Blue Mountains Music Festival Announces First Artist Lineup

Image Courtesy of Beoga

The Blue Mountains Music Festival was by far one of our favourite events on this year’s music calendar (despite the torrential rain – check out our review here) so we got pretty excited this morning when the first round of artists for next years event landed in our inbox. The Blue Mountains Music Festival celebrates music from a variety of genres but it definitely always has a strong folk, roots, blues and bluegrass contingent on its roster and next year is no different.

Rather than try and single out our favourites from the first announcement we though we’d just give it to you in one hit and let you see just how good it is. Ready? Here we go:

Judy Collins (USA), Abigail Washburn (USA), Harry Manx (UK/Canada), Pierre Bensusan (French Algeria), Staffan Astner (Sweden), Krystle Warren (USA), Ben Sollee (USA), Blue King Brown, The Shane Howard Band, Fred Smith, Eddi Reader (Scotland), April Verch (Canada), Noriana Kennedy (Ireland), Truckstop Honeymoon (USA) While and Matthews (UK), My Friend the Chocolate Cake, Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band (USA), The Beez (Germany), Frigg (Finland), Beoga (above – Ireland), ahab (UK), Afro Mandinko, The Buddy Knox Blues Band, Alwan, The Quarry Mountain Dead Rats, Chris Wilson, Fiona Boyes, Rescue Ships, Claude Hay, George Kamikawa and Noriko Tadano, Cass Eager, Phil Davidson, Daniel Champagne, Tonks Green, The Simpson 3 and more.

Pretty impressive eh? The Blue Mountains Music Festival is held in Katoomba, NSW from the 16th to the 18th March. Earlybird tickets are available from now until the 31st December. Check out the official site for more information.

Bellingen Global Carnival Final Program Announced

George Kamikawa & Noriko Tadano
Image of George Kamikawa & Noriko Tadano Courtesy of Bellingen Global Carnival

The mid-north coast of New South Wales looks set to come alive with the sound of world music next month with the announcement of this year’s Bellingen Global Carnival musical program. Held in the town of Bellingen, about halfway between Brsibane and Sydney, the Bellingen Global Carnival will be celebrating all that’s good about folk and world music between the 30th September and the 2nd October.

The headliners for this year festival are bluesman Jon Cleary & The Philthy Phew and brass revolutionaries The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, both hailing from the US. Joining them will be a raft of artists including Timber and Steel favourites Band of Brothers, Frank Yamma with David Bridie, George Kamikawa & Noriko Tadano (above), Mama Kin and many many more.

Tickets for the Bellingen Global Carnival are available from the official web site. The full lineup of musicians is below with details on children’s performers, street performers, arts and crafts and more all on the site:

Jon Cleary & The Philthy Phew (USA)
Leweton Women’s Water Music (Vanuatu)
The Dirty Dozen Brass Band (USA)
Armandito y su Trovason (Cuba)
Band of Brothers
Bandaluzia Flamenco
Bukhuchuluun Ganburged
Frank Yamma with David Bridie
George Kamikawa & Noriko Tadano
Grace Barbe
I Viaggiatori
Linsey Pollak
Mama Kin
Public Opinion Afro Orchestra
Shellie Morris
Soulman O’Gaia
Suara Indonesia Dance Group
The Picture Box Orchestra
Wild Strings
Yeshe (Germany)

National Folk Festival Find: George Kamikawa and Noriko Tadano

George Kamikawa
Image Courtesy of George Kamikawa

Roaming around the National Folk Festival is a delight to the senses, at every turn there is something new to taste, wild clothing or handmade instruments to play, the smell of a hot cider or mulled wine and, of course, wonderful music emanating from both buskers and from the many venues spaced around the Canberra site.  In an effort to be heard above the din, the artists plaster all available surfaces with posters advertising their performing times.  After, one-too-many alcoholic ginger ales I found myself staring at a wall of such posters, and amidst a sea of images depicting violins, guitars and banjos, the unexpected image of a Shamisen led my eye to fasten on the poster advertising George Kamikawa and Noriko Tadano.

The small venue of the Flute and the Fiddle was packed for the performance I saw, with many standing on chairs at the back to get a glimpse.  Those walking past couldn’t see the performers, but many were dancing anyway.  I’m pretty sure they would have been surprised to see just two performers on stage. Energetic blues, played on slide-guitar and harmonica by George Kamikawa, combined with the unusual percussive punch of Noriko Tadano’s shamisen created a surprisingly full sound, adding a sort of folky, bluegrass feel to the solid country-blues arrangements.

The banter between the duo and the crowd, and their energy and rapport on stage kept the crowd moving along with them.  This is perhaps not surprising from two such seasoned  performers.  George has honed his performance the hard way, by busking and playing smaller venues since moving to Melbourne in 2001.  Noriko Tadano has been playing Shamisen since she was 6 years old, but her ability to cross styles has meant she’s played with numerous blues and jazz artists.  Since they joined forces, the Melbourne duo have won both numerous awards and critical acclaim.

The show is called “East vs. West”, which is perhaps an accurate description of a musical style that blends Japanese and American sounds, but to this audience member there’s something very Australian about the mixing of cultures and musical styles.  While the act may now rely on exposing the clash of cultures, there is real music being made here, and I hope they continue performing and evolving together.  If you haven’t seen them yet, this duo is a must see at a festival (or street corner) near you!

Country of Origin: Japan/Australia
Sounds Like: Ry Cooder fell into a barrel of Sake and came out fighting…
File Under: Blues, Country, World
Myspace: and

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