The Port Fairy Folk Festival Announces More Artists for 2018

Port Fairy
Image Courtesy of Port Fairy Folk Festival

The early bird tickets for the 2018 Port Fairy Folk Festival have just gone on sale and the festival has just announced a bunch of new artists on the lineup.

This time around Port Fairy has announced Amistat, Ben Waters Band (UK) with Derek Nash (UK), Black Sorrows, Blair Dunlop (UK), Davidson Brothers, Frank Burkitt Band (NZ), Lily & King, Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band, Rory Ellis Trio, Ted Egan, Victoriana Gaye, Brian Nankervis, 10 String Symphony (USA), The Grigoryan Brothers with Adam Page, Hillbilly Goats, Hussy Hicks, Josienne Clarke & Ben Waters (UK), King Marong & Afro Mandinko, La Busca, Lost Ragas and more.

They join the likes of Alan Kelly Gang, Gordie MacKeeman & His Rhythm Boys, Harry Manx, The Ahern Brothers, The Teskey Brothers and many more.

The Port Fairy Folk Festival is held in Port Fairy, Victoria from the 9th to the 12th March. For more information check out the official site here.

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.

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.

The National Folk Festival Announces Full 2015 Program

National Folk Festival
Image Courtesy of The National Folk Festival

After a drip feed of artist announcements The National Folk Festival last week officially launched their full 2015 program.

Over 200 artists were announced for this Easter including headliners Bob Fox and Outside Track, both exclusive to The National Folk Festival.

The lineup features 23 international artists including Kvonn (Denmark), Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas (SCOT/USA), Baka Beyond (UK/Africa), Kim Richey (US), Nuala Kennedy Band (IRE/SCOT), Joe Filisko & Eric Noden (US), The Heartstring Quartet (IRE), Gordie MacKeeman and his Rhythm Boy (CAN), David Francey, Kipori Wolf Woods New Orleans Band (US), Pekka Mikkla (FINLAND), Chris While & Julie Matthews (UK) and more.

On the Australian front there’s My Friend the Chocolate Cake, Mark Moldre, Lucie Thorne & Hamish Stuart, The Flying Emus, Shane Howard, The Spooky Men’s Chorale, All Our Exes Live in Texas, Christopher Coleman Collective, Mustered Courage, Sparrow-Folk, Bill Jackson & Pete Fidler, The Button Collective, Chaika, The Bon Scotts, Dave Oakes, Folklore, Kate Burke & Ruth Hazleton, Lucy Wise Trio, Oh Pep!, Restless Legs, Stray Hens, The String Contingent and many more

The recipient of the 2015 National Folk Festival Lifetime Achievement Award was also announced last week with Northern Territory based folk music legend and Timber and Steel favourite Ted Egan.

The National Folk Festival takes place over the Easter Long Weekend from the 2nd to the 6th April 2015. For more information check out the official site here.

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 9th January

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

Lachlan Bryan and Aleyce Simmonds have announced a collaborative east coast tour. Details here

– US singer-songwriter Sean Rowe covered “1952 Vincent Black Lightning”. Details here

– Melbourne alt-country band The Wild Comforts released their new album Silver City Sorrow this week and are heading out on tour. Details here

– Sydney’s Darren Cross released his new video “And The New York Rain Came Down”. Details here

The Pigs announced details of their new album The Pigs’ Home Brew: 13 Aussie Classics as well as releasing the video for the track “Devil Inside”. Details here

– Brisbane alt-folk quartet Elbury released their brand new video “Caught Out Alone”. Details here

Nova and The Experience released their new video “We Made” from their brand new EP Where We Go. Details here

– Perth singer Husband released his new video “The Money”. Details here

– US Americana singer-songwriter Ryan Bingham has announced a new album, Fear and Saturday Night. Details here

– Next week will see The Wild Wild Inner West Review hitting sydney featuring Michael Carpenter & The Cuban Heels, Amber Rae Slade, Fanny Lumsden and Chris Murphy. Details here

– Watch “Home”, the new single from young sister duo Charm of Finches. Details here

– Melbourne singer-songwriter Alanna Eileen is set to launch her new EP Absence next weekend. Details here

– Folk-blues artist Seasick Steve has announced details of his new album due this March. Details here

– Perth based singer-songwriter Joel Barker kicks off his national tour in Sydney tonight. Details here

Jim Lawrie (now without the Grizzly prefix) gave us a taste of his upcoming album EONS. Details here

Interviews

“We always make a new setlist for each concert, and for festivals we usually add quite a few up-tempo tunes to fire up under the dancers”Afenginn chats to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

“Festival shows are always a bit special- the audiences are always a bit excited because there’s been a lot of word of mouth about us, and they’ve read about us in the program. There’s always the opportunity to bring guests up on stage too, which we haven’t had much chance to do in 2014. But ultimately I think we are always a bit excited to be at a festival and that boosts the energy of the set. We’re all festival babies and ge a buzz from the babel of culture at a big gathering- the music, food, seeing people we haven’t seen in ages- meeting new ones”Stray Hens chat to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

“At Illawarra this year I will be concentrating on my audio-visual presentation The Anzacs: 100 Years On. It runs for 75-80 minutes and Nerys (Evans) and I do it together. I present, she presses the buttons. There is a great deal of audience participation and even reluctant singers find themselves joining in. Was that me singing??? I think I do Anzacs twice at Illawarra and have a couple of other “concert spots” as well. Looking forward to it as usual”Ted Egan chats to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

“We are really looking forward to 2015. More touring is on the cards; new songs and a new album are on the way. Plenty of gigs and good times to be had for sure”Big Erle chats to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

Blog

“I had probably my most memorable NYE a few years ago in the then Duck and Shovel, at a Beatles Singalong of all things, but this year, it was a case of same venue, completely different music on offer” – bring in the New Year again with the Woodford Folk Festival, Black Market Tune and Bill Quinn here

“I was like an excited 10yo boy. Heightening the experience just behind me was an almost two year old who was in paroxysm and frissons of delight and was joining in, improve-style, during the choral bits. Wonderful. An absolutely stunning achievement” – Bill Quinn enlightens us on the Woodford Folk Festival Fire Event. Check it out here

Releases This Week

Nova
Where We GoNova and the Experience
iTunes

The Wild Comforts
Silver City SorrowThe Wild Comforts
Bandcamp

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Cygnet Folk Festival

Cygnet

Tassie’s little festival has become a must stop for many touring folk musicians and this year’s lineup is spectacular including Afenginn, Black Market Tune, Charm of Finches, Dan and Amy, Daniel Champagne, Dear Orphans, Fred Smith, John Smith, Lucy Wise, The BordererS, The Company, The East Pointers, The Mae Trio, The Spooky Men’s Chorale, The String Contingent and many many more.

Friday 9th to Sunday 11th January – Cygnet, TAS

Gigs Next Week

Archie Roach
Saturday 10th January – The Aurora, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 11th January – The Aurora, Sydney, NSW

Black Market Tune w/ Folklore
Friday 9th to Sunday 11th – Cygnet Folk Festival, TAS
Tuesday 13th January – Gaelic Club, Sydney, NSW
Wednesday 14th January – Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, ACT
Friday 16th to Sunday 18th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW

Charm of Finches
Friday 9th to Sunday 11th January – Cygnet Folk Festival, TAS

Cygnet Folk Festival
Friday 9th to Sunday 11th January – Cygnet, TAS

Debashish Bhattacharya
Thursday 15th January – City Recital Hall Angel Place, Sydney, NSW

Illawarra Folk Festival
Thursday 15th to Sunday 18th January – Bulli, NSW

Jessica Pratt
Saturday 10th January – The Famous Spiegeltent, Sydney, NSW

Joel Barker
Friday 9th January – Oxford Arts Factory, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 15th January – Bar 303, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 16th January – Smiths Alternative, Canberra, ACT

John Smith
Friday 9th to Sunday 11th January – Cygnet Folk Festival, Cygnet, TAS

Kim Churchill
Thursday 15th January – The Corner, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 16th January – The Abbey, Canberra, ACT

Lachlan Bryan w/ Jack Henderson, Sam York, Aleyce Simmonds
Wednesday 14th January – Lizottes, Newcastle, NSW
Thursday 15th January – Lizottes, Kincumber, NSW

Olivia Chaney
Sunday 11th January – The Famous Spiegeltent, Sydney, NSW

Paper Lions
Friday 9th January – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 10th January – Transit, Canberra, ACT

Passenger
Friday 16th January – Theatre Royal, Hobart, TAS

Slow Club
Thursday 15th January – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 16th January – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane, QLD

Tamar Valley Folk Festival
Friday 16th to Sunday 18th January – George Town, TAS

Tamworth Country Music Festival
Friday 16th to Sunday 25th January – Tamworth, NSW

The East Pointers w/ The Button Collective
Wednesday 14th January – Gaelic Club, Sydney, NSW

The Melbourne Folk Club feat. David Francey, James Kenyon, Lucy Wise
Wednesday 14th January – Bella Union, Melbourne, VIC

The Wild Comforts
Friday 9th January – Babushka Bar, Ballarat, VIC
Saturday 10th January – The Bridge Hotel, Castlemaine, VIC
Thursday 15th January – Brighton Up Bar, Sydney, NSW

The Wild Wild Inner West feat. Michael Carpenter & The Cuban Heels, Amber Rae Slade, Fanny Lumsden, Chris Murphy
Thursday 15th January – The Vanguard, Sydney, NSW

Thredbo Blues Festival
Friday 16th to Sunday 18th January – Thredbo, NSW

Tim Edey
Friday 9th and Saturday 10th January – Cygnet Folk Festival, TAS
Thursday 15th to Sunday 18th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW

Tiny Ruins
Friday 16th January – The Aurora, Sydney, NSW

Upstairs & Underground feat. Betty & Oswald, Jacob Pearson, Caitlin Harnett, Goodtimes She Wrote
Saturday 10th January – Gaelic Club, Sydney, NSW

Friday Folk Flashback

“Shape of My Heart” – Noah And The Whale

Noah and the Whale were always going to move away from their acoustic roots so much so that we haven’t covered their latest album Heart of Nowhere anywhere on Timber and Steel. But we still love the music these guys make and we’re sure you do too!

Illawarra Folk Festival Q&A: Ted Egan

Ted Egan
Image Courtesy of Ted Egan

The Illawarra Folk Festival is one of the highlights of the summer folk festival calendar and this year they’re celebrating their 30th anniversary. We thought we’d chat to a number of the Illawarra Folk Festival artists in the lead up to the event and next up is legendary troubadour Ted Egan.

Timber and Steel: What can audiences expect from your shows at the Illawarra Folk Festival?

Ted Egan: At Illawarra this year I will be concentrating on my audio-visual presentation The Anzacs: 100 Years On. It runs for 75-80 minutes and Nerys (Evans) and I do it together. I present, she presses the buttons. There is a great deal of audience participation and even reluctant singers find themselves joining in. Was that me singing??? I think I do Anzacs twice at Illawarra and have a couple of other “concert spots” as well. Looking forward to it as usual.

Timber and Steel: Do you approach a festival show differently from a regular gig?

Ted Egan: For a festival you have to fit in with “their” arrangements, rather than “your own” in respect of times, themes etc. I get given a great deal of liberty, though, at Illawarra as they have known me for a long while and read me fairly accurately. This year they have asked me to be involved in two “special” shows, the Tripe Night (because they know I will send them up) and the Gough Whitlam Concert, for I knew Gough well and admired him a lot. He heard me sing many times and always requested “Gurindji Blues”. So, yes the preparation for Illawarra is quite different from my trip to Tamworth immediately thereafter. At Tamworth, for better or worse, I do what Ted Egan wants to do

Timber and Steel: Are there any artists you’re excited to see at Illawarra?

Ted Egan: Illawarra is always good, as the organisers are (in my judgement) “ideologically sound”. Young Russell Hannah, one of the organisers from Day One always looks for artists who “make me want to fight”. So I am looking forward this year to hearing Eric Bogle, The Trade Union Choir, Bernard Carney and to meeting up with the other artists who will be “on the bill” for Gough’s Concert. I love Wongawilli’s music and all the old Illawarra stalwarts like Johnny Spillane. It’s my sort of music.

Timber and Steel: This is the Illawarra Folk Festival’s 30th Anniversary. Do you have any special memories of the festival in the years you’ve been a part of?

Ted Egan: Memories at the 30th? Yes, indeed. I think I was asked to go to the 2nd Festival at Jamberoo all those years ago. That set up a cordial friendship with young Russell and Bev , Dave DeSanti, Tania and now Sam, the Wongawillis, George and Marie Petersen and all the old unionists of the region. I quickly formed the opinion and hold it to this day that Illawarra is the cornerstone of Australian folk music.

Timber and Steel: What’s next for Ted Egan after the Illawarra Folk Festival? Tell us a little about you Anzac project.

Ted Egan: After Illawarra we go to Tamworth for ten days, where I will also present The Anzacs daily, as well as doing my “regular” concerts. I have hired a venue there and seek to set up a “club” where artists pop in for a drink and a chat, maybe a song as a means of relaxing around their own shows, for everybody is very busy at Tamworth, seeking to make a quid. After Tamworth, back to the NT. During the next four years I hope to travel extensively with The Anzacs. Anybody interested in my project should look at my webpage.

Ted Egan has four appearances at the Illawarra Folk Festival:

8:00pm Wednesday 14th January – Miner’s Camp
3:30pm Thursday 15th January – Showground Pavilion
8:00pm Thursday 15th January – Grandstand Restaurant
7:30pm Friday 16th January – Show Pavilion & Fiddlers Cafe

30th Illawarra Folk Festival Announces First Round of Artists

Eric Bogle
Image Courtesy of Eric Bogle

This coming January is the pearl anniversary of the Illawarra Folk Festival and they’ve just announced a “pearler” of a first lineup announcement – their pun, not mine! The festival, held in Bulli just north of Wollongong in New South Wales, boasts 13 onsite venues and is easily one of our favourite events of the year.

The first round of artists for the 30th Illawarra Folk Festival include a bunch of Timber and Steel favourites including Afenginn, Eric Bogle (above), Ted Egan, Big Erle, The Bottlers, The BordererS, Chloë and Jason Roweth, Claude Hay, Cloudstreet, Fred Smith, The Go Set, Lime & Steel, The Lurkers, The Mae Trio, Margaret & Bob Fagan, Martin Pearson, The Morrisons, Sparrow-Folk, Stray Hens, Takadimi, Timothy James Bowen and many many more.

The Illawarra Folk Festival will be held at the Bulli showground from the 15th to the 18th January. For more information check out the official site here.

The full lineup announcement so far is below:

International:
Afenginn (DENMARK), Anna Ludlow Band (CANADA), Bettina Schelker (SWITZ), Black Market Tune (SCOT/AUSTRIA), David Francey (CANADA), Debasis Chakroborty & Kriti Ensemble (INDIA), The East Pointers (CANADA), George Mann (USA), Jaron Freeman-Fox & The Opposite of Everything (CANADA), Kristina Olsen (USA), Melisande – Electrotrad (CANADA), Reg Meuross (UK), Scott Cook (CANADA), Tim Edey Trio (UK)

National:
Stephan Pigram, Eric Bogle, Ted Egan, Folkaphonic Youth Orchestra (premiere), Allez-gator, Appalachian Heaven String Band, Azadoota, Bernard Carney, Big Erle, The Bottlers, The BordererS, Chloe & Jason Roweth, Claude Hay, Cloudstreet, Curragh, Dave de Hugard, David Beniuk, Deep River, Choir, Don Jarmey, Enda Kenny & Lindsay Martin, Fred Smith, Guerilla Zingari, Gina Williams & Guy Ghouse, The Go Set, Greg Champion, John Broomhall, Jordan C. Thomas, Junior, Lagoon Hill Zydeco, The Lazy Farmer’s Sons, Lime & Steel, The Lurkers, The Mae Trio, Margaret & Bob Fagan, Martin Pearson, Melbourne Scottish Fiddle Club, Michael Fix, Mike Martin, The Morrisons, Neil Adam & Judy Turner, Nick Rheinberger, On The Stoop, Pat Drummond, Sally Harris, Sparrow-Folk, Springtide, The Squeezebox Trio, Stray Hens, Takadimi, Terry Serio’s Half Truths, Timothy James Bowen, The Transylvaniacs and Kengugro, Vardos, The Wish List

Weekend Awards Round Up

Golden Guitars
Image Courtesy of the CMAA

The long weekend was also a massive weekend for awards with the Golden Guitars, triple j’s Hottest 100 and The Grammys all vying for attention. If you were too busy to take everything in never fear – we have a nice little Timber and Steel friendly wrap up for you here:

triple j Hottest 100

Vance Joy

As you’re no doubt aware the top spot was taken out this year by the folky “Riptide” from Australia’s Vance Joy, pipping favourites “Royals” by Lorde and “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk at the post. Vance Joy also came in at number 95 with his track “Play With Fire”.

Other notable Timber and Steel faves to make it into the list include Boy & Bear, Josh Pyke, Matt Corby, Dustin Tebbutt and more. The full list of winners can be found here with a snap shot of our favourites below:

1. Vance Joy – “Riptide”
8. Matt Corby – “Resolution”
41. Boy & Bear – “Southern Sun”
44. Dustin Tebbutt – “The Breach”
55. Boy & Bear – “Harlequin Dream”
75. Mikhael Paskalev – “I Spy”
87. John Butler Trio – “Only One”
88. Josh Pyke – “Leeward Side”
95. Vance Joy – “Play With Fire”

The Grammys

The Grammys

Due to the sheer number of categories at The Grammy’s it’s very easy to look past the glitz, glamour and mounty hats to find some amazing music being recognised. Big winners on the folk, roots and country side of the fence include The Civil Wars, Ben Harper, Guy Clark, Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, Steve Martin & Edie Brickell and many more.

We’ve listed our top categories below – check out the full winners here.

Best Country Solo Performance
Darius Rucker – “Wagon Wheel”

Best Country Duo/Group Performance
The Civil Wars – “From This Valley”

Best Country Song
Kacey Musgraves – “Merry Go ‘Round”

Best Country Album
Kacey Musgraves – Same Trailer Different Park

Best American Roots Album
Steve Martin & Edie Brickell – Love Has Come For You

Best Americana Album
Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell – Old Yellow Moon

Best Bluegrass Album
Del McCoury Band – The Streets Of Baltimore

Best Blues Album
Ben Harper With Charlie Musselwhite – Get Up!

Best Folk Album
Guy Clark – My Favorite Picture Of You

Best Regional Roots Music Album
Terrance Simien & The Zydeco Experience – Dockside Sessions

Best World Music Album
Gipsy Kings – Savor Flamenco

The Golden Guitars

Lachlan Bryan

So many of our favourite artists have spent the last couple of weeks up in Tamworth for the Country Music Festival which culminated in the Golden Guitar awards on 25th Januray.

We’re really proud that Timber and Steel favourite Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes walked away with Alternative Country Album of the Year for Black Coffee, Ashleigh Dallas was named the Qantaslink New Talent of the Year and that Ted Egan was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Check out the full list of winners here.

Finally Timber and Steel favourite, The Mid North, also walked away from Tamworth winners with both the Battle of the Bands and Buskers Competition gongs under their belt. Definitely a well deserved win!

The Mid North

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.

A Small Festival in the Top Half of Australia

Hugh McDonald
Written by Hugh McDonald. Photos By Gordon Young

I flew into Alice Springs from Melbourne to perform at the Top Half Folk festival with my two guitars, an overnight bag and my usual mixture of anticipation and apprehension.

I was excited to be the “headline” act for the first time in my solo career. I’d experienced this many times previously as a member of Redgum, both in the ’80’s and more recently with our new band, the “Vagabond Crew”, but this was different, I was on my own and felt considerable pressure to deliver the goods.

No sooner than I had touched down my apprehension magically began to dissipate. First with the warm “Territory” bear hug I received from my old friend, local singer-songwriter, Barry Skipsey then with each subsequent friendly gesture from other performers and audience members at the festival. I was really made to feel at home and sensed that everyone wanted me to give my best and this made my job so much easier. Unless you are a slightly awkward singer songwriter who has felt the nakedness of revealing your inner thoughts and feelings on stage before an educated and critical audience, you may not know what I’m talking about but a welcoming feeling and friendly atmosphere at a festival goes a long way towards bringing out the best in me.

I experienced that at the Top Half Festival before I took the stage and as a consequence, I think I gave my best.

The audience was receptive and engaged with my music and when I spoke with people later, it was clear they had listened carefully and understood everything I was trying to express through my lyrics. They even laughed at my jokes!

I’m sure that the other performers would feel the same way because the audience seemed to distribute their generosity evenly amongst all of us.
The highlights for me were the informal unaccompanied sing-along’s in the dining area. Men and women from all over the country with massive voices, singing the songs they’d sung for years, improvising harmonies and bass parts, filled the room with effusive music . A rousing rendition of “Wild Mountain Thyme” abruptly segued into a risqué parody of the same by a tall Liverpudlian and was met with belly laughs from all. That was early in the night! Then followed two hours of humorous poems, sea shanties and bush ballads with everyone joining in.

Ted Egan I will treasure the experience of seeing one of our living treasures, Ted Egan, at 80 years young, singing his ballads of the outback accompanied only by his fingers on a beer carton and metronomic, tapping foot, the aforesaid carton kept perfectly in tune by the removal and consumption of excess cans of VB. I couldn’t quite figure out his tuning system but I did notice that his performance got better the more he “tuned” his instrument!

Listening to Ted’s observations of outback Australia, drawn from long experience, a sharp intellect and his glowing humanity was a real privilege.

The festival is held at a beautiful spot on the banks of the Finke River in the shelter of an ancient, iron-red rock escarpment and while I was standing transfixed by the rock wall someone quipped: “Don’t tell Gina Reinhardt or she’ll dig it up and sell it”. Unfortunately it’s all too true. Not enough of us value the natural beauty which surrounds us. At night you can lie back under Lawson’s “crystal chandelier” and take in the heavens. By day, you can take bush walks or watch waterfowls, egrets and cranes in the river or hawks gliding through the unbroken blue sky.

The Top Half Festival is unique. Its friendliness, abundance of talent and stunning location make it one of the best I’ve ever performed at.
Thank you to the festival organisers for inviting me; it was an honour and a privilege. A small festival? Not small, “boutique”!

Regards,
Hugh McDonald

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