has already revealed a bunch of their headliners for next years event.

Australian folk music legends Eric Bogle (above) and Neil Murray head up the announcement along with fellow Aussies The Northern Folk. From an international point of view Cobargo has managed to snag the Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band (USA), Christine Collister (Isle of Man) with Michael Fix and the Alan Kelly Gang (Ireland). And there’s obviously a bunch more to be announced over the coming months.

The Cobargo Folk Festival takes place in Cobargo, NSW from the 2nd to 4th March. For more information including how to get your hands on tickets check out the official site here.

Liz Stringer’s Big Tuesday String-a-Long in June

Liz Stringer
Image Courtesy of Liz Stringer

Before she heads over to the Northern Hemisphere for their Summer later this year Melbourne singer-songwriter Liz Stringer will be hosting a very special series of events in her home town.

For the four Tuesdays in June Stringer will be taking over The Gasometer in Melbourne to sit down with four of her songwriting elders and have a conversation about their art, their careers and what motivates them to continue to produce art. And of course there’ll be some live performances as well.

The Big Tuesday String-a-long will feature the formidable line up of Dr Lou Bennett, Deborah Conway, Neil Murray and Mick Thomas. Check out the full list of dates below:

Tuesday 6th June – Dr Lou Bennett
Tuesday 13th June – Deborah Conway
Tuesday 20th June – Neil Murray
Tuesday 27th June – Mick Thomas

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 21st April


This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

Neil Murray and Lucie Thorne announced joint tour dates in Victoria. Details here

– Indie duo Husky have announced plans to release their new album Punchbuzz in June. Details here

Justin Townes Earle announced his new album Kids In The Street. Details here

Father John Misty announced Splendour sideshows in Sydney and Melbourne. Details here

– American indie singer-songwriter Conor Oberst released his new video “Barbary Coast (Later)”. Details here


“[The Gum Ball is] one of my favourite festivals because it has maintained its integrity as it has grown. It’s still got all the beautiful vibes, people, trees, tents, beers and loving connection that it had back when I first went. I know it’s getting bigger and bigger but they really have their heads screwed on and I think it will be something I want to go to for most of my life”Kim Churchill chats to KT Bell. Interview here

Releases This Week

Sheryl Crow
Be MyselfSheryl Crow

Billy Bragg
Live In The NetherlandsXavier Rudd

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Spurs For Jesus, Handsome Young Strangers, The Dead Maggies


As is the tradition Spurs for Jesus and Handsome Young Strangers will be folk-punking your Anzac Day in Sydney along with Tasmanian friends The Dead Maggies.

Tuesday 25th April – Marrickville Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW

Gigs Next Week

Andrew Keoghan & Lisa Crawley
Tuesday 25th April – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC

Andy Golledge & Mates Extravaganza
Tuesday 25th April – The Vic Hotel, Sydney, NSW

Sunday 23rd April – Some Velvet Morning, Melbourne, VIC

Bill Chambers Band & Raechel Whitchurch
Wednesday 26th April – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 27th April – Brass Monkey, Cronulla, NSW

Bill Jackson & Pete Fidler
Sunday 23rd April – House Concert, Melbourne, VIC

Billy Bragg & Joe Henry
Saturday 22nd April – Melbourne Recital Centre, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 23rd April – Melbourne Recital Centre, Melbourne, VIC
Monday 24th April – The Gov, Adelaide, SA
Friday 28th April – Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle, WA

Bob Evans
Friday 21st April – Lizottes, Newcastle, NSW
Saturday 22nd April – Hardy’s Bay Club, Central Coast, NSW

Bowling Green Banjo Sessions feat. The Button Collective, Jimmy Daley, Narrownecks
Thursday 27th April – Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW

Candelo Village Festival
Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd April – Candelo, NSW

Cat Canteri
Saturday 22nd April – The Union, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 23rd April – Bayview Country Art Club, Bittern, VIC

Colin Lillie
Friday 21st April – Sol Bar, Maroochydore, QLD
Saturday 22nd April – Night Quarter, Gold Coast, QLD
Sunday 23rd April – Sonny’s House of Blues, Brisbane, QLD

Dana Hassall
Friday 21st April – Stanhope Hotel, Stanhope, VIC
Saturday 22nd April – Grand Central Hotel, Cobram, VIC
Sunday 23rd April – Basement Bar, Bendigo, VIC
Wednesday 26th April – The Retreat, Melbourne, VIC

Davidson Brothers
Friday 28th April – Longhorn Saloon, Melbourne, VIC

Direwolf w/ Caitlin Harnett, Carl Manwarring
Thursday 27th April – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW

Fairbridge Festival
Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd April – Pinjarra, WA

FolkSwagon feat. Hannah Robinson, Chris Rose, Tradicion
Wednesday 26th April – Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Grigoryan Brothers
Friday 28th April – Birds Basement, Sydney, NSW

Henry Wagons, Jonny Fritz, Ruby Boots
Friday 21st April – Meeniyan Town Hall, Meeniyan, VIC
Saturday 22nd April – Silver Raven Festival, Turkey Flat Vineyards, SA

High Tea feat. Joe Mungovan
Thursday 27th April – Sydney, NSW

Hootenanny feat. Elwood Myre
Sunday 23rd April – Miss Peaches, Sydney, NSW

Irish Mythen
Friday 21st April – The Gum Ball Festival, Dashville, NSW

James Ellis and the Jealous Guys
Thursday 27th April – The Rooks Return, Melbourne, NSW

James Kenyon & Amarillo
Saturday 22nd April – Bella Union, Melbourne, VIC

Jack Elias, Darren Cross, Luke O’Farrell
Friday 21st April – Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW

Jemma Nicole & Mitch Power
Friday 28th April – LongPlay, Melbourne, VIC

Jonny Fritz
Friday 21st April – Meeniyan Town Hall, Meeniyan, VIC
Saturday 22nd April – Silver Raven Festival, Turkey Flat Vineyards, SA
Sunday 23rd April – The Triffid, Brisbane, QLD

Joseph Tawadros Trio
Thursday 27th April – Camelot Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Justin Bernasconi, Cat Canteri, The Weeping Willows
Sunday 23rd April – Bayview Country Art Club, Bittern, VIC

Kasey Chambers
Friday 21st April – The Regent Theatre, Yarram, VIC
Saturday 22nd April – The Palms, Crown Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 23rd April – The Memo, Healseville, VIC
Friday 28th April – Queens Park Theatre, Geraldton, WA

Kathleen Mary Lee
Sunday 23rd April – Rochester Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Kim Churchill
Friday 21st April – Shoalhaven Heads Bowling Club, Shoalhaven Heads NSW
Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd April – The Gum Ball, Dashville, NSW

Laura Jean w/ Sweet Whirl
Sunday 23rd April – The Post Office Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Les Poules à Colin
Friday 21st to Monday 24th April – Fairbridge Folk Festival, Fairbridge, WA

Lost Ragas
Monday 24th April – The Post Office Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Mandy Connell
Saturday 22nd April – House Concert, Katoomba, NSW

Neil Murray & Lucie Thorne
Saturday 22nd April – The Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 23rd April – The Grande, Hepburn Springs, VIC

Oh Pep! w/ Didirri
Friday 21st April – Newtown Social Club, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 22nd April – Blackbear Lodge, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 28th April – Howler, Melbourne, VIC

Over the Ditch – A Trans-Tasman Anti-War Party feat. Low Talk, Baby Blue, Skyscraper Stan and the Commission Flats
Monday 24th April – The Curtin, Melbourne, VIC

Pierce Brothers
Friday 21st April – ICC Sydney Theatre, Sydney, NSW

Quarry Mountain Dead Rats
Saturday 22nd April – Baha, Rye, VIC

Ramblin Nights feat. Rich Davies & The Low Road, Hana & Jessie-Lee
Thursday 27th April – Django Bar, Sydney, NSW

Roadhouse feat. Bryen Willems
Thuresday 27th April – Miss Peaches, Sydney, NSW

Rich Davies & The Low Road
Thursday 27th April – Django Bar, Sydney, NSW
Friday 28th April – Two Goats Cafe and Baa, Armidale, NSW

Rick Hart and the Sweet Addictions
Saturday 22nd April – The Retreat Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Round Mountain Girls
Sunday 23rd April – Brunswick Hotel, Brunswick Heads, NSW
Monday 24th April – Kingscliff Hotel, Kingscliff, NSW
Friday 28th April to Monday 1st May – Wintermoon Festival, Cameron’s Pocket, QLD

Ruby Boots
Friday 21st April – Meeniyan Town Hall, Meeniyan, VIC
Saturday 22nd April – Silver Raven Festival, Turkey Flat Vineyards, SA
Thursday 27th April – Mojo Bar, Fremantle, WA

Sean McMahon and the MoonMen
Saturday 22nd April – The Union, Melbourne, VIC

Shelley’s Murder Boys
Thursday 27th April – The Little Guy, Sydney, NSW

Silver Raven Festival
Saturday 22nd April – Turkey Flat Vineyards, SA

Sunday 23rd April – Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW

Songs of the Sea feat. BegOpCoOp
Thursday 27th April – Testing Ground, Melbourne, VIC

Spurs For Jesus, Handsome Young Strangers, The Dead Maggies
Tuesday 25th April – Marrickville Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW

St Albans Folk Festival
Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd April – St Albans, NSW

The Button Collective
Saturday 22nd April – The Settlers Arms Inn, St Albans, NSW
Thursday 27th April – Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 27th April – The Temperance Society, Sydney, NSW
Friday 28th April – The Lass O’Gowrie, Newcastle, NSW

The Dead Maggies
Friday 21st April – Junction 142, Katoomba, NSW
Saturday 22nd April – Foghorn Brewhouse, Erina, NSW
Sunday 23rd April – The Union Hotel, Sydney, NSW
Tuesday 25 April – Marrickville Bowls Club, Sydney, NSW

The East Pointers
Thursday 27th April – Armitage Centre, Toowoomba, QLD
Friday 28th April to Monday 1st May – The Planting Festival, Woodford, QLD

The End Festival
Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd April – Hill End, NSW

The Go Set, Operation Ibis, Eightball Junkies
Saturday 22nd April – The Bald Faced Stag, Sydney, NSW

The Gum Ball
Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd April – Dashville, NSW

The Lumineers
Saturday 22nd April – Metro City, Perth, WA

The Mae Trio
Sunday 23rd April – Lefty’s, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 28th April – Night Quarter, Gold Coast, QLD

The McClymonts
Friday 21st April – Bathurst RSL, Bathurst, NSW
Saturday 22nd April – Wenty Leagues, Wentworthville, NSW
Friday 28th April – CEX Coffs, Coffs Harbour, NSW

The Planting Festival
Friday 28th April to Monday 1st May – Woodford, QLD

The Spooky Men’s Chorale
Wednesday 26th April – City Recital Hall, Sydney, NSW

Timothy James Bowen
Friday 21st April – The Wesley Anne, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 22nd April – Venue 505, Sydney, NSW

Tony Joe White
Sunday 23rd April – Fly By Night, Fremantle, WA

Wide Open Space Festival
Friday 28th to Sunday 30th April – Alice Springs, NT

Wintermoon Festival
Friday 28th April to Monday 1st May – Cameron’s Pocket, QLD

Friday Folk Flashback

“Jerusalem” – Chris Wood

Happy St George’s day for this Sunday!

Neil Murray and Lucie Thorne Announce Victorian Dates

Lucie Thorne
Image Courtesy of Lucie Thorne

Renowned singer songwriters Neil Murray and Lucie Thorne have announced plans for three double-bill concerts around Victoria this month.

Murray and Thorne are both fan favourites and getting the chance to see them together on the same bill is something not to be missed. Check out the full list of dates below:

Wednesday 19th April – Ararat Live, Ararat, VIC
Saturday 22nd April – The Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 23rd April – The Grande, Hepburn Springs, VIC

Details of the 2016 Cobargo Folk Festival

Image Courtesy of Cobargo Folk Festival

By Peter Logue

As it is for many things in life, for folk festivals, timing is everything. With the festival calendar now stretching from September through to late April, it becomes difficult to keep festival artistic programs fresh and exciting.

I have attended hundreds of folk festivals, here and in Europe, over the past 45 years and – I know it’s a big call and I’ll be accused of bias because I’m on the organising committee – I’ve never seen such an outstanding small festival line-up as you’ll see late in February in Cobargo.

Cobargo, in the magnificent Bega Valley, this year boasts eight world-class international acts, most of whom will go on to headline at major festivals like Port Fairy, Blue Mountains and the National in Canberra.

This includes heavy Celtic influences from the likes of Ireland’s Rambling Boys – lead by Four Men and a Dog bodhran master Gino Lupari – Canada’s exciting East Pointers, Irish bouzouki whiz Beth Patterson from the US and Nicola Hayes and Hélène Brunet, now based in Brittany.

The English tradition is also strongly represented with the multi-talented Kirsty Bromley, troubadour Alistair Brown who’s becoming a Cobargo regular, and one of my personal favourites Vin Garbutt – still making people laugh and cry at the same time.

A late and welcome inclusion from the US is the punk/bluegrass/soul duo Truckstop Honeymoon. I’d need a whole article to describe what they do – but here’s a clip that might explain them better than any words.

When you add local talents like Trouble in the Kitchen, Fred Smith and Liz Frenchman, blues legends The Backsliders (in acoustic mode), Daniel Champagne, Danny Spooner, the outrageous Old Empire Band and many, many more – it’s quite festival for such a small, but perfectly formed, village.

We’re particularly pleased to receive a grant Arts NSW’s Country Arts Support Program for Neil Murray, formerly of the Warumpi band, to run workshops in the Dhurga language with the local Yuin Community.

Back to the issue of timing. Cobargo Festival does not have deep pockets or particularly wealthy sponsors.

Most international acts tour for a month to six weeks at the most and generally time their run to take in the major festivals in March and early April.

Cobargo does well because it has a great reputation for hospitality, great scenery not far from a hundred pristine beaches, and knowledgeable audiences – many of whom have been coming to the festival for the 21 years it has been going.

It gives acts time to settle in, shake off the jet lag and get their sets in order, plus they can cover expenses and seel a lot of CDs to the 3000 plus people who attended.

Run by volunteer from the community, Cobargo spends any profits it makes wisely. Since last year it has worked closely with co-venue partners the Showground Trust to improve facilities, adding a big new shower and toilet block and improving camping areas at the Showground.

We’re expecting a bumper crowd this year and are thankful for a grant from Destination NSW to help promote the festival outside our area. Of course, we don’t want to get too big and lose that wonderful intimate atmosphere of the small festival.

Dates are February 26th-28th: so get in early and look for tickets on www.cobargofolkfestival.com

Neil Murray Announces Single Bluesfest Sideshow in Sydney

Neil Murray
Image Courtesy of Neil Murray

Australian music legend Neil Murray (Warumpi Band) writer of the wonderful “My Island Home” is heading up to Byron Bay for this year’s Bluesfest. But before he gets there Murray is making a stop over in Sydney for a special one off appearance at the Coogee Diggers Club on Friday the 15th April. This show is guaranteed to be intimate and enthralling so make sure you check it out, especially if you’re not going to Byron for Easter.

Details and tickets for the show can be found on the Coogee Diggers Club website.

Final Final FINAL Bluesfest Artists

Bobby Long
Image Courtesy of Bobby Long

The good folks at Bluesfest have just released the schedule for this year’s festival (so everyone can start their planning). But releasing a program just isn’t enough for these guys. No siree. They’ve also gone and added a bunch of new artists to the lineup. They’re saying these are the final additions but they said that last time. And the time before. So I guess we’ll just have to see if they’re telling the truth.

The new artists added to the Bluesfest lineup are:

Warren Haynes, Clare Bowditch, Dale Watson & His Lonestars, Neil Murray, Shane Nicholson, Frank Yamma, Buddy Knox, Lisa Miller, Louis King and the Liars Klub, Hat Fitz and Cara Robinson, Grace Barbe Afro Kreol, Ajak Kwai, The Blackwater Fever, Bobby Long (above), Nga Tae, Collard Greens and Gravy, Old Spice Boys, The Secret Sisters, Victor Valdes & the Marin Brothers, Raghu Dixit, Jackson Firebird, Hank Green’s Blues, A French Butler Called Smith, U Blues Band, Microwave Jenny, Kingfisha, Mojo Bluesmen, Bob Abbot & the Fabulous Green Machine, Joewah, Transvaal Diamond Syndicate and The Incredible Sky Pilots Plasticiens Volants.

For more information and tickets visit the official Bluefest site.

Interview: Shane Howard- WOMADelaide 2011 Preview

Image courtesy of Shane Howard

On Friday, Adelaide Correspondent Thom Miles took the time out to chat to Shane Howard – the man behind Goanna, and the first artist to use popular songs to bring indigenous issues to the forefront of Australian pop-culture. Ahead of his special Womadelaide performance with fellow indigenous music legends Neil Murray and Archie Roach, Shane discussed all things from indigenous history, the “Three Iconic Songs” project, the process of publishing “Solid Rock”,  The Black Arm Band, social progress in Australia, and everything in between.

Thom Miles: Firstly, I’d like to say how glad I was to see your name alongside “Archie Roach & Neil Murray” on the final announcement for Womadelaide. I understand Archie has had some health problems of late…
Shane Howard: It’s been a tough year for Archie. We’re old mates and neighbours these days, and yeah, it’s been a tough year for Archie losing his wife Ruby last February; it’s nearly been a year. And then he had health complications himself back in October when we were up in Turkey Creek in Western Australia. So it’s been a really challenging year, but his spirit is indomitable. He hasn’t been doing a lot of live performance work, so it’s really lovely that we’ve done a couple of these things together – Melbourne Writer’s Festival and Brisbane Writer’s Festival, but it’s really lovely to be bringing it to Womad.
TM: Yeah, well with Archie‘s health in doubt I guess that would have cast a shadow over whether or not the Three Iconic Songs performance could go ahead. Was it a last-minute thing?
SH: Well, we had an idea to do this before Archie had any health issues. He is keen to do this sort of work, and we have done some like I said. But I think he enjoys being with his brothers, with Neil and I, and not having to carry the show on his own but having the sense of a shared load. It’s really lovely travelling together and being together, it gives a sense of camaraderie.
TM: Absolutely. Could you tell me a bit about the show? I know it’s based on three iconic songs- “Solid Rock”, “Took the Children Away” and “My Island Home“, but is it a full concert with just an emphasis on these three songs or…
SH: It’s more about really being able to sit down and talk about the creation of those songs; what led to the formation of them, what led to the creation of them, the context of the time. Archie will be able to talk about the deeply personal implications of  being a member of the stolen generation, and it’s the impact of that at the time, and the resonance and the complications and the consequences of that even this far down the track. For myself, being able to talk about how “Solid Rock” was written, and Neil Murray and I have often talked about this; what led two white fellas to become so deeply involved with Aboriginal Australia. It’s an interesting discussion and exploration, and of course it’s open ended so we’re able to not only sing the songs and perform, but also explore the territory, to talk in detail about the social realities at the time the songs were written, but also the implications for where we are now as a nation. Of course, the books had a very practical focus. They’re part of the Ian Thrope “Fountain For Youth” project, which is an indigenous literacy project, and it just means that for indigenous kids- the resources are quite minimal, and this gives them stories and songs that they can relate to much more personally. In the case of “Solid Rock” it was really beautiful to have it translated. To go and work with the children out at Mutitjulu and Uluru who did a number of illustrations for the books, and also then to have it translated into Pitjantjara. So it’s not just in English, it’s bi-lingual, having that opportunity had a great and deeper sense of ownership. And at a practical level; a quarter of the proceeds of the sales go back to the community for literary resources, for art resources and for music resources. So it has a really practical outcome, and we’ve been able to raise somewhere between 10 and 15 thousand dollars already, which is great. It ensures an ongoing relationship with the community as well.
TM: Brilliant! The performance itself is mostly educational then, I guess?
SH: Yeah… Conversational. It’s performing the songs, but it’s also conversational, in the sense of a forum I guess. We’re there for people as well to ask questions, rather than just a straightforward musical performance.
TM: From my experience, Womadelaide audiences are incredibly varied in age. For some people, your performance of iconic songs might give them a chance to reflect and reminisce, but on the other hand there’ll be a lot of people like me who are aware of the music but were born long after songs like “Solid Rock” were released, and have of course missed the entire cultural significance of those songs. Is it hard to cater for all of those people at once?
SH: Yeah, it’s interesting to reflect on the fact that back in 1982 when “Solid Rock” was released and we started touring Australia with Goanna, Australia was a deeply racist country. We’ve come a long way in the last 30 years- next year it’s 30 years since “Solid Rock” was released- I must be getting old. It is important and interesting I think to reflect on how far Australia’s come in terms of what Bill Stanner the anthropologist used to call “The Cult of Forgetfulness” that developed in Australia. We’d just arranged the window in such a way that we failed to see Aboriginal people even though they were there. It’s important to reflect on that kind of history. I’ve seen an SBS series recently about the history of immigration to Australia, and a lot of young people would probably find it shocking to see how deeply racist and almost white supremacist early Australia was at the turn of the century. So there’s a whole evolution and whole story in terms of our… well the reality was that white Australia’s prosperity has come on the back of Aboriginal misery. I think for the first time in this contemporary era we’re able to look at it in a mature way and understand our journey as a nation- towards a much more enlightened and compassionate view.
TM: Well Womadelaide has a long established tradition of celebrating indigenous culture. This year they’ve got Leah Flanagan, The Yabu Band, and they’re showing a documentary called Murundak, and of course there’s the traditional Kaurna welcoming ceremony…
SH: Yeah I’m a member of Black Arm Band and part of that film. I’ve been involved in that as a founding member, and Leah Flanagan has come into that Black Arm Band ensemble as well, so I’ve gotten to know Leah who’s a beautiful talent through that ensemble and touring around the country and overseas to Womad UK, but as well into remote Aboriginal communities; taking the message back out there into the communities as well as the arts festivals. Now, there’s so many great indigenous artists and it’s true that Womad has done so much to break down – expose us to so much international cultural music – and to break down so many of those boundaries. It’s true – the old saying: once you know someone, fear and ignorance drop away – and fear and ignorance is the basis or racism, really.
TM: Absolutely. At  Womad people find music from cultures that mightn’t ever heard of. It’s celebrated in such a way that it makes it impossible for people to view diversity negatively – just an impossible environment for hostility to be harboured.
SH: One of the great things I see about the new generation coming through – and that’s my children. In many ways my generation had to build bridges between black and white Australia, we built bridges between religious divides, racial divides, cultural divides. The great thing is; I see my grown up kids- they don’t have to build those bridges. They cross them easily, and this generation that’s coming through now- they don’t see that kind of difference that used to exist in the old days- they just embrace diversity. It really is an amazing world that we live in now, that it’s globally connected, there’s incredible respect for each-other in terms of our cultural identity and the diversity of music that festivals bring, particularly to places like Womad, is just extraordinary. One of the great memories for me, Thom, was going and playing with The Black Arm Band at Womad in The UK and Peter Gabriel, who founded Womad, was playing too, and just to see Aboriginal music take it’s place alongside Arabic music and African music and that great pool of cultural music from around the world – and Aboriginal music is now just seen as another dimension of that.
TM: The project you’re working on now with Archie and Neil all began with Melbourne Writer’s Festival, is that right?
SH: Yeah we did Melbourne Writer’s Festival and Brisbane Writer’s Festival, and it was interesting; I think it was the first time we’d really done something like that together. Normally we’re just on stage and we play and introduce the songs, but this was about going into detail about the creation of the song and the history of the circumstances that surround that. So it’s an intersting sweep through the cultural and historical reality.
TM: Was it a coincidence that you’d all written books on these iconic songs at the same time?
SH: No it wasn’t – it was a publisher from One Tree Hill, a small independent publisher, that came to us with the idea. They’d done a project with “From Little Things Big Things Grow”, with that song and with Gurindji children from out at Wave Hill and illustrating that. But then they came to us and said “Are you interested?”- and so I went to Uluru and it was much more hands on I guess in the way that we took ownership of the project and working with the community and the kids to develop the book, and there’s an ongoing relationship there now, seeing that it also helps in developing music, art and literary resources. For Archie, there’s a deeply personal dimension to “Took The Children Away” because his wife Ruby who passed away a year ago illustrated the book. it was one of the last things she did before she passed away suddenly. So it has a very deep resonance for Archie. For Neil, like all of us; we retraced our song-lines I think- the stories and the song-lines that created those songs. We re-walked those tracks, and that brings up all sorts of memories and we used all kind of acquaintances and friendships. So there’s a deep sense of connection with all that.
TM: The three iconic songs obviously brought important issues into the foreground of popular culture at the time, and really forced people to think. In my opinion, it’s really important that that continues to happen – because for all the promise and optimism these songs have generated- it still seems like there’s so much that needs to be put right today and in the future. Do you think indigenous music can keep the ball rolling in that sense?
SH: I think the future is potentially amazing, and like I said, a lot has changed in 30 years. There’s been real developments and real growth in this country in terms of Aboriginal empowerment – Like with The Black Arm Band – there are now Aboriginal people who are working at an administrative level, management structures, on stage at a technical level, and artists in the forefront creating foundations. All sorts of educational empowerment and opportunities that exist. I think for the new generation of young Aboriginal people coming through, the doors are wide open, and they can really explore and develop their potential to the fullest. I don’t think that was true of people of my generation 30 years ago. I think a lot of the doors were closed, and a lot of people have worked hard for a long period of time to address that situation and bring about change. It has happened but we’ve still got a long way to go in terms of addressing indigenous disadvantage, health education and opportunity, particularly people in remote communities are still very under-resourced. I don’t believe intervention is the way to go about it. The way forward is to really sit down with the people, from a government perspective, and really engage in meaningful dialogue. Sit down and listen. The people know what they want, and they know what needs to be done and we have the ability to create really meaningful partnerships now for the future. The reality is, as white fellas we can make a great contribution as well in those situations, but we can only help with white fella solutions, in terms of our world. I don’t think we can help Aboriginal people in the Aboriginal world. That’s their job, they just need the power to do it. We’ve come a long way, there’s a long way to go. In many ways it’s time for us old people to hand the baton on to the young people and say “make a greater future, make a brighter future all together. Make a great nation. Be a shining light in the world. Be inspired and inspiring. Become the country that we should become. Become our better selves.” I think that was true the day of Kevin Rudd’s apology – about 50% of people in Australia supported the apology before it happened, and after the event it was 75-80% that supported the apology, because I think as Australians we saw our better selves in that moment, and we really liked our better selves.
TM: The last question I wanted to ask you was about how you got involved with indigenous culture and indigenous music, but I think our allocated interview time ran out quite a while ago…
SH: Well I do talk about that in the performance. It’s a bottomless and fascinating story, and I’ve been writing a book for the last 4 or 5 years that deals with a lot of that stuff on that subject, Thom. I’m curious myself as to what led me down that track. But I don’t know if I could answer it in a few minutes, Thom. I grew up with Aboriginal people around me, so it was inevitably a fact of life for me and brought up those big questions. But everything honours the mother and the father, so in many ways, my mother and father taught me about respect, and that’s probably the basis of it all.
TM: Well I look forward to learning more about it at Womadelaide in March.
SH: On ya, Thom. Thanks for taking the time.
TM: Thanks for taking the time to talk to me!
SH: See ya, Thom. See ya there.

WOMADelaide Adds Seven More Artists

Archie Roach
Image Courtesy of Archie Roach

WOMADelaide is only a couple of months away and as if the current lineup (including the Afro Celt Sound System, Angus and Julia Stone and Luka Bloom) wasn’t enough the organisers have just announced 7 more acts. And it’s not like the new additions are an afterthought – they feature some of the best Australian and international folk, roots and world musicians. The final seven acts are:

DakhaBrakha (Ukraine)
Martha Wainwright (Canada)
Nathalie Natiembé (Réunion)
Archie Roach (above), Neil Murray & Shane Howard (Australia)
17 Hippies (Germany)
ScrapArtsMusic (Canada)
Os Mutantes (Brazil)

WOMADelaide is held from 11th – 14th March in Adelaide. For the full lineup and ticket information head to the official WOMADelaide web site.

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