Thank Folk It’s Friday – 2nd February


This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

Jake Bugg has announced acoustic tour dates this April. Details here

– Brisbane based singer-songwriter Paddy McHugh released the video for his latest single “Down To Sydney”. Details here

The Decemberists announced details of their new album I’ll Be Your Girl. Details here. Details here

– Award winning folk duo Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker are touring Australia this April. Details here

– New South Wales based alt-country duo Smith & Jones released their new single and video “Your Achin Heart”. Details here

– Alt-country, folk-noir duo Jep and Dep released their latest clip “Lune Cassee Reve”. Details here

– Groote Eylandt born singer-songwriter Emily Wurramara released her new single “Ngarrukwujenama”. Details here

– Roots music legends Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite announced their second duo album No Mercy in This Land. Details here


As always Benji and the Salt Water Sound System have their flock of devotees who seem to follow every event across the land, people who have stayed for the journey as the band evolved out of Ben’s earlier project Southerly Change into the current lineup. The band still has the same feel and a lot of the same personnel, though the tracking of life is leaving the trace of its touch on the face of the band – Elizabeth Walton chats to Benji and the Saltwater Sound System. Interview here

Releases This Week

José González & The Brite Lites At Svenska GrammofonstudionJosé González

Newton Faulkner
Hit The Ground RunningNewton Faulkner

The Wilson Pickers
Live!The Wilson Pickers

Tim Hart
The Narrow CornerTim Hart


Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

The Wilson Pickers

The Wilson Pickers

Americana super-group The Wilson Pickers launch their new album Live! in Melbourne.

Saturday 3rd February – The Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC

Gigs Next Week

Adam Eckersley & Brooke McClymont
Friday 9th February – Rooty Hill RSL, Rooty Hill, NSW

Aldous Harding
Friday 2nd February – St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Hart’s Mill, Adelaide, SA
Saturday 3rd February – St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Footscray Community Arts Centre, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 4th February – St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Sydney College of the Arts, Sydney, NSW
Wednesday 7th February – The Croxton Bandroom, Melbourne, VIC

Alice Skye
Sunday 4th February – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW
Friday 9th February – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC

Andy Golledge Band
Saturday 3rd February – The Factory Theatre, Sydney, NSW

Appalachian Heaven Stringband
Sunday 4th February – Peninsula Folk Club, Frankston Bowling Club, Frankston, VIC

Ben Salter
Sunday 4th February – The Tramway, Melbourne, VIC

Bighouse Arts 1st Birthday Bash feat. Bob Harrow, Brooke Russell, Jumpin Jack William, Archer, Perch Creek, Immigrant Union, Coastbusters
Saturday 3rd February – Bighouse Arts, Melbourne, VIC

Blue Mountains Ukulele Festival
Friday 9th to Sunday 11th February – Carrington Hotel, Katoomba, NSW

Brian Campeau
Friday 9th February – Edinburgh Castle, Melbourne, VIC

Bungendore Country Music Muster
Saturday 3rd February – Bungendore Showground and Racecourse, Bungendore, NSW

Cass Eager
Friday 2nd February – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 3rd February – The Basement, Sydney, NSW

Charm of Finches
Friday 2nd February – Selby Folk Club, Melbourne, VIC

Colin Hay
Friday 2nd February – Anita’s Theatre, Thirroul, NSW
Saturday 3rd February – Enmore Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Friday 9th February – Ulumbarra Theatre, Bendigo, VIC

Courtyard Sessions feat. Lady Lyon
Friday 9th February – Seymour Centre, Sydney, NSW

Darcy Fox
Friday 2nd February – Red Cup Cafe, Box Hill, VIC
Friday 9th February – Lillies & Lattes, Sawtell, NSW

David Ryan Harris
Saturday 3rd February – The Jazzlab, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 8th February – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW

Davidson Brothers
Sunday 4th February – The Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC

Dan Sultan w/ The Teskey Brothers
Saturday 3rd February – Twilight at Taronga, Sydney, NSW

Dan Walsh
Friday 2nd February – Neil Tonkin Park, Perth, WA

Emily Wurramara
Saturday 3rd February – Yalukut Weelam Ngargee Music Festival, O’Donnell Garden, St Kilda, VIC

Emma Russack and Soda Eaves
Thursday 8th February – Fitzroy Library, Melbourne, VIC

Fanny Lumsden
Friday 2nd February – Savernake, NSW
Saturday 3rd February – Tumblong Hall, Tumlong, NSW
Friday 9th February – Neerim Memorial Hall, Neerim, VIC

Father John Misty
Friday 2nd February – Laneway Festival, Adelaide, SA
Saturday 3rd February – Laneway Festival, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 4th February – Laneway Festival, Sydney, NSW
Friday 9th February – Forum Theatre, Melbourne, VIC

Festival of Small Halls Summer Tour feat. Claire Anne Taylor, The Small Glories
Friday 2nd February – Toormina, NSW
Saturday 3rd February – Eastern Dorrigo Community Hall, Ulong, NSW

FolkSwagon feat. Liam Gale & the Ponytails, Mama Schultz, Cookie Baker
Wednesday 7th February – Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Fred Smith & Liz Frencham
Friday 2nd February – Maleny RSL, Maleny, QLD
Saturday 3rd February – Oodies Cafe, Bundaberg, QLD
Sunday 4th February – Brolga Theater River Stagem, Maryborough, QLD
Monday 5th February – House Concert, Cooloola Cove, QLD
Wednesday 7th February – House Concert, Nana Glen, QLD
Thursday 8th February – Dorrigo Wholefoods, Dorrigo, NSW
Friday 9th February – McCrossins Mill, Uralla, NSW

Free Fallin’ – A Tribute To Tom Petty feat. Sweet Jelly Rolls, Jeremy Edwards, Jason Walker, Smith & Jones
Friday 9th February – The Brass Monkey, Cronulla, NSW

Fresh Off the Boat
Friday 9th February – The Gaelic Club, Sydney, NSW

Freya Josephine Hollick
Saturday 3rd February – The Lost Ones, Ballarat, VIC

Saturday 3rd February – Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, ACT

Gretta Ziller
Sunday 4th February – The Union, Melbourne, VIC

Grampians Music Festival
Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th February – Halls Gap, VIC

Grizzlee Train
Saturday 3rd February – Miami Marketta, Miami, QLD

Hana and Jessie-Lee
Saturday 3rd February – Thebartonia Summer Festival, Wheatsheaf Hotel, Adelaide, SA

Hello Tut Tut
Saturday 3rd February – Open Studio, Melbourne, VIC

Honey and Knives
Friday 9th February – 5 Church Street, Bellingen, NSW

Honky Tonkin’ feat. King Arthur & James Ellis and the Jealous Guys
Thursday 8th February – The Rooks Return, Melbourne, VIC

Illawarra Folk Club Volunteer Thank You feat. Pukichi, Witches Leap, The Water Runners
Friday 2nd February – City Diggers, Wollongong, NSW

Imogen Clark
Saturday 3rd February – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW
Friday 9th February – Rooty Hill RSL, Sydney, NSW

James Kenyon
Tuesday 6th February – The Gasometer Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Jhana Allan & Mel O’Neill
Wednesday 7th February – Some Velvet Morning, Melbourne, VIC

Jim Lawrie
Saturday 3rd February – The Gasometer Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Jimi Hocking
Thursday 8th February – Hume Blues Club Inc, Melbourne, VIC

Joe & Harmony’s Trippy Hippy Band
Thursday 8th February – Sutherland Acoustic, Tradies, Gymea, NSW

Kasey Chambers
Saturday 3rd February – Kings Park and Botanic Garden, Perth, WA

Lady Lyon
Friday 9th February – Courtyard Sessions, Seymour Centre, Sydney, NSW

Leah Flanagan and Alice Skye
Sunday 4th February – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW

Liam Gerner – Banjo vs Lawson Bulletin Debate
Tuesday 6th February – The Drunken Poet, Melbourne, VIC

Friday 2nd February – Pop Up Park, Werribee, VIC
Saturday 3rd February – Kings Park and Botanic Garden, Perth, WA

Live @ The Retreat feat. The Stetson Family, Duncan Phillips, Rosie Burgess Trio, The Special
Sunday 4th February – The Retreat, Melbourne, VIC

Lucy Rose
Friday 2nd February – The Tivoli, Brisbane, QLD
Sunday 4th February – The Tivoli, Brisbane, QLD
Monday 5th February – The Lansdowne, Sydney, NSW
Wednesday 7th February – Canberra Theatre Centre, Canberra, ACT
Friday 9th February – Festival Theatre, Adelaide, SA

Mal Webb and Kylie Morrigan
Thursday 8th February – Bar 303, Melbourne, VIC

Margret RoadKnight and Laura Jean
Saturday 3rd February – MPavilion, Queen Victoria Gardens, Melbourne, VIC

Mark Lucas & The Deadsetters
Tuesday 6th February – The Bald Faced Stag, Sydney, NSW

Matt Walker
Saturday 3rd February – The Gem Bar, Melbourne, VIC

Mimi Gilbert & Merpire
Sunday 4th February – Some Velvet Morning, Melbourne, VIC

Mitch Power
Sunday 4th February – The Union, Melbourne, VIC

Montgomery Church
Saturday 3rd February – Rydges Hotel, Jindabyne, NSW

Mount Eliza Music Festival
Saturday 3rd February – Melbourne, VIC

Mr. Alford & Jess Holland
Sunday 4th February – The Hamilton Station Hotel, Newcastle, NSW

Neil Murray
Friday 2nd February – Red Velvet Lounge, Cygnet, TAS
Friday 9th February – Hamilton Institute of Rural Learning, Hamilton, VIC

Old Mates Block Party feat. The Lockhearts, Papa Pilko And The Binrats, Neon Heart, Hobo Magic, The Ugly Kings, Fox Company, Andy Golledge Band, Pan-Pacific Grand Prix, Johnny Hunter, Eightball Junkies, Particles, Hello Bones
Saturday 3rd February – The Factory Theatre, Sydney, NSW

Papa Pilko and the Binrats
Friday 2nd February – Hotel Steyne, Manly, NSW
Saturday 3rd February – The Factory Theatre, Sydney, NSW

Pickin’ in the Park
Sunday 4th February – Banjo Paterson Park, Sydney, NSW

Pierce Brothers
Saturday 3rd February – Apex Park, Wangaratta, VIC

Porch Light Sessions feat. Mike McCarthy, Stephanie Cherote, Emerald Ruby
Thursday 8th February – Porch Light Sessions, Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW

Raised by Eagles
Sunday 4th February – Noisy Ritual People-Powered Urban Winery, Melbourne, VIC

Red Dog Studio Session XV feat. Thompson Springs, Alanna Eileen, Steph Miller, Chasing the Dream, Clouydbird
Saturday 3rd February – Red Dog Studio Sessions, Sydney, NSW

Rick Hart
Sunday 4th February – The Taproom, Castlemaine, VIC

Romisounds & Jimothy Andrews
Friday 9th February – Glenorie RSL, Glenorie, NSW

Quarry Mountain Dead Rats
Saturday 3rd February – The Gasometer Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Sam Buckingham
Thursday 8th February – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW

Sass The Patriarchy feat. This Way North, Bitch Diesel
Wednesday 7th February – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC

Simon Rudston-Brown
Sunday 4th February – Bombini, Avoca Beach, NSW

St Jerome’s Laneway Festival
Friday 2nd February – Hart’s Mill, Adelaide, SA
Saturday 3rd February – Footscray Community Arts Centre, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 4th February – Sydney College of the Arts, Sydney, NSW

Stella Donnelly
Saturday 3rd February – Kings Park and Botanic Garden, Perth, WA

Saturday 3rd February – Mount Eliza Music Festival, Melbourne, VIC

TEK TEK Ensemble
Saturday 3rd February – The Bearded Tit, Sydney, NSW

The Ahern Brothers
Friday 2nd February – 63 First Ave, Sawtell, NSW
Saturday 3rd February – Stag & Hunter, Newcastle, NSW
Sunday 4th February – Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, ACT
Thursday 8th February – Sooki Lounge, Belgrave, VIC
Friday 9th February – Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC

The Backsliders
Saturday 3rd February – Lizottes, Newcastle, NSW

The Beez
Friday 2nd February – Woodville Hall, NSW
Saturday 3rd February – House Concert, Medowie, NSW
Sunday 4th February – Humph Hall, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 8th February – Django Bar, Sydney, NSW
Friday 9th February – Arcade Circus Shed, Katoomba, NSW

The Black Sorrows
Friday 9th February – Bird’s Basement, Melbourne, VIC

The Bushwackers
Friday 9th February – Harmonie German Club, Canberra, ACT

The Cat Empire w/ Allysha Joy
Saturday 3rd February – Melbourne Zoo Twilights 2018, Melbourne, VIC

The Demon Drink
Saturday 3rd February – Mt Gravatt Marketta, Brisbane, QLD

The Djangologists
Saturday 4th January – Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW

The Drunken Poachers
Friday 2nd February – The Nightjar Festival, Geelong, VIC
Saturday 3rd February – The Gasometer Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

The Emerald Ruby & Stephanie Cherote
Wednesday 7th February – The Gasoline Pony, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 8th February – Porch Light Sessions, Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW

The Gypsy Scholars
Friday 2nd February – Lass O’Gowrie Hotel, Newcastle, NSW
Friday 9th February – Hotel Steyne, Manly, NSW

The Long Johns
Friday 2nd February – QPAC, Brisbane, QLD

The Shack feat. Joel Havea, Phillip Bracken, The Mighty Resonators
Saturday 3rd February – The Music Lounge, Sydney, NSW

The Swamp Stompers
Friday 2nd February – Bellevue Hotel, Tuncurry, NSW
Saturday 3rd February – Stag and Hunter Hotel, Newcastle, NSW

The Waifs
Saturday 3rd February – Kings Park and Botanic Garden, Perth, WA
Sunday 4th February – Mossvale Park, Berrys Creek, VIC

The Wilson Pickers
Saturday 3rd February – The Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC

This is A Robbery w/ Quinton Trembath
Friday 2nd February – Newtown Cemetery, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 3rd February – Small Shows, Sydney, NSW

Thompson Springs
Saturday 3rd February – Red Dog Studio Sessions, Sydney, NSW
Friday 9th February – The Townie, Sydney, NSW

Tim Hart
Saturday 3rd February – Front Bar & Gallery, Canberra, ACT
Friday 9th February – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW

Tim Hulsman Trio
Saturday 3rd February – Martians Cafe & Bar, Deans Marsh, VIC

Sunday 4th February – CERES Joe’s Market Garden, Melbourne, VIC

Vanishing Shapes
Sunday 4th February – The Ori, Newcastle, NSW

Witches Leap and Pukichi
Friday 2nd February – Illawarra Folk Club, City Diggers, Wollongong, NSW

Sunday 4th February – The Post Office Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Friday Folk Flashback

“Vincent Black Lightning” – The Del McCoury Band

The Decemberists Announce New Album I’ll Be Your Girl

The Decemberists
Image Courtesy of The Decemberists

After making our favourite album of 2017, The Queen of Hearts, as part of the Offa Rex project, The Decemberists have kicked off their 2018 with a huge announcement that we can expect another record from them this year.

The album is titled I’ll Be Your Girl and is due for release on the 16th March. I’ll Be Your Girl was recorded with producer John Congleton (St. Vincent, Lana del Rey, Wye Oak, Angel Olsen, Swans) and promises to be full of songs that “tend to the darker, more absurdist side of things”.

The Decemberists are also hinting at a world tour this year that may include Australia if they can make it work. The first single from I’ll Be Your Girl is the 80s sounding “Severed” – check out the track listing for the album and a stream of “Severed” below:

1. Once In My Life
2. Cutting Stone
3. Severed
4. Starwatcher
5. Tripping Along
6. Your Ghost
7. Everything Is Awful
8. Sucker’s Prayer
9. We All Die Young
10. Rusalka, Rusalka / The Wild Rushes
11. I’ll Be Your Girl

Gareth Hugh Evans’ Top 25 Tracks of 2017


The final of our traditional end of year lists sees Timber and Steel Editor-in-Chief Gareth Hugh Evans sifts through all of the amazing music that was produced this year and pick his top 25 tracks. As always he’s tried to only pick one track per artist, although as you’ll see there’s some exceptions with different artists collaborating on different projects through 2017.

But enough of our jabbering – it’s time to get to the music. Without further ado we present Gareth Hugh Evans’ Top 25 Tracks of 2017.

1. Emma Davis – “Danger in Me”
Emma Davis just has a way of writing a song which draws you in and never lets go. With just a finger picked guitar, understated rhythm section, muted organ and reverbed vocals, Davis has created a piece of music that I genuinely put on repeat. The fact that there’s a very relevant social message underpinning “Danger in Me” just adds a depth to my appreciation of it. Thank you Emma Davis for producing one of the most beautiful three and a half minutes of 2017.

2. The East Pointers – “82 Fires”
For a band I almost exclusively associated with fiddle tunes, The East Pointers have delivered one of the best songs of the year with “82 Fires”. Co-written with our very own Liz Stringer about fires in Tasmania, “82 Fires” may be the most Australian song written by a trio of Canadians. There’s an epic feel to the song that shouldn’t be possible from three guys playing (mostly) acoustic instruments – but I’ve seen this song live and they get pretty close to reproducing the recording on stage. Try to listen to “82 Fires” on not have it stir something inside.

3. Willie Watson – “Gallows Pole”
No one interprets traditional American music quite like Willie Watson. Here he’s managed to take the Leadbelly classic “Gallows Pole” and turn it into a thoroughly modern, haunting piece of music which is a definite standout on his latest album, Folksinger Vol. 2.

4. The Morrisons feat. Georgia Mooney – “Long Time Travelling”
It seems odd to choose an a cappella song from a band that features some of the best bluegrass musicians in the country. But I just can’t get passed how delightful it is hear James Morrison singing over the combined voices of The Morrisons plus Georgia Mooney (All Our Exes Live In Texas). The harmonies, the dynamic variations, the passion – “Long Time Travelling” is pure joy.

5. Offa Rex – “Sheepcrook and Black Dog”
As you probably know by now we have A LOT of love for the 2017 Offa Rex album The Queen of Hearts. The collaboration between The Decemberists and Olivia Chaney is full of highlights and to be honest songs like “The Old Churchyard”, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and “Willie o’ Winsbury” are more likely to hit this year’s best of lists. But for me “Sheepcrook and Black Dog” captures the nostalgia of the late-60s/early-70s British folk revival better than any other track on The Queen of Hearts with its Steeleye Span style arrangement, crunchy Black Sabbath style guitars and Sandy Denny style vocal performance. “Sheepcrook and Black Dog” is vintage folk-rock for the modern era.

6. Laura Marling – “Next Time”
Laura Marling goes full Nick Drake on “Next Time”. The orchestral arrangement over the top of Marling’s inventive guitar tunings and finger-picking, along with her hushed but powerful vocal performance is so reminiscent of the late English singer-songwriter it can’t not have been inspired by his work. This is definitely the highlight of Semper Femina for me and it even comes with a video directed by Laura Marling herself.

7. The Young’uns – “Be the Man”
“Be The Man” was inspired by the story of Matthew Ogston, founder of the Naz and Matt Foundation which tackles religious and cultural homophobia, following the tragic death of his fiancé (you can read the full story here). The Young’uns have written a song which is not only powerful in its message, and deeply respectful to its subject matter, but also a wonderful compliment to the rest of their harmony-driven catalogue. Check out the video featuring Matthew Ogston himself.

8. Billy Bragg – “Why We Build the Wall”
When Anaïs Mitchell wrote “Why We Build the Wall” for her 2010 folk-opera Hadestown I doubt she knew how precient it was considering the build-the-wall platform Donald Trump ran on during his 2016 presidential campaign. Billy Bragg has been singing “Why We Build the Wall” for a few years now but it’s taken until this year for him to officially release it as a single. The political singer-songwriter has purposefully politicised the track and filled it with a jarring, electric guitar to great effect. Could this be the folk anthem for the Trump era?

9. David Rawlings – “Cumberland Gap”
The genius of David Rawlings and Gillian Welch is their ability to write songs that sound like they’ve existed forever and then produce those songs in such a way that makes it sound like they’re being “modernised”. “Cumberland Gap” is the perfect example of this – the track sounds so timeless yet so fresh at exactly the same time. That’s probably why it’s been getting so many comparisons to Neil Young.

10. Stu Larsen – “Chicago Song”
“Chicago Song” is exactly the kind of song you want from a singer-songwriter like Stu Larsen. Simple, catchy and foot-tappingly joyful, “Chicago Song” captures a little piece of magic.

11. The Ahern Brothers – “Comb That River”
Whoever decided to pair singer-songwriters Josh Rennie-Hynes and Steve Grady as The Ahern Brothers deserves all of my adulation. Their self titled debut album is an homage to the close harmony singing of The Everly Brothers and Simon and Garfunkel, with “Comb That River” exemplifying their sound. Listen to this track and be transported back to another time.

12. Charlie Fink – “Firecracker”
I’m sure I’ve printed this elsewhere on Timber and Steel but for the reader’s benefit: Noah and The Whale’s 2009 album The First Days of Spring is one of my favourite albums of all time. So when ex-Noah and The Whale lead singer Charlie Fink releases a single like “Firecracker” that sounds like it’s been ripped directly from The First Days of Spring there’s no way this song wasn’t going to make my best of 2017 list.

13. All Our Exes Live in Texas – “Boundary Road”
“What if I want to be the one to fall apart once in a while?” has somehow become one of my favourite chorus lines of 2017. All Our Exes Live in Texas have taken on the lyrical challenge of the line, as well as the fight songwriter Katie Wighton had with her mum that inspired the line, and crafted one of the best songs from one of the best albums of the year. There is All Our Exes Live in Texas magic all over this song – with a simple “ooh” and “ahh” the quartet can elevate every song they touch. Lovely stuff.

14. Nick Mulvey – “Mountain To Move”
I’m going to make a prediction: “Mountain To Move” is the song most likely to appear on the soundtrack of sweet and quirky rom coms over the 12 months. Nick Mulvey continues to impress me with the way he crafts a song over a repeating melody line or guitar rhythm, building the simplicity into something more.

15. Julia Johnson – “Melissa”
I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the new direction that Julia Johnson has taken with her songwriting in 2017. Moving beyond her work with Julia and The Deep Sea Sirens and working with producer Sarah Belkner, Johnson is producing some of the most interesting music of her career. I have a feeling “Melissa” is only the tip of the iceberg for what’s coming next from Julia Johnson and I can’t wait.

16. The Northern Folk – “Get On”
Despite the wealth of shows they’ve done this year I only managed to catch Melbourne folk 10 piece The Northern Folk live for the first time really recently. They manage to combine the indie folk sound of bands like The Middle East with the distinct groove that comes with having a saxophone heavy horn section. “Get On” epitomises The Northern Folk’s unique sound for me and was one of those songs that made me hit the repeat button again and again the first time I heard it.

17. Fanny Lumsden – “Roll On”
Want to know what it’s like to be an Australian artist on an endless tour of our country? Listen to the lyrics of “Roll On”. What I love about this track is its authenticity. This isn’t the Americanised version of the Australian outback full of dust kicking cowboys and pickup trucks. And this isn’t the romanticised nostalgic version of Australia either with its drovers and men-of-the-land. Instead “Roll On” is a song about about what its like to hit the road in 2017 complete with speeding fines, Gaytimes, roadtrains and small town bowlos. Keep writing songs like this Fanny Lumsden.

18. Paul Kelly – “Firewood and Candles”
After a few years of genre and experimental albums Paul Kelly announced his return to the classic Paul Kelly with the killer track “Firewood and Candles”. That rocking riff with Kelly’s vocals (ably supported by Vikka and Linda Bull) is just so damn catchy. If you wonder why everyone’s making such a fuss over Paul Kelly at the moment, why he’s winning awards and being praised at every turn, just listen to the songs on his 2017 album Life Is Fine, starting with “Firewood and Candles”.

19. Gretta Ziller – “Slaughterhouse Blues”
If someone asks you for the best voice in Australian Americana music then just show them Gretta Ziller. There may be some artists earlier in this list who you could squeeze into the genre, but as far as pure Americana music goes you can’t get much better than Ziller’s “Slaughterhouse Blues”. This is a modern track with its feet firmly in roots music. And that production! Perfection! More of this please Gretta Ziller.

20. I’m With Her – “Little Lies”
Before the release of “Little Lies” the American super-goup I’m With Her were really known for interpreting traditional music or covers of contemporary songs. But then this track comes along and solidifies the (probabaly assumed) fact that I’m With Her are a band to watch. Aoife O’Donovan has one of the best voices in Americana music, and it’s all the sweeter combined with the voices of Sara Watkins and Sarah Jarosz. And Watkins’ fiddle playing on this track is some of my favourite instrumental work in 2017.

21. BATTS – “Little White Lies”
I’ve been a fan of Tanya Batt’s music for some time, but it’s been her transformation into BATTS and the lo-fi, shoe-gaze, lyric driven songwriting that has come with it that has really caught my attention in 2017. “Little White Lies” is the second single released under the BATTS moniker and it’s by far my favourite, with its etherial production and confessional lyrics. I have a feeling we’re going to be hearing a lot more from BATTS in the coming months and I can’t wait.

22. Taryn La Fauci – “Winter”
When her EP Cycling came out I messaged Taryn La Fauci and told her “Just wanted to tell you that I’m in love with your track “Winter”.” Above every other song on the EP “Winter” struck me, most likely because this year I lost my cat as well and the lyrics just resonated. This song was on repeat for a lot of this year – thank you for sharing it with me Taryn La Fauci.

23. Diamond Duck – “Marry Me By The Sea”
Another collaboration (this time between The Morrisons’ Jimmy Daley and Canadian-Australian singer-songwriter Brian Campeau) that evokes the close harmony singing of The Everly Brothers and Simon and Garfunkel, Diamond Duck have made quite an impression with their first single “Marry Me By The Sea”. What makes this stand out for me is the way the Diamond Duck boys explore unusual, almost twisted chords in their accompaniment while maintaining a sweetness in their vocal delivery. Listen to the piano “solo” in the middle of the song and you’ll see what I mean – there’s something a little off kilter in the track and it’s absolutely delicious.

24. Stella Donnelly – “Boys Will Be Boys”
In the wake of the #metoo movement and everything that’s been coming out in the media over the last few months I think Australia needed a song like “Boys Will Be Boys”. Stella Donnelly has made quite a splash this year and with her amazing voice and lyrical chops I can imagine there’s big things on the horizon for the singer-songwriter.

25. Johnny Flynn – “Wandering Aengus”
The return of Johnny Flynn to music this year was heralded by this really quirky track and promised much from his new album Sillion. All the elements of what makes a classic Johnny Flynn song are here – his amazing voice, jangly guitar and subtle horn accompaniment – but there’s also something a little twisted about the structure of this track that I really really like. Definitely up there with my favourite Johnny Flynn songs.

Timber and Steel’s Top Albums of 2017


It’s difficult to find an overriding theme in our picks for this year’s top albums. There’s a bit of trad in there, a lot of singer-songwriter and a decent amount Americana and country music. Overall 2017 has been another amazing year for folk music and we couldn’t be happier.

As always we have more “best of” lists coming this week so please stay tuned for them. But in the meantime check out Timber and Steel’s top albums of

Offa Rex
1. Offa RexThe Queen of Hearts
When you get nostalgia right the result can be pure gold. As someone who was brought up on late-60s/early-70s English folk-rock (think Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, Pentangle, etc) The Queen of Hearts feels like home and, as my friends and family can attest, the album has truly been on constant rotation since its release in July.

Offa Rex is the coming together of Portland nu-folk heroes The Decemberists and English folk-singer Olivia Chaney, inspired by the second-wave folk revival of the British isles. Somehow they’ve managed to capture this very distinct period of music, staying true to the instrumentation, production values and aesthetic of the time without descending into kitsch or parody (as many of the bands from the time ended up doing themselves in the 70s and 80s). Rigid rock rhythm sections over murder ballads, harpsichords and reverb-heavy electric guitars, ethereal vocals – The Queen of Hearts feels more like a rediscovered gem than an album recorded and released in 2017.

And let’s make one thing clear – it’s Olivia Chaney who makes this record. While The Decemberists are obviously the driving force behind The Queen of Hearts it is Chaney’s vocals that pull you right back into the early 70s. She somehow channels the likes of Maddy Prior, Sandy Denny, Anne Briggs, et al, while still bringing her own unique sound to the vocals. The tracks where Colin Meloy takes the lead (such as “Black Leg Minor”) or the instrumental “Constant Billy (Oddington) / I’ll Go Enlist (Sherborne)”, while still amazing in their own right, just don’t have the same impact as “The Queen of Hearts”, “Flash Company”, “The Old Churchyard” or any of the other amazing songs with Olivia Chaney front and centre.

Picking favourite songs from an album of standouts is very very hard. I love the nods to early Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath on “Sheepcrook and Black Dog”, probably the most epic of all the songs on the album. “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” is a beautiful tribute to Anne Briggs, with Chaney’s voice just resonating over the drone of a harmonium. And Offa Rex’s version of “Willie o’ Winsbury” may be my favourite of all time.

Even if you only have a passing interest in British folk music, in the second wave folk revival or in The Decemberists’ ongoing evolution as one of the most interesting folk bands in the world, give The Queen of Hearts a listen and see exactly why this is our album of the year for 2017.

The East Pointers
2. The East PointersWhat We Leave Behind
Canadian trio The East Pointers up the production ante with their new album What We Leave Behind, expanding their sound with new instrumentation, increasing their song-to-tune ratio and generally producing one of the most interesting folk albums of the year. And the best part about it is there’s still a focus on ensuring that every bit of the album can be reproduced live with just the three of them – something I can confirm is the case having caught them in Melbourne recently. What We Leave Behind sees The East Pointers grow as a band, deftly straddling the worlds of traditional and modern fold music.

The Ahern Brothers
3. The Ahern BrothersThe Ahern Brothers
Josh Rennie-Hynes and Steve Grady are two voices that seem destined to be together. The Ahern Brothers are the latest in collection of modern artists taking inspiration from close harmony singing in the vein of The Everly Brothers and Simon & Garfunkel and the result is really something special. Their self-titled debut album is a pure delight and elevates everything we’ve heard from Rennie-Hynes and Grady individually to date. There’s a reason these guys are selling out shows and taking the country by storm.

Fanny Lumsden
4. Fanny LumsdenReal Class Act
Fanny Lumsden continues her domination of Australian country music with the 2017 release of Real Class Act. The album is very strongly informed by Lumsden’s decision to live her life on the road with husband Dan Stanley Freeman rather than opting for the relative comfort of a major Australian city (where, let’s be honest, the vast majority of Australia’s country music is produced), and you can really hear the expanse of our wide brown land all over the album. With each release Fanny Lumsden’s songwriting just gets better and better, adding a modern sensibility to a genre that all to often falls into cliche or nostalgia. Real Class Act is what Australian country music should be about.

The Morrisons
5. The MorrisonsThe Morrisons
Australia’s premiere bluegrass and alt-country band The Morrisons released their long-awaited and highly anticipated debut album this year and it has fast become one of my favourite album’s of ever. No one quite takes such a quintessentially American genre like bluegrass and passes it through the Australian lens in the way The Morrisons do. And it doesn’t hurt that individually each of The Morrisons is a master of their respective instrument making the album as technically brilliant as it is artistically brilliant.

Willie Watson
6. Willie WatsonFolksinger Vol. 2
Willie Watson’s exploration of America’s rich vein of traditional folk music continues with the second volume in his Folksinger series. Somehow he finds a way to take traditional and vintage folk and blues songs and modernise them without losing what makes them great songs to begin with. Watson treats this material with respect and reverance, almost taking a step back and letting each song speak for itself. When Willie Watson left Old Crow Medicine Show he expressed a desire to find a softer side of the folk genre, and that’s something he’s truly captured with Folksinger Vol. 2.

All Our Exes Live In Texas
7. All Our Exes Live In TexasWhen We Fall
Taking out this year’s ARIA for Best Blues and Roots Album was just the icing on the cake for what has been a massive year for All Our Exes Live In Texas. When We Fall is an album of fine songwriting, pitch perfect production and a true celebration of the four part harmony. Elana Stone, Katie Wighton, Hannah Crofts and Georgia Mooney each bring a unique set of influences and musical styles to All Our Exes Live In Texas which somehow all blend together into something sublime. With the momentum on When We Fall expect All Our Exes Live In Texas to continue crushing it into 2018 and beyond

Laura Marling
8. Laura MarlingSemper Femina
Laura Marling goes deep on her exploration of the feminine and what it means to be a female artist. It’s amazing to watch Marling grow with every album she releases while never really losing track of what drew us all to her in the first place – beautifully written songs and masterful guitar work. Laura Marling truly is one of the greatest artists of our generation.

Charlie Fink
9. Charlie FinkCover My Tracks
My love for Cover My Tracks one hundred per cent stems from my nostalgia for Noah and The Whale’s 2009 concept album The First Days of Spring. Charlie Fink revisits the style and feeling from The First Days of Spring throughout his 2017 solo outing and it’s a welcome return to form for a songwriter that had definitely strayed a little far from his strengths towards the end of Noah and The Whale’s time, prefering a Springsteen-light pop sound to substantial, heart-on-his-sleeve songwriting. The album is raw, emotional, beautiful and heartbreaking – everything I want from a Charlie Fink record.

10. PackwoodVertumnus
The culmination four seasonally focused EPs from the last couple of years, Vertumnus is a beautiful opus to the natural world. Packwood’s unique brand of chamber folk has reached its pinnacle with this record, filled with lush compositions and stunning musicianship. Bayden Hyne, along with his arrangers Tilman Robinson (orchestral) and Miriam Crellin (choral) have pefectly crafted each track on Vertumnus making the most of choirs, strings, pianos, finger-picked guitars and banjos and more to compliment Packwood’s trademark fragile vocal style. Taking this work out of the studio and onto the stage is an expensive undertaking but I still hold out hope that we’ll see Vertumnus live before too long.

Kasey Chambers
11. Kasey ChambersDragonfly
Kasey Chambers mixes things up on her latest double album working with two different producers – Paul Kelly and Nash Chambers – and collaborating with a diverse range of artists from multiple genres, resulting in one of her most interesting releases in recent years.

David Rawlings
12. David RawlingsPoor David’s Almanack
David Rawlings and Gillian Welch find a way to write original Americana songs that sound like traditional songs that have been re-discovered and updated for a modern audience – and why can’t I get “Money is the Meat in the Coconut” out of my head?

Billy Bragg
13. Billy BraggBridges Not Walls
Billy Bragg returns to his activist roots on this EP with his electric guitar turned up and his wit as sharp as ever.

Lisa Mitchell
14. Lisa MitchellWhen They Play That Song
Out of no where Australia’s queen of indie-folk delivers the sweetest covers EP of the year, with quirky takes on 90s favourites from Phantom Planet, Spice Girls, Placebo, Letters To Cleo and The Cardigans

Timothy James Bowen
15. Timothy James BowenBloom
Bloom bookends a couple of years of massive upheaval in Timothy James Bowen’s life, while capturing an artist at the peak of his powers as a singer and songwriter.

16. HuskyPunchbuzz
Husky continue to push the boundaries of their indie-folk sound with an album that borrows as much from eighties pop as it does from lyric-driven singer-songwriter music.

17. BATTS62 Moons
Moving away from her electro-folk roots toward a stripped back sound has proven a success for BATTS who’s delivered an EP of really stunning songs.

Gretta Ziller
18. Gretta ZillerQueen of Boomtown
Gretta Ziller has delivered one of the best Americana albums of the year that deserves all the nominations, awards and accolades it will no doubt continue to receive over the coming months

Paul Kelly
19. Paul KellyLife Is Fine
After a couple of genre projects Paul Kelly returns with his most Paul Kelly album in recent memory, further cementing him as Australia’s greatest living songwriter.

Nick Mulvey
20. Nick MulveyWake Up Now
The English singer-songwriter continues to produce interesting, acoustic driven indie music full of weird guitar tunings, multi-tracked vocals and songs just waiting to hit a Hollywood soundtrack.

Emily Barker
21. Emily BarkerSweet Kind of Blue
Emily Barker deftly combines country, blues and folk styles, harkening back to a tradition while still producing a sound that is fresh and engaging.

Stu Larsen
22. Stu LarsenResolute
Australia’s favourite troubadour produces another album of straight up singer-songwriter gems documenting his travels around the world.

23. LankumBetween The Earth & Sky
Lankum, the band formally known as Lynched, are producing some of the most raw traditional Irish music going around, complete with the thickest Dublin accent you’re likely to hear this year.

Old Crow Medicine Show
24. Old Crow Medicine Show50 Years Of Blonde On Blonde
Old Crow Medicine Show pay homage to Dylan with this live stringband version of the classic Blonde On Blonde

Johnny Flynn
25. Johnny FlynnSillion
An absolute gem of an album that sees Johnny Flynn’s distinctive voice and resonator front and centre, but a willingness to play with production a bit more than previous releases, adding more texture and nuance to each of the tracks.

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 7th July


This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– The folks behind the Dashville events are hitting the road this weekend with some of their favourite artists including James Thomson, BagheadMelody PoolMagpie Diaries, Dave Wells, Deanna Rose, Demi Mitchell, Jason Walker and Lyle Dennis. Details here

– The Queenscliff Music Festival revealed the first 13 acts for 2017 including 30/70, The Beautiful Girls, Bernard Fanning, Freya Josephine Hollick, GL, Hot Potato Band, Jon Cleary & The Absolute Monster Gentlemen, Mama Kin & Spender, Nai Palm, The Temper Trap, The Teskey Brothers, Xavier Rudd and Yothu Yindi & The Treaty Project. Details here

– English singer-songwriter Nick Mulvey shared details of his upcoming album Wake Up Now. Details here

– The legendary Paul Kelly has announced plans to release his new album Life Is Fine in August. Details here

– Melbourne based alt-country six-piece Georgia State Line released their new video “Heaven Knows”. Details here

– Alt-country band Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes released their new single “Long Way To Fall”. Details here

– Alt-country duo Miles and Simone released their new video “She And I”. Details here

Offa Rex, the new 70s-folk-revival project from The Decemberists and Olivia Chaney, released their new single “Sheepcrook and Black Dog”. Details here

– English trio The Young’uns announced plans to release their fourth studio album Strangers. Details here

– Adelaide’s Kelly Brouhaha released her new video “As Long As There’s A Smile”. Details here

Angus & Julia Stone released their new video “Snow” and announced September tour dates. Details here

– Alt-country singer Tori Forsyth released her new single “Kings Horses”. Details here

Releases This Week

Lloyd Spiegel
This Time TomorrowLloyd Spiegel

Something's Changing
Something’s ChangingLucy Rose

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Joe Pug w/ Courtney Marie Andrews

Joe Pug

Celebrated American singer-songwriter Joe Pug returns to our shores for a series of shows that kick off this weekend at the Bello Winter Music festival. This time he’s brought Courtney Marie Andrews as his support.

Friday 7th and Saturday 8th July – Bello Winter Music, Bellingen, NSW
Sunday 9th July – The Edwards, Newcastle, NSW
Tuesday 11th July – The Lansdowne Hotel, Sydney, NSW
Wednesday 12th July – Coogee Diggers, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 13th July – Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 14th July – Caravan Music Club, Melbourne, VIC

Gigs Next Week

Ainslie Wills
Thursday 13th July – The Landsdowne Hotel, Sydney, NSW

Alice Terry
Friday 7th July – The Grounds of Alexandria, Sydney, NSW
Friday 14th July – Venue 505, Sydney, NSW

All Our Exes Live In Texas
Friday 7th July – Howler, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 8th July – Workers Club, Geelong, VIC
Thursday 13th July – Studio 56 @ Miami Marketta, Gold Coast, QLD
Friday 14th July – Bison Bar, Nambour, QLD

Amber Lawrence
Friday 7th July – Coogee Diggers, Sydney, NSW

Ayleen O’Hanlon, Rich Davies and The Low Road
Friday 7th July – MOTH, Red Hill Showgrounds, Red Hill, VIC

Bello Winter Music Festival
Thursday 6th to Sunday 9th July – Bellingen, NSW

Ben Ottewell
Friday 7th July – Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 7th and Saturday 8th July – Bello Winter Music, Bellingen, NSW

Ben Salter
Friday 9th July – Tramway Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Black Mountain Stringband
Friday 7th July – Drunken Poet, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 8th July – Open Studio, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 9th July – Lomond Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Bluegrass Pub Pick feat. The Willing Ponies
Sunday 9th July – George Hotel, Sydney, NSW

Brad Butcher w/ The Weeping Willows
Friday 7th July – Two Goats Cafe & Baa, Armidale, NSW
Saturday 8th July – New England Brewing Co., Uralla, NSW
Friday 14th July – House Concert, Burnie, TAS

Carus Thompson
Saturday 8th July – 3ciana, Bunbury, WA

Clare Bowen w/ Timothy James Bowen
Friday 7th July – Anita’s Theatre, Thirroul, NSW
Sunday 9th July – Enmore Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Monday 10th July – Civic Theatre, Newcastle, NSW
Tuesday 11th July – Blazes at Wests, Tamworth, NSW
Thursday 13th July – Empire Theatre, Toowoomba, QLD
Friday 14th July – The Star, Gold Coast, QLD

Friday 7th July – Croydon Bowling Club, Melbourne, VIC

Clea w/ Nice Biscuit, Karl-Christoph
Saturday 8th July – Brighton Up Bar, Sydney, NSW

Tuesday 11th July – Ringwood Folk Club, Melbourne, VIC

Daniel Champagne
Friday 7th July – The Shed Tablelands Music Lovers, Atherton, QLD
Sunday 9th July – Kuranda Amphitheatre, Kuranda, QLD

Dashville On The Road feat. James Thomson, Baghead, Melody Pool, Magpie Diaries, Dave Wells, Deanna Rose, Demi Mitchell, Jason Walker, Lyle Dennis
Friday 7th July – Royal Federal Hotel, Branxton, NSW
Saturday 8th July – Brass Monkey, Cronulla, NSW
Sunday 9th July – The Bearded Tit, Sydney, NSW

Davidson Brothers
Saturday 8th July – Union Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Dope Lemon
Wednesday 12th July – Beach Road Hotel, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 13th July – The Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle, NSW
Friday 14th July – UOW UniBar, Wollongong, NSW

FolkSwagon feat. Rita B, Trent Williams, Gentle Leader
Wednesday 12th July – Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Freya Josephine Hollick & Sean McMahon
Friday 14th July – Theatre Royal Castlemaine, Castlemaine, VIC

Georgia Fields and Phia
Saturday 8th July – Major Tom’s, Kyneton, VIC
Thursday 13th July – Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, ACT
Friday 14th July – Candelo General Store, Candelo, NSW

Hannah Matysek
Sunday 9th July – The Lady Hampshire, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 13th July – The Little Guy, Sydney, NSW

Hats Off To Country
Thursday 6th to Sunday 9th July – Tamworth, NSW

Hootenanny feat. Slim Dime, Owl Valley Bluegrass, Watling & Bates
Friday 14th to Sunday 16th July – Rappville Pub, Rappville, NSW

Friday 7th July – Woolly Mammoth, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 8th July – Sol Bar, Maroochydore, QLD

Illawarra Folk Club feat. Humbug, Slim Dime
Friday 7th July – City Diggers, Wollongong, NSW

Jacob Diamond
Saturday 8th July – Satchmo’s, Perth WA

Joe Pug w/ Courtney Marie Andrews
Friday 7th and Saturday 8th July – Bello Winter Music, Bellingen, NSW
Sunday 9th July – The Edwards, Newcastle, NSW
Tuesday 11th July – The Lansdowne Hotel, Sydney, NSW
Wednesday 12th July – Coogee Diggers, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 13th July – Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 14th July – Caravan Music Club, Melbourne, VIC

Leah Senior
Friday 7th to Sunday 9th July – Bello Winter Festival, Bellingen, NSW

Leaps and Bounds Music Festival
Thursday 13th to Sunday 23rd July – Melbourne, VIC

Leaps and Bounds Music Festival Opening Night feat. Augie March, Jess Ribeiro, The Pink Tiles
Thursday 13th July – Corner Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Lior and the Australian Youth Orchestra
Monday 10th July – Melbourne Recital Centre, Melbourne, VIC
Tuesday 11th July – Melbourne Recital Centre, Melbourne, VIC

Little Wise
Friday 7th July – Mountain Mumma, Sheffield, TAS
Saturday 8th July – Platypus Park House Concert, Bridport, TAS
Sunday 9th July – Republic Bar, Hobart, TAS

Lloyd Spiegel
Friday 7th July – Hickinbotham Winery, Dromana, VIC
Friday 14th July – Suttons House of Music, Ballarat, VIC

Maia Marsh
Friday 14th July – Vic On The Park Hotel, Sydney, NSW

Melanie Horsnell
Thursday 13th July – Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, ACT
Friday 14th July – Candelo General Store, Candelo, NSW

Melbourne AW17 Finders Keepers Market
Friday 14th to Sunday 16th July – Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne, VIC

Miles and Simone
Friday 7th July – Festival of Voices, Hobart, TAS
Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th July – Bello Winter Music, Bellingen, NSW
Thursday 13th July – Leaps and Bounds Festival, The Grace Darling, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 14th July – Moira, VIC

Oliver Downes
Friday 7th July – The Rhythm Hut, Gosford, NSW
Saturday 8th July – Humph Hall, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 9th July – Union Hotel, Sydney, NSW

Pete Murray
Wednesday 12th July – Lismore City Hall, Lismore, NSW
Thursday 13th July – Villa Noosa, Noosaville, QLD
Friday 14th July – The Tivoli Theatre, Brisbane, QLD

Pony Tales feat. Luke Collings & Greasy Lake, Mysterious Universe Band, Alister Marshall
Wednesday 12th July – Gasoline Pony, Sydney, NSW

Porch Light Sessions feat. Leroy Lee, Martha Marlow, Sam Newton
Thursday 13th July – Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW

Quinton Trembath
Sunday 9th July – House Concert, Hobart, TAS
Friday 14th July – Melbourne St Laundromat, Adelaide, SA

Rick Hart’s Bare Bones Quartet w/ Mr. Alford Country
Sunday 9th July – The Retreat Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Sunday 9th July – Hibernian House, Sydney, NSW

Russell Morris
Friday 7th July – Caravan Music Club, Oakleigh, VIC

Sam Buckingham
Saturday 8th July – Hibernian House, Sydney, NSW

Sean McMahon and the MoonMen
Saturday 8th July – The Union Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Singing Up Country feat. Yirrmal, Kahl Wallis, Emily Wurramara
Friday 7th July – Tanks Arts Centre, Cairns, QLD

Skyscraper Stan
Friday 7th July – Babushka Bar, Ballarat, VIC
Thursday 13th July – Grace Emily Hotel, Adelaide, SA

Slim Dime
Friday 7th July – City Diggers, Wollongong, NSW
Sunday 9th July – Gasoline Pony, Sydney, NSW

Sofar Sounds Brisbane
Monday 10th July – Brisbane, QLD

Sofar Sounds Gold Coast
Thursday 13th July – Gold Coast, QLD

Songwriters in the Round feat. Taryn La Fauci, James Morrison, Lady Lyon, Leroy Lee
Wednesday 12th July – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW

Sounds From The Grounds feat. Cat Vasilakis, Michael Duchesne, Alice Terry
Friday 7th July – The Grounds of Alexandria, Sydney, NSW

Steve Gunn
Friday 7th July – National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 8th July – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 9th July – The Junk Bar, Brisbane, QLD

Teeny Tiny Stevies
Sunday 9th July – Arts Centre, Melbourne, VIC

The Ahern Brothers
Friday 7th July – Woodford Open Space, Woodford, QLD
Sunday 9th July – Secret Show, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 14th July – Flow Bar, Old Bar, NSW

The Blues Tram w/ Richard Perso, Alawishus Jones & the OLs
Saturday 8th July – Bendigo, VIC

The Coconut Kids
Friday 7th to Sunday 9th July – Bello Winter Festival, Bellingen, NSW

The Raduga Trio
Sunday 9th July – Hotel Blue, Katoomba, NSW

The Raglins & The Neon Effect
Sunday 9th July – House Concert, Melbourne, VIC

The Royal High Jinx
Friday 14th July – Jambo Bar & Cafe, Melbourne, VIC

The Teskey Brothers
Thursday 6th to Sunday 9th July – Bello Winter Music Festival, Bellingen, NSW
Thursday 13th July – Brighton Up Bar, Sydney, NSW
Friday 14th July – Junk Bar, Brisbane, QLD

The Villebillies, Golden Whistler, Slim Dime
Sunday 9th July – Gasoline Pony, Sydney, NSW

Friday 14th July – Jive, Adelaide, SA

Tom Stephens
Saturday 8th July – Oxford Arts Factory Gallery Bar, Sydney, NSW

Friday 7th July – Old Castlemaine Gaol, Castlemaine, VIC

TSA Song Sessions Over Lunch feat. The Weeping Willows, Melissa Robertson, Paul Crowder Music
Sunday 9th July – Longyard Hotel, Tamworth, NSW

Vanishing Shapes
Wednesday 12th July – The Commons, Newcastle, NSW
Thursday 13th July – The Temperance Society, Sydney, NSW
Friday 14th July – The Paragon Cafe, Katoomba, NSW

Friday 14th July – Melbourne Recital Centre, Melbourne, VIC

Zane Thompson w/ Tash Zappala, Oliver Proudfoot
Sunday 9th July – Whole Lotta Love, Melbourne, VIC

Friday Folk Flashback

“Golden Glove” – Matt & Shannon Heaton

Listen to the New Offa Rex Single “Sheepcrook and Black Dog”

The Decemberists
Image Courtesy of Offa Rex

Offa Rex, the new 70s-folk-revival project from The Decemberists and Olivia Chaney, release their highly anticipated new album The Queen of Hearts this Friday 7th July. Harkening back to classic bands like Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span, the Offa Rex project will feature 11 trad tracks reimagined as folk-revival classics – check out our original piece on the project here.

Ahead of the album’s release Offa Rex have revealed their new single “Sheepcrook and Black Dog” which has a real Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath feel to it – tack a listen below:

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 19th May


This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– Alt-country singer-songwriter Jen Mize released her new video “Forget Her” featuring Duncan Toombs. Details here

– Former Noah and the Whale frontman Charlie Fink released two more tracks from his upcoming solo album, “Anywhere You’re Going Is On My Way” and “I Was Born To Be A Cowboy”. Details here

– Jazz-folk sister duo Alanna and Alicia released their new video “Mockingbird Hill”. Details here

Fleet Foxes released their new video “Fool’s Errand” ahead of their visit to Australia. Details here

– Trad music trio Trioc announced plans to launch their album in Melbourne. Details here

Lloyd Spiegel announced details of his upcoming album This Time Tomorrow. Details here

– To celebrate the vinyl release of The Harrow & The Harvest in July Gillian Welch has a new video for “Dark Turn Of Mind”. Details here

– The Fleurieu Folk Festival have announced their Winter Warmup mini festival featuring Eric Bogle, Soursob Bob, Astráil, Courtney Robb, Gillian Murray, The Cajun Band, Hut and many more. Details here

– New duo The Ahern Brothers (made up of Josh Rennie-Hynes and Steve Grady) have announced their debut album and national tour. Details here

– American roots singer Pokey LaFarge released his new video “Riot in the Streets”. Details here

Taasha Coates announced her High Times tour. Details here

The Decemberists and Olivia Chaney announced details of their new Offa Rex trad-folk project and upcoming album The Queen of Hearts. Details here

Releases This Week

Barefoot Wonderland
Barefoot WonderlandJustin Bernasconi

The Records Were Ours
The Records Were OursPierce Brothers

Pokey LaFarge
Manic RevelationsPokey Lafarge

The Mountain Goats
GothsThe Mountain Goats

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Paddock Sessions feat. Imogen Clark, Abby Dobson, Joe Mungovan, Martha Marlow, This Way North, Vanishing Shapes, John Flanagan Trio, Finnian Johnson

Paddock Sessions

Some of our favourite musicians head out to the Hunter Valley for a day of amazing music.

Saturday 20th May – Taer Angwidd Farm, Wollombi, NSW

Gigs Next Week

Áine Tyrrell
Friday 19th May – Queen Street Mall, Brisbane, QLD

Ainsley Farrell w/ Aldous Monroe, Lady Lyon
Tuesday 23rd May – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW

Alan Gogoll w/ Small Town Romance
Friday 19th May – Wirra Creek Music, Willunga, SA

Amber Lawrence & Catherine Britt w/ Fanny Lumsden
Friday 19th May – Pretoria Hotel, Mannum, SA
Saturday 20th May – Trinity Sessions, Adelaide, SA
Thursday 25th May – Glen Innes District Services Club, Glen Innes, NSW
Friday 26th May – Grafton Ex-Servicemen’s Club, Grafton, NSW

Banquet feat. Ainsley Farrell
Friday 26th May – World Bar, Sydney, NSW

Ben Whiting
Thursday 25th May – The Toff In Town, Melbourne, VIC

Blues on Broadbeach
Thursday 18th to Sunday 21st May – Gold Coast, QLD

Thursday 25th to Sunday 28th May – Brisbane, QLD

Busby Marou
Thursday 25th May – 48 Watt Street, Newcastle, NSW
Friday 26th May – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW

Cash Savage & The Last Drinks
Friday 19th May – The Zoo, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 20th May – Blues at Broadbeach, Gold Coast, QLD
Friday 26th May – Factory Floor, Sydney, NSW

Celebrate with Us feat. Yirrmal and Black Rock Band
Wednesday 24th May – The Melba Spiegeltent, Melbourne, VIC

Craig Woodward’s Flying Engine String Band
Saturday 20th May – The Last Jar, Melbourne, VIC

Daniel Champagne
Friday 19th May – Mountain Mumma, Sheffield, TAS
Saturday 20th May – Red Velvet Lounge, Cygney, TAS
Sunday 21st May – Marakoopa Cafe, Mayberry, TAS
Wednesday 24th May – The Toff In Town, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 25th May – Sooki Lounge, Belgrave, VIC

Saturday 20th May – The Golden Barley, Sydney, NSW

Echo Deer, Paco Wolfe, Burralow
Sunday 21st May – Union Hotel, Sydney, NSW

Saturday 20th May – The Haunt, Brisbane, QLD

FolkSwagon feat. Joey Marsh, Sasha March, Ollie Brown
Wednesday 24th May – Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Fleet Foxes
Friday 26th May – Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW

Georgia Fields w/ Jessie L. Warren
Friday 26th May – Some Velvet Morning, Melbourne, VIC

Hana & Jessie-Lee
Sunday 21st May – Wheatsheaf Hotel, Adelaide, SA

HeART of Annandale Music Festival feat. Leichhardt International Ukestra, Bo0ze Hounds, Yutrio, Glenn Lumanta Trio, Gene Fehlberg Trio, Cruisin’ Deuces, Cameron James Henderson Band, My Perfect Sunday, Alan Watters, Naomi Nash, Nick Payne, Pat O’Grady, Chris Gillespie, Lee and Me
Saturday 20th May – Village Church Annandale, Sydney, NSW

High Tea feat. Broads
Thursday 25th May – House Concert, Sydney, NSW

Hootenanny feat. Drey Rollan Acoustic Blues
Sunday 21st May – Miss Peaches, Sydney, NSW

James Ellis and the Jealous Guys
Sunday 21st May – The Standard Hotel, Melbourne, NSW

Jeff Lang
Friday 19th May – Hardys Bay Club, Hardy’s Bay, NSW
Saturday 20th May – Wauchope Community Arts Hall, Wauchope, NSW
Sunday 21st May – 5 Church St, Bellingen, NSW
Friday 26th May – Bowral Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW

Jen Mize
Sunday 21st May – Bohemian Bungalow, Eumundi, QLD

Jep and Dep w/ Swamp Fat Jangles
Thursday 25th May – Golden Age Cinema & Bar, Sydney, NSW

Jess Locke
Friday 19th May – Beatdisc Records, Parramatta, NSW
Saturday 20th May – Barbara, Brisbane, QLD

John Flanagan Trio
Friday 19th May – Gasoline Pony, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 20th May – Paddock Sessions, Wollombi, NSW
Saturday 20th May – Sunset Studio, Newcastle, NSW
Sunday 21st May – Coffee Whole, Berkley Vale, NSW

Julia Jacklin
Wednesday 24th May – Corner Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 25th May – Metro Theatre, Sydney, NSW

Justin Bernasconi
Friday 19th May – Basement Discs In-Store, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 19th May – Saint Monday, Yackandandah, VIC
Saturday 20th May – Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, ACT
Sunday 21st May – Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW
Friday 26th May – The Shared, Yandina, QLD

Kim Churchill
Friday 19th May – Meat Market, Melbourne VIC
Saturday 20th May – Verbruggen Hall, Sydney NSW

Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes and The Weeping Willows
Friday 19th May – Rooty Hill RSL, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 20th May – Harmonie German Club, Canberra, ACT

Lalor and Plumb
Saturday 20th May – Boite World Music Cafe, Melbourne, VIC

Leah Senior
Friday 26th May – The Loft, Warrnambool, VIC

Lisa Hannigan
Tuesday 23rd May – Fly by Night, Perth, WA
Thursday 25th May – The Thornbury Theatre, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 26th May – Angelsea Memorial Hall, Angelsea, VIC

Man Of Constant Sorrow: The Music of O Brother Where Art Thou feat. The Morrisons, All Our Exes Live In Texas, Brian Campeau, Luke Escombe
Friday 19th May – Camelot Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Mandy Connell w/ Layla Jean and Alysia Manceau
Sunday 21st May – Tago Mago, Melbourne, VIC

Mick Thomas
Friday 19th May – Thornbury Theatre, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 20th May – Suttons House Of Music, Ballarat, VIC
Sunday 21st May – Capital Theatre, Bendigo, VIC
Thursday 25th May – Hobart Gaol, Hobart, TAS
Friday 26th May – Grand Poobah, Hobart, TAS

Paddock Sessions feat. Imogen Clark, Abby Dobson, Joe Mungovan, Martha Marlow, This Way North, Vanishing Shapes, John Flanagan Trio, Finnian Johnson
Saturday 20th May – Taer Angwidd Farm, Wollombi, NSW

Pierce Brothers
Saturday 20th May – Lorne Hotel, Lorne, VIC
Thursday 25th May – The Academy, Canberra, ACT
Friday 26th May – The Croxton, Melbourne, VIC

Radical Face
Friday 26th May – Corner Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Raised By Eagles
Friday 19th May – Thornbury Theatre, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 20th May – Suttons House Of Music, Ballarat, VIC
Sunday 21st May – Capital Theatre, Bendigo, VIC

Rough River
Wednesday 24th May – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Ryan Adams
Tuesday 23rd May – The Tivol, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 26th May – Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne, VIC

Sarah Blasko
Thursday 25th May – Theatre Royal, Castlemaine, VIC
Friday 26th May – GPAC, Geelong, VIC

The Button Collective
Thursday 25th May – Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall, Brisbane, QLD

The Fitzgerald All Stars
Sunday 21st May – The Last Jar, Melbourne, VIC

The Hampshire Hoedown feat. Cruisin’ Deuces
Sunday 21st May – The Lady Hampshire, Sydney, NSW

The McClymonts
Friday 19th May – Brothers Leagues Club, Cairns, QLD
Saturday 20th May – Dalrymple Hotel, Townsville, QLD
Sunday 21st May – Proserpine Entertainment Centre, Proserpine, QLD

The Squeezebox Trio
Thursday 25th May – Johnson St Jazz, Annandale Creative Arts Centre, Sydney, NSW

The Sweet Jelly Rolls
Sunday 21st May – Shady Pines Saloon, Sydney, NSW
Wednesday 24th May – Different Drummer, Sydney, NSW

This Way North
Friday 19th May – The Record Crate, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 20th May – Paddock Sessions, Wollombi, NSW

Tim Guy & Alex Lashlie
Tuesday 23rd May – The Tramway, Melbourne, VIC

Tim Moxam & Liz Stringer
Friday 19th May – Bassendean Hotel, Perth, WA
Saturday 20th May – House Concert, Denmark, WA
Sunday 21st May – House Concert, Albany, WA
Tuesday 23rd May – Kooljaman at Cape Leveque, WA
Wednesday 24th May – Kooljaman at Cape Leveque, WA

Tim Solly
Friday 19th May – The Stag and Hunter Hotel, Newcastle, NSW
Sunday 21st May – Gasoline Pony, Sydney, NSW
Friday 26th May – Kingscliff Beach Hotel, Kingscliff, NSW

Whoa Mule w/ Su Morley & George Woods
Friday 26th May – The Unorthodox Church of Groove, Newcastle, NSW

Wild Honey & Golden Whistler
Friday 19th May – Mac Towns Music Club, Richmond, NSW

William Crighton
Saturday 20th May – Old Museum, Brisbane, QLD

Friday Folk Flashback

“Birmingham” – Shovels and Rope

The Decemberists and Olivia Chaney Announce Trad Project Offa Rex and New Album

The Decemberists
Image Courtesy of The Decemberists

Portland-based indie-folk darlings The Decemberists and English singer-songwriter Olivia Chaney have announced their new collaborative project Offa Rex and their upcoming album The Queen of Hearts.

The project will see The Decemberists and Olivia Chaney reimagine a number of traditional British songs in their own unique style.

“There’s this weird relationship between British and American music, this interesting trade and theft that goes back and forth,” Colin Meloy from The Decemberists explained. “My hope was that if we — the neophytes, the dilettantes, the pretenders — brought Olivia to Portland to work with Tucker, perhaps these traditional British songs would be infused with something different.”

The Queen of Hearts is due for release on the 7th July. The full track listing and the video for the sixties-English-folk-revival-esque title track “The Queen of Hearts” is below:

1. The Queen of Hearts
2. Blackleg Miner
3. The Gardener
4. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
5. Flash Company
6. Old Churchyard
7. Constant Billy (Oddington) / I’ll Go Enlist (Sherborne)
8. Willie o’ Winsbury
9. Bonny May
10. Sheepcrook and Black Dog
11. To Make You Stay

Review: 5 things we learned at Bluesfest

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

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

#1 – Peter Noble knows how to program…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hound mouth playing Bluesfest 2016

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

#3 – Word of Mouth is King

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

Steve Smyth plays at Bluesfest 2016

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

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

Blind Boy Paxton plays at Bluesfest 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Elle King plays at Bluesfest 2016

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

Rhiannon Giddens plays at Bluesfest 2016

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

#5 – Soul is in, along with BIG bands

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

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

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

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

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

Vintage Trouble plays Bluesfest 2016

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

St Paul and The Broken Bones plays Bluesfest 2016

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

Timber and Steel’s Top Albums of 2015

Record Player

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

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

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

Kate and Ruth

1. Kate Burke & Ruth HazletonDeclaration

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

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

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

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

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


2. Sufjan StevensCarrie & Lowell

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

Fanny Lumsden

3. Fanny LumsdenSmall Town Big Shot

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

Paper Kites

4. The Paper Kitestwelvefour

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


5. PackwoodAutumnal

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

Laura Marling

6. Laura MarlingShort Movie

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


7. William FitzsimmonsPittsburgh

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


8. Patrick JamesOutlier

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

Wilder Mind

9. Mumford & SonsWilder Mind

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


10. FallsOmaha

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


11. TolkaOne House

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

Limit of Love

12. Boy & BearLimit of Love

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

If I Was

11. The StavesIf I Was

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

Secret Victory

12. The East PointersSecret Victory

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


13. The Milk Carton KidsMonterey

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


14. Dougal Adams, Ado Barker & Ben StephensonThe Freewheeler

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


15. Ruby BootsSolitude

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

Tomorrow Is My Turn

16. Rhiannon GiddensTomorrow Is My Turn

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

Marlon Williams

17. Marlon WilliamsMarlon Williams

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

Inside Llewyn Davis

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

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

Dream's End

19. Matt BauerDream’s End

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

Punch Brothers

20. Punch BrothersThe Phosphorescent Blues

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


21. Mustered CourageWhite Lies and Melodies

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

Hell Breaks Loose

22. Shane NicholsonHell Breaks Loose

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

The Decemberists

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

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

Josh Pyke

24. Josh PykeBut For All These Shrinking Hearts

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


25. Emmy The GreatS

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

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