Falls Festival Review: Falls Festival Finds

Goodnight from Falls general_20160101-19Festival: Falls Music and Arts Festival
Location: Byron Bay – North Byron Parklands
Date(s): Thursday 31st Dec 2015 – Saturday 2nd Jan 2016
Featured Artists: The Imprints, Merry Jeann, The Scrimshaw Four, Vardos, Soak and Oh Wonder.
Photos by Stuart Bucknell

At festivals like Falls, there’s always big name acts, there’s always Timber and Steel style acts we’re anticipating, and then there’s always a raft of acts we’ve not come across or had an opportunity to see before. It’s one of our utter pleasures to go out of our way to check out the quirky and unknown acts on festival line ups and see what’s new to discover. As I mentioned in my Overview, Lola’s Bar in the Festival Village was a gold mine for the kinds of acts we love here at Timber and Steel.

imprints_20160101-1The Imprints, a two-piece hailing from Melbourne, played Lola’s Bar on New Year’s Day with their quirky strings and drums combo to a quiet crowd recovering from their midnight revelry. Their clever use of looping pedals made for intricate fiddle tracks that melded together in beautiful harmonies. Their set featured opportunities for them to build up multi tracks of fiddle plucking, playing, strumming and harmonizing, along with a retinue of drum beats, and then strip the sound right back to a simple beat and chord. Watching them, it was clear they had a strong link, feeding off each other throughout their live performances, no doubt developed from their time playing pure improvisation. Part way through the set, Violinist Willow asked for people to come forward, even just to lay down on the dance floor and chill, because it was always weird to play to people sitting so far away. Without dropping a beat, there was a mass movement of people, and their chairs, forward. The Imprints had made a good impression.

merrynjean_20160101-2Merryn Jeann played a 10am set in Lola’s Bar on the last day of the festival, the perfect start to a day clouded in sleepiness and people just coming terms with the day. Merryn was the epitome of a folk musician, clad in an embroidered blouse, long skirt, bare feet and jaunty flat cap. Freshly arrived home from performing at the Woodford Folk Festival, Merryn started the last day of Falls with a cover of Bombay Bicycle Club’s Dust on the Ground. Her lulling, husky voice wrapped the gathering crowd in the comfort of lyrics and time, at times haunting, at times humming around you like a bumble bee. Her set included tracks like Death at Lincoln Park, usually sung with her folk band, but with a different blues style lament when performed as a solo. Having recently returned from a 6-month stint living in Berlin, Merryn took advantage of the opportunity to perform in her home town by bringing along a friend or two to join her on stage. Maeve and her violin joined the set with haunting violin chords that supplied liquid undertones to Merryn’s finger plucking.

Merryn has an unassuming, raw and honest style, playing direct from the heart. She had people transfixed, woke them to the day, and lulled them through the morning, and drew people in to sit and chill, taking in her tunes.

scrimshawfour_20160101-2The Scrimshaw Four had the lunchtime shift at Lola’s Bar on the last day of the festival. We turned up to count 5 performers on stage and figured it was a happy bonus. Or maybe they can’t count. With a line up of guitar, fiddle, bass drum, double bass, banjo and Hawaiian Lei, we knew it was going to be a vibrant show from the Melbourne lads. They kicked off the set with the country-esque fiddle and boppy vocal harmonies of Stealin’. Once the audience was properly warmed up, it was time to get down to the real business of party tunes! When a song is introduced as being about a ‘romantic day’ on the beach and starts off with the line “I don’t want to give you a diamond ring”, you know it’s going to be a fun story-telling style set. I Just Wanna Give You My Heart turned out to be just that, with a bluegrass jam, upbeat tempo and a Mic Conway like frivolity. To follow that up with an hilarious cover of The Little Mermaid’s Under the Sea but at a fast, almost manic pace, was exactly the right formula for a happy crowd.

The Scrim deftly swung through country, folk, gypsy jazz, and everthing else on the old and gutsy jazz spectrum, to ragtime beats and high energy dance tracks. They reminded me of The WooHoo Revue but with their own brand of quirk. They have stellar stories that create their songs and make for great anticipation-laced intros, like the one about the girl who misheard his invitation to show him her moves, instead as show him her boobs! The Scrimshaw Four are a solid festival band sure to get you dancing, whether it’s to a polka, some Roma gypsy jazz, some hillbilly and bluegrass, or just some country and folk, you won’t be able to stop your toes from tapping.

vardos_20160101-6We came across the witty, character filled trio Vardos at Lola’s bar early in the afternoon of New Years Day. All kinds of gypsy music, from Transylvanian Romanian to “Modern” flowed from the lively crew with fiddle, accordion and double bass ablaze. From the outset it was clear they genuinely have fun on stage, moving and dancing round each other with some fun choreographed moments of teasing and taunting. All three took turns singing songs and the fake accents that tended to slip in and out were all a fun part of the ruse. They sing about love, beauty, life, ups and downs, all the while maintaining a vibrant and direct connection with audience, picking out people to play to in each song. The three are playful on stage and fun to watch, like witnessing a battle of wills between the violin and bass and an accordion playing the referee.

But, finding something new wasn’t just restricted to the small stages of the festival, both the Forest and Valley Stages also offered a little something to discover.

soak_20160101-5Irish songstress Bridie Monds-Watson, aka Soak, had the unenviable task of opening the main stage for the final day of Falls. But once the Valley was open to punters for the day, a steady stream of eager listeners made their way to a grassy spot to soak up her sounds. “Soak” comes from a phonetic mash-up of ‘Soul’ and ‘Folk’ but her style is still more genre defying than such a straight forward combination. Her set traversed her musical explorations, through floaty chill-out moments, ethereal soundscapes, indie infused sounds and haunting vocal melodies. Sea Creatures and Blud, her most signature tunes to date, washed over the crowds and set the tone of the day.

As Soak, Bridie has a strong sense of her vocal diversity, engaging a delightful head voice when it fits, and smashing out those power driven notes when the point needs to be hammered home. She reminded me of both Lisa Mitchell and Emma Louise (in her Jungle days) in ways, her vocal stylings in particular. I think ultimately the physical enormity of the Valley Stage meant she could not engage authentically with the audience, she could have benefitted from a more intimate setting, like the Forest Stage, to really allow the audience in to her realm. She does have potential to grow and emerge as a staple festival act, so keep your eyes on Soak!

ohwonder_20160101-1I think my favourite find for the whole of Festival has to be Oh Wonder, a London-based duo who were performing in Australia for the first time thanks to the Falls Festival. You’ve got to love a band who brings their own stage backdrop, a 2-metre-tall set of light up initials for their band name… which read ‘OW’, It’s probably an appropriate sentiment for the level of hangovers, hair of the dog’s and sunburns that were evident post NYE celebrations.

Oh Wonder created instant atmosphere with a smoke machine and tension filled hanging notes as they entered the stage to launch their set. The assembled crowd  gave huge cheers for each of the duo as they took to the stage. Described as electric folk, their style encapsulated the nuances achievable with looping tones and beats, while layering piano and electric guitar over the top. Their vocal unison was compelling, more so when they slipped seamlessly in to close harmonies and back out to unison again. Their voices compliment each other tonally, Josephine is the lead vocalist but Anthony’s smooth, silky voice wraps her delicate breathy beauty and grounds it in the electro beats they employ. Both are multi skilled, multi instrumentalists that lend their talents to each others musical moments, creating thick, rich tones to lose yourself in. Highlights of their set were the heavy bass and rolling piano melodies of Livewire, and the at times reggae-like bass and sparkling impact of Dazzle. The one descriptor that keeps coming to mind for Oh Wonder, is “gorgeous”. Check them out and cross your fingers for another visit down under from them soon.

So, that wraps up our 2015 Falls Festival Byron Bay experience. A wealth of acts to see and one of the best festival experiences we’ve ever had. Byron Bay is a definite contender for anyone looking for a great way to spend New Years Eve, no matter the line up.

Read our other Falls Music & Arts Festival reviews:

Overview of Falls Festival Byron Bay 2015

Timber and Steel Highlights

Unmissable Acts

First Round Of Artists Announced for Port Fairy Folk Festival 2016

Mary Black
Image Courtesy of Mary Black

It looks like we’re well and truly into that time of year when the major folk festivals start announcing their lineups. The next cab off the rank is the Port Fairy Folk Festival, arguably one of Australia’s top folk events, which next year will be held from the 11th to the 14th March.

The Port Fairy Folk Festival enters its 40th year in 2016 so as you’d expect the lineup is going to be huge. The first round of artists did not disappoint either – announced this time around were Ayleen O’Hanlon, Claymore, DakhaBrakha (Ukraine), Dave Arden, Eric Bogle, Fourplay, Grigoryan Brothers, John McCutcheon (USA), Katie Noonan’s Vanguard, Lloyd Spiegel, Manran (Scotland), Mary Black (Ireland, above), Moxie (Ireland), Nicky Bomba’s Bustamento, Pierce Brothers, Ruby Boots, Steve Poltz (USA), Sara Storer, Shellie Morris, Suzannah Espie, The Bushwackers, The East Pointers (Canada), The Ugly Uncles, Truckstop Honeymoon (USA), Three Kings, The Woohoo Revue and The Young’uns (UK) with plenty more to come.

Tickets for the 2016 Port Fairy Folk Festival are already on sale. Check out the official web site for more information.

Blue Mountains Music Festival Announces First Lineup

Xavier Rudd
Image Courtesy of Xavier Rudd

The Blue Mountains Music Festival, which will be held from the 14th to the 16th March next year, is one of our favourite events throughout the year. Close enough to Sydney that it’s accessible (we’ve been known to watch the last act on a Sunday and then catch the last train back) yet far enough away that you feel like you’re getting away from it all, the Blue Mountains Music Festival has the best of both worlds.

The first lineup for the 2014 festival was announced this week and as usual it’s the perfect combination of folk, roots, indie and world music from Australia and around the world. Heading up the festival will be Xavier Rudd (above), Ash Grunwald and Lior, who will be joined by the likes of Rory McLeod, Eleanor McEvoy, Hanggai, Blair Dunlop, Peter Rowan Band with Richard Greene, Rose Cousins, Eric Bogle, Jeff Lang, Slava & Leonard Grigoryan, Flap!, Sunas, The Woohoo Revue, The Pigs, The BordererS, The Tiger And Me, Jack Carty, Mustered Courage, George & Noriko, Hat Fitz & Cara, Dan Parsons, The Mae Trio and many many more.

Tickets for the festival are on sale now. For more information check out the official web site here. The full lineup so far is below:

Xavier Rudd, Ash Grunwald, Lior, The Good Lovelies, Rory McLeod, Eleanor McEvoy, Hanggai, Chipolatas, Blair Dunlop, Swamp Thing, Peter Rowan Band with Richard Greene, Rose Cousins, Eric Bogle, Jeff Lang, Slava & Leonard Grigoryan, Flap!, Roesy, Jesse Valach & Blues Mountain, Grace Barbe, Sunas, The Woohoo Revue, The Pigs, The BordererS, The Tiger And Me, Benny Walker, Jack Carty, Mustered Courage, George & Noriko, Hat Fitz & Cara, Dan Parsons, Equus, Circus Solarus, Allan Caswell, Rachael Brady, Snez, Andrea Soler, The Mae Trio, Cole And Van Dijk, Belle Jar, Wagana Dancers, Gregg Borschmann’s Heartland Conversations, Poets’ Breakfasts

Nexus Multicultural Arts Centre Launches Second World Music Season for 2013

The Woohoo Revue
Image Courtesy of The Woohoo Revue

The folks behind the Nexus Multicultural Arts Centre in Adelaide have just announced the program for their new season of live World Music kicking off at the end of September. Featuring music from the likes of The
Revue (above), Adam 
Page, The Hushes, Jeri Foreman and more.

The Nexus World Music Series takes place every Friday night at the Nexus Multicultural Arts Centre from the 27th September right through to the 1st November. For more information check out the official site here. The full lineup is below:

Beat the drum, drink the rum feat. The Woohoo Revue and Bortier Okoe
Friday 27th September – Nexus Multicultural Arts Centre, Adelaide, SA

2013 Nexus World Music Series Commission; Series II feat. Elyas Alavi (Poet), Chris Martin (Piano) and Derek Pascoe (Saxophone)
Friday 4th October – Nexus Multicultural Arts Centre, Adelaide, SA

Sounds of Aotearoa feat. Adam Page
Friday 11th October – Nexus Multicultural Arts Centre, Adelaide, SA

Kabul to Cordoba feat. Flamenco Areti presents La Guitarra Flamenca and Sufi Soul
Friday 18th October – Nexus Multicultural Arts Centre, Adelaide, SA

A puzzling new adventure feat. Monkey Puzzle Tree and Laura Rose
Friday 25th October – Nexus Multicultural Arts Centre, Adelaide, SA

Tales from the Appalachian Mountains feat. The Hushes and Jeri Foreman
Friday 1st November – Nexus Multicultural Arts Centre, Adelaide, SA

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 19th July


This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– Sydney alt-country troubadour Boy Outside has revealed details of his debut self-titled EP. Details here

– Brisbane local Vancouver Sleep Clinic has a new Bon Iver inspired single “Vapour” that we’re really digging. Details here

JamGrass have added The Morrisons and The Rusty Spring Syncopators to their Sydney showcase next month. Details here

– The Kangaroo Valley Folk Festival revealed their 2013 lineup including Alanna & Alicia Egan, Andrew Clermont, Chaika, Fig Jam, Jack Carty, Julia & the Deep Sea Sirens, Loren Kate, Mal Webb, Penelope Swales, Phil Garland, Stiff Gins, Totally Gourdgeous and many many more. Details here

Bears With Guns released their new EP Only the Quick and the Hungry yesterday and have a new video for the track “Wandering Soldier”. Details here

Gemini Downs combine folk music and marriage equality in their catchy new video “Will You Marry Me?”. Details here

– Adelaide’s The Timbers will be releasing their new single “Gallantry” at the start of next month along with a residency at The Grace Emily Hotel. Details here

– Gypsy party band The Woohoo Revue have announced a massive 22 date tour starting next week. Details here

The Tiger & Me are heading out on the road to celebrate the release of their new single “Jack Middle of the Broken Heart”. Details here

– Australian songwriting legend John Williamson releases his best of album A Hell Of A Career today. Details here

Little Features in Sydney announced their July lineup including Son of Sun, Chris Neto, Dominic Youdan, Charlie Gradon and headlined by Emma Beau. Details here


“What defines me most is songs that have an honest, raw truth from what I feel and think through my songs. There’s no real intention to go out and try and capture one thing, it’s all about whatever feels right at the time. And that was the mantra for this album – if it feels right then that’s what it is” – Wes Carr from Buffalo Tales talks to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

Releases This Week

Bears With Guns
Only the Quick and the HungryBears With Guns

Elephant Eyes
Elephant EyesElephant Eyes

John Williamson
A Hell Of A CareerJohn Williamson

I'm a Bird
I’m A BirdSam Buckingham
Official Store

Timber and Steel Presents

Buffalo Tales
Buffalo Tales
Friday 19th July – The Elsternwick Hotel, Elwood, VIC
Saturday 20th July – Ferntree Gully Hotel, Ferntree Gully, VIC
Sunday 21st July – The Workers Club, Melbourne, VIC

Official Site

Pierce Brothers
The Pierce Brothers w/ Five Mile Town
Sunday 21st July – The Workers Club, Melbourne, VIC
Tickets on the Door

Gigs Next Week

Alison Avron
Saturday 20th July – The Newsagency, Sydney, NSW

Bears With Guns
Friday 19th July – The Railway Hotel, Parkes, NSW
Monday 22nd July – The Phoenix, Canberra, ACT
Thursday 25th July – Brighton Up Bar, Sydney, NSW

Tuesday 23rd July – The Corner, Melbourne, VIC
Wednesday 24th July – Oxford Arts Factory, Sydney, NSW

Folk Club feat. OXBLVD, All Our Exes Live In Texas, Breaking Hart Benton
Wednesday 24th July – The Soda Factory, Sydney, NSW

Fraser A Gorman w/ Tim Neilson (The Death Rattles)
Wednesday 24th July – The Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC

Grizzly Jim Lawrie
Thursday 25th July – The Toff In Town, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 26th July – The Newsagency, Sydney, NSW

Isaac Graham
Friday 19th July – Yours And Owls, Wollongong, NSW
Friday 26th July – The Bunker, Coogee, NSW

Laura Marling
Monday 22nd July – St Stephen’s Uniting Church, Sydney NSW
Tuesday 23rd July – St Stephen’s Uniting Church, Sydney NSW
Wednesday 24th July – St Stephen’s Uniting Church, Sydney NSW
Thursday 25th July – Flinders Street Baptist Church, Adelaide SA
Friday 26th July – St Joseph’s Church, Perth WA

Paul Kelly
Tuesday 23rd July – Civic Theatre, Cairns, QLD
Wednesday 24th July – Civic Theatre, Townsville, QLD
Friday 26th July – Pilbeam Theatre, Rockhampton, QLD

Sam Brittain
Saturday 20th July – Wesley Anne, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 21st July – Secret House Gig, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 26th July – The Wheatsheaf, Adealaide, SA

Sam Buckingham
Sunday 21st July – The Bird, Northbridge, WA

Sarah Blasko
Monday 22nd July – The Playhouse, Canberra, ACT
Tuesday 23rd July – Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Penrith, NSW
Wednesday 24th July – City Hall, Newcastle, NSW

Splendour in the Grass
Friday 26th to Sunday 28th July – North Byron Parklands, Byron Bay, NSW

Sweet Jean
Friday 19th July – Singing Gallery, McLaren, SA
Saturday 20th July – Barossa Regional Gallery, Tanunda, SA
Sunday 21st July – Wheatsheaf Hotel, Adelaide, SA

The Tiger & Me
Thursday 25th July – The Basement, Sydney, NSW
Friday 26th July – Blue Beat, Sydney, NSW

The Woohoo Revue
Friday 26th July – The Hot Club, Blackheath, NSW

Thelma Plum
Thursday 25th July – Grace Emily, Adelaide, SA
Friday 26th July – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC

Friday 19th July – The Hi Fi, Melbourne, VIC

Friday Folk Flashback

“Three Drunken Maidens” – Planxty

I’ve probably posted this song as a FFF before but I just listened to this version from 1973 and just had to repost. Love this song – both to listen to it and to sing it!

The Woohoo Revue Announce Massive 22 Date Tour

WooHoo Revue
Image Courtesy of The Woohoo Revue

Balkan-gypsy-party band The Woohoo Revue are about to hit the road for a massive 22 date tour around the country this July, August and September. The Pure Decadence will dip into every State and Territory and promises to give fans a glimpse of some of the new material The Woohoo Revue have been cooking up for a new album in 2014. Check out the full list of dates below:

Friday 26th July – The Hot Club, Blackheath, NSW
Saturday 27th July – Small Ballroom, Newcastle, NSW
Thursday 1st August – White Eagle Polish Club, Turner, ACT
Friday 2nd August – White Eagle Polish Club, Turner, ACT
Saturday 3rd August – Murrah Hall, Bermagui, NSW
Friday 9th August – The Sol Bar, Maroochydore, QLD
Saturday 10th August – The Joynt, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 16th August – Mojo’s Bar, Fremantle, WA
Saturday 17th August – Prince of Wales, Bunburry, WA
Sunday 18th August – Clancy’s Fish Pub, Dunsborough, WA
Saturday 24th August – The Brisbane Hotel, Hobart, TAS
Sunday 25th August – Brookfield Vineyard, Margate, TAS
Friday 30th August – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 31st August – Theatre Royal, Castlemaine, VIC
Friday 6th September – Venue 505, Surry Hills, NSW
Saturday 7th September – City Diggers, Wollongong, NSW
Friday 13th September – Alice Springs Desert Festival, Alice Springs, NT
Saturday 14th September – The Railway Club, Darwin, NT
Saturday 21st September – Escape Arts Festival, South Coast, NSW
Friday 27th September – Nexus Arts Centre, Adelaide, SA
Saturday 28th September – The Loft, Warrnambool, VIC

The National Folk Festival Announces Three Irish Icons

Andy Irvine
Image Courtesy of Andy Irvine

In the last couple of weeks the National Folk Festival has confirmed it will be hosting three icons of the Irish folk scene at this years event: Paul Brady, Andy Irvine (above) and Finbar Furey.

Irvine and Brady are well known as collaborators, particularly on their self titled 1976 album, and while they are appearing at the National as solo artists you never know what might happen if you wish hard enough.

Finbar Furey will be making his first solo appearance at the National Folk Festival this year. The All Ireland Uillean pipe and whistle champion, singer-songwriter, banjo player and guitarist has stepped out from fronting the Furey Brothers for the last 30 years and is currently pursuing a solo career.

Also added to the lineup yesterday were world/gypsy/party band The Woohoo Revue and Irish trio Southbound. The National Folk Festival is held over Easter from the 28th March to 1st of April. For more information check out the official site here.

The Illawarra Folk Festival Announces 2013 Lineup

Illawarra Folk Festival
Image Courtesy of Illawarra Folk Festival

One of our favourite regional folk festivals is the Illawarra Folk Festival in Bulli, NSW which is to be held again from the 17th to 20th January 2013. This week the Illawarra Folk Festival released its 2013 lineup featuring over 150 artists from Australia and across the globe – and we’re pretty impressed.

Our pick of the lineup includes Gregory Page, Nancy Kerr & James Fagan, Rory Mcleod, Christine Anu, Jeff Lang, Barry Skipsey, Big Erle, Cj Shaw & The Blow Ins, Lime & Steel, Mal Webb, Fred Smith & Liz Frencham, The Lurkers, Handsome Young Strangers, The Go Set, The Woohoo Revue, The Simpson Three, Mustered Courage and so many more. The full 2013 lineup can be found here.

For more information on the festival including ticket prices and the annual “Music Train” to get you to the festival from Sydney check out the official web site here.

Kangaroo Valley Folk Festival Unveils First 2012 Artists

The WooHoo Revue
Image Courtesy of The WooHoo Revue

October may still feel like a long way away but that doesn’t mean we’re not excited about the first artists announced for this year’s Kangaroo Valley Folk Festival. Held from the 19th to the 21st October in Kangaroo Valley, NSW (naturally) the folk festival has a reputation for having one of the most beautifully natural settings of any event of its type.

So far just five artists have been announced for the Kangaroo Valley Folk Festival but if this is a taste of what’s to come then we’re very excited. The confirmed acts include twin sisters Alanna & Alicia, the legendary Danny Spooner, the medicinal folk of Doctor Stovepipe, Le Vent du Nord with their wonderful take on French Canadian traditions and the ever amazing Woohoo Revue (above).

For more information on the Kangaroo Valley Folk Festival including earlybird tickets make sure you check out their official website.

Illawarra Folk Festival Announces 2012 Program

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

While the summer months see some of the nation’s biggest festivals strut their stuff it’s the little regional folk festivals that really shine in our books. One of our favourite regional festivals roles around every January – The Illawarra Folk Festival in Bulli just north of Wollongong, NSW.

Being within spitting distance of both Sydney and Canberra the Illawarra Folk Festival manages to attract some amazing national and international talent and is set in one of the most beautiful parts of the country. The 2012 festival will be held from the 12th to the 15th January and boasts a program featuring the likes of Dougie Maclean, George Kamikawa & Noriko Tadano, The Beez, Andrew Winton, Cj Shaw, Evelyn’s Secret, Get Folked, Jack Flash, Lucy Wise & The B’Gollies, Margaret & Bob Fagan, Martin Pearson, The Quarry Mountain Dead Rats (above), Skipping Girl Vinegar, The Bearded Gypsy Band, The String Contingent, The Woohoo Revue, Big Erle & the Limb Looseners, Jane Aubourg and of course Wongawilli.

The program for the event has just been released and is available on the official Illawarra Folk Festival web site – which is also where you can get the full lineup and all the information on how to get tickets. Looks like our January is planned then.

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