Quebec Folk-Trad Group Les Poules à Colin Announce Australian Tour

Les Poules a Colin
Image Courtesy of Les Poules à Colin

You may have seen Quebec folk-trad group Les Poules à Colin popping up on a few festival lineups recently, and now it looks like we’re getting a national tour.

As well as spots on the lineups appearances at Cobargo Folk Festival, Port Fairy Folk Festival, Blue Mountains Folk Festival, Yackandandah Folk Festival, National Folk Festival and Fairbridge Folk Festival, Les Poules à Colin have a bunch of headline dates that will take them around the country.

Check out the full list of dates below:

Friday 24th to Sunday 26th February – Cobargo Folk Festival, Cobargo, NSW
Thursday 2nd March – Camelot Lounge, Sydney, NSW
Friday 3rd March – Masonic Hall, Lindisfarne TAS
Saturday 4th March – Broadmarsh Hall, Broadmarsh, TAS
Sunday 5th March – Longford Town Hall, Longford, TAS
Friday 10th to Monday 13th March – Port Fairy Folk Festival, Port Fairy, VIC
Friday 17th to Sunday 19th March – Blue Mountains Folk Festival, Katoomba, NSW
Friday 24th to Sunday 26th March – Yackandandah Folk Festival, Yackandandah, VIC
Friday 31st March – Illawarra Folk Club, Wollongong, NSW
Wednesday 5th April – Upper Landsdowne Memorial Hall, Upper Landsdowne, NSW
Thursday 6th April – House Concert, Newcastle, NSW
Saturday 8th April – New Farm Bowls Club, New Farm, QLD
Sunday 9th April – Nanango Shed, Nanago QLD
Thursday 13th to Monday 17th April – National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT
Thursday 20th April – South Coast Folk Club, Adelaide, SA
Friday 21st to Monday 24th April – Fairbridge Folk Festival, Fairbridge, WA

The East Pointers Announce Massive Australian Tour

The East Pointers
Image Courtesy of The East Pointers

Canadian trad trio The East Pointers were by far one of my favourite bands to visit Australia in 2015 and 2016 so I got understandably excited when they were announced for this year’s WOMADelaide festival.

But I didn’t get my hopes up for a tour off the back of the festival – in a lot of cases WOMADelaide likes to keep its international artists pretty exclusive. So when The East Pointers dropped a truck load of Australian tour dates I was blown away.

As well as WOMADelaide The East Pointers will be making their way to Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland throughout March and April. Check out the full list of dates plus their cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes” below:

Wednesday 1st March – Franklin Palais, Franklin, TAS
Thursday 2nd March – Founders Room, Salamanca Arts Centre, Hobart, TAS
Friday 3rd March – Chudleigh Hall, Chudleigh, TAS
Saturday 4th March – Mountain Mummam, Sheffield, TAS
Sunday 5th March – Dunalley Hall & Reserves, Dunalley, TAS
Wednesday 8th March – The Toff in Town, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 9th March – Geelong Workers Club, Geelong, VIC
Friday 10th to Monday 13th March – WOMADelaide, Adelaide, SA
Wednesday 22nd March – Thirroul Railway Heritage Centre, Thirroul, NSW
Thursday 23rd March – Camelot Lounge, Sydney, NSW
Friday 24th March – Unorthodox Church of Groove, Newcastle, NSW
Saturday 25th March – Wauchope Community Arts Hall, Wauchope, NSW
Sunday 26th March – Cedar Bar, Bellingen, NSW
Thursday 30th March – Bellevue Hotel: Townsville Folk and Acoustic Music Club, Townsville, QLD
Friday 31st March – Tanks Arts Centre, Cairns, QLD
Saturday 1st April – Sol Bar, Sunshine Coast, QLD
Thursday 6th April – Club Mullum (Mullumbimby Ex-Services Club), Mullumbimby, NSW
Friday 7th April – Eatonsville Hall, Eatonsville, NSW
Saturday 8th April – Old Museum, Brisbane, QLD
Sunday 9th April – BLEACH* Festival, Mudgeeraba Hall, Gold Coast, QLD
Thursday 27th April – Armitage Centre, Toowoomba, QLD
Friday 28th April to Monday 1st May – The Planting Festival, Woodford, QLD


Sharon Shannon Announces Australian Tour

Sharon Shannon
Image Courtesy of Sharon Shannon

Irish music legend Sharon Shannon has announced plans to return to Australia this January with a bunch of dates on the east coast. Shannon will be joined by Jim Murray, Sean Regan and Jack Maher – check out the full list of dates below:

Friday 6th January – Mick O’Malley’s Irish Pub, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 7th January – The Basement, Sydney, NSW
Friday 13th January – Caravan Music Club, Oakleigh, VIC
Saturday 14th January – Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 15th January – Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC

Jon Boden Releases First Solo Track “All Hang Down”

Jon Boden
Image Courtesy of Jon Boden

Folk singer Jon Boden, known as the frontman of Bellowhead and Spiers & Boden as well as the amazing A Folk Song A Day project, has finally ventured out on his first official solo project.

Boden has is about to embark on a massive solo tour of his native UK and has just released a video for the track “All Hang Down”. We have a feeling this is the beginning of a much bigger project so stay tuned for more news soon – in the meantime watch “All Hang Down” below:

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!

National Folk Festival Interview: Black Market Tune

Black Market Tune
Image Courtesy of Black Market Tune

Austro-Scottish trad band Black Market Tune return to Australia this month for The National Folk Festival after wowing croweds over the 2014/15 summer. We sat down with fiddle player and singer Paul Dangl to talk through the band’s influences and what Australian audiences can expect from the band this time around.

Gareth Hugh Evans: Black Market Tune draws on a lot of European influences but as you say yourself, the backbone of the band is Scottish. What is it about this music that attracts you?

Paul Dangl: I have a deep relationship with Scottish music, as I spent one year of my life in Glasgow, to absorb the music from its source. The music can be really gentle and smooth, when it comes to ballads but also really ferocious and rythmically driving in strathspeys or reels – I really like the broad spectrum of expression and energy when it comes to Scottish Music.

GHE: When you’re playing music with influences from around Europe what similarities do you see in the way the songs and tunes are constructed?

PD: I found lots of similarities between Austrian and Swedish songs and tunes, both traditions have those driving, fast 3/4 tunes – in Austria they’re called “Schleunige”, in Sweden polskas. Also you find waltzes and polkas all over The European Folk traditions. I find it really interesting to look for similar kind of melodies from different folk traditions, and to combine them.

GHE: You were in Australia just over a year ago for the Woodford Folk Festival – how did you find that experience? What’s brought you back?

PD: We had a great time at Woodford Folk Festival, it was really stunning to see so many types of music and styles of playing in one place called Woodfordia – I think that’s the thing that made it really special, and one reason why we came back – to meet so many musicians, for jamming, chatting and laughing and of course, exchanging music!

GHE: The lineup is a little different from the last time you were here – can you talk us through all of the players in Black Market Tune for the Australian tour?

PD: Box player Colin J Nicholson from Orkney and myself from Austria (fiddle & vocals) were here last year. This year we’re delighted to have Scots singer & fiddle player Lori Watson on board, as well as Graeme Armstrong on guitar. Both musicians hail from the Scottish Borders (South of Scotland), enriching the repertoire of Black Market Tune with great Scots and Borders songs and tunes.

GHE: You’re playing at The National Folk Festival as part of their 50th Anniversary. This festival is well known for it’s jamming and sessions – will we likely see Black Market Tune jamming in the session bar?

PD: Yes, as I mentioned before, the exchange of music is an important aspect of this journey, so it’s very likely you’ll spot some Black Market Tuners around the session bar at any time of the night!

GHE: After your Australian tour what’s next for Black Market Tune?

PD: In May the festival season starts in Europe, and we have a few festivals lined-up so far, among them a very special one where I’ve been founding member – it’s called Wackelstein Festival and it’s from 22nd to 24th of
July, 120km north of Vienna. Our next big project will be our second CD, which will be recorded in Fall 2016 and released on Galileo Records by the beginning of next year.

The upcoming dates for Black Market Tune’s Australian tour, including their shows at The National Folk Festival, are below:

Friday 18th to Sunday 20th March – Yacandandah Folk Festival, VIC
Monday 21st March – Kedron State High School Auditorium, Brisbane, QLD
Thursday 24th to Monday 28th March – National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT
– Friday 5pm – Marquee
– Saturday 12:50pm – Billy Moran Tent
– Saturday 2:20pm – The Terrace
– Sunday 9pm – Budawang
– Monday 10:30am – Budawang
Tuesday 29th March – Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, ACT
Wednesday 30th March – The Exchange Hotel, Sydney, NSW

St Patrick’s Day and Beyond at The Gaelic Club in Sydney

The Gaelic Club
Image Courtesy of The Gaelic Club

You may have heard the news that the annual St Patrick’s Day parade and family day in Sydney has been cancelled, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a celebration.

The Gaelic Club in Sydney has a week worth of events to help ring in St Patrick’s Day.

On the day itself, Thursday 17th March, local trad band Fresh Off The Boat will be playing tunes while you sip on a cold pint.

Friday 18th March will see the regular Gaelic Club Sessions take place along with workshops.

Timber and Steel favourites The Button Collective will be rocking The Gaelic Club on Saturday 19th March.

And then the celebrations wrap up on Sunday 20th March with a presentation of the film Older Than Ireland.

Sounds like it’s going to be a big week! For more information check out the official Gaelic Club Facebook page here.

Full Australian Dates for Black Market Tune

Black Market Tune
Image Courtesy of Black Market Tune

Last year Timber and Steel had the absolute pleasure of catching Austro-Scottish trad band Black Market Tune a couple of times while they were touring around the 2014/15 Woodford Folk Festival. It was amazing to see this young, European band inspired by the music of Scotland, the Brittish Isles and beyond.

Black Market Tune are back in the country from this week with a tour built around festival appearances at the Yackandandah Folk Festival, the Burke and Wills Folk Festival and The National Folk Festival. If you get a chance to see these guys do it – they’re amazing.

Check out the full list of dates below:

Friday 11th March – Pirates Tavern, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 12th to Monday 14th March – Bourke & Wills Folk Festival, Mia Mia, VIC
Thursday 17th March – Goldmines Hotel, Bendigo, VIC
Friday 18th to Sunday 20th March – Yacandandah Folk Festival, Yackandandah, VIC
Monday 21st – Kedron State High School Auditorium, Brisbane, QLD
Thursday 24th to Monday 28th March – National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT
Tuesday 29th March – Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, ACT
Wednesday 30th March – The Exchange Hotel, Sydney, NSW


Bellowhead Announce Live Album

Bellowhead
Image Courtesy of Bellowhead

With the folk-big-band project Bellowhead winding down with a couple of farewell tours in the UK it looks like we’re getting one final release from the band.

Bellowhead Live – The Farewell Tour is a live album featuring 29 tracks recorded in November 2015. The album will be released on the 8th April with the CD version of the release also coming with a DVD featuring the band’s full concert from Leicester’s De Montford Hall, 19th November 2015.

To get a taster of Bellowhead Live – The Farewell Tour check out Bellowhead’s new live video “Fine Sally” below:

Devil on the Rooftop Announce Sydney Shows

Devil on the Rooftop
Image Courtesy of Devil on the Rooftop

Devil on the Rooftop is the brand new project from local Sydney legends Jess Randall (The Crooked Fiddle Band), Morgan Haselden (Mimosa) and Elsen Price. Mashing together music from a diverse range of folk genres including gypsy, celtic, jazz and bluegrass, Devil on the Rooftop (previously known as Pheonix Pie) are producing a pretty unique sound.

The trio have two shows in Sydney coming up – tonight at the Playbar in Surry Hills and then on the 11th March supporting Jess Randall’s other band The Crooked Fiddle Band at The Red Rattler.

Check out the full dates below plus a live video of Devil on the Rooftop’s track “Lark in the Orange Blossom”:

Wednesday 24th February – Playbar, Sydney, NSW
Friday 11th March – The Red Rattler, Sydney, NSW

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