Review: Majors Creek Festival 2019

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Photos by Stuart Bucknell Photography
View our entire photo gallery on Facebook in our Majors Creek Festival Album.

If you’ve never been to a folk music festival, you might be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed with choices. Across Australia there is everything from mega-festivals of international renown, down to the salt of the earth community run festivals. Last month we had the pleasure of visiting the Majors Creek Festival for the first time, to sample the local folky flavor.

Celebrating more than a quarter of a century, the Majors Creek Festival is an absolute gem, tucked away in the Southern Tablelands of NSW, an hour from Canberra, and 3 hours from Sydney.

The festival venue takes advantage of the local amenities, including the local church, and the showground hall, as well as creating a cosy, welcoming village green peppered with markets, delicious food outlets, circus entertainments and multiple easy to access music stages.

The site was thoughtfully decorated with beautiful styling and simple execution giving a cohesive connectedness across the the venues. With activities and entertainments for the kids at the centre of the field in a big top tent, the adults were treated to a weekend of musical delights across 7 different stages.

Mandy Connell-11Mandy Connell brought her storytelling charm to the St Pete stage along with her tales of home and sentimental reminiscences. With a spring in her step and a flair for performance, her audience were swept away with her lyrical fancies.

Liz Frencham’s cool blues delivered both punchy beats and troubadour solemnity, twining together tales and talk of “community that makes political bullshit fade away”. With the audience singing along and lapping up every tune, the set was a popular choice.

The Perfs were one of the acts on the unofficial stage at St Mary’s, also known as ‘the other church’ a delightful relaxed patio setting framing the delectable harmonies of the duo. Their laid back and enchanting style melded modern and old style in a hypnotic hymn.

Fiona Ross delivered a Capella joy over in the ‘Official’ site Church with a traditional Scottish set, mostly in Gaelic, and predominantly from the East and South. Such beautiful acoustics and with no accompaniment other than the audience themselves, Ross delivered a thorough and rousing collection of toe tapping tunes.

Floyd Thursby also loaned his style to the acoustic setting of the Church, and brought his dulcet mix of French and English to an eager audience. His blend of both allegorical and literal storytelling tunes tells tales of love and woe, humour and humitlity, and takes the audience in a delightful journey.Andy Nelson-5Andy Nelson would be the festival highlight for the team, with a moody, sultry opening to his set, the soft masculine voice of Nelson created an alluring and enchanting scene. His emphatic style along with talented musicians on bass and violin to accompany his guitar, welcomed a hypnotic spellbinging combined sound. By swapping in mandolin, and harmonica to accompany his suite of songs, Nelson delivered a blistering set to the enthusiastic audience.

Great Aunt showcased the their guitar and double bass styling with a moody and strong set, balancing the feminine and sullen atmos. Their style mixed well bringing clever lyrics and knowing wink to the stage.

The New Graces’s gloriously complimentary voices gave lilting, lovely lyrical harmonies. They took turns leading with a great collaborative approach that showcased each individual talent within a cohesive whole.

Holly Arrowsmith excelled in her autobiographical storytelling with an enchanting tonality and crisp quality of both vocals and musicality. Choosing a mix of political folk tunes and her own inviting and enrapturing songs made for a compelling set.

Equus always draws a crowd and never fails to entertain. Their set was uplifting in the chill of dusk, with their fabulous and fascinating throat singing interwoven with traditional singing to spice up the sonic experience. Electric energy filled the air as their music ebbed forward delivering a mix of modern and traditional tracks, catch the audience up, clapping along spiritedly.

 

Shane Nicholson-5Shane Nicholson was one of the big names and drew quite the crowd. The audience were immediately engaged as the familiar refrains of “when The River Runs Dry” peeled across the tent. Accompanied by producer extraordinaire Matt Fell, the dynamic of the duo won everyone over, with Nicholson’s soothing, smooth vocals and subtle, soft harmonies tapping into and creating a warm, welcoming space through song.

The Water Runners kicked off our Sunday, delivering upbeat bluegrass vibes, harmonies, and fun frivolity. Their topical set covered everything from climate change through to lovesick stories, and cautionary tales.

Kelsey Berrington delivered a light and listenable set that captured the audiences spirit. Reminiscent of Kim Churchill and Jack Carty, a refreshing set ensued.

Big Fiddle Little Fiddle does what it says on the box, if you let a Cello be a big fiddle that is. Their fusion of styles started with an almost syncopated vibe, building in to an interesting contrasting set of sounds reminiscent of baroque and country Celtic fiddles in a lighthearted manner.

Parkville-9Parkville oozed youth and vitality with their pop folk fusion winning over hearts and minds of the audience with their lovely blend of up tempo musicality and harmonies. The fiddle is the true hero of the four piece, tying their melodies back in to the folk space while straddling the indie pop genre. Their engagement of the audience, creating a thundery opening to one of their tracks, really made their set shine.

This Way North rounded out the festival, clearly the heros of the festival, and favourites of the audience. Their set roamed from clam and harmonious, through hearty drums and feeling. The duo are highly engaging with great chemistry, entreating the audience to clap and sing along, while accentuating the layered vocals and riveting beat.

All in all, the festival is incredibly family friendly, while maintaining a high quality folk feel. Spread over the weekend, from Friday night to Sunday eve, with their after party occurring just down the road at the Majors Creek Pub, the festival is truly a whole community event.

If you’ve never been to a folk music festival, whether it’s because of kids, or that you want a less cluttered or crowded experience, Majors Creek Festival is an accessible and thoroughly enjoyable experience with a eye for sustainability and great quality music. A great first weekend festival experience.

General Festival-2

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