Bluesfest Review: Good Friday is a fine day!

Busby Marou at Bluesfest. Photos by Stuart Bucknell Photography

This year, we thought we’d take you on a walking tour, dropping in to different stages across four days of Bluesfest – for those who might have missed an act, or couldn’t make it.

Welcome to Bluesfest, It’s Good Friday and the weather is glorious. Entering from Northern entrance, you’re greeted by an avenue of stalls and people with a vast and exciting line up ahead of you. It’s 12.30pm, the sun is overhead, you’ve got money on your RFID wrist band and the bars are plentiful! Taking a tour through the entire site, past the Juke Joint and Boomerang Stage, Delta Stage, past the enormous Mojo and Crossroad stages, all the way to the far end to find respite in the shade at the Jambalaya stage.

Busby Marou are already commanding an enormous crowd in spite of the early time slot and their upbeat vibes are well received with the crowd still flowing in, toe tapping and bopping along. Stories about meeting Paul Kelly at an Awards night and the advice given on the monumental difference between incredible international gigs and starting out in Mittagong in 1979 are the jovial introduction to “Drink the World Dry.” An emphatic cover of INXS’s “Never Tear Us Apart” has us all singing along and indulging in a bit of air guitar. A final cover of Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer” carries us all the way to the bar for a cheeky bevy and through the food hall for a bite to eat.

Rhiannon Giddens Bluesfest 2017 by Stuart Bucknell PhotographyAt 2:15pm you find yourself at the Crossroads to catch Bluesfest sweetheart, Rhiannon Giddens in a banjo laden opening number. Showing off her range, a bit of scat treats the crowd to the power behind her vocals, as her diverse and all-encompassing set rolls out to very happy ears complete with some honky tonk blues, soulful a Capella and a hint of bayou country panache. The passion from Giddens is palpable as a hush settles over the crowd, “At the Purchasers Option” haunts the audience with it’s 18th Century sensibilities. With the crowd in the palm of her hand, Giddens delivers an emotive one-two with her signature style. “We Could Fly” tells us a folk tale of old the people who could once fly but have since forgotten how, in a tender yet compelling lyrical journey. To round out a set jam packed with plucky old time reminiscence, gutsy powerful vocals and vulnerable trilling notes, title track “Freedom Highway” brings everyone together for a final huge response.

Wandering up to Boomerang stage, in front of Juke Joint, 3:45pm strikes and Yirrmal takes to the stage with a stirring indigenous opening. Between the two acoustic guitars and the stunning clarity of storytelling, a beautiful blend of English and indigenous language delivers a delicious cross over of both the expectations of an indigenous performance and an acclaimed acoustic act. His language punctuates the story and connects it back to earth and people in a way that is felt rather than heard.

The Strumbellas hit the Delta stage at 4:30pm with a first impression reminiscent of an early Boy and Bear folk-rock vibe, complete with sweet violin that carries the melody out above the full band sound. Around us, the crowd gets involved in the call and response, calling “Hey” to the world and joining in the easy to pick up lyrics and chorus. They deliver feel good happiness, wrapped up in a song. Graduating from the indie folk feel in to the heavier rock influenced folk, we all still erupt in cheers for the violin solo!

After a break and recharge over hearty fare and a drink tapped on the wristband, the much anticipated Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue bust on to the Mojo stage like we’ve partied all night long, not like it’s 7pm on a Friday! With a cataclysmic trombone leading an all guns blazing repertoire, we take some time away from the folk to appreciate the funk. The high energy hypnotises the crowd and Trombone Shorty’s dexterity playing both trombone and the most amazing, long trumpet trill that would put even the best Circular breathers to shame has us all dancing. The sheer joy on stage, evident thank to the bands on stage dancing antics creates a kind of intimacy, like we’ve been invited to a private party or club. The jazz trips over the funk and falls amongst the RnB that pulls itself together and gives us the show of a lifetime, every time. A powerhouse performance.

After a bite and a breather, it’s time for what many have been heralding as the Folktastic headliner, The Lumineers at 10:45pm on the Crossroads stage. Their opening builds anticipation and when you realise their recordings sound the same as their live performance, you know you’re in for a great show. Such a genuine and authentic sound, true to what we are so used to, has the crowd besides themselves as “Classy Girls” bursts forward with a real fervour and speed yet haunting cello punctuation. We’re surprised with

“Ho Hey” very early on and, unsurprisingly we all respond with wild abandon. Darling of the set, “Cleopatra” follows soon after with all of us in fine voice while “Dead Sea” has an earthy, grounded tone, like a low cloud or fog on the crowd to hush and sooth us. While we know and love every offering from their back catalogue, there’s a particularly special air as an upbeat rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” delivers a great vibe through a combination of strings, piano and thumping bass to mesh the band and crowd together.

The late night and huge traffic queue to leave the car park is worth it as we’re buzzing from head to toe with the first day’s Bluesfest blast.

See the full gallery of photos on our Facebook page.

Highlights from Friday at Bluesfest

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ten Artists to Watch in the First Half of 2017

Bob Dylan

With the new year upon us it’s time to look ahead at some of the great folk, roots and acoustic music that will be coming our way in 2017. And it’s already shaping up to be an amazing year with a bunch of very exciting albums already announced (see the list at the bottom of this piece) and even more in the works. We had a stab at picking 10 artists we think you should be keeping an eye on in the coming months but as always this is far from exhaustive. We hope you enjoy and a happy 2017!

All Our Exes All Our Exes Live in Texas

A perennial for this yearly article it would seem. Somewhere in between tour commitments last year All Our Exes Live in Texas found time to get into the studio and record their debut album When We Fall. The album was produced and engineered by Wayne Connolly (Sarah Blasko, Silverchair, You Am I) and will likely hit stores around March. Expect to see a lot of All Our Exes Live in Texas in the coming months – they’re set to explode.

Davidson Brothers Davidson Brothers

Late last year Australian bluegrass duo Davidson Brothers headed to Nashville to record with Larry Marrs at Mark Thornton for an upcoming album. The Davidson Brothers released their last album Wanderlust back in 2014 so a new record is very much anticipated and if you’ve managed to catch them live yet this year you’ll know they continue to be one of the most exciting live acts in the country. Stay tuned for news of their new album soon!

Fleet Foxes

While there’s been no official announcement of a new Fleet Foxes album this year, their first since 2011’s Helplessness Blues, all signs are pointing toward a release very soon. Frontman Robin Pecknold has been hinting at a new Fleet Foxes long player (plus a solo album) over the last couple of months and the band also reassured fans via social media that they wouldn’t have to fly to an announced show in Ireland in July because “we’ll be doing a full world tour in 2017-18 so no need to spend a lot on travel”. Watch this space for more information when it’s announced!

Husky Husky

Don’t be surprised if Husky’s 2016 single “Late Night Store” makes an appearance in this year’s triple j Hottest 100 – the national youth broadcaster has been hammering it of late. The track is the first taster from the Melbourne indie-folk duo’s third album which is due for release at “some point” in 2017. That’s all the information we have now but expect some more news to drop soon.

Jordan Jordan Ireland

The ex-member of The Middle East announced plans to release his new album Jordan Ireland With Purple Orchestra on the 20th January. The first track from the album “East Coaster” is a lot more acoustically driven than Ireland’s previous project Stolen Violin, but that’s not to say the rest of Jordan Ireland With Purple Orchestra will follow suit. We’ll have to wait and see what the album brings but I have a feeling it’s going to be something special.

Laura marling Laura Marling

A new album from Laura Marling in 2017 – Semper Femina due on the 10th March – is in itself not a surprise. The prolific singer-songwriter has released five albums over the last nine years with Semper Femina marking her sixth long player. But on hearing the first single “Soothing” it’s clear that Marling is experimenting with her sound and Semper Femina may not be as “folk” as we’re used to from her. The album will apparently focus heavily on female characters and creativity, a theme Laura Marling explored in her excellent 2016 podcast Reversal of the Muse which we highly recommend you download.

Punch Brothers Punch Brothers Side Projects

While things are pretty quiet on the Punch Brothers front the various members are keeping themselves very very busy. As well as hosting the new season of A Prairie Home Companion mandolinist and singer Chris Thile will release his album with jazz pianist Brad Mehldau, Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau, on the 27th January. Banjo player Noam Pikelny’s new solo album Universal Favorite is due for release in March this year and was produced by Punch Brothers fiddle player Gabe Witcher. Witcher has also produced a solo album for guitarist Chris “Critter” Eldridge which will hopefully come out this year. Bassist Paul Kowert is prepping a new album as well with his trio Haas Kowert Tice (featuring Brittany Haas and Jordan Tice). All in all this might be the biggest year ever for fans of Punch Brothers.


Rhiannon Giddens Rhiannon Giddens

With her new album Freedom Highway due on the 24th February and an Australian tour this April (including an appearance at Bluesfest), 2017 could well be the year Rhiannon Giddens solidifies her Australian fanbase. Freedom Highway delves deep into black American history with songs based on slave narratives of the 19th century through to the civil rights movements of the 1960s. This may be Giddens’s most powerful work to date.

The Morrisons The Morrisons

There was a time when you couldn’t move in Sydney without bumping into a gig from The Morrisons. But over the last 18 months or so The Morrisons have become a little more scarce as the members focus on their side projects, although they continue to shine with their Paul Kelly and O Brother Where Art Thou? theme shows. In recent months the band have started posting photos from the studio and as we write this it looks like The Morrisons are on the verge of announcing the release of their debut album and a bunch of tour dates – 2017 is going to be the year The Morrisons come back in a big bad way.

Timberwolf Timberwolf

Adelaide based indie-folk singer-songwriter Timberwolf has been quietly plugging away at the scene for a while now and I feel as though 2017 will be his year. Having already garnered attention from triple j for his new single “Washed Out” Timberwolf is about to release his debut album and has a bunch of tour dates through the end of January and the start of February. Once the album is announced expect to see Timberwolf through 2017.

2017 Album Release Schedule

6th January: 11 Short Stories Of Pain & Glory – Dropkick Murphys
13th January: Gentlewoman, Ruby Man – Flo Morrissey & Matthew E. White
13th January: Laws of Gravity – The Infamous Stringdusters
13th January: Endless – The McClymonts
20th January: Jordan Ireland With Purple Orchestra – Jordan Ireland With Purple Orchestra
20th January: Dragonfly – Kasey Chambers
27th January: Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau – Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau
27th January: Seven Long Years – Musketeer
27th January: Stitch of the World – Tift Merritt
3rd February: Big Machine – Eliza Carthy and The Wayward Band
10th February: Memories Are Now – Jesca Hoop
10th February: Best Of – Old Crow Medicine Show
17th February: Windy City – Alison Krauss
17th February: Postcards From The Shell House – Busby Marou
17th February: Life Will See You Now – Jens Lekman
17th February: Highway Queen – Nikki Lane
17th February: Prisoner – Ryan Adams
24th February: Freedom Highway – Rhiannon Giddens
27th February: Common as Light and Love Are Red Valleys of Blood – Sun Kil Moon
March – Universal Favorite – Noam Pikelny
3rd March: When We Fall – All Our Exes Live In Texas
3rd March: Ironbark – The Waifs
10th March: Semper Femina – Laura Marling
16th March: The Order of Time – Valerie June
31st March: Life Love Flesh Blood – Imelda May

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 25th November

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– Irish music legend Sharon Shannon announced an Australian tour this January. Details here

The Lumineers relased their new video “Sleep On The Floor”. Details here

The National Folk Festival added a bunch of artists to its lineup including Jarlath Henderson, Katey Brooks, Mel Parsons, Melisande, Andy Salvanos, Catherine Fraser Trio, David Spry, Colin Lillie, YuNiOn with Stonewave Taiko, Dubmarine, Kutcha Edwards, Zulya and the Children of the Underground, Sparrow-Folk, The Martins and 19-Twenty. Details here

– We finally posted the new Rowena Wise video “Hollow Hearts”. Details here

– Progressive folk mandolinist Chris Thile and jazz pianist Brad Mehldau have announced a duo album to be released in January. Details here

– Perth folk-rock band Joel Barker & The Low Company released their new video “Make It Good”. Details here

– The new Gillian Welch album Boots No. 1: The Official Revival Bootleg is released today. Details here

– Irish born, Melbourne based singer-songwriter Gallie performs in Sydney tomorrow night. Details here

Bear’s Den released their new video “Emeralds”. Details here

– The amazing Rhiannon Giddens is returning to Australia next year. Details here

– American folk singer Willie Watson returns to Australia next year. Details here

Releases This Week

Buffalo Nickel
Buffalo NickelBuffalo Nickel
Bandcamp

Gillian
Boots No 1: The Official Revival BootlegGillian Welch
iTunes

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Kay Proudlove w/ Melanie April

Kay

South Coast singer-songwriter will take to the Bulli School of Arts this weekend to record some of her new songs live to an intimate crowd

Saturday 26th November – Bulli School of Arts, Woonona, NSW

Gigs Next Week

Áine Tyrrell
Wednesday 30th November – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane, QLD

BBQ & Blues feat. The Plough
Wednesday 30th November – Surly’s American BBQ, Burgers & Beer, Sydney, NSW

Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals
Saturday 26th November – Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 27th November – Queenscliff Music Festival, VIC
Monday 28th November – Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Adelaide, SA
Wednesday 30th November – Kings Park, Perth, WA

Boy & Bear
Friday 25th November – Tanks Art Centre, Cairns, QLD
Sunday 27th November – The Venue, Townsville, QLD
Friday 2nd December – Albany Entertainment Centre, Albany, WA

Crowded House
Friday 25th November – Sydney Opera House Forecourt, Syndey, NSW

Davey Craddock
Saturday 26th November – The Odd Fellow, Fremantle, WA

Eilen Jewell
Friday 25th November – Meeniyan Town Hall, Meeniyan, VIC
Saturday 26th November – Queenscliff Music Festival, Queenscliff, VIC

Fairgrounds Festival
Friday 2nd & Saturday 3rd December – Berry, NSW

Fanny Lumsden & The Thrillseekers
Saturday 26th November – Spring Plains Hall, Wee Waa, NSW

FolkSwagon feat. Candice McLeod, Alister Turrill, Lazy Colts
Wednesday 30th November – Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

FRACK OFF! Concert feat. John Butler Trio, The Pigram Brothers, Mama Kin, Ten Cent Shooters w/ MC Peter Rowsthorn
Saturday 26th November – 3 Oceans Winery, Cowaramup, WA
Sunday 27th November – 3 Oceans Winery, Cowaramup, WA

Gallie w/ Seanchas
Saturday 26th November – The Gaelic Club, Sydney, NSW

Green Mohair Suits w/ Luke Escombe
Friday 25th November – Camelot Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Handsome Young Strangers
Friday 2nd December – Union Hotel, Sydney, NSW

Haywood Billy Goats w/ The Tawny Owl Stringband, Rebecca Bastoli
Friday 25th November – House Concert, Sydney, NSW

Hashshashin, Vanishing Shapes, Kurushimi, Raven
Thursday 1st December – The Hideaway Bar, Sydney, NSW

Hootenanny feat. The Faraway Eyes
Sunday 27th November – Miss Peaches, Sydney, NSW

Joe & Harmony’s Magic Carpet Ride feat. Night Kite, Mudlarks Choir, Christina Mimmocchi
Saturday 26th November – Newtown Neighbourhood Centre, Sydney, NSW

Jordie Lane
Friday 25th to Sunday 27th November – Queenscliff Music Festival, Queenscliff, VIC

Josh Pyke & Bob Evans
Friday 25th November – The Pretoria, Mannum, SA
Saturday 26th November – Clandys Fishpub, Dunsborough, WA
Sunday 27th November – Live at the Orchard, Perth, WA
Friday 2nd December – Brisbane Powerhouse, Brisbane, QLD

Julia Jacklin
Friday 25th November – Paradise Music Festival, VIC
Saturday 26th to Sunday 27th November – Queenscliff Music Festival, VIC
Thursday 1st December – Transit Bar, Canberra, ACT
Friday 2nd December – The Small Ballroom, Newcastle, NSW
Friday 2nd December to Saturday 3rd December – Fairgrounds Festival, NSW

Kay Proudlove w/ Melanie April
Saturday 26th November – Bulli School of Arts, Woonona, NSW

Kasey Chambers w/ Eagle & The Wolf
Friday 2nd December – Revesby Workers’ Club, Sydney, NSW

Liam Gerner & The Sunset Pushers
Friday 25th November – Leftys, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 26th November – Drill Hall, Mullum, NSW
Thursday 1st December – Smiths Alternative, Canberra, ACT
Friday 2nd December – Lazy Bones, Sydney, NSW

Little Wise
Friday 25th November – Martians Cafe, Deans Marsh, VIC
Sunday 27th November – The Wheatsheaf, Adelaide, SA

Matt Andersen
Friday 25th November – Memo Music Hall, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 26th to Sunday 27th November – Queenscliff Music Festival, VIC
Tuesday 29th November – The Front Gallery & Café, Canberra, ACT
Thursday 1st December – Brass Monkey, Cronulla, NSW
Friday 2nd December – The Music Lounge, Wollongong, NSW

Matt Joe Gow
Thursday 1st December – The Unicorn, Sydney, NSW

Mel Parsons
Saturday 26th November – Ding Dong Lounge, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 27th – Djangos, Sydney, NSW
Wednesday 30th November – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane, QLD
Thursday 1st December – The V Room, Mooloolaba, Sunshine Coast, QLD
Friday 2nd December – Mojos, Fremantle, WA

Music for a Warming World – Green Music benefit
Sunday 27th November – Django Bar, Sydney, NSW

Nick Payne, Matt J Ward, Peasant Moon
Thursday 1st December – The Gasoline Pony, Sydney, NSW

Paul Kelly and Charlie Owen
Tuesday 29th November – St Joseph’s Church, Perth, WA
Wednesday 30th November – St Joseph’s Church, Perth, WA

PJ Michael & The Banditas
Saturday 26th November – Transit Bar, Canberra, ACT

Queenscliff Music Festival
Friday 25th to Sunday 27th November – Queenscliff, VIC

Steve Poltz
Friday 25th November – Blue Mountains, Warrimoo, NSW
Saturday 26th to Sunday 27th November – Queenscliff Music Festival, VIC
Wednesday 30th November – Mojo’s Bar, Fremantle, WA
Thursday 1st December – Bridgetown Hotel, Bridgetown, WA
Friday 2nd December – Ravenswood, Ravenswood, WA

Stray Hens
Friday 2nd December – The Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC

Sydney Rock ‘n’ Roll & Alternative Xmas Market feat. The Detonators, The Morrisons, The Cruisin’ Deuces, The Drey Rollan Band
Sunday 27th November – Manning House, Sydney, NSW

The Buck Loner Revue
Sunday 27th December – The Union Hotel, Sydney, NSW

The Button Collective
Friday 25th November – The Bellingen Brewery & Co., Bellingen, NSW

The Tallest Man On Earth
Wednesday 30th November – Melbourne Recital Centre, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 1st December – Melbourne Recital Centre, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 2nd & Saturday 3rd December – Fairgrounds Festival, Berry, NSW

The Wilson Pickers
Thursday 1st December – The Wheatsheaf Hotel, Adelaide, SA
Friday 2nd December – Basement Discs, Melbourne, VIC

The Pigs
Friday 25th November – Street Theatre, Canberra, ACT

Tom West
Thursday 1st December – Some Velvet Morning, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 4th December – Grace Emily, Adelaide, SA

Friday Folk Flashback

“Diamantina Drover” – Hugh McDonald with John Schumann & The Vagabond Crew

We sadly lost the great Hugh McDonald this week. Hugh very kindly let us publish his review of the Top Half Folk Festival in 2013. Here’s probably his most well known track from the 2010 Woodford Folk Festival. RIP Hugh McDonald.

Headline Tour Dates for Rhiannon Giddens

Rhiannon
Photo by Stuart Bucknell

Having wowed crowds at Bluesfest last year the marvelous Rhiannon Giddens has announced she’s back for 2017’s festival.

And even better Giddens has announced headline shows in Sydney and Melbourne – check out the full list of dates below and make sure you get to one of these gigs:

Saturday 8th April – Factory Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Tuesday 11th April – The Corner, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 13th to Monday 17th April – Bluesfest, NSW

Review: 5 things we learned at Bluesfest

Kale plays at Bluesfest 2016Kaleo playing Bluesfest
Photos by Stuart Bucknell

Year after year, Bluesfest manages to bring the big names and the impressive acts to Byron Bay for the annual Easter pilgrimage. Heading to Bluesfest this year, we really didn’t know many of the acts listed on the bill and wondered just what was in store for us, Timber and Steel wise. So here’s 5 things we learned at this year’s wildly successful, ultimate music sampler opportunity that is, Bluesfest.

#1 – Peter Noble knows how to program…

One thing is for sure, Peter Noble knows how to curate an inclusive, diverse and engaging festival. The big names drew enormous crowds to all their sets. City and Colour had the crowd from the first note and Dallas Green was on form all night.  The Decemberists gave their usual charming set delving in to a fabulous back catalogue of favourites. Not to go without a bit of political comment, they also played a song they thought to offer Donald Trump as his new campaign tune, ‘The Calamity Song’. The Cat Empire delivered a solid hour and a half set jam packed with both new tracks and past hits and favourites to wow the crowd. The biggest coup was probably The Original Blues Brothers Band closing out the weekend with a stellar set of their signature blues.

The festival was dappled with big names throughout the program. Archie Roach was in fine form, weaving his musical spell over the crowd and telling the tales of the land with strength and beauty, and a focus on songs from Charcoal Lane, the title track being a particular stand out moment of the set. Jason Isbell had his one an only set up against The Original Blues Brothers Band, so splitting our time between the two was challenging but rewarding as Isbell’s enigmatic style caught watchers in it’s thrall delivering a contemporary counterpoint to the old school blues on the other stage.

Kim Churchill plays BluesfestBut one of the most notable names for me, still playing midday sets, was Kim Churchill. Getting his big break on the Bluesfest Buskers stage all those years ago, Churchill has been a staple name on the line up ever since. His absence in 2015 was noted and the crowds that gathered for this sets this year spoke strongly of his popularity for the Bluesfest crowd. Watching him command the stage, with the occasional accompaniment of a fiddle player or percussionists, was a joy to witness and testament to the following he has. It felt like he had come home, and in the process had evolved from a keen boy with a guitar to a passionate man with a solid musical career stretching before him.

#2 – It’s never just about the Blues. Folk, Country, and Americana all strongly represented in 2016

Strolling from stage to stage, the peeling licks and plucky chords of the more folky persuasion were both notable and popular with punters, letting us stumble across all kinds of gems.  LA based Lord Huron made quite the entrance with a tension building soundscape and crescendo, an upbeat strummy and infectious style, inventive percussion beneath the acoustic lead and an ability to morph between styles, from the old school feel reminiscent of the 50s and 60s summer soundtracks, through alt country and indie folk rock vibes. A particular highlight from the four-piece was ‘Hurricane’, billed as a song about “getting in trouble”, turns out it was aptly named.

Described as an Icelandic Indie pop/rock/folk band, Kaleo was a light and lyrical delight. Building from their delicate opening style to gutsy, rhythm driven choruses, through alt-country sensibilities to deep southern style blues, and a soulful cover of Bang Bang, Kaleo didn’t hesitate to transcend styles and genres to sign off with a blues rock riff and howling vocals when warranted.

The Bros Landreth, hailing from Canada, brought their alt-country and folk laden cover of Wings’ ‘Let ‘Em In’ to break the ice and then let the Americana tinged goodness flow forth. A family affair, big brother David couldn’t attend so father Wally came in his place and whipped the crowd in to a cheering craze.

The Mastersons were touring with Steve Earle & The Dukes, and made appearances both on Earle’s sets and one of their own solo shows for Bluesfest. Their lyrical country styling, featuring voices working together in diverse melodic harmony gave their day opening set a contemplative mood, transporting the crowd to simpler days. Earle’s set was one great big treat of blues soaked tunes with toe-tapping jivey bluegrass edge, all with the sweet country counterpoint of The Mastersons.

Hound mouth playing Bluesfest 2016

It seemed to be a fatherly affair this Bluesfest, with Hussy Hicks welcoming Julz’s dad Greg to their set to deliver some blistering harmonica to their upbeat tempo and at times Joplin-esque wails and passion. Indiana’s Houndmouth however had no dad’s on their line up but did have plenty of twangy blues and American drawl to open their show and unravel your soul where you stood.

#3 – Word of Mouth is King

You know when you look at a line up and you’re not really sure what acts to check out? Well Bluesfest was that way inclined for many but within the first 8 hours, gossip was abuzz with recommendations and wild tales of phenomenal shows and must see acts to catch. So here’s what we checked out based purely on word of mouth.

Steve Smyth plays at Bluesfest 2016

OK, so Steve Smyth isn’t exactly news to us, but the stir on site had his name on the tips of peoples tongues and boy did he live up to the hype. Sheer genius stood on that stage in the form of master lyricist and vibrant stage presence. Smyth’s beautiful voice and stunning vibrato was just powerful solo as with the support backing instrumentalists. His performance of ‘Southland’ blew socks off across the festival.

Shooglenifty, also known as ‘that band I can’t pronounce’, was not what you expect when you read “Celtic” on the program, but a glorious blend of traditional highland derived tunes that were heavy on the fiddle and a mandolin at the ready, intricately twined with modern rhythms, a few electric guitars and a toe tapping beat, drew punters in before they could saunter too far past the heaving tent.

Blind Boy Paxton plays at Bluesfest 2016

The was no way to walk through the site without hearing the name, Blind Boy Paxton. Listening to his set was like a walk through time, from a fiddle calling a country dance and bransles, to a lightning speed banjo frenzy, a soothing guitar tune and even a lone harmonica telling you it’s tale. All this from one man on stage – simply astonishing.

#4 – The Ladies are out in force! And you should catch all of them live

There was a lot of talk about various acts, and word of mouth certainly got us to see some great performers, but thanks to emphatic and multiple recommendations from all kinds of punters, we discovered some of the most phenomenal women who stamped their mark and left as some of the powerhouses of Bluesfest.

We caught Sahara Beck for her last set and were immediately struck by her stage presence, the smooth set up with band and back up singers added the pizazz to her swag and gave her sultry vibe a ‘pop’ on stage.

Elle King had tongues wagging as word spread that after her first, expletive laden set, her set list had to be ‘revised’. However her husky, growling vocal licks were well and truly flowing when we caught her set in a heaving tent overflowing in to the customary Bluesfest rain. Sass and attitude would be the plainest way of describing King, her vibrancy comes from her musical versatility and ability to weave country vibes and bluegrassy panache throughout her ballsy bluesy set. A chameleon of style, King bowled over crowds with big notes, fiery wit and feisty repartee.

Elle King plays at Bluesfest 2016

Hailing from Ireland, via Canada, Irish Mythen is a modern troubadour equipped with a powerhouse voice and emphatic lyrics. Mythen might have been the grittiest, most real musician seen at Bluesfest this year, armed only with her guitar and her stories, she held hundreds of people spellbound, hanging on her every word any time she took to the stage. We caught her multiple times, and laughed, cried, cheered and sung along to songs we had only heard the first time days before. She regularly had the crowd in stitches with her sense of humour and story telling capers, and woe betide any punter brave enough to heckle her! Four stand out moments stayed with me, even though I saw them all more than once. Her performance of ‘Tullamore Blues’ almost defies description, except that the crowd was with her, in that space, singing every word and feeling every sentiment. Jesus is an experience to behold, hilarious in it’s explanation and empowering in it’s performance, I sincerely hope every person gets to experience it live. Her a Capella rendition of ‘The Auld Triangle’ gives me chills and is simply astounding.  And finally ’55 Years’ had me (and most in the crowd) in tears for the beauty it captures in it’s tale. A truly moving experience. Irish Mythen is awe inspiring and we’re excited she’ll be visiting Australia again soon.

Rhiannon Giddens plays at Bluesfest 2016

And finally, probably the all-singing, all-dancing highlight of the ladies was Rhiannon Giddens. Establishing herself originally as a part of Carolina Chocolate Drops, Giddens’ solo work is a sight to behold and a treat to hear. Her stunning vocals are soulful yet soar high in beautiful arcs and trills of an almost Celtic style. The skill of her band melds electric with acoustic in wonderful instrumental breaks, bouncing off one another jamming to a crescendo and returning the spotlight to her lead when the time was right. Her banjo crept through tunes to pounce on you unawares, yet could alternate and become the hero of the song. Old Bob Dylan lyrics never previously turned in to songs until Giddens got her hands on them offered a treasure trove to discover. Doing a Dolly Parton cover can be tough, but Giddens’ rendition of ‘Don’t Let It Trouble Your Mind’ saw her own the song completely, from every element of style through to her emotive connection with both lyrics and sentiment. From start to finish and for each and every set, she wowed the crowd with fiddle, banjo, modern takes on traditional style, soul stirring lyrics and even a step back in time to the 1920s. Her fancy footwork went down a treat and her ability to connect with the audience and tether them to her tale as the most exquisite experience to behold. She could chat to the crowd but make you feel like she spoke to you and you alone, and yet at all times Rhiannon Giddens continued to exist as her own ineffable self.

#5 – Soul is in, along with BIG bands

Now strictly speaking, Timber and Steel doesn’t really cover Soul, but the prevalence of the big band style soul injections at Bluesfest is worthy of admiration and appreciation, so it gets a gong here.

Emma Donovan & The Putbacks were a sight to behold as Donovan put her own stamp on soul, with earthy tones and a voice that rolled over the crowd, calling to them, beckoning them to hear her story. The combination of her stories and passionate, soulful delivery made for a tight set and profound performance.

I wrote down 4 words when seeing The Word, and two of them were expletives… “holy f***ing sh*t wow.” The couple of songs we caught were incredible, full of funky groves and some sweet slide guitar, all topped off with an electric organ. Very smooth and cool indeed.

Ash Grunwald plays at Bluesfest 2016Ash Grunwald hasn’t moved in to soul, but his Bluesfet setup did resemble the big backing bands of the soul acts and boy did it compliment his wailing blues. Never conforming to just one genre, Grunwald drew on bluegrass vibes, some indie rock to his blues and of course his signature commentary on Australian life. Playing River from his new album, Grunwald spoke about the anti-CSG message prevalent throughout his most recent recordings and confirmed he was among friends int he Bluesfest crowd. His set was punctuated with old favourites as highlights, crowds rollicking in his passionate performance and joining in to sing along on choruses, and the utter delight when Kasey Chambers joined him on stage for a brand new song was palpable.

Another of the tongue wagging recommendations was for Vintage Trouble, and my first impression was that lead singer Ty Taylor was sex on legs, with enough swagger stuffed in to a cravat and suit to fell an army. And when the full band kicked in, it blew the show off the Richter scale. A set full of southern blues, call and response, screaming and wailing blues breaks and enough on stage antics to warrant a lie down after watching. This was my kind of place, 1950s style jazzy blues, complete with energy and onstage charisma!

Vintage Trouble plays Bluesfest 2016

Now, if you haven’t yet heard of the phenomenal popularity and praise for Bluesfest debutants St. Paul and The Broken Bones, then you haven’t been doing the internet properly. Of all the word of mouth recommendations, St Paul and The Broken Bones was THE most talked about act at Bluesfest, and not without good reason. A big band blues-laden soul outfit, oozing funk, with a big personality for a front man in Paul Janeway. Opening with an almighty wail and sliding in to a crooning style track, the crowd knew exactly where they stood and were rooted to the spot to witness the explosive show by one of the most engaging acts we’ve seen in years. Janeway, on behalf of the entire band, exclaimed that Bluesfest was the best experience they had ever had and they would definitely be coming back to Australia, to which the crowd erupted with delight. A set filled with rumbling soul, emotive ballads and big, ballsy blues, St Paul and The Broken Bones is sure to be a high rotation favourite on many punters playlists for some time to come.

St Paul and The Broken Bones plays Bluesfest 2016

Without a doubt, Bluesfest’s skillfully curated 2016 lineup was a smash hit success, sure to be spoken of for years to come. Can’t wait to see what Peter Noble comes up with for 2017!

Timber and Steel’s Top Albums of 2015

Record Player

If anything has characterised 2015 for me in terms of new albums it’s that we finally saw debuts from some of our favourite artists. So many bands these days are serial EP releasers so it’s great to see the likes of Patrick James, Falls Marlon Williams and more knuckle down and get into the studio. It’s also great to see the return of firm favourites after time away and an explosion of traditional music that pushes boundaries and challenges our perception of what trad music can be.

Coming up with a top 25 list is always a challenge (let alone putting them in some kind of order) but I think what we’ve come up with is a wonderful cross section of all the genres of “folk” music we cover on Timber and Steel – from singer-songwriter to Americana to indie folk to traditional and beyond.

So without further ado here it is – our top 25 albums and EPs from 2015!

Kate and Ruth

1. Kate Burke & Ruth HazletonDeclaration

What a year 2015 has been for traditional music. Maybe it’s just me but it seems like a lot more trad is breaking through at the moment and the icing on the cake this year has been the incredible new album from Kate Burke & Ruth Hazleton, Declaration.

This is the duo’s first album in about eight years and their return to the studio has been a welcome one. Once again teaming with producer Luke Plumb, Declaration is loosely themed around traditional music from the female perspective with a few contemporary tracks thrown in for good measure.

The tracks are rich, heartbreaking, emotional and beautiful. So many of the songs deal with pretty heavy themes such as domestic violence (“Bleezin’ Blind Drunk”), false accusations of adultery (“Waly Waly”) and the disintegration of a woman’s public reputation (“Katy Cruel”) and these are conveyed with resonance by Burke and Hazleton. Hearing these two singing together again reminds me of why I fell in love with their harmonies all those years ago.

The two originals on the album – “The Freeze” and “Hearts Of Sorrow” – are two of my favourites and they make me wish Kate Burke & Ruth Hazleton were more prolific as songwriters. Maybe one day we’ll get a full album of self penned tracks?

I love how much Kate Burke & Ruth Hazleton have matured as performers over the last 15 years. Gone is the rigid need to stick 100% to the tradition and instead we have a fluid take on the material that draws as much from contemporary music as it does from Anglo, Celtic and American music. A simply wonderful album

Sufjan

2. Sufjan StevensCarrie & Lowell

Touted as the return to Folk Music for Sufjan Stevens, Carrie & Lowell is in fact the next step in his musical evolution. Rather than shrugging off the electronic chaos of his recent albums, Stevens has merely toned it down and brought back his acoustic guitar to dive into the complex relationship with his mother following her passing. This album is so raw, so nuanced and deserved of every bit of praise that has been heaped upon it.

Fanny Lumsden

3. Fanny LumsdenSmall Town Big Shot

I’ve always predicted big things for Fanny Lumsden ever since I saw her perform at a rooftop bar in Sydney many moons ago. Small Town Big Shot is the album that is currently turning Lumsden from Sydney’s alt-country darling to a favourite of the Australian country scene. The album is full of Fanny Lumsden’s true-to-life accounts of growing up in rural Australia while never straying into the Americanised, dust kicking ideal of country life so often portrayed by Australian country artists. Not to be ignored, Lumsden’s band The Thrillseekers add a rich musical tapestry to her songs and really seem to have gelled as group. Only released in September there’s a lot of life in Small Town Big Shot so we’ll continue to see Fanny Lumsden riding high off it’s ever growing success in 2016.

Paper Kites

4. The Paper Kitestwelvefour

The Paper Kites have produced what has to be one of the most interesting concept albums of recent years. twelvefour was written exclusively between the hours of 12am and 4am as frontman Sam Bentley believed this is when people are at their most creative. The result is stunning – a patchwork of eighties electro influences and the band’s trademark indie-folk – and will no doubt go down as a high watermark in their career. twelvefour feels very deliberately structured moving from the straight up electro of “Electric Indigo” and “Relevator Eyes” to more folky numbers in the second half of the album (“A Silent Cause” is a standout for me). I’m interested to see where The Paper Kites take their sound next.

Packwood

5. PackwoodAutumnal

This year chamber-folk artist Packwood released four seasonally themed EPs as part of his Vertumnus album project. The first of these was Autumnal which has remained my firm favourite through all of the subsequent releases. Gone is Packwood’s trademark sparsely plucked banjo (don’t worry, it returns in later EPs) and instead we get delicately fingerpicked guitar accompanied by choir and chamber orchestra. The songs are delicate and sumptuous and Packwood has really come a long way as a songwriter since his debut. Put on Autumnal, close your eyes and let the world fall away.

Laura Marling

6. Laura MarlingShort Movie

We’re now five albums into Laura Marling’s career and her songwriting has never been stronger. On her latest release Short Movie Marling’s songwriting takes on a freeform, Dylan-esque mode only hinted at on previous albums and it takes her into some very ineteresting places. There’s a lot more electric guitar on Short Movie and at times she descends into beat-poet-like spoken word phrases (like on the amazing “Gurdjieff’s Daughter”) yet no one is crying that Marling’s turned her back on her folk roots (like Marling’s old band Mumford & Sons). Instead Short Movie is being praised as an evolution of her sound and while it is miles away from her 2008 debut Alas, I Cannot Swim, both musically and stylistically, this is 100% a Laura Marling album.

Pittsburgh

7. William FitzsimmonsPittsburgh

In his ode to his recently passed Grandmother and her home town of Pittsburgh, William Fitzsimmons has created a delicate, beautiful piece of magic. This is his first self-produced album since 2006’s Goodnight and it does feel markedly different from his recent releases – the production is not a slave to his voice and guitar, instead it sits more comfortably as part of each song. At only seven tracks long Pittsburgh leaves you warm and fuzzy and wanting more.

Outlier

8. Patrick JamesOutlier

It seems like 2015 saw a lot of long time favourite Timber and Steel artists finally got around to releasing their debut album – and one of the debuts we were most excited about was from Patrick James. Over the course of a bunch of EPs Patrick James has refined his James Taylor-esque folk songs and Outlier is the culmination of years of solid songwriting. The production on Outlier makes the most of James’ unique voice and elevates his solo singer-songwriter roots into a rich, luscious landscape.

Wilder Mind

9. Mumford & SonsWilder Mind

With all of the attention on Mumford & Sons “ditching the banjo” and turning their back on folk music when Wilder Mind came out very little attention was paid to the album itself. Which is a shame because it’s another solid outing for the boys. If you push through the electric guitars and drums you discover that Wilder Mind is unmistakably a Mumford record with big choruses, melodies dripping with four part harmonies and festival ready lyrical hooks. And anyone who has seen Mumford & Sons this year will know they have in no way ditched the banjo – Wilder Mind sits perfectly within their entire catalogue.

Omaha

10. FallsOmaha

It took Falls moving to LA 18 months ago (and dropping the “The”) to produce their gorgeous debut album Omaha. Falls have expanded their two-voices-and-a-guitar sound to an almost orchestral level, but at the forefront is still their lyrically driven melodies and beautiful harmonies. I’m actually really impressed that all of the tracks on Omaha having seen them perform almost exclusively from their Hollywood EP before their big move Stateside. Now we just need a national Australian tour off the back of the album!

Omaha

11. TolkaOne House

The stunning result of trad band Tolka’s trip to Belfast last year to write and record a new album – one of the tightest trad bands in the country.

Limit of Love

12. Boy & BearLimit of Love

Boy & Bear return with a 70s vibe and a bunch of new tracks that saw the band collaborating on the songwriting duties.

If I Was

11. The StavesIf I Was

The Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) production on The Staves’ debut elevates their sound from simple three part harmonies to full blown indie-folk goodness.

Secret Victory

12. The East PointersSecret Victory

The result of writing sessions on their summer tour of Australia, The East Pointers have written 10 original tracks that sound as if they’ve been ripped directly from the tradition.

Monterey

13. The Milk Carton KidsMonterey

Monterey is the closest The Milk Carton Kids have come to capturing their mesmerising live show on record – this is something special.

Freewheeler

14. Dougal Adams, Ado Barker & Ben StephensonThe Freewheeler

Instead of complaining that it’s been too long between albums for Trouble in the Kitchen get your trad fix with the debut album from Dougal Adams, Ado Barker & Ben Stephenson.

Solitude

15. Ruby BootsSolitude

The Perth songstress has nailed down an amazing band and has produced one of the best alt-country albums of the last few years.

Tomorrow Is My Turn

16. Rhiannon GiddensTomorrow Is My Turn

In her debut solo album Rhiannon Giddens has built on the trad and old time of her work with the Carolina Chocolate Drops and spun it into something new and very exciting.

Marlon Williams

17. Marlon WilliamsMarlon Williams

With a voice that has reduced grown men and women to tears, there’s a lot to love about Marlon Williams’ debut record – this man is taking country music back to its roots and winning fans every step of the way.

Inside Llewyn Davis

18. VariousAnother Day, Another Time: Celebrating the Music of Inside Llewyn Davis

The folk and Americana industry’s best come together for a night of music inspired by the 60s folk scene and to a lesser extent the Cohen Brothers’ film Inside Llewyn Davis.

Dream's End

19. Matt BauerDream’s End

On his latest album Matt Bauer has upped the production stakes, forgoing his normally sparse folk songs and the result is wonderful.

Punch Brothers

20. Punch BrothersThe Phosphorescent Blues

I think it’s time to stop referring to Punch Brothers as “bluegrass” or “nu-grass” or anything at all – with The Phosphorescent Blues they have proven they are undefinable.

WHITE LIES

21. Mustered CourageWhite Lies and Melodies

Mustered Courage have always been the most polished bluegrass band in Australia but they’ve upped the ante with their new album adding a pop sheen to their sound.

Hell Breaks Loose

22. Shane NicholsonHell Breaks Loose

The godfather of the Australian Americana scene released one of the year’s best country albums – all heartbreak and whisky and everything that’s good about this kind of music.

The Decemberists

23. The DecemberistsWhat A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World

A welcome return to the studio from The Decemberists to follow up their amazing 2011 album The King Is Dead – a little less folk, a little more rock and all sorts of goodness.

Josh Pyke

24. Josh PykeBut For All These Shrinking Hearts

Australia’s premiere troubadour delivers yet another stunning album with his trademark wry lyrics and hooky melodies.

S

25. Emmy The GreatS

Emmy The Great slides into electro music while maintaining the folk-inspired melodies she’s become known for.

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 30th October

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– The full lineup for the Healesville Music Festival was announced including Chris Henry & Hardcore Grass, Davidson Brothers, Pete Denahy, The Stray Hens, The Yearlings, Orpheus Supertones, Nine Mile Creek, Michael Waugh, Jenny Biddle, Ben Mitchell & The Stylists, Nick Charles, The Dukes of Despair, Soulsville, Telecom Joe, The King Kats, The Hannafords, AJ Leonard and Jenny Rowlands, Blackberry Jam Bush Band, Healesville String Band, Aaron Burton, Richie Langford, Pans on Fire, Rudy the One Man Band, Michael the Balloonologist and more. Details here

The Decemberists have announced Sydney and Melbourne sideshows when they’re in the country for Bluesfest. Details here

Rhiannon Giddens has announced she’ll release a new EP later this year along with Bluesfest sideshows when she’s in Australia in March. Details here

– Melbourne folk duo Little Wise released their new video “My Pocket”. Details here

– Melbourne singer-songwriter Jim Lawrie released his new video “Antisocialite”. Details here

Matt Corby released a one take live video for the track “Monday”. Details here

– Sydney singer-songwriter Timothy James Bowen announced a November tour to support his new EP Steel & Wood presented by Timber and Steel. Details here

– American gospel-folk duo The Welcome Wagon have released a free sampler ahead of their upcoming new album. Details here

– Melbourne’s TinPan Orange release their new single “You’re Not There”. Details here

Fraser A. Gorman released his new video “Never Gonna Hold You (Like I Do)”. Details here

William Elliott Whitmore released his new video “Civilizations”. Details here

– This Sunday’s Heartbreaker Sessions in Sydney will feature Jason Walker and Dan Parsons. Details here

Releases This Week

The Raven
The RavenAde Vincent
Bandcamp

The Welcome Wagon
A Work of Love in ProgressThe Welcome Wagon
NoiseTrade

I Am An Animal
I Am An AnimalWhitaker
iTunes

Timber and Steel Presents

TJB
Timothy James Bowen

Sunday 1st November – Central Park Markets, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 5th November – Babushka Bar, Ballarat, VIC

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Chris Henry & The Hardcore Grass w/ One Up, Two Down

Chris Henry

I caught American bluegrass picker Chris Henry and his trans-pacific band The Hardcore Grass last weekend at the Dorrigo Folk and Bluegrass Festival and they absolutely blew me away. This week they continue their Australian tour with a support from that other trans-pacific bluegrass band One Up, Two Down.

Sunday 1st November – Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW
Friday 6th November – The Polish Club, Canberra, ACT

Gigs Next Week

Ash Grunwald
Saturday 31st October – Wangaratta Jazz Festival, Wangaratta, VIC
Wednesday 4th November – Fresh On Charles, Launceston, TAS
Thursday 5th November – Tapas Bar, Devonport, TAS
Friday 6th November – Republic Bar, Hobart, TAS

Bendigo Blues and Roots Music Festival
Thursday 5th to Sunday 8th November – Bendigo, VIC

Blackwood Festival of Music and Culture
Friday 6th to Sunday 8th November – Blackwood, VIC

Caravansary
Friday 6th November – The Gaelic Club, Sydney, NSW

Chris Henry & The Hardcore Grass w/ One Up, Two Down
Sunday 1st November – Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW
Friday 6th November – The Polish Club, Canberra, ACT

CW Stoneking
Friday 30th October – Manning Bar, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 31st October – The Triffid, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 6th November – Thornbury Theatre, Melbourne, VIC

Dan Parsons
Friday 30th October – Home Sweet Home (House Concert), Sydney, NSW
Saturday 31st October – The Junkyard, Maitland, NSW
Sunday 1st November – Heartbreaker Sessions at Freda’s, Chippendale, NSW
Wednesday 4th November – Bar on the Hill at Newcastle Uni, Newcastle, NSW
Thursday 5th November – Mothers Milk, Sawtell, NSW
Friday 6th November – Ex-Services Club, Mullumbimby, NSW

Dana Hassall
Friday 30th October – Johnny Cash: The Concert, Redcliffe Cultural Centre, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 31st October – Johnny Cash: The Concert, Ipswich Civic Centre, Brisbane, QLD
Sunday 1st November – Grass Roots Music Festival, Brisbane, QLD
Tuesday 3rd November – Chevron Renaissance Shopping Centre, Surfers Paradise, QLD
Friday 6th November – Deception Bay Bowls Club, Deception Bay, QLD

Davidson Brothers
Saturday 31st October to Sunday 1st November – Sydney Country Music Festival, NSW
Tuesday 3rd November – Mansfield ‘Cup Day’ Races, VIC
Friday 6th November – Bendigo Blues & Roots Festival, VIC

Fanny Lumsden
Thursday 5th November – Some Velvet Morning, Clifton Hill, VIC
Friday 6th November – Garibaldi Hall, Garibaldi, VIC

Folkswagon feat. Pugsley Buzzard, The Campervan Dancers, Kay Proudlove
Wednesday 4th November – Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Heartbreaker Sessions feat. Jason Walker, Dan Parsons
Sunday 1st November – Freda’s, Sydney, NSW

Hozier
Friday 30th October – Palais Theatre, Melbourne, VIC
Tuesday 3rd November – Horden Pavilion, Sydney, NSW
Friday 6th November – Riverstage, Brisbane, QLD

JamGrass Launch Party
Friday 6th November – The Spotted Malard, Melbourne, VIC

Josh Rennie-Hynes
Friday 30th October – The Westernport Hotel, San Remo, VIC
Sunday 1st November – Bright Brewery, Bright, VIC

Katie Noonan
Friday 30th October – Australian Institute of Music, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 31st October – Australian Institute of Music, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 5th November – Brass Monkey, Cronulla, NSW
Friday 6th November – Street Theatre, Canberra, ACT

Kaurna Cronin
Friday 30th October – Maldon Folk Festival, Maldon, VIC

Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes
Thursday 5th November – The Caravan Music Club, Oakleigh, VIC

Lime and Steel
Saturday 31st October – Oktoberfest at the Old City Bank, Katoomba, NSW

Lior
Friday 30th October – The Astor Theatre, Perth, WA
Saturday 31st October – Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide, SA

Little Features feat. Ben Edgar, Renetta Joy, Arbori, Charlie Gradon
Friday 30th October – Hibernian House, Sydney NSW

Loren Kate
Saturday 31st October to Sunday 1st November – Maldon Folk Festival, VIC

Lost Ragas
Saturday 31st October – Flying Saucer Club, Melbourne VIC

Luke Legs and Michelle
Saturday 31st Octover – Kiltynane Wines, Queenscliff, VIC

Maldon Folk Festival
Friday 30th October to Monday 2nd November – Maldon, VIC

Marlon Williams and The Yarra Benders w/ Ben Salter
Thursday 5th November – Four Five Nine, Perth, WA
Friday 6th November – Prince Of Wales, Bunbury, WA

Matt Corby
Monday 2nd November – The Tivoli, Brisbane, QLD
Wednesday 4th November – HQ, Adelaide, SA
Friday 6th November – Metropolis, Fremantle, WA

Melanie Horsnell
Sunday 1st November – Windsong Pavilion, Bermagui, NSW

Michael David Thomas
Thursday 5th November – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane, QLD

Musketeer
Friday 30th October – Lass O’ Gowrie, Newcastle, NSW

Oh Willy Dear, Golden Whistler
Sunday 1st November – The Union, Sydney, NSW

Patrick James
Friday 30th October – The Soundlounge, Gold Coast, QLD
Saturday 31st October 31st – Woolly Mammoth, Brisbane, QLD
Thursday 5th November – Lizottes, Newcastle, NSW
Friday 6th November – The Metro, Sydney, NSW

Pierce Brothers
Friday 6th November – Beach Hotel, Byron Bay, NSW

Ruby Boots
Friday 30th October – Fremantle Festival “Hush”, Fremantle, WA

Sal Kimber & The Rollin’ Wheel
Friday 30th October to Sunday 1st November – Happy Wanderer Festival, Benalla, VIC
Friday 6th to Sunday 8th November – Bendigo Blues and Roots Festival, Bendigo, VIC

Sam Brittain
Friday 30th October – The Grace Emily, Adelaide, SA

Suzannah Espie
Friday 30th October – Caravan Music Club, Oakleigh, VIC
Sunday 1st November – Wheatsheaf Hotel, Thebarton, SA
Friday 6th November – Music On The Hill, Red Hill, VIC

Sydney Country Music Festival
Saturday 31st October to Sunday 1st November – Bella Vista Farm, NSW

The Andrew Collins Trio
Friday 30th October – Humph Hall, Allambie Heights, NSW
Saturday 31st October – Nerrigundah Town Hall, Nerrigundah, NSW
Sunday 1st November – Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, ACT
Wednesday 4th November – House Concert, Carringbah, NSW
Thursday 5th November – Lewisham Hotel, Lewisham, NSW
Friday 6th November – Radio Springs Hotel, Lyonville, VIC

The Audreys
Saturday 7th November – The Abbey, Canberra, ACT

The Dead Maggies
Friday 6th November – The Brisbane Hotel, Hobart, TAS

The Go Set
Saturday 31st October – The Barwon Club, Geelong, VIC
Tuesday 3rd November – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 6th November – Brisbane Hotel, Hobart, TAS

The Morrisons
Friday 6th to Saturday 7th November – Jamgrass Music Festival, Melbourne, VIC

The Paper Kites
Friday 30th October – The Soundlounge, Gold Coast, QLD
Saturday 31st October – Woolly Mammoth, Brisbane, QLD
Thursday 5th November – Lizottes, Newcastle, NSW
Friday 6th November – The Metro, Sydney, NSW

The Waifs
Saturday 31st October – Granite Town Festival, Mooruya, NSW
Sunday 1st November – The National Theatre, Canberra, ACT
Tuesday 3rd November – Anitas, Thirroul, NSW
Wednesday 4th November – Civic Theatre, Newcastle, NSW
Thursday 5th November – Enmore Theatre, Sydney, NSW

Timothy James Bowen
Sunday 1st November – Central Park Markets, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 5th November – Babushka Bar, Ballarat, VIC

Whitaker
Saturday 31st October – Shebeen, Melbourne, VIC

Winterbourne
Friday 30th October – Entrance Leagues Club, The Entrance, NSW
Saturday 31st Octpber – Enmore Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Friday 6th November – Bar on The Hill, Newcastle, NSW

Youngsmith
Thursday 5th November – The Triffid, Brisbane, QLD

Friday Folk Flashback

“Flowers” – TinPan Orange

I thought I’d celebrate the release of the new TinPan Orange single today with a look back at one of my favourite songs of theirs.

Rhiannon Giddens Announces New EP and Bluesfest Sideshows

Rhiannon Giddens
Image Courtesy of Rhiannon Giddens

American trad and contemporary folk singer Rhiannon Giddens has announced plans to followup her amazing debut solo album Tomorrow Is My Turn with a five song vinyl EP Factory Girl on the 27th November (available digitally on the 11th December).

The EP is made up of material culled from the Tomorrow Is My Turn sessions and is produced by T Bone Burnett. The full track listing is here:

1. That Lonesome Road (traditional, arranged by Sister Rosetta Tharpe)
2. Mouth Music (traditional, arranged by Rhiannon Giddens)
3. Moonshiner’s Daughter (Rhiannon Giddens, Lalenja Harrington, T Bone Burnett)
4. Underneath the Harlem Moon (Mack Gordon, Harry Revel, Ethel Waters)
5. Factory Girl (traditional, additional verses by Rhiannon Giddens)

Rhiannon Giddens has also announced a handful of sideshows when she’s in Australia for Bluefest next year. Check out the full list of dates below:

Monday 21st March – The Factory Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Wednesday 23rd March – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 24th to Monday 28th March – Bluesfest, Byron Bay, NSW

Bluesfest Announces First Round of Artists for 2016

Bluesfest
Image Courtesy of Bluesfest

It’s July and we’re already getting 2016 festival announcements? That’s crazy.

This morning Bluesfest revealed their first round of artists for the 2016 festival, which is not until the end of March, a full eight months away. A lot has been made of the “shock” exclusive headliner The National (who have always drawn influences from roots music, even if what they do is not exactly roots) but as always we’re super excited about the artists a little bit further down the list like Rhiannon Giddens and Shakey Graves.

Bluesfest is held over the Easter long weekend from the 24th to 28th March just outside of Byron bay. The full list of artists announced is below – check out the official site for more details.

The National
City and Colour
UB40 featuring Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue
Joe Bonamassa
Tedeschi Trucks Band
The Cat Empire
Lukas Nelson & Promise of The Real
The Word
Rhiannon Giddens
Janiva Magness
St. Paul & The Broken Bones
Allen Stone
The Selecter
Shakey Graves
Songhoy Blues

Ten Albums and EPs From the First Half of 2015 You Should Own

Bob Dylan

We’ve hit the halfway point of 2015 and already we’ve been treated to some very very fine music of the folk, acoustic and roots albums from some of our favourite artists. When I was sifting through the releases so far this year whittling it down to just ten records was almost impossible. But this is the challenge I’ve set myself and ten albums I have chosen – with honourable mentions to of course go to William Fitzsimmons, Passenger, Lucy Wise Trio, José González, Catgut, Punch Brothers, The Decemberists and many many more. So prepare to discover some amazing music, revisit some amazing music or hotly debate what’s missing from our list of the top ten albums and EPs from the first half of 2015.

DeclarationKate Burke & Ruth Hazleton

Declaration

The return of Kate Burke & Ruth Hazleton to the studio with their fifth album was welcomed with open arms from everyone in the folk scene. I’ve said it many times before but Kate Burke & Ruth Hazleton’s music in the early 2000’s is what solidified me as a life long fan of folk and traditional music and having them back in my earbuds with brand new music is simply wonderful. This album is everything you want from Kate & Ruth – beautiful harmonies, stunning renditions of traditional songs and some contemporary music added in for good measure.

Short MovieLaura Marling

Short Movie

Five albums in seven years is no mean feat, but what is truly amazing about Laura Marling is how much she has grown as an artist over that time. Not content to just present the same idea over and over again Laura Marling has become more than the sum of her influences, more than just a sweet folk singer from London, and has truly become one of the most exciting and important artists of her generation. Short Movie is the most lyrically and melodically raw album of Marling’s catalogue – all electric guitars and Dylan-esque spoken lyrics – yet it also manages to be her most seamlessly produced work to date, which is yet another achievement given the record was completely self produced.

Marlon WilliamsMarlon Williams

Marlon Williams

Where did you come from Marlon Williams? By this time last year I’d only heard rumours of this alt-country singer from New Zealand who was taking the folk scene by storm. Since then I’ve seen the man live more times than I can count, watched him literally reduce audience members to tears with his voice and have had his self titled album on repeat since its release. Williams has been described as harkening back to the country music stars of old, but I think there’s something thoroughly modern about his music – taking his cue the best of the golden tonsiled singers of the 50s and 60s and updating that sound to a new generation.

MontereyThe Milk Carton Kids

Monterey

When you listen to a new Milk Carton Kids album you pretty much know exactly what you’re going to get – two part harmonies over lead and rhythm guitar. But what makes Monterey stand out to me is the production. For the first time I feel like The Milk Carton Kids’ live sound has been captured on a record, although I can’t quite put my finger on why that’s so – on the surface the presentation is not that much different to The Ash & Clay. Maybe it’s just the “feeling” of the songs – but whatever it is this is definitely an album to have in your collection.

AutumnalPackwood

Autumnal

I’m kind of glad it’s taken three years for Packwood to release new music since his incredible debut self-titled album. In the intervening years Packwood has developed as a songwriter, adding a lyrical depth to his beautifully arranged chamber-folk music that was a little lacking on the first release. Autumnal is the first of two mini albums that Packwood has already released this year (with two more to come) but is by far my favourite with its choral arrangements, sweeping orchestras and nods to contemporaries like Sufjan Stevens and Sam Amidon. I’m going to revisit Packwood’s entire seasonal concept album Vertumnus as a whole once all four mini-albums are released, but for the moment I’m thoroughly enjoying Autumnal as a standalone release.

Tomorrow Is My TurnRhiannon Giddens

Tomorrow Is My Turn

2015 really been the the year of Rhiannon Giddens. Her successful collaboration with superstar producer T-Bone Burnett on the Inside Llewyn Davis concert Another Day, Another Time as well as the Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes has lead to the outstanding Tomorrow Is My Turn, Giddens’ debut solo album. The record takes traditional and contemporary music and reimagines it for Giddens folk-blues-jazz-old-time voice with amazing results, elevating her beyond her work with The Carolina Chocolate Drops. I feel like Tomorrow Is My Turn is destined to be an album that influences folk singers for years to come.

SolitudeRuby Boots

Solitude

When we picked Ruby Boots as an artist to watch in 2015 we suspected that come July we’d be talking up her new album Solitude. And that prediction has come true as Solitude is one of the alt-country albums of the past few years. Ruby Boots’s trademark big country voice is all over this record but what really makes it for me is just how tight she’s sounding with her full band – in fact I’d almost say that Solitude is the first time I’d describe Ruby Boots as a “band” rather than the solo project of frontwoman Bex Chilcott. When you add that dynamic to Ruby Boots’ masterful songwriting you’ve got an instant Australian country music classic.

Carrie & LowellSufjan Stevens

Carrie & Lowell

While I’ve enjoyed almost everything Sufjan Stevens has produced in the last five years his move away from his experimental electro music and back to his folk roots for Carrie & Lowell got me extremely excited, and the album itself has not disappointed. Here is a fragile, sumptuous, personal, raw piece of art that may well be Sufjan Stevens’ best album to date. I’m glad that Carrie & Lowell isn’t just Seven Swans revisited and that despite it being very much a folk album you can still here the echo of Stevens’ electro dalliance. This is Sufjan Stevens moving forward with his music and we’re all going on the journey with him.

If I WasThe Staves

If I Was

I feel like The Staves have always been destined for greatness since they burst onto the UK nu-folk scene almost six years ago. But it’s taken their Justin Vernon produced album If I Was to bring them to the attention of the wider folk community. In the past The Staves have leant on their three part harmonies to drive their music, and those harmonies are all over this album, but the inclusion of Vernon as producer has brought with it a full compliment of drums, guitars, horns and more. This adds a wonderful fullness to If I Was and only enhances The Staves’ stunning singing and songwriting.

One HouseTolka

One House

Tolka really are on the cutting edge of traditionally inspired music in Australia right now. Their latest album One House is almost entirely original music that draws so heavily on the tradition that you’d assume all of the tunes have existed for millennia. The production is pretty spot on and I love the use of samples dotted throughout – it adds an extra element to the music and makes One House stand out from its contemporaries. I can’t wait to see what Tolka have in store next.

« Older entries

%d bloggers like this: