Full Line Up Announced for Majors Creek Festival

Kate and Ruth
Image Courtesy of Kate Burke & Ruth Hazleton

Majors Creek Festival is a small folk festival held in the small town of Majors Creek, NSW, south east of Canberra. The next festival is going to be held over the weekend of the 20th to 22nd November and they have just finalised a lineup that includes a who’s who of Timber and Steel favourites.

Headlining this year’s Majors Creek Festival roots singer-songwriter Heath Cullen in full band mode, trad songbirds Kate Burke & Ruth Hazleton (above), indie-folk sweethearts Women in Docs and raucous Adelaidians The Timbers.

Joining them will be the likes of Bill Jackson with Pete Fidler, Dear Orphans, Echo Deer, Edema Ruh, Enda Kenny, Little Wise, Maia Jelavic, Riogh, Shiny Bum Singers, Sparrow-Folk, The April Maze and many more.

For more information on the Majors Creek Festival check out the official site here. The full lineup is below:

Heath Cullen, Kate Burke & Ruth Hazleton, Women in Docs, The Timbers, Accapalerang, Angharad Drake, Bajaly Suso, Bellyfusion Bellydance, Ben Drysdale, Bill Jackson with Pete Fidler, Braidwood Dance School, COZMO, Craig and Simone Dawson, Cumbe!, DASH, Dear Orphans, Deep River Choir, Den Hanrahan and the Rum Runners, Doctor Stovepipe, Echo Deer, Ecopella, Edema Ruh, Enda Kenny, Folklines, Indi Pendant, Jasmine Beth, Jim and Ingrid Rehle-Williams, Little Wise, Lugh Damen, Maia Jelavic, Mat Brooker, Maypole with Molly, Mike Cosgriff, Merrilyn Simmons, Mexico Lindo, Moochers Inc., Mr Tim and the Fuzzy Elbows, OMG Dance Crew, Pete Wild & The Only Ones, Pop Up Choir, Riogh, Rory Ellis, Salsa with Rachel and friends, Shiny Bum Singers, Sparkle Circus, Sparrow-Folk, Surly Griffin Morris, TABLA Bellydance, TallaTango, The April Maze, The Fuelers, Tony Eardley, West Texas Crude

The Joy of Small Folk Festivals

Top Half
Photo of The Top Half Folk Festival by Barry Skipsey

By Guest Contributor Peter Logue*, repurposed political journalist, festival tragic and accordion pest

It’s probably safe to assume that almost all readers of Timber and Steel have been to a music festival: most will have been to a large folk festival e.g. Woodford, Port Fairy, Blue Mountains or The National in Canberra.

Here’s a question, though: how many have been to a small regional folk festival? By small, I’m talking about the likes of Fleurieu in South Australia, Cygnet in Tasmania, Maldon in Victoria, Gulgong in NSW, The Top Half in NT (above), or the one I’m now involved in after eight years on the Board of the National – Cobargo, in the glorious Bega Valley on the NSW Far South Coast.

(There are many, many more small festivals, most of which are listed here)

I ask this because I believe it is important for the folk movement that people younger than me – which is lot of people – get involved in the smaller festivals, either through volunteering, applying to perform, just turning up and doing a blackboard, or paying the usually small amount to attend.

Why? Well, firstly they are just great fun, full of surprises and creators of those special memories that stay with you until you’re dribbling.

Take as an example the Cobargo Festival, in its 20th year this year.

For the pittance you pay, the program is just outstanding, musically diverse, challenging at times, international in flavour and inclusive.

That last word “inclusive” is the key to the success of the smaller festivals. Unlike some of the larger events (I exclude The National because of (a) the session bar and (b) its focus on learning and participation), smaller festivals are family, along with crazy uncles who play the banjo, daft grannies who play the one row button box, and the multi-talented kids who seem to be, and are, much better musicians than were around when I was their age.

Artists are approachable, usually do more than they’re asked to do, the sessions are diverse and sometimes really hot, and most people retire late at night to playing around a campfire, or sometimes a LED lamp.

At Cobargo this year you can meet the cream of Irish musicians, like Arty McGlynn and his wife Nollaig Casey, part of the Heart Strings Quartet. Arty started off playing covers in Showbands and spent many years as Van Morrison’s lead guitarist. (He must be a very patient man).

He wrote the book on guitar accompaniment for Irish music, though Paul Brady reckons – half jokingly – he taught has old friend Arty everything he knows.

Nollaig is an outstanding fiddler, her sister Maire NiChathasaigh is a world class harpist, and if you haven’t seen Chris Newman flat pick a guitar, you’re missing one of life’s big treats.
Cobargo will be their first festival in Eastern Australia, but you will never get as close to them as you will at this festival.

This excellent clip recorded by ABC Radio National on their short visit last year gives you a taste:

That’s the thing about small festivals; international and top level local performers love them, not because they pay well (they don’t) but because it gives them a chance to warm up before the big gigs, to perfect new material, and to see parts of the country they wouldn’t normally see.

Small festivals are also places for new or relatively inexperienced soloists or bands to get noticed. There is a formal and an informal network on the folk scene of promoters, staff and organisers from the big and small festivals and “wise heads” who spread reputations by word of mouth.

That’s how bands like The Waifs, Riogh and The Lurkers and countless others got noticed and built a name.

All of the many small festivals I go to each year have workshops, sessions, spoken word, blackboards and dancing as well as concerts.

Most have good food on site and a bar for relaxing in or singing or playing tunes.

All of them have major local involvement. In the case of Cobargo – which I’ve attended for 14 years – the community engagement is extensive.

Small festivals also build the folk community. Those locals who volunteer without any real knowledge of the folk scene, get the bug. They like that a few thousand people can get together for two or three days, have a rip roaring time, get maggotted, laugh sing and dance, and not a bad word is spoken or a punch thrown.

And they suddenly hear the quality of the music that they would never hear on their local commercial radio station or even on the ABC.

Small festivals are the modern day meeting places for our diverse folk tribes. They are also places of great learning. Ask anyone involved in the running and programming of any of our large folk festivals where they learned their skills and you’ll find a vast majority started with the small festivals.

If you haven’t been, try Cobargo from February 27th to March 1st. www.cobargofolkfestival.com

As well as the Heart Strings Quartet, you can see class acts like Archie Roach, Shellie Morris, Steeleye Span’s Ken Nichol, Chaika, Daniel Champagne, Ami Williamson, Nick Charles, Fiona Boyes and dozens more, all in a geographical setting that will take your breath away. And you can join or meet a very special family.

*Peter Logue is a member of the Cobargo Folk Festival organising committee

Folk By The Sea Announces First Round of Artists

Folk By The Sea
Image Courtesy of Folk By The Sea

This September the industrious folks behind the amazing Illawarra Folk Festival will be hosting a brand new event at Kiama on the NSW south coast called Folk By The Sea. The event will replace Folk in the Foothills (previously held at the Jamberoo Valley Lodge) and will feature some of the nation’s best folk, world, roots, Celtic, bluegrass and gypsy music over the weekend of the 27th, 28th and 29th September.

Folk By The Sea will feature five venues operating around the Kiama Showground Pavilion and the first round of artists has just been announced including Ted Egan, Casey Donovan, Pat Drummond, Nick Rheinberger, The Rusty Datsuns, Fintan Vallely (Ireland), Riogh and more to come.

Tickets for the festival are already available (a Friday/Saturday ticket will set you back $50 and the Sunday is free) and you can find them, plus lots of extra information, on the official web site here.

The Snowy Mountains of Music Festival Announces First Lineup

The Quarry Mountain Dead Rats
Image Courtesy of The Quarry Mountain Dead Rats

Summer may be officially over but that doesn’t mean the end to music festival announcements. No siree. We have a whole winter of festivals to look forward to and the wintery-est of all is the Snowy Mountains of Music who have just this morning announced their first round of artists. And what a lineup – as always it’s leaning heavily to the folky end of the spectrum and we couldn’t be happier.

Announced this morning were Karma County’s front man Brendan Gallagher, Nicky Bomba with Bustamento, The Quarry Mountain Dead Rats (above), The Mouldy Lovers, Frencham Smith, Cj Shaw and the Blow Ins, AJ Leonard’s Tropical Lounge, Mal Webb, A French Butler Called Smith, Wongawilli, Riogh and The Hussy Hicks.

The Snowy Mountains of Music takes place over the June long weekend (8th to the 11th June) in Perisher, NSW. Super early bird tickets are available until the 29th March. Check out the official web site for more details.

More Artists Added to The National Folk Festival

Alan Kelly Quartet
Image Courtesy of The Alan Kelly Quartet

The National Folk Festival has never stuck to the traditional route of making one or two major artist announcements, instead choosing to drip feed the performers as they are confirmed. The National is still five months away but we’re already pretty excited by the artists announced so far. Today’s additions include Victor Valdes, Frank Yamma, Richard Perso, Riogh, Mike McClellan, Riley Baugus & Kirk Sutpin, Mic Conway & Robbie Long and Timber and Steel favourites The Alan Kelly Quartet (above). For the full lineup so far head over to official National Folk Festival web site.

And speaking of The Alan Kelly Quartet we thought we might start a rumour. When we spoke to the Irish-music legend at WOMADelaide earlier this year he said, and I quote, “I think Eddi [Reader] might be out next year”. Given that Alan Kelly has now been confirmed for The National and he plays in Eddi Reader’s band we reckon there’s a high likelihood that the Scottish singer might also make an appearance at the festival. Pure conjecture but if it turns out to be true remember you read it here first.

Stay tuned for more announcements for the National Folk Festival as we get them!

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