The Top Half Folk Festival Reveals 2017 Lineup

Ten Cent Shooters
Image Courtesy of The Ten Cent Shooters

After announcing WA country-blues trio The Ten Cent Shooters as their 2017 feature artist a few weeks ago The Top Half Folk Festival have revealed their lineup ahead of the June event.

The local Alice Springs lineup includes Karen & Jacko, Rusty & the Infidels, Neil & Mel Phillips, Dave Oakes, Mary Flynn, Ted Egan, Bloodwood and Edan Baxter as well as fellow Territorians Sally Balfour, Tony Suttor, Paul Stewart, Chris Pemberton and South Of Berrimah Line.

The interstate lineup includes Shamrock, Timber & Steel, Barney Foran, Bob Sharp, Phil Beck, Phil & Josh Gray, Ashlea Reale, Peter Bugden, Bob Barford, Ted & Carolynne Burns, Kirsty Robinson and Richard Gorter.

The Top Half Folk Festival takes place at the Glen Helen Homestead, west of Alice Springs, from the 9th to the 12th June. For more information check out the official Facebook page here.

Happy 7th Birthday Timber and Steel

Happy Birthday

“There is nothing more to be said or to be done tonight, so hand me over my violin and let us try to forget for half an hour the miserable weather and the still more miserable ways of our fellowmen”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, The Five Orange Pips

I’ve been attending The National Folk Festival on and off since I was a kid, but it was following my first year at University (1999 for those of you playing at home) where I seriously made an effort to make it to Canberra every Easter long weekend. I’ve volunteered a number of years (especially when I was a penniless student) and been a regular punter. I’ve also covered the festival for the last few years for Timber and Steel and last year I even cameoed on stage with Bloodwood and Dave Oakes.

But 2017 was the first time I found myself with an official National Folk Festival performer wristband and a swathe of gigs over the course of the weekend. I’d convinced my good friend Sally Balfour to apply this year and she did on the provision that I join her on stage as the fiddle player in her band. As luck would have it the Northern Territory was one of this year’s feature states and with Sally being based in Darwin she was accepted onto the bill along with yours truly.

Gareth and Sally

And so it was I was able to tick a major item off my bucket list. When I attended my first Canberra National Folk Festival in 1999 I could never have imagined that 18 years later I’d be up on the same stage as so many of my musical heroes. Not in my wildest dreams.

While my appearance at The National has nothing to do with Timber and Steel, and has everything to do with Sally Balfour’s amazing songwriting, I’d like to think I wouldn’t have found myself up on that stage without this blog.

Without Timber and Steel I probably wouldn’t have attended every National Folk Festival for the last seven years. Without Timber and Steel I wouldn’t have felt a part of the folk music community in the same way I do now – I have a feeling I would have remained a spectator, never peering behind the performer curtain. Without Timber and Steel I would never have pushed Sally Balfour to apply for The National, let alone ever assume that I’d be playing fiddle right there beside her.

For seven years Timber and Steel has opened doors into the folk music community for me. Without the blog I would still be the biggest fan of this music but I doubt I would have even considered crossing the line between spectator and performer.

Seven years is a long time to have spent on this little “hobby” and sometimes I need to remind myself why I do it (for the love of the music!). But whenever I take a step back and look at everything I’ve achieved, every door that’s been opened, every friendship I’ve forged, I can’t help but feel proud.

Thank you so much for continuing to indulge me on my folk music journey.

Happy 7th Birthday Timber and Steel!

Gareth Hugh Evans
Editor in Chief

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 14th April

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– American singer-songwriter Joe Pug is heading to Australia for a string of dates in July. Details here

Fanny Lumsden released her new video “Totem Tennis”. Details here

– UK songstress Beth Orton announced Australian tour dates. Details here

– Northern Territory based festival The Top Half Folk Festival has announced The Ten Cent Shooters as its 2017 feature artist. Details here

– Ex-Noah and The Whale frontman Charlie Fink has announced plans to release his debut solo album Cover My Tracks. Details here

Interviews

“I am fortunate to know a couple of really great musicians who will be joining me on stage. They have an amazing ability to know what sound I want to create without me having to ask, and because of this they compliment my style and create space and depth to my writing”Sally Balfour chats to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

“My sister Ivy creates beautiful and sometimes surprising vocal harmonies. We’ve been told our voices together sound like one voice singing two notes, yet our voices individually are quite different” – Mabel Windred-Wornes from Charm of Finches chats to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

“When I hear a song, and I know and read it’s background and history and meaning, and if it sings to my heart then I need to sing it”Aoife Scott chats to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

Releases This Week

Take Care
Take Care Take CoverThe Mae Trio
Bandcamp

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Bluesfest and The National Folk Festival

Majestic

It’s that time of year again where folk, roots and acoustic fans are faced with the Easter dilemma: do you head to Byron Bay for Bluesfest or Canberra for The National Folk Festival. We can never decide so this year we’re doing both!

Thursday 13th to Monday 17th April – Bluesfest, Byron Bay, NSW
Thursday 13th to Monday 17th April – National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT

Gigs Next Week

Alan Reid & Rob van Sante
Thursday 13th to Monday 17th April – National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT

Andrew Bird
Saturday 15th April – Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW
Tuesday 18th April – Melbourne Recital Centre, Melbourne, VIC

Billy Bragg & Joe Henry
Thursday 13th to Monday 17th April – Bluesfest, Byron Bay, NSW
Wednesday 19th April – Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 20th April – The Playhouse, Canberra, ACT

Bluesfest
Thursday 13th to Monday 17th April – Byron Bay, NSW

Bob Evans
Thursday 20th April – Front Bar, Canberra, ACT
Friday 21st April – Lizottes, Newcastle, NSW

Boogie
Friday 14th to Sunday 16th April – Bruzzy’s Farm, Tallarook, VIC

Busby Marou
Thursday 13th to Monday 17th April – Bluesfest, Byron Bay, NSW

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

Colin Lillie
Thursday 13th to Monday 17th April – National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT
Wednesday 19th April – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 20th April – Stag and Hunter, Newcastle, NSW
Friday 21st April – Sol Bar, Maroochydore, QLD

Ed Wells
Wednesday 19th April – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW

Emily Barker
Saturday 15th April – Port City Folk Festival, Fremantle, WA

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

Folkswagon feat. Nick Kingswell, Darby, Timothy James Bowen
Wednesday 19th April – Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Golden Whistler & Whoa Mule
Saturday 15th April – Old City Bank Bar, Katoomba, NSW

Gretta Ray
Tuesday 18th April – Newtown Social Club, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 20th April – Howler, Melbourne, VIC

Henry Wagons, Jonny Fritz and Ruby Boots
Friday 14th April – Newtown Social Club, Sydney, NSW
Wednesday 19th April – The Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 20th April – Caravan Music Club, Oakleigh, VIC
Friday 21st April – Meeniyan Town Hall, Meeniyan, VIC

Irish Mythen
Thursday 13th to Monday 17th April – Bluesfest, Byron Bay, NSW
Friday 21st April – The Gum Ball Festival, Dashville, NSW

Jane Cameron & the Crazy Carnival
Saturday 15th April – St Leonards Winery, Wahgunyah, VIC
Sunday 16th April – St Leonards Winery, Wahgunyah, VIC

Jeff Lang
Saturday 15th to Monday 17th April – Bluesfest, Byron Bay, NSW

Jonny Fritz
Friday 14th April – Newtown Social Club, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 15th & Sunday 16th April – Boogie Festival, Bruzzy’s Farm, Tallarook, VIC
Wednesday 19th April – The Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 20th April – Caravan Music Club, Oakleigh, VIC
Friday 21st April – Meeniyan Town Hall, Meeniyan, VIC

Kasey Chambers
Thursday 20th April – Geelong Playhouse, Geelong, VIC
Friday 21st April – The Regent Theatre, Yarram, VIC

Les Poules à Colin
Thursday 13th to Monday 17th April – National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT
Thursday 20th April – South Coast Folk Club, Adelaide, SA
Friday 21st to Monday 24th April – Fairbridge Folk Festival, Fairbridge, WA

Martha Tilston
Friday 14th to Monday 17th April – National Folk Festival, ACT

Michael Kiwanuka
Thursday 13th to Monday 17th April – Bluesfest, Byron Bay, NSW
Tuesday 18th April – The Corner, Melbourne, VIC
Wednesday 19th April – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 20th April – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney, NSW

Monsieur Camembert
Saturday 15th April – Camelot Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Nahko and Medicine for the People
Sunday 16th April – The Triffid, Brisbane, QLD

National Folk Festival
Thursday 13th to Monday 17th April – Canberra, ACT

Neil Murray & Lucie Thorne
Wednesday 19th April – Ararat Live, Ararat, VIC

Oh Pep!
Saturday 15th & Sunday 16th April – Boogie Festival, Bruzzy’s Farm, Tallarook, VIC
Friday 21st April – Newtown Social Club, Sydney, NSW

Pierce Brothers
Friday 14th April – Barwon Heads Hotel, Barwon Heads, VIC
Wednesday 19th April – Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 21st April – International Convention Centre, Sydney, NSW

Port City Folk Festival
Saturday 15th April – The Railway Hotel, Fremantle, WA

Round Mountain Girls
Thursday 13th to Monday 17th April – Bluesfest, Byron Bay, NSW

Sally Balfour
Thursday 13th to Monday 17th April – National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT

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

Ten Cent Shooters
Sunday 16th April – Settlers Tavern, Margaret River, WA

The Dead Maggies
Friday 14th April – The Brunswick Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 15th to Monday 17th April – The National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT
Thursday 20th April – The Hamilton Station Hotel, Newcastle, NSW
Friday 21st April – Junction 142, Katoomba, NSW

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

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

The Lumineers
Monday 17th April – Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW
Tuesday 18th April – Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW
Wednesday 19th April – State Theatre, Melbourne, VIC

The Mae Trio
Thursday 13th to Monday 17th April – National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT
Tuesday 18th April – Brass Monkey, Cronulla, NSW
Thursday 20th April – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW

The McClymonts
Friday 21st April – Bathurst RSL, Bathurst, NSW

The Mountain Goats
Thursday 13th to Monday 17th April – Bluesfest, Byron Bay, NSW

The Rheingans Sisters
Thursday 13th to Monday 17th April – National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT
Wednesday 19th April – Foundry616, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 20th April – TBC, Katoomba, NSW

The Spooky Men’s Chorale
Thursday 13th to Monday 17th April – The National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT

The Waifs
Saturday 15th April – The Roebuck Bay Hotel, Broome, WA

The Weeping Willows
Sunday 16th April – The Standard Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Tony Joe White
Saturday 15th April – Meeniyan Town Hall, Meeniyan, VIC
Sunday 16th April – Caravan Music Club, Oakleigh, VIC
Monday 17th April – Bluesfest, Byron Bay, NSW
Thursday 20th April – The Basement, Sydney, NSW

Friday Folk Flashback

“To Be Alone With You” – Sufjan Stevens

National Folk Festival Interview: Sally Balfour

Sally Balfour
Image Courtesy of Sally Balfour

Sally Balfour is singer-songwriter who grew up immersed in the Alice Springs folk scene before heading north to settle in steamy Darwin. 2017 see’s Balfour’s official debut on The National Folk Festival program having wowed crowds with her blackboard sets last year.

We sat down with Sally Balfour to talk about growing up in the NT and what we can look forward to from her shows at The National.

Gareth Hugh Evans: I caught your blackboard set at The National Folk Festival last year. How does it feel to be officially on the bill this time around, especially with the NT as one of the feature states?

Sally Balfour: It really is a mixture of emotion – it is so daunting but also so exciting! I feel so honoured to be representing the NT alongside such amazing musicians. I am really looking forward to the weekend, I had such a blast last year and I can’t wait to see what new music I discover at the festival this year.

GHE: You’ve described your music as “deeply personal, acoustic guitar driven songs”. What can festival goers expect from your appearance at The National?

SB: I am fortunate to know a couple of really great musicians who will be joining me on stage. They have an amazing ability to know what sound I want to create without me having to ask, and because of this they compliment my style and create space and depth to my writing. We will be performing my own material with traditional and contemporary folk music, giving the audience a glimpse into who I am and what influences me. For something a little different we are also doing a kids set on the Friday morning, which is for the big kids as well as the little and sure to get you up and dancing!

GHE: You grew up in the folk scene in Alice Springs – what was it like to be part of folk clubs and festivals so far away from the east coast “hub”?

SB: I feel really lucky to have grown up in Alice Springs. I love the isolation of the place and the beauty it brings out in people as well as the amazing opportunities. The community is a very supportive one, and I felt that early on. Mum and Dad were heavily involved in the folk club and we were always encouraged to be a part of the music. Some of my favourite childhood memories are of nights out watching/listening to live music. I spent many folk nights falling asleep under the mixing desk at my mums feet.

GHE: How would you rate the folk and general music scene in the NT now? Are there any festivals or events that music lovers should be making the trip for?

SB: There is a really diverse music scene in the Territory – and I think every year it is growing stronger and stronger. There are lots of small and unique festivals in the NT – The Top End Folk Festival (in Mary River and Glen Helen) and The Mandorah Ukulele Folk Festival (MUFF) are probably the two main folk festivals. There are also other really amazing festivals that encompass folk music like Barunga, Nightliffe Seabreeze Festival and Darwin Festival. All of these are worth the trip!!!

GHE: It’s been a while since you released your gorgeous single and video “Through the Night”. Are there any plans to record and release more music? What’s next for Sally Balfour?

SB: I am always writing, and so I am on my way to making an album. I would like to say I will have something out by the end of 2017 but 2018 is much more realistic!

Sally Balfour is performing in Sydney at FolkSwagon on Wednesday night before heading to The National Folk Festival. Check out her dates below:

Wednesday 12th April – FolkSwagon, Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 13th to Monday 17th April – National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT
– Friday 11:30am – Carnival (Kidsfest)
– Friday 5:00pm – Flute and Fiddle
– Saturday 12:40pm – Scrumpy
– Sunday 10:00pm – Spiegel

First Major Artists Announcement for the 2017 National Folk Festival

Sally Balfour
Image Courtesy of Sally Balfour

The National Folk Festival, held in Canberra over the Easter long weekend, has announced their first official round of artists for 2017 and it’s very very exciting.

As always there’s also a bunch of international acts making their way to Canberra next year including The Bridge Project (TUR/ISR), Daoiri Farrell Trio (IRL), The Galax Bogtrotters (USA), Himmerland (DNK), Les Poules à Colin (CAN), Martha Tilston (UK), Phil Wiggins & Dom Turner (USA) and The Rheingans Sisters (UK).

Joining them will be local artists and Timber and Steel favourites including Ami Williamson, Barry Skipsey, Charm of Finches, The Dead Maggies, Fanny Lumsden, Loren Kate, The Low Down Riders, Sally Balfour (above), The Spooky Men’s Chorale, Stray Hens and many more.

The National Folk Festival is held from the 13th to the 17th April in 2017 – for more information and tickets check out the official site here. The feature states for next year’s National Folk Festival are South Australia and the Northern Territory.

The full lineup so far is below:

Ami Williamson, Andrew Galan with Okinawa Girls, Barry Skipsey, The Bridge Project (TUR/ISR), Charm of Finches, Claymore, Conchillia, Daoiri Farrell Trio (IRL), The Dead Maggies, Desert Child, The Drowsy Maggies, Fanny Lumsden, Forté, The Galax Bogtrotters (USA), Greg Champion, Himmerland (DNK), Les Poules à Colin (CAN), Loren Kate, Low Down Riders, Martha Tilston (UK), Phil Wiggins & Dom Turner (USA), Rheingans Sisters (UK), Rory Faithfield, Sally Balfour, The Spooky Men’s Chorale, Stray Hens, Tracey Bunn and her Band of Handsome Devils, Trioc

Full Lineup for the Top Half Folk Festival Revealed

Fanny Lumsden
Image Courtesy of Fanny Lumsden & The Thrillseekers

We’re less than two weeks away from our favourite little folk festival, the Top Half Folk Festival in Central Australia, and it’s shaping up to be an amazing event.

The Top Half has already announced headliners Fanny Lumsden & The Thrillseekers (above) but this week they announced a raft of other artists including Ted Egan, Colin Lillie, Barry Skipsey, Sally Balfour, Margaret Walters, Bob Sharp, Scott Balfour, Dave Oakes, Don Bruce, Neil & Mel Phillips, Rusty & The Infidels, Malarkey, Watershed Players, Edan Baxter, Chris Pemberton & Tony Suttor, Peter Bate, Paul Stewart, South Of The Berrimah Line, Phil Beck, Phil Gray, Kirsty Evans, Ted & Carolynne Burns and the-band-that-became-a-blog Timber & Steel.

The Top Half Folk Festival is held from the 5th to the June at the Glen Helen Resort west of Alice Springs. As well as the festival there will be an informal welcome drinks in Alice Springs at the Gap View Hotel on Thursday 4th June. For more information on the Top Half Folk Festival including how to get your hands on tickets and accommodation check out the Central Australia Folk Society web site here.

Review: 43rd Top Half Folk Festival, Alice Springs

Top Half

Review by Jeff Corfield. All photos by Gordon Young

Just like good old Cooper’s Sparkling Ale it was cloudy but fine when we pulled into Glen Helen for our first ever Top Half Folk Festival in the spectacular McDonnell Ranges west of Alice Springs. It’s been a long time between Top Half drinks for me – 9 years in fact – and the last time Mary River 2004 I supplied the bloody drinks, at my Wort’s and All home brew workshop that year. Since then distance, work and commitments to our own local Palm Creek Folk Festival (held the same weekend) have conspired to keep us away from a festival which was once an annual event for us. We made a last minute decision to come this year – and we weren’t disappointed.

Top Half Folk Festivals have been all about meeting up with mates from all across the north and beyond, sharing good music, poetry, craic and the odd drink, over three days and (very late) nights. The 43rd Top Half was no exception, though perhaps the nights weren’t quite as late this year – for me at least! Given the aging Top Half demographic – many “Top Halfs” are less hirsute and several (not 50) shades greyer these days – I did wonder about the financial wisdom of providing senior’s concessions. Perhaps under 30s concessions might be more profitable, but the Top Half Folk Festival has never been about profit – it’s about folk. In the old days these folk would take a week or so to drive to the annual Top Half as it rotated between Darwin, Alice and Mount Isa. Time seemed to matter less back then and flying was still expensive. It’s different these days, though I was surprised at just how many folk drove from all around Australia on their Top Half pilgrimage to Glen Helen this year.

However, enough of this reflection stuff and on with the festival review. After a 9 year absence I was thrilled to see and hear such a well-balanced mixture of old and new, local and interstate, young and not so young performers in the concert program. At one end of the age scale we had the unsinkable 80 years young Ted Egan, a national treasure and Top Half stalwart, still singing his heart out and enthralling us with songs about the real Australia. At the other end there was 11 year old Josh Gray and his support act father, Phil, who sang us other songs of Australia, from the pen of earlier writers such as Don Henderson and Edward Sorenson.

The concert program featured a diverse range of music genres from Klezmer and Gypsy music of Europe (courtesy of Rusty and the Infidels from Alice and The Weeping Angels from Adelaide) through to traditional Celtic and Australian ballads and contemporary compositions from the world over. Nevertheless it flowed seamlessly and I enjoyed all of it – and that’s saying something, given I’m used to doing stuff at festivals rather than sitting on my bum listening.

Katie HarderThe concerts also featured an impressive array of singer-songwriters, including Top Half favorites Barry Skipsey, Dave Oakes, Dave Clark and others, and importantly several new young performers. I was especially impressed by Jeanette Wormald and Katie Harder (left), both part of a strong Alice Springs contingent of younger performers, including Sally Balfour, which bodes well for the future. Singer-songwriters have always been the lifeblood of folk traditions, including the folk revival, as Phil Beck illustrated so eloquently in his workshop. More on that later.

There were two other aspects of the concert program that stood out for me. First and foremost was the chance to see former Redgum performer Hugh McDonald (right) in concert – twice in one weekend! Our kids cut their musical teeth on Redgum and I don’t think we have a single album that wasn’t worn out long ago. I’ve long been an admirer of Hugh’s powerful songwriting, from the time of “Diamantina Drover” to his more recent “Spirit of the Land”. However I didn’t appreciate just what a fine musician he is – a true guitar virtuoso across such a range of styles. His stage presence was easy and unaffected, as was his singing style and audience engagement. While he expressed some initial trepidation at being the “headline act” at a festival he’d barely heard of, I think he genuinely enjoyed performing to such an appreciative and knowledgeable audience at Top Half 2013 – and he said as much in a note to festival organisers.

Hugh McDonaldOf course the high standard of guitar playing didn’t stop with Hugh McDonald. I don’t think I’ve been to a regional festival which displayed such finger picking talent from so many performers, including Top Half stalwarts Phil Beck, Bob Sharp, Don (the) Bruce, Chris Pemberton and more recent Top Half convert Dave (Mojo) Mullen from Townsville. It was indeed sweet music to the ears – and an incentive to practice more in my retirement!

Juxtaposed to this was the wonderful unaccompanied singing of Australian folk revival legend Margaret Walters, who is fast becoming a Top Half regular. When Margaret starts singing you never quite know whether you will be graced with a sensitive rendition of a serious traditional ballad or a humorous or bawdy ditty, such is her style. She gave us that and more at Glen Helen.

Workshops have traditionally been a feature of Top Half Folk Festivals and this one was no exception – despite the absence of a Paul Stewart “entertainment” this year. Nevertheless we were well and truly entertained – and informed – by two fine workshops. On Saturday morning Phil Gray and the Tabby Knackers Choir and Ensemble presented insights into the life and works of Henry Lawson to mark his 146th birthday. Many of Lawson’s poems have been set to music by performers such as Pricilla Herdman, Chris Kempster and Hugh McDonald and we were treated to many fine renditions from the assembled cast.

On Sunday morning we were treated to A Potted History of the British Folk Revival (50s, 60, 70s) by Phil Beck and friends, with Paul Stewart as the principle narrator (can’t keep him out of the action). Stewie informed me that he’d already cut Phil’s narrative down by two thirds, yet the intro was still nearly 15 minutes long. However quality will always win out and that’s what we received in Phil’s insightful analysis of the British folk revival, punctuated by lovely renditions of songs like “Lord Franklin”, “The Sun is Burning” and others by Scotty Balfour, Phil Beck and others, which had me channeling my old mate Geoff Illif back at the Governor Broome Folk Club in Perth in the early 70s. The workshop ended with a fine rendition of a Top Half favorite “They Don’t Write ‘em Like That Anymore” and once again I was channeling another old mate – Paul Lawler, back in the Gun Turret days of the Top End Folk Club. I’m sure other Top Enders were doing the same for “Lawls”, who is not well at present. The audience left both workshops well entertained and better informed, which is what happens at all Top Half Folk Festivals.

Folk Quiz

The now-famous Folk Quiz (above), organised by Dave Evans and Scotty Balfour was another highlight for me. Based loosely on Spics and Specs, it aimed to test the ageing grey matter of the festival’s finest folk minds – and test them it did! Thankfully it was programmed for Saturday afternoon, before too many late nights and the odd alcoholic beverages took their toll. With teams comprising Paul Stewart, Margaret Walters and Barry Skipsey on one side and Phil Beck, Bob Sharp and Nerys Evans on the other, it was bound to be riotous, if nothing else. The scoring system soon became more indecipherable than an Egyptian hieroglyph, as the judges struggled to keep up with the pace. I’m not sure the declared winners deserved their victory, though Barry Skipsey’s failure to recognize his own song (just because it was played in a completely different style and beat) certainly cruelled it for his team. In the end the real winners were the audience, who were well entertained – and better informed yet again.

Poet’s breakfasts have become a feature of many folk and country music festivals around the country, but these days it’s hard for the average Joe Blow spruiker or poet to get a look in. Not so at the Top Half Folk Festival, under the guidance of the inimitable Jim Smith, another Top Half stalwart from southern climes. Anyone who had a poem or two is encouraged to chip in – and they did, with a wonderful array of humorous and more serious verse from old hands and new comers alike. More power to you and your arm Jim.

Two other important events took place at this year’s Top Half. First was the launch of Scotty Balfour’s new album Motherland at lunchtime on Saturday. I’ve always loved listening to Scotty’s easy singing style and fine interpretation of traditional and contemporary song. I think his voice, like fine wine, keeps maturing with age. The second event was the launch, at lunchtime on Sunday, of Peter Bate’s history of the Top Half Folk Festival. Peter, himself a Top Half “first fleeter” has long been a custodian festival and folk club memorabilia and his little book is a invaluable record of the wonderful history of a folk festival that has outlived so many others to become an icon of Australia’s folk revival. Well done Peter.

Finally, the one thing about the Top Half Folk Festival that always makes it a standout for me is the singing. That might seem a strange thing to say, when folk festivals are traditionally full of singing. But these days that singing is more about performers singing to audiences, not ordinary people singing their lungs out with performers. Again not so at the Top Half – and it’s not just at the famous late night sessions, so much a part of Top Half tradition. It’s at the concerts too, and the workshops. Top Half folk, be they performers or audience, love to sing, and love to join in. At Top Half Folk Festivals there are fewer barriers between performer and audience – and it shows. Hugh McDonald saw it and was blown away by it, as are other “southerners” who venture north to discover what those who live in the Top Half have always known. It’s something I really miss, but I know where to find it. Long may it remain part of the Top Half Folk Festival – that unique little single-venue long weekend event which Hugh McDonald so aptly described as “boutique”. Now I’m not sure my old Top Half mates Stewie, or Batey, or Evans or Beccy would like to be labeled “boutique”. On the other hand perhaps they are a bit like the boutique beers I like to drink – better than the average, different and interesting and full of character – as is the Top Half Folk Festival. Just don’t tell too many people, or they’ll all want some! Then again, the rest of Australia could do with a little of what the Top Half offers, so why not let them in on the secret!

The Alice Springs Courtyard Sessions Gets a New Look and New Venue

Alic Springs Courtyard Sessions
Image Courtesy of Alice Springs Courtyard Sessions

This St Patrick’s Day, the 17th March, the wonderful Alice Springs Courtyard Sessions will be launching its 2013 program with a brand new venue and a brand new look. The logo that you see above was designed by local Alice Springs musician, designer and Timber and Steel favourite Sally Balfour and was inspired by the Central Australian flora and the iconography of acoustic instruments. The new venue, The Olive Pink Botanic Gardens, will provide a truly intimate courtyard setting for the monthly acoustic music evening.

Event manager and organiser Jeanette Wormald has been overwhelmed by the response to regular live, acoustic music in Alice Springs. “We are really excited about the move to Olive Pink, which responds to audience desires for a more central and accessible location,” Wormald said. “The Courtyard Sessions cater for people who love to listen to great live music in a relaxed setting that is family friendly. Central Australia is blessed with some of the most magnificent landscapes in the world and this creates the perfect backdrop for outdoor concerts.”

The St Patrick’s day concert will see some of the centre’s top artists, including Sally Balfour, Katie Harder & Dom Costello, Damien Armstrong and Scotty Balfour and the Diddly e’ Dees, performing contemporary and traditional Irish music for the Courtyard Sessions audience. The event will kick off at 4pm and is BYO drinks and chairs (with food available at the venue). Tickets are $20 (members get in for $15) with Children under 12 free. For more information check out the official Facebook page here.

Timber and Steel’s Artists’ Top Albums of 2012

Listening to Records

Not satisfied with just providing you with our own opinions around the best albums of 2012 we have once again put the call out to some of our favourite artists to find out what they’ve been listening to this year. And the response to this call has been simply astounding – over 90 artists sent us their number one album of 2012, along with a couple of sentences as to why it’s their number one, almost tripling the amount of submissions from last year and demonstrating once again just how personal and diverse everyone’s relationship to music can be.

Once again a big thank you has to go out to all the artists who contributed along with the dedicated managers, publicity people and record labels we pestered to get this piece across the line – you’re all amazing, dedicated, wonderful people who keep this great national (and international) beast that is the music industry alive.

And now it’s time for the blogger to pass his keyboard over to the blogged as we present to you Timber and Steel’s Artists’ Top Albums of 2012:

The Lion's ShareSarah Humphreys
Mike McCarthyThe Lion’s Share
Mike has a beautiful way with words and melodies, he can stir up feelings of love, loss, mystery and hope all in one album. Sometimes in one song! There’s a gentleness in this record, I can hear more love in his voice than ever before.

God Bless You AmigoRoland Kay-Smith (Roland K Smith and the Sinners)
Felice BrothersGod Bless You Amigo
After the brave, but often confusing album that was Celebration Florida, The Felice Brothers return to more familiar territory with God Bless You Amigo. “Her Eyes Dart Around” is a tear-jerkingly beautiful ballad, the off-kilter harmonies in “Lincoln Continental” blow my mind every time I hear them, and “Dream On” is a fantastically melancholic retelling of the Stagger Lee story. At 20 tracks it’s overlong, but the porch-strumming charm of the album makes each song a joy to listen to, and I should know, I’ve listen to this album plenty.

The AnecdotesSam Lee
Seamus Cater & Viljam NybackaThe Anecdotes
English Dutch duo based in Amsterdam who have written this chronicle of biographic songs based around cultural figures and steeped in folklore and alternative experimental theatre sound art. They have created this soundworld that is both sepia toned in 70s fender rhodes and melodic drum work and captures the sounds of revival and the monologues of obscure historical figures. A work of touching depth and simplicity.

Who's Feeling Young NowChris Stone (The String Contingent)
Punch BrothersWho’s Feeling Young Now?
Outrageously virtuosic instrumentalists, with super strong musical vision, brilliant execution, and a work ethic like no other … they are the tightest, most polished band around, and given the technical and musical complexity of there music, is both depressing and inspirational.

Carry Me BackBen and James Daley (Bellyache Ben and the Steamgrass Boys, The Daley Brothers)
Old Crow Medicine ShowCarry Me Back
This album has all the Old Crow trademarks: hard hitting blues, fast pickin bluegrass, honest singing and lyrics, great harmonies, and most importantly brilliant songwriting. The title track and “Levi” are both contenders for song of the year. This album (and Old Crow’s ever growing and ever impressive body of work) confirms them as one of the great modern American bands. I dare say when they are done they will be remembered as one of the great all time American bands.

Who's Feeling Young NowClaude Hay
SoundgardenKing Animal
This is easy for me: Soundgarden, King Animal, quiet simply my favourite singer of all time. I’ve been waiting for this release for ever, some classic dirty guitar and pure rock the world’s been missing.

The Lion's RoarTodd Sibbin (Todd Sibbin and the Opposite Ends, Traveller and Fortune)
First Aid KitThe Lion’s Roar
Besides the blatantly obvious reasons (fantastic singing, fantastic songwriting), Mike Mogis (of Bright Eyes fame) has nailed the “atmospheric moodiness” vibe in his production techniques. It’s got that unmistakeable old school Bright Eyes sound, with slightly more polish

Into The BloodstreamWarren Fahey
Archie RoachInto the Bloodstream
I was never a hooked Archie fan but this new collection of very personal and aspirational songs really grabbed me emotionally. Archie has seen a lot of shit in his life including the loss of his partner Ruby Hunter and, over the past couple of years, some shocker medical hurdles yet he writes and sings in such an uplifting manner you feel the joy. It is also a craftily assembled album with a great choir, really tasty musicianship and some vocal acrobatics from Archie that I just wasn’t expecting. At one stage he produces a growl befitting the blues and soul and then his voice soars to the rafters. This is a really fine album

Carried in MindHat Fitz and Cara Robinson
Jeff LangCarried in Mind
This album of 2012 is one of those albums that more than manages to carry you away into another time and world. That’s what I love about a great album, it switches off the mind and lets the imagination take over and it does that completely. One song in particular is track 3, “Fisherman’s Farewell”, co written with his wife Alison Ferrier, a truly exquisite piece of writing.

LeelanauMatt Bauer
Dana FalconberryLeelanau
It’s rare when an album is as fully realized as this. It has everything I want in music: great lyrics and melodies, strange harmonies, beautiful arrangements, unexpected rhythms, a specific sense of place, an air of mystery, and just some kind of undefinable magic. Perfect from start to finish.

Mid AirMatt Walters
Paul BuchananMid Air
Paul Buchanan is the lead singer of one of the world’s most important and underrated bands, The Blue Nile. The lead singer’s first solo offering is a quiet masterpiece. Comprised almost completely of subdued piano, and smoky, hushed vocals; this is one of the most transformative, beautiful records I’ve ever heard. Buchanan, now in his late 50’s, croons like a more poetic and mournful Sinatra – reminiscing, regretting and reconciling through some of the most poignant and intimate songs ever recorded.

Born and RaisedAshleigh Mannix
John MayerBorn and Raised
Truthfully I’ve only listened to it a few times, but it was the first album that came into my head when asked about my favourite album of the year – and for good reason! Mr Mayer always surprises with the twist and turns he has taken when recording his albums. He’s playing with more of a country vibe in this one. In the second single “Queen of California”, there’s a lyric that says “Looking for the sun that Neil Young hung/After the gold rush of 1971”. There’s definitely a Neil Young-esque vibe throughout the album. I love it! It will be my soundtrack for hungover weekend’s in the sun!

HereTigertown
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic ZerosHere
A perfect way to follow up their first album Up From Below, they have captured the large group sound that they have live while still leaving enough space for Alexander Ebert’s genius song-writing and lyrics to shine through. This record always makes a loud appearance on our touring mix tape.

Farthest FieldMike McCarthy
Daniel Martin Moore & Joan ShelleyFarthest Field
Farthest Field sounds like an album recorded in a hall, live, with four beautiful microphones between two great songwriters. Sparse and incredibly beautiful is how I would describe it.

Mad BastardsJeanette Wormald
Alex Lloyd, The Pigram Brothers, Kasey Chambers and Shane NicholsonMad Bastards: Music From the Motion Picture
I found this late in 2011 and haven’t stopped listening to it. Great colours, great artists and oh so Australian. It’s fresh and it’s interesting and I really enjoyed the collaborations between Alex Lloyd and The Pigram Brothers. The movie is incredibly compelling too. A must see for people wanting an insight into the challenges of Australians living on the fringe.

DeathFrank Turner
Jim Lockey & The Solemn SunDeath
I’ve known Jim for a while and loved his work, but I always suspected he had a record in him that would take what he did from being good to being truly great. It was with great satisfaction, then, that I listened to this one for the first time. It’s everything I was hoping for, a perfect blend of country, rock, folk and something heavier and darker. Brilliant.

The Lion's RoarCallum Adamson (ahab)
First Aid KitThe Lion’s Roar
I’ve chosen First Aid Kit’s record for a few reasons.
1. The record is nothing more than great country songs beautifully produced
2. They are one of the few bands that are just as good live as on record
3. One of my “goosebumps” moments of this year was when I first heard “Emmylou” – I really really wish I’d written it.

DearEmily and the Woods
Keaton HensonDear
Keaton’s voice and lyrics cut through whatever is happening, wherever I am. There is an immediacy and strength to his words and his delivery is so full of emotion that it makes me want to cry with him. I believe in his heartache; it feels raw. This album truly reminded me how powerful it is when you tell it how you feel it. That’s my favourite kind of songwriting, and it feels exemplified in the way he phrases and sings some lines. My favourite song on the album is the closing track, “Party Song”; which is unashamedly bleak.

Stars and SatellitesThe Quarry Mountain Dead Rats
Trampled By TurtlesStars and Satellites
We were waiting for this album to be released and it didn’t disappoint. Got a good mix of slower songs and and the usual kick ass ones. Ear f*$#ingly good!

Trains I MissedNick Keeling (Mustered Courage)
Balsam RangeTrains I Missed
Balsam Range deliver straight up modern driving bluegrass at its best. They are world class pickers, songwriters and boy can they sing. The harmonies are super tight and I love how the vocals are mixed. It gives you that baseball bat of three part harmony hit, straight in the face.

Stars and SatellitesCoty Hogue
RodriguezSearching for Sugar Man Soundtrack
Okay, so maybe all these songs were originally released in 1970-71, but considering most all of us (at least over here in the States) had never heard of Rodriguez before this film, and the fact that these songs are absolutely BRILLIANT and beautiful, makes this my must listen to album of the year! (I should also include the original two albums that these songs come from)

Warm in the DarknessNadine Budge (The Stetson Family)
Liz StringerWarm in the Darkness
From the multitude of reasons why this is my favourite album this year, the overarching one is that Liz Stringer is authentic – the real deal. This album serves up some of the melting beauty of Liz’s slower songs that she has shown herself to be a master of – then whacks it for a six when she pulls out some big guns and rocks it out! It’s the triple threat of great songwriting, sublime vocals and kick-arse musicianship.

Hard RubbishLouise O’Reilly (Laneway)
Lower Plenty – Hard Rubbish
It’s stony dreamy domestic. We found it driving from Melbourne to Adelaide on our tour and it took us all the way home.

Off We GoDesert Rat Shorty (The Lurkers)
Jess and Richard ArrowsmithOff We Go
This year I have a toddler, and as a consequence, I’ve spent most of the year listening to my favourite kids CD. It’s real music for kids. No autotune, no synthesisers and no politically correct rewriting for kids (the pirates in the songs still drink rum!). The songs are all old English nursery rhymes played on traditional instruments. And our one-and-a-half-year-old loves it.

Black Vat TrioWeary Hobo and Rocky Mountain Slim (The Lurkers)
Black Vat TrioBlack Vat Trio
They are a Sydney-based trio with Rishin (trombone), Rascal (violin) and Bones (piano accordion plus drums) who play Klezma and Romani inspired originals and Eastern European Classics. Songs and tunes they perform from other traditions they acknowledge openly unlike some Australian bands in the same scene. What Black Vat Trio create themselves are soundtracks to my dirty old Sydney town. Songs like “Rapscallions” are reminiscent of Waiting for Guinness and the genuine, straightforward production of the album brings it out on top of the new releases of the year for me. This album keeps toddlers of all ages laughing and dancing!

Court The StormJeremiah Fraites (The Lumineers)
Y La BambaCourt the Storm
It’s a terrific album. Is it folk, is it world, is it singer-songwriter? I don’t know. And personally, I don’t care. Talking about music is like dancing about architecture. Just listen to the damn thing.

Spirit BirdNardi Simpson (Stiff Gins)
Xavier RuddSpirit Bird
I first heard Xavier Rudd perform over twelve years ago. I knew nothing about him but watched as he played and stomped and sang the young audience into waves of inspired frenzy. He was on the way up, he sounded great, the kids loved him and he had his own unique sound. He also played the yidaki or didjeridoo. Now as blackfullas we regularly walk around festivals and see masses of people dancing and trancing out to the sound of yidaki – but most times it is not being played by a black musician. And so we carry this with us a little bit, well I do anyway. I sat there and listened to Rudd and looked at the crowd and thought of all the brothers I knew who would never get the same chance or attention if they did. Ten years later an ‘Indig’ stage was funded at Bluesfest. We had got a gig and walked around starry eyed, shyly watching legends from the wings and spinning out on the greenroom facilities. We walked past dressing room doors…Blind Boys of Alabama, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Jason Mraz, Angelique Kidjo, and as we came up to Xavier Rudd’s room out popped his head: “Brother, come and be part of this smoking ceremony”, he asked my partner. I can only guess he didn’t see or recognise me. So in he went, into this stranger/stars dressing room and did ceremony. Four months ago I saw Xavier Rudd had a new album out. I assembled together all the little pieces of him I knew and I bought it. I wanted to understand something more of the man. I listened to his songs and let them soak into me and it was at that point that our worlds collided. Where first I was a young musician, starting to sing of my world and my special place in it – and compete with all those who were doing the same, now I was a searcher of stories and of deep, and meaningful connections. I had come to the place that perhaps Rudd was at all those years ago- creating narratives to forge and maintain relationships with people, place and country. As a musician Rudd has consistently taken steps towards the place that I too now wish to explore. To show others how beautiful it is when country sings back. I still haven’t met Xavier Rudd, I doubt whether I will but I think I am a little closer to understanding him and his music. And so I see this album Spirit Bird as more than a collection of songs, it’s a story about a man on a journey. And as he walks, so do we.

BlunderbussHenry Wagons
Jack WhiteBlunderbuss
Following the epic legacy of his other bands, there is no doubt the pressure was on, whether Jack admitted it to himself or not. All the publicity said this album was kinda throwaway, recorded when another artist cancelled his session at Third Man Records. Yet, when you tune in to the opening riff of the album’s opener “Missing Pieces”, you immediately realise this album is about to deliver in spades to all those curious ears pointed towards it. It sounds so smooth, rockin’ and analogue … and seems it would have been a blast to put together. Its sense of spontaneity and creative freedom translates through to the listener. A bluesy, garage masterpiece, gloriously thrown together.

Me and MoonHannah Acfield (Dan and Hannah Acfield)
Lydia ColeMe & Moon
As I suspected, iTunes confirmed this was my most played album of 2012! I met Lydia at the APRA Song Summit earlier in the year and she was so lovely it prompted me to buy her album. Me & Moon is a stunning collection of songs, the production is delicate and raw, yet so beautiful and clever. In this case, less is certainly more. Lydia has an exquisite voice that captured me straight away. The songs are well written, am honest tale of heartbreak and loss. I had an immediate connection with this album and have not stopped playing it. Beautiful.

BlunderbussDave “Christo” Christensen (Charlie Mayfair)
Jack WhiteBlunderbuss
By far the most soulful and energetic album of the year from a man that understands the effect that the women in his life have had on his personality and the insecurities it hides. Through big speakers this album is louder than anything else out this year.

Young Man in AmericaEmily Barker
Anaïs MitchellYoung Man in America
I love the mood she creates straight from the outset; pensive and alluring. Lyrically I think it’s phenomenal – it has a stream of consciousness element and repetition of themes: childhood; parenthood; growing up in America; stories we inherit. Instrumentally it’s killer too – I love the combination of woodwind instruments, mandolin, guitars, layered vocals, such rich textures always serving the songs. I get more and more from it every time I listen to it – there is so much depth in this record.

There's No Leaving NowLittle Bastard
Tallest Man on EarthThere’s No Leaving Now
It’s great to see a modern day artist maintain the quality of songwriting up to his fourth release. He has also manage to arrange and produce the music that keeps the listener interested and shows growth from previous albums.

The Burgh Island EPHeidi Waddell (Cordial Factory)
Ben HowardThe Burgh Island EP
All I want to do is sit in a cool, dark room with my eyes closed and breathe in the sounds of this EP. Since I heard Ben Howard’s song “Depth Over Distance” last year, I had been waiting and hoping that his new EP would be much the same and it is. I love that he’s not afraid of combining stillness and passion. He’s created something really unique; it’s deep and full and haunting.

Back at the Quonset HutKetch Secor (Old Crow Medicine Show)
Chuck Mead & His Grassy Knoll BoysBack at the Quonset Hut
About 20 years ago, while Nashville was perfecting it’s recipe for the blandest batch of country music yet, a band called BR-549 was serving it up raw seven nights a week on the freaky streets of Lower Broad. This year Chuck Mead, BR’s longtime frontman, released Back At The Quonset Hut – 12 classic cuts backed by Nashville’s A-Team of sessions players, the color guard of pickers, the very men who made country music what the world knows it to be – true. It still is, and Chuck Mead proves it.

Race the LoserJohn Spiers (Bellowhead, Spiers and Boden)
LauRace the Loser
It’s got everything going for it. It’s hugely complex and experimental with some superb playing yet it bears up to repeated listening incredibly well. For me, the ability to listen to it on lots of different levels makes it the perfect album.

Adventures in Your Own BackyardPete Flood (Bellowhead)
Patrick WatsonAdventures in Your Own Backyard
Eerie, lush, cinematic and full of intriguing twists and turns – it’s like walking through a sunlit wood in late autumn. Pretentious but true.

GossamerSam Sweeny (Bellowhead)
Passion PitGossamer
It’s a perfect pop record. It combines musical simplicity with awesome technical complexity. Each track has new layers that keep jumping out at you at every listen, and to top it all, there isn’t a duff track on the album. It’s sublime music.

Time As We Know ItAdam McGrath (The Eastern)
Todd SniderTime As We Know It: The Songs of Jerry Jeff Walker
We spend at least 100-150 days a year sucking up bitumen, roadside pies (best one in six years is the fish pie from wairoa on the bottom of the east cape of the Nth Island of NZ), junk from junk shops, and lung disorders from the air con, in all manner of wheeled transport around New Zealand, Australia and parts and ports beyond. There are basically three rules in the van, 1) Only let Flora the fiddle player drive when no one else can possibly manage it 2) Adam must listen to Waylon Jennings on any post 1am drives (and be allowed to sing along with gusto and a slight edge of drunken melencholy) 3) and when the shit gets bad, hard, or both then we must listen to Todd Snider bootlegs (Tales From Moondog Tavern Vol. 1-5 are particular faves) or Jerry Jeff Walker, they are our road guards. This year Todd Snider released Time As We Know It an album of Jerry Jeff Walker covers, it wouldn’t have mattered if it sucked (it doesn’t) the idea alone would have made it our album of 2012. If next year he does an album of Thin Lizzy songs our lives would indeed be complete.

The Idler WheelTexture Like Sun
Fiona AppleThe Idler Wheel…
Although I haven’t listened to too much new music this year this album is one that recently came to me, and floored me. It’s dark, melancholly and sparse, about what I’d excpect from a Fiona Apple album. Love the additional instumentation in some tracks (you can hear lot of things clanging in the background) – and her voice! This music makes me feel something more than most.

I've Got a Friend Called Emily FerrisJen Cloher
Courtney BarnettI’ve Got a Friend Called Emily Ferris
The debut release from Melbourne based singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett was recorded in a friend’s lounge room in Thornbury. A lo-fi seven song collection of pop gems with plenty of psych-rock wig outs to boot. Original, often humorous lyrics tumble effortlessly over catchy-as-hell melodies. The first song, “Lance Jnr” opens with the lyric “I masturbated to the songs you wrote”. Nuff said.

The Stars Are Indifferent to AstronomyKevin Micthell (Bob Evans, Basement Birds)
Nada SurfThe Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy
I’ve been a fan of this band since their seminal album Let Go around 10 years ago and they’ve barely put a foot wrong since. Their new album is another perfect template on how to write glistening power pop with intelligent, poetic lyrics. Underated? I think so.

A Different ShipHusky Gawenda (Husky)
Here We Go MagicA Different Ship
Interesting, infectious songs. A diverse album, but one that flows nicely from start to finish. Spoke to me immediately, before I had a chance to consider why – as all good albums do.

All The Little LightsHelen Croome (Gossling)
PassengerAll The Little Lights
A beautiful album with sweet and heartbreaking stories. Mike is an incredible story-teller who manages to find the perfect balance between memorable melodies and a descriptive tale. A favourite track would be “Let Her Go” with it’s beautiful lyric imagery. And the live version of “I Hate” is another favourite for it’s humour and honesty.

Out of FrequencyNikki Thorburn (ILUKA)
The Asteroid Galaxy TourOut Of Frequency
Danish psychedelic pop band The Asteroid Galaxy Tour are in a class of their own, and their second studio album Out Of Frequency proves just this. With more attitude and swagger than their debut album Fruit, this record is as innovative and refreshing as it is inviting. Drawing on array of eccentric, hypnotic and inviting sounds, they create a fantasy world that is deeply potent and entrancing. Chicago blues on “shrooms” and film noir on acid, it’s truly a case of the sum being greater than its parts.

Mirage RockMark “Looch” Lewis (Handsome Young Strangers)
Band of HorsesMirage Rock
On first listen its hard to believe this is the same band who put out the excellent Everything All The Time album back in 2006. Raw, loose and stripped back, Mirage Rock is everything that their debut was not. Folk purists may baulk at the move in a popier direction on some tunes and whilst I agree that it is not all an easy ride, stand firm! Because with repeated listening this record will reward you if you invest the time. As all great records should.

An Awesome WaveHayden Calnin
Alt-J (∆)An Awesome Wave
This is one of those albums that you tend to pick up and chuck on pretty much every day. In my eyes (ears?) Alt-J have delivered not only the most original sounding record of the year with their very infectious compositions and hauntingly fragile yet powerful vocal style, but also the best written as well. My personal favourite “Ms” off the album takes the cake for being my favourite track of the year as well.

Mirage RockGeorge Jackson
Brittany Haas and Dan TruemanCrissCross
Here’s something you don’t hear every day, unless you have the album like me. Appalachian fiddle goddess Brittany Haas meets Norwegian style fiddler and modern composer Dan Trueman. There is no music I’ve heard before that sounds quite like this, and to top it off the performers achieve that oh so important mix of stimulating both the body and the mind! This project is full of beautiful and mind bending new compositions by both Brittany and Dan. Mix in Natalie Haas on cello + guitarist Jordan Tice along with Brittany’s Crooked Still comrade Cory Di’Mario on Double Bass = a stellar line up. The tunes literally criss-cross the complimentary fiddle styles of Norway and Appalachia, developed with masterful ensemble arrangements and some demanding modern harmony.

JerildereeLachlan Bryan
Bill JacksonJerilderee
It’s actually pretty hard to write convincingly about Australia – most people end up stumbling over the awkward sounding place names, or struggling to extract poetry from our often brutal, frequently covered-up history. Bill and his brother Ross are exceptions to the rule. They write stunning songs together, and microphones just seem to love Bill’s warm, weathered voice. Jerilderie is full of great stories, and was my favourite record this year.

PrisonerEli Wolfe
The JezabelsPrisoner
Driving on tour we have been listening to The Jezabels Prisoner, which fits the landscape perfectly. Though it was released late 2011, I only bought Prisoner this year. It’s a great vibey album and Hayley is an amazing front woman.

How About I Be MeDamien Dempsey
Sinead O’ConnorHow About I Be Me (And You Be You)?
A blinding return to form by a fearless warrior woman who is my favorite female singer. Her song “Take Off Your Shoes” makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck every time I hear it, breathtaking.

Fear FunTom Busby (Busby Marou)
Father John MistyFear Fun
This album reminds me of why I love listening to music – it makes me so happy! The songs are cheeky and full of swagger, and somehow steers away from sounding arrogant. I love the production, including the small imperfections which are clearly intended. It is obvious that there were no rules when recording the record and this is probably why I can’t stop smiling each time I hear it.

Toward The Low SunAidan Cooney (Boy Outside)
Dirty ThreeToward the Low Sun
Choose your time wisely because I cried like a mother fucking bitch recently on a long haul flight listening to this album. Melancholy to get lost in and the dirtiest violin sound known to man give you an album that should be sold with a warning.

Music From Kennedy's PoolCourtney Barnett
Merri Creek PickersMusic From Kennedy’s Pool
I have seen the Merri Creek Pickers play live about 80 times. I’ve heard them rehearsing about 400 times. I adore the gentle genius of Alex Hamilton’s songwriting, the all-inclusive yet sometimes argumentative arrangement process and the fact that it was all recorded by the band themselves live at a farm in the middle of nowhere. This is a classic album that should transcend our generation.

Warm in the DarknessCat Canteri (The Stillsons)
Liz StringerWarm in the Darkness
Beautifully tasty arrangements, playing, sounds and songs across the whole album.

HereSam Buckingham
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic ZerosHere
It’s so full of joy and somehow, every time I listen, manages to remind me to stop and enjoy the simplest and most beautiful things the world has to offer, and I have to offer the world. I love the songwriting, the production is unique and brilliant but I think, more than anything, it’s the feeling of hope and beauty that sits inside every song.

El CaminoCat Colman (Billygoat and the Mongrels)
The Black KeysEl Camino
So many albums to choose from!! The Black Keys scraped in at number 1, mainly because it has such a full solid and infectious sound.

Carry Me BackJohn Flanagan (John Flanagan and the Begin Agains)
Old Crow Medicine ShowCarry Me Back
Having just traveled to the US this year for the first time I’ve fallen in love with the mountain music that is so prominent in North Carolina and Virginia. Old Crow Medicine Show clearly draw on a wide range of influences though I love the old-timey core to their music with the claw-hammer banjo and fiddle. There are a lot of references to places we recently visited: Virginia, the Shenandoah river, etc, so for many reasons the album brings back fond memories of traveling through the South.

The Lion's RoarElla Hooper
First Aid KitThe Lion’s Roar
First Aid Kit are so full of potential it hurts. I don’t think they’ve quite revealed all they will in years to come but Lions Roar boasts great lush production from Mike Mogis (a modern master) and the girls’ tight folk pop songwriting is just my kind of teenage day dream, sorry Katy Perry, but This is talent.

PackwoodJulia Johnson (Julia and the Deep Sea Sirens)
PackwoodPackwood
In all honesty, I spent much of 2012 rediscovering old favourites. I re-arranged my bedroom, which inadvertently meant it was much easier for me to use my record player. Dad’s impeccable record collection has been liberated from the garage and given a healthy airing this year. There is one 2012 release that has had a particular impact on me musically though, so that automatically catapults in to becoming my favourite release of 2012. Early in the year I supported Packwood and The Falls in Canberra, at The Front Gallery. Probably one of the loveliest gigs with some of the loveliest musicians I’ve played with all year, but I digress. I’ve never heard such an ambitious EP as Packwood’s. Simply a man, his banjo, and an orchestra. Yup, a 50 piece orchestra. With a banjo. I’ve been messing around with my banjo for a few years half-arsedly, but since hearing that EP I haven’t practiced my guitar at all. I can’t put my banjo down. So thank you Packwood, for re-invigorating my love for banjo, and sorry housemates and neighbours, I’m not going to stop playing my banjo any time soon.

Baby We Were Born to DieRosie Catalano
Jen CloherBaby We Were Born To Die
Each song on this 3-track EP is so special. “Call If You Need Me” has an incredible ability to transport me to a whole other world every time I listen to it, “Baby We Were Born To Die” leaves me awed by Jen Cloher’s way of looking at the world and the hand she has been dealt, and the lyrics in her duet with Courtney Barnett always manages to catch me by surprise and make me laugh.

Love This GiantSarah Blasko
David Byrne & St VincentLove This Giant
It’s a collaborative album that really works and feels very cohesive. The arrangements are really imaginative and it has the freshness of not sounding like anything else that’s out at the moment. The brass arrangements are fantastic. It’s a classic sounding record, it’s beautiful and rich and full.

A Creature I Don't KnowLiam Gale (Liam Gale and The Ponytails)
Laura MarlingA Creature I Don’t Know
I spent this year listening to some not-so-current music, and it seems I’ve got some catchng up to do considering the snippets of albums I’ve heard over the last twelve months. Of 2012’s offerings, Laura Marling’s A Creature I Don’t Know was one that caught my ear. It had a lilt toward that concept-album-feel, some tracks outright flowing into the next, like Floyd with banjos or something. There was this poem she’d written that came out shortly after the album was released that seemed to explore the record’s protagonist character; the Beast. It’d come up every now again, like it was teasing the other characters on the album. Trippy.

Phaux CiscoSivan (The April Maze)
VariousPhaux Cisco
It astounds me that some of the greatest songwriters of all time remain relatively unheard. James Cisco is one of them. This album was produced as a surprise gift for the songwriter and includes some great Melbourne musos doing versions of his wonderful songs. The album features versions from Jeb Cardwell, Dan Lethbridge, Jed Pickett & Kate Walker, Kate Crowley, The Shivering Timbers, Simon Hudson & Anita Quail, Adrian Whitehead and more. The songs are in chronological order of when they were written, from 1988 to 2012. Its a real genre journey and wanders through folk, rock, country, punk, soul and blues. We love it and listen to it on the road all the time.

The Great DespiserFanny Lumsden
Joe PugThe Great Despiser
To me his songs are like stories from those who don’t usually tell stories. This album feels like I’m moving forward on a monster of a drive where one has very minimal encounters with anything man made and at the same time feeling settled. Good one JPUG.

An Awesome WaveBity Booker
Alt-J (∆)An Awesome Wave
Driven by Joe Newman’s haunting melodies, vowel-curling words, heart breaking notes; each song on this album is an independent masterpiece: cohesive and scrupulous. Every track is rich in layered detail, synthesizing meticulous sounds of pianos, guitars and xylophones. “Taro” is a wonderful story and an adventure in itself. I can’t get enough of it’s obsessive melody, which reaches a haunting climax when Newman’s voice breaks in the refrain, missing the crucial note, but making it that much more important in its absence.

The Only PlaceEmma Davis
Best CoastThe Only Place
This album really just came at the perfect time. I had just returned from a long trip overseas and having had a few changes along the way I took some time out to live by the beach and write. There’s nothing really ground-breaking or creatively astounding about this record, it’s just a great record. Solid, well-constructed pop songs all the way through. It’s a more positive sounding album than the last, with cleaner production and perhaps less raw emotion but to me still has that distinct ‘Best Coast’ sound that I first fell in love with. The lyrics are beautifully simple to the point where I’m not sure sometimes how they get away with it, but they do. Overall, it simply made me feel good, and at a time when I needed it. I’ve listened to it so much that I wouldn’t be surprised if a few subconscious references to “waves” or “babes” make it into my next record.

The Money StoreMark Piccles (Tin Sparrow)
Death GripsThe Money Store
Possibly the most intense, in-your-face hip hop record I’ve ever heard, but it’s endless originality and almost tangible persona is undeniable. It’s not for everyone but if you can withstand the brutality of the initial listen, there is much to be discovered on second venture and beyond.

LonerismDean McLeod (Tin Sparrow)
Tame ImpalaLonerism
Some killer overseas albums this year but Lonerism is by far my favourite. It’s texturally amazing which is really important for me and I love Kevin’s song writing. It also expands the sound they crafted on Innerspeaker. Almost perfect psych pop. Plus after seeing them at Splendour this year I reckon they are one of the best live bands going. Conclusion: instant froth.

The Year of HibernationBen Cooper (Radical Face)
Youth LagoonThe Year of Hibernation
I’m never good at these lists. I’m almost always a year or two behind, as I tend to stop hunting new records while recording and then play catch up when I’m not. So this album was late 2011, but I was told that’s okay. Anyway, this is one of those records that feels like it was made in a bedroom and is all the better for it. It’s a record that makes me smile, and as the lyrics slowly became discernible I found I really liked them. I don’t often describe records as charming, but this one I do. And it’s good walking music. I like it a lot

Spring and FallJack Carty
Paul KellySpring And Fall
I got myself into a tis trying to choose between a bunch of amazing releases this year by First Aid Kit, The Falls, Leroy Lee, Tim Hart and Packwood (just to name a few) but when I stopped thinking too much about it and just went with my gut, I had to go with Paul Kelly’s Spring And Fall for my favourite album of 2012. I am not sure if it’s because I grew up listening to my Dad singing along to his records or just because of the beautiful, simple honesty with which he writes, but I find something about Paul Kelly’s records incredibly comforting, and Spring And Fall is among his best. Each song is a story in itself, and a paragraph in the bittersweet tale the album as a whole tells. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, just says it plain and true … Music for everyone.

Unfinished BusinessJessica Cassar and Darren Cross (Jep and Dep)
Wanda JacksonUnfinished Business
It was on our way back from our Jep and Dep tour of Germany, cheap flights with Air China, that we spent our last night in Frankfurt. With a giant stroke of luck, Wanda Jackson was performing a stones throw away from our crappy fluorescent pink hostel. After one song she blew us away. The devil’s girlfriend. Queen of Rockabilly. She is Rockabilly (no visible tattoos by the way). Her 2012 album, Unfinished Business, is mixed a saddlebag of rock, blues and country covers and originals that doesn’t try to be anything that it isn’t. It’s a fun and sassy album that pays tribute to the era the 75-year-old pint-sized, tassle wearing old school banshee reigned in. Listen to it.

SomethingEdward Deer
ChairliftSomething
For me the realm of intelligent and visceral pop music was completely owned by the ladies in 2012 (see also the exceptional recent records from Bat for Lashes, Cat Power, First Aid Kit and Sharon Van Etten, to name just a few). But the album I listened to more than any other this year was probably Chairlift’s Something. It’s full of thrilling juxtapositions – spontaneous and energetic performances meet painstaking songcraft, super hooky 80s-inspired pop melodies sit alongside bizarre sounds you’ve never heard before in your life. Caroline’s angelic, crystal clear voice is used to deliver wounded and often darkly comic lyrics, while Patrick’s bass lines are just plain killer. The band has just released some early demos from this album and those bare bones recordings reveal just how much work went into making the finished product so great.

Summer SongsJake Holmes (Merri Creek Pickers)
My Left BootSummer Songs
This is the coolest album I’ve heard in such a long time, absolute stoner heaven. “Sharks in the water” will make your hair stand on end. Roll up and just put it on.

The LumineersAchoo! Bless You
The LumineersThe Lumineers
I (Ross) heard the single “Ho Hey” in about July, and it was love at first listen. Catchy, awesome americana-folk-pop. There’s a massive scene they are championing, and they’re doing it real well.

MuseumPatrick James
Ball Park MusicMuseum
I often love albums where you can discover something new in the music every time. For me, this is one of them. I happened to catch a Ball Park Music concert at the Metro Theatre in the latter part of the year and was blown away. Since then, I keep going back to this band and especially this record, even to the point of covering one of their songs at my own live show. The songwriting is so left of field and it never fails to surprise me. Every time I listen to this album, I feel it moves me in a different way and keeps me intrigued about their music.

HypnotisedThe Twoks
Pony FaceHypnotised
Mature, fuzzy, warm and dark. The sound of three lads who know exactly how their music should sound, but (having mastered the art of subtlety) don’t shove it down your throat. Hypnotised has beautiful layers and textures. Not only does the album creep up and grow on you, but each song does. Highlights are the amazing “Alabama” (featuring the coolest laconic percussive vocal) and the spirited “Holly Said”.

Who's Feeling Young NowJane Hendry (The Tiger and Me)
Punch BrothersWho’s Feeling Young Now?
I’ve been a big fan of these guys for a few years now and this album shows just how talented they all are. I love the way they are bringing together traditional bluegrass instrumentation and techniques with songwriting that is much more indie-pop. This particular album does this probably more than their previous releases, but their complex and intricate arrangements are still there in spades, coupled with some heartbreakingly good melodies. There’s quite a bit of swagger too! Top track (changes regularly for me) – “Hundred Dollars”, where Gabe Witcher (fiddle) takes the lead vocals and swaggers all over the place.

The RubensSally Balfour
The RubensThe Rubens
Soulful, rockin’ blues; can’t get enough of The Ruben’s debut album. This album stirs something new within me each time I listen to it, especially their single “My Gun”. That track always cuts straight through to my heart. It is no wonder The Rubens are this year’s triple j Unearthed Artists of the Year.

Seven DaysAndrew Drummond
Emmy BryceSeven Days
The songs are fun and catchy and full of 90s pop influenced goodness! The EP also showed what an artist (and team) with drive and vision can achieve in a short period of time, with numerous TV show appearances (both live and soundtrack) and a national tour. Seven Days by Emmy Bryce inspired me to keep dreaming.

Ashes & FireStu Larsen
Ryan AdamsAshes & Fire
I know it was released pretty late in 2011, but all year long I just always went back to it. A classic easy listening album. I love the simplicity, I love the instrumentation and I love the way Ryan Adams’ imagery takes me some place else. My favourite track off this album at the moment is the opener, “Dirty Rain”.

Warm in the DarknessLeah Flanagan
Liz StringerWarm in the Darkness
Liz is one of my favourite Australian songwriters. The quality of musicianship and songwriting on Warm in the Darkness is incredible and it’s nice to hear her rocking out with full band and horn section. There are moments when listening to this record that I suddenly get goosebumps. They remind me of how truly beautiful her voice is. Buy it. Favourite songs are “High Open Hills” and “Warm in the Darkness”.

Slay Me In My SleepPiers Twomey
Grand SalvoSlay Me In My Sleep
The paradox about Paddy Mann – aka Melbourne’s Grand Salvo – is how he’s both adored and celebrated while also being overlooked and unsung. His critically acclaimed albums come across (to me) like profound, melodically gorgeous, yet slightly awkward museum folk songs: pure and emotionally charged vignettes from another era. Enough has been written about 2012’s Slay Me In My Sleep being one of his very best. I’ll just add that the record’s “The Boy’s Story Of His Faithful Family Dog” reduces me to tears. If you’ve ever loved and lost a family dog – and if you let it – the song may evoke the same consequence in you.

Over The SunCountry Town Collective
Tinpan OrangeOver the Sun
We love Tinpan Orange’s new album. It’s quirky, unexpected and eerily beautiful. A bit like Portishead but more organic sounding, it could be the soundtrack to an old movie, a bit James Bond theme even? It’s definitely got some magic to it.

Swing Low MagellanSteven Barnard (Arbori)
Dirty ProjectorsSwing Lo Magellan
I was surprised and satisfied by the peculiar and purposed brilliance of this record. It satisfies so many corners of my affection as it effortlessly showcased a band that are so deliberate and intentional. From the intricate electronic sounds scapes, to the biting crunch of guitar riffs, to the sweet and often bitter harmonics, dull acoustic tones, manic riffs, intimacy, mania … Lyrically prophetic both socially and emotionally and musically nostalgic yet completely original. I listened to it over and over as it continued to claimed my satisfaction.

Odd SoulPaul Brown (Arbori)
MutemathOdd Soul
This album came as a bit of a surprise to me. Mutemath have been a favourite band of mine for a while and they always do something different with each album, yet manage to create a sound uniquely theirs. Odd Soul is a masterpiece of musicianship which in my mind brings together the Mutemath feel to a very 60s soul and psychedelic sound. It is a fresh sound (albeit retro) in a market saturated in same sounding music! Fav tracks: “Cavalries” and “One More”.

RedJames Hutchinson (Arbori)
Taylor SwiftRed
We’re forgetting the biggest album of the year, the one that defines this generation and will go down in the annals of history as a watermark in the second decade of this century – Taylor Swift’s Red. It is my emotional comfort when I’m home crying myself to sleep over a lost boyfriend at night and the musical incentive to get me through the day.

Born and RaisedSibylla Stephen (The Little Stevies)
John MayerBorn and Raised
First let me say, I haven’t heard many new albums this year as I gave birth to my son in June. And like many first time mums I’ve just been tumbling my way through his first year trying to keep my head above water. It sure has been fun though, and one new album that we have sung, danced and gone to sleep to is the new John Mayer, Born and Raised. I know it’s cheesy, and it’s not all that “cool” to admit it, but I’m a big fan of his. I’ve always loved his lyrics, he had me at “I’ll never let your head hit the bed without my hand behind it” … Swoon … And on this new album he’s done it again. It’s full of songs I can’t stop humming and lyrics I wish I’d come up with. And he seems to have taken a little turn towards a more alt-country sound in some songs which I love. But all-in-all its just a great pop record, my favourite. Don’t judge me!!!

Young NorthZoe Elliot
The Paper KitesYoung North
The Young North EP has managed to stay true to the Paper Kites sound while still feeling fresh. My two favourite songs are “Leopold Street” due to the romantic nostalgia I hold onto of my grandparents, and “Paint” as its beautiful simplicity brought me to tears when I first turned it on sitting alone in my car – it takes a strong lyric to break me.

Goat Rodeo SessionsBayden Hine (Packwood)
Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer and Chris ThileGoat Rodeo Sessions
Of all the albums that I heard over the course of 2012, the one that really stood out for me was Goat Rodeo Sessions – a collaborative album put together by Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer and one of my musical heroes Chris Thile. I first heard the album by way of a buddy, who told me I “had to listen to this”. Naturally I didn’t, until several months later whilst sitting in a car listening to The Punch Brothers’ latest album – at which point I remembered. The album’s title refers to a chaotic ruckus of sorts, a big ol’ mess that somehow just … works out in the end – exactly what this album is. I absolutely adore blended genres – especially blends of classical/folk/bluegrass – and so this album has been on high-rotation ever since! The stand out track for me is “Attaboy”, but if you can’t stand instrumentals and harmonies are your thing – “Here and Heaven” is sure to please.

TempestNigel Wearne
Bob DylanTempest
Yes, I’m another songwriter who’s a Bob Dylan fan but I had to choose this album because he’s still got it in spades. It’s more of a poetry reading these days but his phrasing is as good as it’s ever been. It’s pretty hard to beat a nasty 8 minute murder ballad and a beautiful 15 minute epic about the Titanic sinking. The man still has something to say!

The Rip TideJesse Lubitz (TinPan Orange)
BeirutThe Rip Tide
I started my year off with a live Beirut show in early 2012 and it’s stayed with me as one of the best shows I’ve seen all year. The songs on The Rip Tide seem effortless and the album flows as an album should flow. I love the quirky instrumentation and clever arrangements – it’s an album from a band who don’t sound like they are trying to sound like anything other than themselves.

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 14th December

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– Sydney musos Packwood, Jack Carty, Achoo! Bless You, Fanny Lumsden and Rosie Catalano have come to write, record and release their original Christmas song “Heading Home (It’s Christmas Time)” to help raise money for Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Australia. Details here

– The Illawarra Folk Festival is holding its annual Sydney showcase this Sunday at The Cat and Fiddle in Balmain. For $15 you get nine hours of music from nine different artists. Details here

– Melbourne duo The Weeping Willows will be launching their debut album in Melbourne this Sunday with a little help from Lachlan Bryan. Details here

– Speaking of Lachlan Bryan the alt-country favourite has announced a residency at Melbourne’s Retreat Hotel throughout January. Details here

– One of our favourite Australian Americana/bluegrass bands, The Wilson Pickers, are reforming for Bluesfest next year and have announced plans for album number three. Details here

– After a year away in Europe Phia is finally returning home and is celebrating with a show at the Grace Darling in Melbourne before Christmas. Details here

– Already announced as part of the 2013 Bluesfest lineup Ben Howard has announced three headline shows next April in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. Details here

– London-based indie-folk five piece Eliza and the Bear are streaming “Upon The North”, the first track from their upcoming double A-side. Details here

– “Jangle” the new single and video from Adelaide seven-piece Gemini Downs may well be the catchest song of the summer. Details here

Bluesfest have added a handful more artists to the 2013 lineup including Jason Mraz, Manu Chao and La Ventura, Mark Seymour and the Undertow, Chris Smither, Current Swell, Matt Anderson, Go Jane Go (Kieran Kane, David Fracey and Lucas Kane) and The McMenamins. Details here

– José González’s Junip project have announced plans for a new album next year. Details here

– Melbourne based singer-songwriter James Kenyon has just released his brand new video “35 Degrees”. Details here

– Alice Springs native Sally Balfour has released the video for her debut track “Through The Night”. Details here

Graveyard Train also released a brand new video this week for their track “The Sermon”. Details here

Interviews

“I have wondered many times what would have happened if my past wasn’t corrupted by rock and roll [laughs]. I really do wonder because I listened to just as much Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez as I do Smashing Pumpkins but I guess because of the age I was I chose to – although some of it wasn’t choice, some of it was encouraged forcefully – go in the direction of more modern rock sounds. At the end of the day I don’t think they were as me, they weren’t what I keep coming back to. I’ve gone through those phases and I don’t put on modern rock records anymore but I still put on Joan Baez, I still put on Joni Mitchell or Emmylou or Karen Dalton more than anybody. Those are the things I keep coming back to”Ella Hooper chats to Gareth Hugh Evans about her upcoming solo album. Interview here

“Cathy [Guthrie] and I both work for our dads full time as well so whenever we do a tour together we try and scramble whatever time we can and this time we could only get a week. It’s going to have to be a short one, about 10 days, for the tour but hopefully we’ll be able to do a longer one soon. And we’re really excited about Woodford!” – Amy Nelson from Folk Uke talks to Gareth Hugh Evans about their upcoming Australian tour. Interview here

“The thing we’re most fond of is touring; just playing as much as we can around the country. Especially being from Tassie, you’ve got to make the most of it. When you go on a tour, you’ve just gotta do as many shows as you can” – Ben Wells of Ben Wells and the Middle Names chats to Bill Quinn at their headline gig in Canberra. Interview here

Reviews

Gigs

“Admittedly, this gig was the first time that I had heard The Mornings and I was completely taken aback. This inconceivably talented six piece folk band had a strong presence in the room as soon as they took the stage”Janine Estoesta Reviews 4 Singles, 4 Styles in Melbourne. Review here

Releases This Week

Burgh Island
Burgh IslandBen Howard
iTunes

Bag of Hammers
A Bag of Hammers (Film Score)Johnny Flynn
iTunes

Timber and Steel Presents

Mustered Courage
Mustered Courage with John Flanagan and The Begin Agains and The Drooling Mouths Of Memphis
Sunday 16th December – The Workers Club, Melbourne, VIC

Gigs Next Week

Andrew Drummond
Friday 14th December – House Gig, Wyong, NSW
Sunday 16th December – Chords for Lekol, Canberra, ACT
Tuesday 18th December – Vineyard, Melbourne, VIC
Wednesday 19th December – Horse Bazaar, Melbourne, VIC

Darren Hanlon
Friday 14th December –The Grand Poobah, Hobart, TAS
Saturday 15th December – The Street Theatre, Canberra, ACT
Wednesday 19th December – Mojo’s, Freemantle, WA
Thursday 20th December – Church of the Trinity, Adelaide, SA
Friday 21st December – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC

Husky
Sunday 16th December – Hoey Moey, Coffs Harbour, NSW

Illawarra Folk Festival Sydney Showcase
Sunday 16th December – The Cat and Fiddle, Sydney, NSW

Jack Carty
Friday 14th December – Camelot, Sydney, NSW (w/ Katie Noonan)
Sunday 16th December – The Retreat Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Joe Robinson
Saturday 15th December – Festival of The Sun, Port Macquarie, NSW

Jordie Lane
Friday 14th December – Great Northern Hotel, Newcastle, NSW
Saturday 15th December – Notes Live, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 16th December – Clarendon Guesthouse, Katoomba, NSW

Laneway
Friday 14th December – The Lomond Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 15th December – The Little Larder, Brisbane, QLD
Thursday 20th December – The Union Hotel, Sydney, NSW

Mike McCarthy
Thursday 20th December – Lizottes, Kincumber, NSW

Perch Creek Family Jug Band
Friday 14th December – Mullumbimby Drill Hall, Mullumbimby, NSW
Saturday 15th December – The Basement, Gold Coast Arts Centre, Surfers Paradise, QLD
Sunday 16th December – The Joynt, Brisbane, QLD (4.30pm)
Friday 21st December – Woombye Pub, Woombye, QLD

Regina Spektor
Friday 14th December – The Plenary, Melbourne
Sunday 16th December – Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Adelaide
Wednesday 19th December – Belvoir Ampitheatre, Perth

The April Maze
Friday 14th December – The Front Canberra, ACT
Saturday 15th December – Oddfellows Hall, Yass, NSW

The Key of Sea feat. Jinja Safari, The Tiger and Me, etc
Friday 14th December – Hamer Hall, Melbourne, VIC

The Pigs
Friday 14th December – Pretoria Hotel, Mannum, SA

The Stillsons (duo)
Thursday 20th December – The Grace Emily, Adelaide, SA

The Trouble With Templeton
Friday 14th December – Barcode, Wollongong, NSW
Friday 21st December – Lizotte’s, Newcastle, NSW

The Weeping Willows with Lachlan Bryan
Sunday 16th December – Kingston Arts Centre, Melbourne, VIC

Friday Folk Flashback

“The Rose Hip” – Fairport Convention

In the late 80s/early 90s my parents pulled my sister and I out of school for three months and took us on an extended trip around the UK and Ireland. Fairport Convention’s Red and Gold album was pretty much the soundtrack of that trip, cementing Ric Sanders as a fiddle icon of mine. Upon returning back to Australia we loaned a copy of the instrumental “The Rose Hip” to my then violin teacher asking him if he could possibly transcribe it to sheet music for me to learn – his reply was “no” because the piece had been performed on an electric violin so wasn’t possible, something which is completely untrue but I believed at the time. Years later “The Rose Hip” was included in a book of Fairport sheet music, by which time I was able to transcribe it myself anyway. Still love this tune to this day.

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