Woodford in a Nutshell

Photos by Stuart Bucknell, full album on our Facebook page

Timber and Steel loves a good festival, and Woodford is no exception. The premiere Folk Festival is forever growing and developing to highlight and showcase both the beauty of the natural surrounds, and a diverse array of musical greats and emerging artists.

The beauty of Woodford is it’s a week long festival, culminating in a liminal Fire Event timed to usher in the new year rising from the ashes of the old. However, even someone only able to attend for two to three days can still catch a majority of the performers, and be immersed in a whole other world, where music reigns supreme, and almost every interest is catered too.

For the 2018/19 Woodford experience, our intrepid reporters spent a little over 2 days exploring Woodford’s many stages and acts.

Bright and early on the Friday morning of Woodford, our two trepidation reporters trundled in to Woodfordia. It’s been an age since we last visited but it still felt like home. In our brief visit, we caught as many acts as we could, here are our highlights.

Our first stop was to catch the Hussy Hicks and in spite of the early time of day, The Pineapple Lounge was PACKED! Their healthy rhythms kept every foot tapping as the days’ heat began to rise. Their musical passion was on display as Through The Windmill enthralled the throngs and the hot guitar interlude had the crowd cheering. The dynamic duo’s strong connection on stage commanded all attention and ensured rapturous applause. See our photos online.

Mark Lang (of Skipping Girl Vinegar fame)’s only Woodford set had something for everyone, whether you were a fan or new to Lang’s melodic storytelling. With tunes “for our good friend Donald Trump”, to songs about “letting go of all your frustrations”, or just a true reminder of “living in the now, living in the present”, Lang proved time and time again how his music welcomes audiences, connects, and entices them to participate, punching the air hammering home political commentary, or singing along in full voice. See our photos online.

The Strangest Dreamers delivered a dreamy set of layers and stories to entreat and enchant. They had us with a bluesy lament, kept us with a song from the history books of Joe Hill, about The Rebel Girl Elizabeth Gurley Flynn; and delighted us as they trilled through their eclectic set of fun and frivolity. See our photos online.

Scandinavian fiddle trio Fru Skagerrak had the crowd clapping along from the very opening. Their trad style fiddle to warmed up the crowd as we all enjoyed a refreshing brew. Their skill and prowess shone on stage, the sensitivity of every nuance and note had us enraptured, and Scandinavia’s best was truly in fine form for all to see. Though something tells me this may have been their mellow set, for the daytime crowd… See our photos online.

Lindsay Lou gave us a delectable Americana, full of sass treating us to a set full of songs like Sugar with beautiful harmonised backing vocals, mandolin, and just the right amount of funk to give it that tap along beat. Her delightful accent trilled through the lyrics giving them a lively interplay amongst the skilled musicianship of the tight knit group. Stunt Double, written for her brother, gave a deeper, more earthy opening with lyrics and vibe reminiscent of a Missy Higgins style tale. Her cover of Bill Withers’ I Wish You Well showcased that she is sunshine personified on stage. See our photos online.

The Halcyon stage, we could hardly catch a view of The Fergies as they absolutely packed out the place, and the humans filling the space moved as one to their fun, upbeat, frivolity. They were the name on lips around the festival, ‘did you see The Fergies??’ See our photos online.

Tullara seemed like a dark horse, but the beautiful harmonies proved it was a golden set to capture. Joined on stage at times by additional friends, she delivered heartfelt and raw honesty with tales of her life through song. Particularly beautiful and melancholic was the emotive Five Weeks which then lead in to Six Months – a powerful storytelling experience for the audience.

The Loveys were perhaps the most aptly named act, with classic one liners, witty remarks and sensational sense of style teamed with dulcet tones and a European Cabaret vibe. I never thought I would say the words “she is rocking the bassoon” but here I was, saying them out loud to a bassoon solo. Their set had everything from a comedic lament about old age, to a lullaby about dementia Daddy Joined The Circus, and the terrific harmonies in Beautiful Woman dedicated to a French cross dresser.It was a set that caught you off guard at the same time as being completely in tune with the vivacious women. At one point I realised the drummer was playing a tea cup. Literally, rhythm section on a tea cup – and that of course was perfectly normal and in tune. They had the whole audience clapping along, and to no surprise, inspired a standing ovation.

The Cat Empire can always be relied on to bring the party to any hill, dale or amphitheatre, and Woodford was no exception. With an extensive back catalog mixed in with new album songs, their set was utter decadence from start to finish. Their new songs like Killer, and unreleased Anybody, demonstrated the enthusiasm for their infectious brand of music, playing homage to The Cat Empire of old while injecting some of their newer sound and style melding is infinitely danceable, clap-alongable. Steal The Light, written as joyful instead of happy, featured a chorus horn interlude that was spine tingling, and a call to action that the crowd wilfully answered with their cheers and dancing. As always, a world class entertainment.

Les Poules a Colin brought delicate fiddle and mandolin intricately woven with electric instruments in a blanket of sound that wrapped the audience up and drew them closer. Singing songs in native French, the group from Quebec somehow made French sound more musical than English, especially lifted by stunning twin harmonies. A real stand out was a kind of murder story, performed in bi-lingual tandem with haunting banjo, occasional stomp box, and dual vocals telling the tale, punctuated with stunning three part harmonies. By their own admission, their final song was “very danceable” – they weren’t kidding, the dance floor was full within seconds!

We could only stop in briefly by for Hat Fitz and Cara’s Breakfast BBQ, with Sally and the sizzling sausages already well underway! Cara gave us a new song never played live, played with a “we’ll just see how it goes” finesse that charmed the morning crowd.

Irish Mythen, one of our all time favourite performers, delivered yet another powerhouse set on the Woodford Grande stage. Starting out with something a bit political in What If We Built A Wall, it didn’t matter the time of day, or the lack of sunglasses, Irish was on fire with lyrical passion and gutsy guitar filling one of the largest venues, and taking every audience member along for the ride. Mythen has such a powerful voice, and a Capella prowess that makes your spine tingle, inspiring rapturous rounds of applause. Between songs, her wit and banter is so effective, we could mistake her for a stand up comedian. We were transfixed as she effortlessly brought us to tears with 55 Years, elated by a spirited rendition of I Wanna Dance With You, and a moved with the gravitas of Little Bones. As always, Tullamore Blues had the entire crowd singing along enthusiastically, only to be surpassed by a rousing, a Capella rendition of Mercedes Benz that everyone stood and sang along too.

Lucy Wise was the epitome of sweet and pure as her voice descended on the expanding crowd, infused with good humour delivered in earnest. She shared her New Year song, inspired by her mother, accompanied by ukulele. Her set was down to earth and personal, with You Are Here about facing anxiety, Winter Sun about the affects of Melbourne’s weather and accompanied by her sister Rowena, and the heartbreaking Where Did You Go with her other sister Ruth – glorious harmony woven with beautiful sentimentality and sense of loss.

Trad Attack, a blast of energy from Estonia, used archival recordings alongside lead vocals creating the most fascinating soundscapes. Immediately the dance floor is full and enthusiastic. Most of their set was full energy with moment where we simply wondered what next crazy instrument would be brought to the fray. The fact the crowd can sing along with an archival recording how to make butter demonstrated they are clearly the party folk band – reminiscent of Australia’s own Crooked Fiddle Band.

The Spooky Men’s Chorale were the cheeky chaps as we always expect, taking great pleasure in testing the Auslan interpreter with the many abstract concepts in We Are Not A Men’s Group. Ever a popular act, the audience was large, and delighted with the quirks and perks of the Chorale and all their interpretations of everyday life.

The Raglins poured copious harmonies you could drown in with renditions of favourites like The Palmers Song, and The North Country Maid getting everyone in the mood. Song after song delivered in a spellbinding performance. Particular highlights were Robert’s admission that he’d always promised himself he’d never write a love song, that was until he fell in love, inspiring Luna, and the performance of an old Bush Ranger ballad rewritten with new melody and less racism, Ben Halls Gang.

Glenn Cardier and Christian Marsh at Pineapple Lounge had the bluesy goodness rolling forth with licks of harmonica on A Case of Mistaken Identity. Their set was peppered with fun, moving in to rockabilly swamp thing with a raucous jam in Ringmaster Blues, and sliding through mellow, energetic, enchantment and more.

Mel Parsons unleashed a voice and style so mellow, yet steeped in luxury and richness. Opening with some slow songs to warm up the crowd, then picked up the tempo and vibrancy with I Got The Lonely, and a great selection of tracks from her new album, Glass Heart.

Julia Jacklin treated everyone at the Ampitheatre to a spellbinding night of favourites, like Eastwick, Leadlight, and Don’t Let The Kids Win. Her laid back style soothed the audience as the days heat was swiftly replaced with a cool evening chill. Everything about Jacklin is enchanting, her guitar  declared “You Got This!!” on a hand written tape sticker, and she certainly did, the picture of cool, calm and collected. Hay Plain had the crowds transfixed and swaying along in pure bliss, awakened as the intensity pops and Jackson’s vocals oozed over the audience.

The Little Stevies battled adversity as Byl’s voice had gone AWOL and they were down on numbers as Cliff on electric guitar had been too sick to make Woodford. But Beth stepped in to the spotlight and delivered exquisite lead vocals throughout the set, while Byl managed to bring harmonies and jovial, if quiet, banter between. Old favourites like Accidentally and I hold My Breath had everyone delighted, while the new tracks were a fresh and exciting journey to explore. 

The Waifs were much anticipated and the Ampitheatre was alive with energy and enthusiasm. Old favourite Lighthouse struck a note with everyone singing along, while Sun, Dirt, Water gave a sexy and sassy edge. Love Serenade was a bit more lighthearted and playful, while London Still was breathlessly perfect, much to the acclaim of the audience.

Two days at Woodford were glorious, and we couldn’t leave without squeezing just a couple of last acts in the morning of our departure.

The Bushwhackers were a blast with a shanty, a whirl and jig, a sparkly coat and largaphone, a hoedown and everything in between. Leave it in the Ground elicited a positive response from the gathering crowd in spite of the early time. The most amusing highlight was the enthusiastic Auslan interpreter who was literally dancing and sign-singing along with each and every song. Another Trip To Bunnings now comes with its own audience participation thanks to the Auslan sign for Bunnings (bunny ears).

The final set we caught at Woodford was a firm favourite, the Stiff Gins. As always, their music is storytelling and evocative, we could see the east win gently stir the blossoms over the land, their glorious harmonies had us winging our way home with them, and we witnessed the leaves turning in  Narrandera. You know you’re a part of the band when you’re allowed to sing a song, and Lucas on guitar also brought to the stage Chance Meeting. It was a delightful start to the day, and still a wonderful way to end our festival visit.

As always, Woodford Folk Festival delivered diversity, beauty, and glorious memories in a world made perfect by music. If you’ve never been, you really must put it on your bucket list!

It’s beginning to look a lot like… Woodford!

While the silly season is in full swing, the folkier of us are looking beyond the tinsel and jolly man in a red suit, and are planning the trek to this year’s Woodford Folk Festival. If you haven’t yet made your New Years plans, it’s not too late to get in on the folk action and plan a post-Christmas trip to Woodfordia.

For those still on the fence, let’s take a quick look at why this year’s festival is going to be a great time for all.

The line up is a heavy blend of traditional and discovery, with a delight around every corner for all discerning music lovers. With heavy weights (and our namesakes) The Cat Empire topping the bill, the scene is set for a party. Timber and Steel favourites like Dan Sultan, Julia Jacklin, Irish Mythen, Hat Fitz & Cara, Emily Wurramara, The Waifs, Alex the Astronaut, Stella Donnelly, and Stiff Gins will join more than 2000 artists, musicians and presenters in over 400 acts, over 25 venues throughout the festival.

We’re excited to see some favourites diversify as The Little Stevies become the Teeny Tiny Stevies for their appearances at the Children’s Festival spaces, making the festival, as always, a very family friendly affair. The array of workshops on offer, once again delivers the ultimate in experiences for any festival goer, from yoga to craft, there will be a workshop to suit anyone.

With major infrastructure improvements for this year’s festival, multiple accommodation options to suit every budget and accommodation style, the Woodford Folk Festival is a completely immersive experience where you can choose your own adventure. Whether you participate in The Game, in The Fire Event, or just take in some amazing Australian and international music, it’s the most exciting way to spend your post-Christmas haze.

Whether you visit for a day, or stay for the whole week, there is a journey made just for you. Head over to the website and explore the different journeys you could take at this year’s festival.

When: 27 December 2018 – 1 Jan 2019

Where: Woodfordia, QLD

Tickets: from $25 for kids, from $165 for adults. Book online

Review: Sunday @ Snowy Mountains of Music Festival, Perisher NSW

Snowy Mountains Of Music Festival 2011Photos by KT Bell

After an epic start to the festival experience, and a great big sleep to recover from a great first full day, we were back on a bus up the mountain for our second day at the Snowy Mountains of Music (SMoM). Saturday had been so huge we wondered how the festival was going to improve on such a brilliant experience.

Snowy Mountains Of Music Festival 2011Given that we were at the mercy of the festival bus, we were absolutely delighted to arrive at Perisher in time to catch the second half of Bec Matthews‘ only SMoM set. Her range is huge, from swamp blues, through to West African folk and all delivered with a charming relaxed air. Playing the most intriguing instrument, the Kora, Bec had the intimate audience transfixed and every person who walked through the door of the small bar at The Man were struck by the one woman show, even as she re-tuned between performances. Bec did also perform later in the evening with Afro Mandinko but we were sadly not able to catch it.

Snowy Mountains Of Music Festival 2011Next on the list was Big Erle which came recommended by a friendly volunteer. I’m glad we took her advice, the name alone had me thinking of some of the older more trad folk styles but dear god did Big Erle get the blood pumping. A real foot stomping band, this five piece took Basil’s Bar by storm. Fitting in the little corner that was the stage was near impossible and it certainly would not contain them as harmonica solos flowed over from the stage, tinged with experiences of the 90s East Coast music scene and coloured by more blues than you can poke a stick at. The stage lines were blurred as band members wandered through the audience, playing at antics on the floor. The stand out for me was the lead guitar and vocals. His effervescence and performance filled the entire space and drew me in to every piece. A tight 3 piece, expanded to a 5 piece for the festival, Big Erle is a not to be missed act that definitely pleases the crowds.

Snowy Mountains Of Music Festival 2011Taking a break and checking out a different venue, the Jax Bar (conveniently located at the other end of the building from Basil’s Bar)  we grabbed a cider and some lunch and sat down to enjoy the more traditional sounds of the Wheeze and Suck Band. Four well dressed chaps of my father’s era make up the band, with matching red sashes around stylish top hats and rather smart suits. Living up to their band name in more ways than one, it was an absolute pleasure to see a great range of instrumentation including a squeeze box accordion, mandolin, violin and guitar creating wonderfully textured jigs and an even mix of traditional songs I recalled the words too and more contemporary style roots tunes. An absolute gem of a band to find and perfect match for a cold cider. I didn’t get to see enough of them as we shuffled off to the next set, so I will endeavour to track them down again soon.

Snowy Mountains Of Music Festival 2011Back to Basil’s to catch the highly recommended Heath Cullen and the 45 and we found the tiny place packed with adoring fans. Heath Cullen is a rather attractive young guy so I’m not surprised he has a following, but his audience was such a mix of demographics that it must have been a sign of this musical prowess. His music was much more of a melodic exploration leaning towards some of the more acoustic indie sounds I recall from years ago, but with a fresh new perspective. It was a tight set with excellent performances from all of the band. While it didn’t stir my heart strings, the rest of the audience was in raptures, his albums sold out and the calls for encore managed to woo the band and the stage manager to allow just a couple more songs.

Snowy Mountains Of Music Festival 2011For many years I have been a fan of The Stiff Gins but had never managed to see them. Once a trio but now a strong duo, the two took to the stage with just a guitar and microphones. Having seen a raft of bands and groups producing multi-layered sound for most of the day, it was such a beautiful and satisfying set to see two gorgeous women create such harmonies and melodies without a mix of instruments. Their new works display a matured sound built on the successes and lessons learned from the past. The two have both been learning their indigenous language and we were lucky enough to have them explain a few phrases and sing some new works in their language. Without the story in English, their music transcends to an emotional storytelling style that sweeps you up in to the life of the story. I had seen many quiet audiences at this festival, but the crowd gathered for these two girls had a hush and awe about them that stood strong until the end of their set. They thankfully got to play an encore, my favourite Stiff Gins song from many years ago, for which they also explained the story behind, Morning Star. The applause they received was well deserved.

Snowy Mountains Of Music Festival 2011Who wouldn’t take the opportunity to see Skipping Girl Vinegar two nights in a row? Their on stage energy filled the Smiggins stage and brought the crowds to their feet, dancing to their groove. The adjoining rooms were full of very happy people, with drinks flowing and the most excited kids dancing at the front of the dance floor (see lead photo). Amusingly, the previous night, Amanthi’s slice had only been rated 9 out of 10. Determined to get back to her 10 out of 10 quality, she had whipped up another outstanding slice and an audience member tested the new slice and confirmed she had reached her 10 out of 10 standard once again.

SNowy Mountains of Music Festival 2011The next act to grace the main stage was Marshall & The Fro. We’d heard nothing overwhelming about the band so weren’t anticipating a lot from them. The three piece blues rock outfit looked unassuming enough, we settled with our ciders and expected to just watch the set through. Oh how wrong we were. Marshall and the Fro blew us and everyone in the room away. Lead guy Marshall was enigmatic without being over the top, the bassist powered through every song and the drummer was just awesome. Their set was full of huge songs that you couldn’t help but move too. It was like spying in on an epic jam session, they were having so much fun. Marshall took to the dance stage and played guitar among the crowds, even getting one very enthusiastic audience member to strum while he played the chords. This outfit is one truly crowd participation kind of act. Marshall told of a friend who said his young daughter could play guitar, and when Marshall heard her play, he was blown away by her ability. So excited, he actually got her up on stage and had her play during the set. In this kind of community setting, the crowd was hugely supportive and she really got in to the groove and played extremely well. Now we’ll see her and her band on next year’s SMoM line up I bet. It was an outstanding set and a highlight of the weekend.

SNowy Mountains of Music Festival 2011Once the crowd had recovered from some serious rocking, it was time for headline act Christine Anu to take to the Smiggins stage. The room was thick with anticipation and as she took to the stage, the crowd erupted with excitement. It’s been a while since we’ve seen Christine Anu on stage, so it was great to have her warm up the crowd with a variety of her back catalogue. Of course many were waiting for her signature hits, but the crowd were equally wowed by her repertoire. Fans who remember her from 15 years ago were as equally pleased as the new fans who have not known her beautiful music before this weekend. Her enchanting character, her feisty, cheeky moments and smooth voice carried the entire room through the cold, snowy night into a rosy and glowing celebration of great Australian music.

SNowy Mountains of Music Festival 2011It was nearly time to catch the bus back to Jindabyne, but we managed to sneak in to The Man and catch The Go Set before we had to leave. We went in with little to no expectations and had an absolutely blast with this punk/ rock outfit who wielded some awesome folk instrumentation. They even had a bagpiper in kilt and all. There was the occasional John Farnham ‘You’re the Voice’ kind of moment with those bagpipes, but this was a party band through and through. And just when you think you have a party band pegged, their second last song, they ask the crowd whether they could do an ‘acoustic’ song.  Really, actually acoustic, the whole band stepped out from the stage area, in to the audience and performed a completely acoustic and enchanting song which we all hushed to hear. A beautiful moment was shared, and then it was back to the party. Knowing how to end a great night, their last song saw the lead singer climb one of the huge wood posts in the center of the room and sing to the entire crowd leaning over their heads. Tell you what, we certainly left that gig buzzing.

With the nights entertainments almost all wrapped up, we climbed on to the bus back to Jindabyne, a little disappointed we didn’t get to see Afro Mandinko who were currently rounding out the night at the Smiggins stage, but it was late and we had a long drive ahead of us the next day. It was sad to leave Jindabyne on the Monday morning and we were sorely tempted to zip back up the mountain and catch the Final Concert which featured so many of the great acts, all doing 2 songs each, but we had to take advantage of the long weekend holiday to get back to Sydney. The road trip home was long but full of chatter about the amazing acts at the festival. Certainly one of the most unique and family friendly festival’s I’ve ever been too, it’s easy to see how the Snowy Mountains of Music festival could become the June Long Weekend staple activity each year. And with such a stellar line up this year, I can only wait to see how they will out do themselves in 2012. Mark it in your diaries!

Ash Grunwald and More Added to Snowy Mountains Lineup

Ash Grunwald
Image Courtesy of Ash Grunwald

The Snowy Mountains of Music festival has been drip feeding artists onto it’s 2011 lineup since they announced the first round mid last month. And with today’s news that Ash Grunwald would be headlining we thought it was about time we gave everyone an update on who else would be making an appearance this year.

Along with Grunwald the latest artists added to the Snowy Mountains lineup include Timber and Steel favourites Skipping Girl Vinegar and The Bearded Gypsy Band, “I Made a 100 In The Backyard At Mum’s” legend Greg Champion and the wonderful Christine Anu.

The Snowy Mountains of Music festival will be held on the Queens Birthday weekend from the 10th to the 13th June. The full lineup will be revealed at the end of this month but all currently confirmed artists are below:

Ash Grunwald
Big Erle
Christine Anu
Dallas Frasca
Doc Jones and the Lechery Orchestra
Eric Bogle
Franklyn B Paverty Bush Band
Ganga Giri
Geoffrey Graham
Greg Champion
Gleny Rae Virus and her Tamworth Playboys
Heath Cullen and The 45
Jim Haynes
King Marong & Afro Mandinko
Lillian Pang
Marshall and The Fro
Mike Strelley Martin
Orange Blossom
Richard Perso
Skipping Girl Vinegar
The Bearded Gypsy Band
The Con Artists
The Go Set
The Stiff Gins
The Sunny Cowgirls
The Woohoo Revue

Snowy Mountains of Music Announce First Round of Artists

Eric Bogle
Image Courtesy of The Snowy Mountains of Music

This year’s coolest festival (oh yes we did), The Snowy Mountains of Music, has just announced it’s first round of artists and the lineup is pretty awesome.

We’ve already been given a sneak peak at the artists with Dallas Frasca, Eric Bogle (above) and The Sunny Cowgirls announced late last year but joining them at The Snowy Mountains will be The Stiff Gins, Heath Cullen, Marshall and the Fro, Azadoota, The Woohoo Revue and The Go Set.

The Snowy Mountains of Music is held on the Queen’s Birthday Weekend from the 10th to 13th June. Tickets are already on sale from the official web site. Stay tuned for more news as it comes to hand.

Peats Ridge Festival Set Times

Dan Mangan
Image Courtesy of Dan Mangan

If you’ve scored yourself tickets to the rock-festival-with-a-heart-of-folk Peats Ridge then it’s time to start getting yourself organised: the set times for all three days have just been released. Now you can start making the decision of whether you’ll see The Lurkers or Lolo Lovina, The Stiff Gins or Gossling and Dan Mangan (above) or Kate Miller-Heidke. Links to the set times are below:

Wednesday 29th December 2010

Thursday 30th December 2010

Friday 31st December 2010 (NYE)

Winter Gets Folked

The Preachers
Image Courtesy of The Preachers

Just because the skies are gray and the temperature outside is hovering somewhere close to freezing doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be heading out and seeing some fantastic live music. If you live in Sydney the best way to beat the winter cold is to watch some of the hottest local and national acts at The Winterland Festival.

The Winterland Festival starts today and goes until the end of the month at Carriageworks. Over those four weeks over 100 local and emerging artists will be taking to the stage on Thursdays and Saturdays for a series of free concerts. There’ll also be ice skating, market stalls and arts events throughout the entire time.

Head over to The Winterland Festival site for more details or check out our picks for the best nights for folk music fans:

Thursday 8th July – The Lurkers, Wil Massey and The Ghost Trio, Charlie Trindall and The Preachers.
Thursday 15th July – Leroy Lee, Kate Duffy, Frontiers in Photography, Quiet Titans and Rosie Catalano.
Saturday 17th July (afternoon) – Eddie Bronson Trio and Urban Excentrics.
Saturday 17th July (evening) – Ray Mann, The Slowdowns, Stiff Gins, The Delroys and The Anon Anons
Saturday 24th July (afternoon) – Portable Junk, Ngaratya, Nadeena Dixon, Melodie Nelson and Ryan Nicolussi

Denmark Festival of Voice This Weekend

Denmark Festival of Voice
Image Courtesy of Denmark Festival of Voice

If you’re in WA you’ll already know that while the Eastern states are slaving away you’ll be enjoying the Foundation Day long weekend this weekend. But if you don’t know quite how to fill your long weekend we have the answer: The Denmark Festival of Voice.

Held in picturesque Denmark south of Perth, the festival features over 70 performances by some of Australia’s brightest artists. The lineup includes but isn’t limited to Andrew Winton, The Stiff Gins, Bernard Carney, Andrew Claremont and Mr Percival. Tickets and further information available on the website.

Andrew Winton
Image Courtesy of Andrew Winton

Spotlight On: The Stiff Gins

The Stiff Gins
Image Courtesy of The Stiff Gins

While I grew up in folk festivals the first National Folk Festival I ever went to as an adult was in Canberra in 1999. I look back kindly on that year as the “good old days” of the National (although I’m sure my parents would say I was 10 years late) with many of the artists I saw there for the first time becoming firm favourites. This year’s National Folk Festival was a lot bigger and lot more intense than 1999 but it did give me the opportunity to revisit many of the artists I’d loved in my youth and in particular rekindle my interest in vocal duo The Stiff Gins.

The Stiff Gins are Nardi Simpson and Kaleena Briggs and originally met at the Eora Centre in Redfern 11 years ago. Their sound is simple and stripped back, just a single guitar and two beautifully harmonised voices. Both of indigenous decent, Simpson and Briggs sing with a strong connection to their family, the land and their history – the name of the band is itself a play-on (or reclamation of) the derogatory term for an Aboriginal woman.

The thing I love most about The Stiff Gins, other than their pitch perfect harmonies and beautiful, lyrical songs, is just how warm they are to an audience. The girls banter as though they’re in their living room, letting you into their loves for just a moment and making you feel at home. It’s not unusual to see the audience leave a Stiff Gins concert with a smile on their face.

As one of the best and most prominent indigenous bands in country, The Stiff Gins usually divide their time between Aboriginal events and more mainstream festivals. They play regularly around the country so if you see them advertised in your neck of the woods I’d recommend getting down to see them. Check out the gig guide for more details.

Country of Origin: Australia
Sounds Like: pitch perfect female singer songwriters
File Under: Acoustic
Official site: www.stiffgins.net
Myspace: myspace.com/wwwstiffginsnet

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