New Music Monday – 20th May

Kate Miller Heidke
Image Courtesy of Kate Miller-Heidke

Elephant Sessions – “Colours”

If you’ve managed to catch Scottish trad-fusion band Elephant Sessions on one of their trips to Australia, most recently for this year’s Bluesfest, you’ll know that you’re no doubt already a fan. The band released their sophomore album What Makes You last week and have also given us their latest single “Colours”, a driving instrumental which perfectly captures their unique sound.

Rumours are that Elephant Sessions will be returning to our shores in 2020 so keep an eye out for more news soon!

Harmony Byrne – “Smoke Inside”

“Smoke Inside”, the crunchy blues waltz from Australian singer-songwriter Harmony Byrne, is definitely worth a listen this week. The track is taken from Byrne’s upcoming album Heavy Doors and features her amazing voice alongside some really slick production.

“As a child I was told that I was a drama queen,” Harmony Byrne says of the track. “Initially, I mistook this as being a negative aspect of my personality and struggled to express myself. But thankfully, I was also taught to have self-worth, honesty, integrity, and that I only ever need be myself in a world full of frauds. “Smoke Inside” is all about valuing who you are, no matter how wild or tame, and that if someone you love doesn’t let you light up inside, then they are not the match for you.”

Kate Miller-Heidke – “Ernie”

If you’ve been devouring all the media surrounding Kate Miller-Heidke and the Eurovision Song Contest you may have caught her on the ABC’s Australian Story program last week. Which means you probably also heard her gorgeous new song “Ernie”.

The track, which is dedicated to Miller-Heidke’s son, is the singer-songwriter at her stripped back best. “Ernie” stands in stark contrast to the bombast of her Eurovision song “Zero Gravity” but the thread that ties the two together is just how intensely personal and vulnerable Kate Miller-Heidke’s songwriting can be.

Kaurna Cronin – “Gotta Get Outta This Place”

Singer-songwriter and Timber and Steel favourite Kaurna Cronin has just released his gorgeous new single “Gotta Get Outta This Place”. The track is the perfrect example of Cronin’s trademark emotive songwriting and also features a groove that definitely sucked me in.

“This song is one I’ve been wanting to write for a long time but had never really managed to get the tone quite right,” Kaurna Cronin explained. “It’s a song about internal battles of a sense of belonging and love for the idea of ‘ones home’ and the ongoing feeling of needing to get away from home to experience the unknown to be inspired by different places, people and ideas. It was important for me to try and capture the sense of passion and inspiration in ones home and not dismiss that – it’s about the conflict of urges that one can associate with not wanting to feel ‘comfort’ anymore.”

Cronin has managed to find some time this June for some Australian shows before he heads out on a national tour – the full list of dates are below:

Thursday 6th June – The Toff In Town, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 8th June – Low 302, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 14th June – Chateau Apollo, Adelaide, SA

Little May – “As Loving Should”

Having just released their new album Blame My Body, indie-pop duo Little May have treated us to their latest single “As Loving Should”. The folk and acoustic influences on Little May’s music are still very much a part of the sound of this new track and I’m loving the retro aesthetic of the video.

Missy Higgins – “Song For Sammy”

For Mother’s Day last week Missy Higgins released her beautiful new song “Song For Sammy”. Written for her son Sammy, the ukulele driven track is classic Missy Higgins, stripped back to basics and lyrically driven. Beautiful stuff.

Neil & Liam Finn – “Meet Me In The Air”

Father-son duo Neil & Liam Finn have released the dreamy new single “Meet Me In The Air”. The video takes the family band vibe even further feating appearances from Sharon Finn and Elroy Finn and was shot after soundcheck at a show in London. If you’re after some transcendent pop music today this could be your jam.

Simon Imrei – “Stand Still”

Melbourne based Americana singer-songwriter Simon Imrei has just released the new single from EP due later this year, the very catchy “Stand Still”. I’m particularly loving the subtle pedal steel spread throughout this track and I can definitely see it making its way onto a bunch of driving playlists with its laidback grove.

Elephant Sessions Announce Australian Tour Dates

Elephant Sessions
Image Courtesy of Elephant Sessions

Scottish indie-trad five piece band Elephant Sessions are heading our way for festival season and they’ve just announced a bunch of headline shows while they’re in the country.

Known for the high energy shows and ability to blend traditional and modern indie-folk sounds, Elephant Sessions are gearing up to be one of the most talked about bands at this year’s folk festivals.

Having already been announced for WOMADelaide, Blue Mountains Music Festival, Yackandandah Folk Festival, Bluesfest and The National Folk Festival, Elephant Sessions have a raft of other dates around the country – check out the full list of shows and their new video “Doofer” below:

Thursday 8th to Sunday 11th March – WOMADelaide, Adelaide, SA
Wednesday 14th March – The Heritage, Bulli, NSW
Thursday 15th March – Stag and Hunter, Newcastle, NSW
Friday 16th to Sunday 18th March – Blue Mountains Music Festival, Katoomba, NSW
Wednesday 21st March – Brass Monkey, Cronulla, NSW
Thursday 22nd March – Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 23rd to Sunday 25th March – Yackandandah Folk Festival, Yackandandah, VIC
Wednesday 28th March – The Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 29th to Friday 30th March – Bluesfest, Byron Bay, NSW
Saturday 31st March to Monday 2nd April – National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT

Review: Falls Festival Byron Bay, Part 1 – The Grove

Photos by Stuart Bucknell Photography

The Falls Festival is an annual institution for many, with people waiting with baited breath to see if they land a coveted ticket. Most of what we see is all about the Main Stage acts and tight scheduling to see all your favourites, or to toss up who the best act to see at Midnight in the 31st will be (for the record, we had Flume and he was most excellent).

But one of the things we’ve always noticed and made mention of is the other performance areas, often known as The Village in Lorne and Marion Bay, and The Grove in Byron Bay. So what happens when you deviate away from the main stages and check out the other options? You discover a trove of delightful, folky acts!

Here’s a selection of some of the great local acts we caught at the other Falls stages in The Grove, at the Cafe de Rude, and Lola’s Bar.

Let’s start with the Singer/Songwriters.

First on our radar was singer/songwriter Reilly Fitzalan. An unassuming and modest chap who shares intimate thoughts with the small crowd. The venue, a small cafe in the Grove surrounded by a Peep Show, a Japanese Cocktail Bar, and Lola’s Bar (another stage), has to battle with the neighbouring music which is disappointing but to be expected.

Unperturbed, Fitzalan introduced himself and moved straight in to a ballad. Lovely affected vocals layered over the acoustic guitar, not dissimilar to a young Xavier Rudd. He introduces a new song, about his Dad (“a little bit”) which had a solid construction and lyrics over a subtle and subdued guitar. Fitzalan gave us short tracks without any pretentious attitude. His versatility was on show as he switched to a lower register vocal alongside sentimental plucky opening that sounds simultaneously familiar and new. A truly intimate and private moment, shared with a hushed crowd.

Next, we fortuitously heard about Damien Cooper. He was walking from his campsite to The Grove singing and our friends followed him like the Pied Piper of Hamlin to the Cafe stage, we joined them and weren’t disappointed! Cooper had a laid back air, perfect for the suffocating heat of Byron Falls. His songs were straight from life, like his track inspired by his brother, who he loves but also pisses him off, appropriately named “Love You Anyway”. Strummy and sentimental, with a stomp box for emphasis, we couldn’t help but smile at a quintessential lyric, “Sometimes I get what I deserve, sometimes you just get on my nerves”.

“Pale Blue Dot” was a curious song about how insignificant we are in the grand scheme of things, complete with a beach indie pop vibe and Cooper beatboxing in the instrumental! At 24yrs old, Cooper is more thoughtful than his years. His track “Patience”, about knowing the right time to act, had tones of a travel or journey song with strong, driven vocals, supported by stripped back acoustic to focus on the tale. A troubadour in the making.

We trekked to the cafe on the final day to catch Maisy Taylor and arrived in the middle of her beautiful rendition of “Can’t Help Falling in Love” followed swiftly by her enchanting vocals on “Sink or Swim”, her flowing melody not at odds with the drenching rain outside.

Knowing how to please a crowd, Taylor gave a fun, folky cover of “Blame it on the Boogie” in all its Acoustic glory, which become a songalong in the intimate enclosure of the cafe. Taylor took a moment to thank her Dad for introducing her to the music of Tristan Pettyman before launching in to his “In Bloom”. To finish we were treated with a strummy upbeat performance of “Little Birdy” – the epitome of happiness on a grey day, with mischievous tones on lilting notes.

While there were solid singer/ songwriters at The Grove, we can’t ignore the bands and groups who also squeezed on to tiny stages over the three days.

Over at Lola’s Bar, we came across 3-piece cum 4-piece, Banksia. Amongst the splendour of couches set both on stage and off for musician and listener alike to recline on, funky percussion and electric guitar with delicious vocals trickling over the chords, along with beautiful vocals in an indie singer/songwriter style was a welcome change from the maelstrom of Falls Festival humidity and crowds. They introduced their newest band member on what seemed to be almost every kind of instrument from keys and synth, to vocals and sax! Their diverse tastes were on display, first with their track “Vulnerable”, a light, lilting tune with a Kate Miller Heidke like vocal quality, haunting yet sweet and comforting, then moving in to another tune, a lackadaisical ballad with a bop to it

 

The Button Collective must be one of the hardest working bands on any festival line up. At Falls Byron they played multiple times, sometimes twice in one day! They squeezed on to the tiny Cafe de Rude stage, and ran rampant on the Lola’s Bar stage. In a tight formation on the Cafe stage, their plucky bluegrass merriment oozed joy, clustered around one mic, reminiscent of scenes in O Brother, Where Art Thou?. Whether on a stage large, or small, every player had their part, from the flautist trilling gayly, to the cheeky violinists, or the plucky banjo player and the boisterous lead guitarist. They brought everything, from sea shanties with an Aussie twang, to trad pieces and original larrikin works. As a tight group, they rolled with the punches, whether a broken guitar string and shake up to the set list to facilitate a restring, or pouring rain, suffocating humidity, or just plain fitting in to the rough and tumble of the Falls line up. Whether more subdued than usual and cramped on a tiny stage, or rollicking with more space on Lola’s stage, they’re a thoroughly entertaining act not to be missed!

And our pick of the Falls Festival Byron Bay programming at The Grove was Ben Wilson – performing as a 3 piece act that had us hooked from from the first strum of a string. Between them, the outfit sported double bass, violin, acoustic guitar and harmonica, plus their fabulous harmonised vocals, crowded round a very vintage microphone, managing to capture their tunes before the breeze could. Their sweet lilting sound competed with the boisterous Lola’s Bar next door, but the trio were unperturbed. Wilson’s folk felt like it had a dash of country and a splash of old time style to keep things moving. Pitched on the tiny Cafe de Rude stage, it was like watching a delicate dance for them to all manoeuvre around the one mic that delivered such a sweet and true voice. Their harmonies were terrific, and they hit their stride in spite of challenging neighbours. Buddy Holly’s “Peggy Sue Got Married” was a true testament to Wilson’s love of 50s & 60s pop writing and a burning desire for some hearty folk, rolling along with an almost honky tonk sensibility. Choosing in difficult conditions to switch to trad covers for a bit of fun, we were treated to an upbeat gritty rendition of “Hesitation Blues”, a plucky and cheeky “Old Black Dog” and a delightful rendition of “Strawberry Fields”. To finish an entrancing set, Wilson and co finished with an original, “Big River” complete with beautiful a Capella refrains to end. Bonus props to Ben Wilson et al for also featuring in The Button Collective, we’re not sure if they actually stopped playing at all over the 3 days!

Check out our Photo Gallery on Facebook for more photos, and stay tuned for Part 2 of our Falls Festival Byron Bay Review, coming soon!

Darol Anger and the Republic of Strings’ Australian Tour Dates

Darol Anger
Image Courtesy of Darol Anger and the Republic of Strings

Legendary American fiddler Darol Anger and his collective The Republic of Strings have just hit the country and is about to head out on tour starting in Brisbane and then heading down through New South Wales.

Anger’s Republic of Strings for the tour will be made up of Tristan Clarridge, Emy Phelps and Monique Clare. Check out the full list of dates below:

Sunday 7th January – Magda Community Arts Hall, Brisbane, QLD
Monday 8th January – Barkersvale Little Big Top, Barkersvale, NSW
Wednesday 10th January – Dorrigo Theatre, Dorrigo, NSW
Thursday 11th January – Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW
Friday 12th January – Araluen Hall, Araluen, NSW

Breaking Trad Announce Australian Tour Dates

Breaking Trad
Image Courtesy of Breaking Trad

Irish trad three piece Breaking Trad – made up of Dónal Murphy (accordion), Niall Murphy (fiddle) and Mike Galvin (Guitar/Vocals) – will be teaming with renowned singer and bodhran player Gino Lupari for an Australian tour this January.

Breaking Trad will be touring off the back of an appearance at the Woodford Folk Festival with a bunch of dates up and down the East Coast, finishing up at next year’s Illawarra Folk Festival.

Check out the full list of dates below:

Friday 29th December to Monday 1st January – Woodford Folk Festival, Woodford, QLD
Tuesday 2nd January – The Rails, Byron Bay, NSW
Thursday 4th January – Mullumbimby Ex Services Club, Mullumbimby, NSW
Friday 5th January – Mick O’Malleys Irish Pub, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 6th January – Leadbelly,  Sydney, NSW
Sunday 7th January – The Black Malabar, Newcastle, NSW
Thursday 11th January – Yuin Folk Club, Cobargo, NSW
Friday 12th January – Heyfield, VIC
Saturday 13th January – The Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 14th January – Hotel Nicholas, Beechworth, VIC
Monday 15th January – Tathra Hotel, Tathra,  NSW
Friday 19th to Sunday 21st January – Illawarra Folk Festival, Bulli,  NSW

The East Pointers Announce Full Australian Tour Dates

The East Pointers
Image Courtesy of The East Pointers

Canadian trio The East Pointers have finally announced the full dates for their upcoming Australian tour.

Having already been announced for the Mullum Music Festival, Queenscliff Music Festival and the Woodford Folk Festival, The East Pointers have confirmed national tour dates throughout November, December and January.

The East Pointers have become firm favourites in Australia with a bunch of visits to our shores in recent years, and this time they’ll be bringing songs and tunes from their amazing new album What We Leave Behind.

Check out the full list of dates below:

Thursday 16th to Sunday 19th November – Mullum Music Festival, Mullumbimby, NSW
Thursday 23rd to Sunday 26th November – Queenscliff Music Festival, Queenscliff, VIC
Thursday 30th November – Caravan Music Club, Oakleigh, VIC
Sunday 3rd December – Toff in Town, Melbourne, VIC
Wednesday 6th December – Sepulchre, Hobart, TAS
Thursday 7th December – Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centre, Canberra, ACT
Friday 8th December – Theatre Royal, Castlemaine, VIC
Saturday 9th December – Metropole, Katoomba, NSW
Thursday 14th December – Jive, Adelaide, SA
Friday 15th December – Darwin Railway Club, Darwin, NT
Saturday 16th December – Albany Entertainment Centre, Albany, WA
Sunday 17th Dec – Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle, WA
Wednesday 27th December to Monday 1st January – Woodford Folk Festival, Woodford, QLD
Thursday 4th January – Sol Bar, Sunshine Coast, QLD
Friday 5th January – Old Museum, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 6th January – The Factory Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 7th January – Lizotte’s, Newcastle, NSW

Watch the New Willie Watson Video “Gallows Pole”

Willie Watson
Image Courtesy of Willie Watson

If you’re anything like me you’ve been listening to the new Willie Watson album Folksinger Vol. 2 on high rotation since it was released earlier in September.

So you’re also probably super excited that Watson has released the track “Gallows Pole” as a single with a brand new video.

“Francis Child called “Gallows Pole” “The Maid Freed From the Gallows”,” Willie Watson writes in the Folksinger Vol. 2 liner notes. “Lead Belly called it “Gallis Pole”, and I’ve also heard a version called “Lord Joshuay” from Bascom Lamar Lunsford. These are only a few of the countless versions of this popular ballad. Sometimes it’s a beautiful girl, sometimes a guilty son, and sometimes it’s the maiden’s father. In every case, Mom, Dad, sister and brother didn’t bring any money to buy the freedom of their condemned kin. They either think that death is deserved or they’re just too poor to afford it. Hanging on for dear life. Pleading for one last chance at buying redemption, and at last, true love proves itself. These things really happened long ago. Maybe you stole a silver cup, or maybe you slept with the wrong person. Times ain’t like they used to be.”

Check out the video for “Gallows Pole” below:

Details of the 2018 Stringmania Camp Finale

Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas
Image Courtesy of Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas

This October the Victorian town of Warburton will play host to the annual Stringmania traditional music camp.

Co-directed by Scottish fiddle legend Alasdair Fraser and local favourite Chris Stone (The String Contingent), Stringmania takes place from the 1st to the 8th October and features a who’s who of local and international tutors including Adam Sutherland, Shane Lestideau, Paddy Montgomery, George Vardakis, Natalie Haas, Monique Bartkowiak, Michael Bryan, Holly Downes, Davydd McDonald, Greg Sheehan, Kavisha Mazzella, Cheryl Davison and more.

If you’re a string player and you want to attend the rumour is there’s a still a few places left at the camp – check out the official site here.

At the end of the camp, on Saturday 7th October, Stringmania will be celebrating with a grand finale concert. Taking place at the Warburton East Public Hall, the finale concert will feature performances from all of the camp participants as well as all of the tutors. Proceeds from the concert will be donated to the Warburton and Reefton CFA.

For more information on the finale concert, including how to get your hands on tickets, check out the official Stringmania site here.

Listen to the New Double A Side from The East Pointers, “82 Fires / Tanglewood”

The East Pointers
Image Courtesy of The East Pointers

Canadian folk music trio The East Pointers have just released their brand new double A side single “82 Fires / Tanglewood”.

“While in Penguin, Tasmania we spoke with an older gentleman, a lifelong resident, who said that there were 82 wildfires currently on the loose in Tasmania, the most in over half a century. It hit home the severity of what we were all experiencing,” banjoist Koady Chaisson explained. “It was a restless few days for us. Small human decisions about where to live or whether or not the show would go on didn’t matter, Mother Nature would always have the final say. Being in the middle of that brings an immediacy about it, you can feel powerless.”

The tracks are taken from The East Pointers’ highly anticipated second album What We Leave Behind which is due on the 29th September. Take a listen to them both below:

The East Pointers are heading back to Australia for the Mullum Music Festival, Queenscliff Music Festival and the Woodford Folk Festival with headline dates still to be announced. The festivals dates are here:

Thursday 16th to Sunday 19th November – Mullum Music Festival, Mullumbimby, NSW
Thursday 23rd to Sunday 26th November – Queenscliff Music Festival, Queenscliff, VIC
Wednesday 27th December to Monday 1st January – Woodford Folk Festival, Woodford, QLD

Trouble in the Kitchen and Kate Burke & Ruth Hazleton Announce Rare Double Bill

Trouble in the Kitchen
Image Courtesy of Trouble in the Kitchen

It’s impossible to overstate the impact Trouble in the Kitchen and Kate Burke & Ruth Hazleton have had on traditional music scene in Australia.

Trouble in the Kitchen, made up of Ado Barker (fiddle), Ben Stephenson (flute, whistle, bodhran), Kate Burke (guitar) and Joe Ferguson (bouzouki), brought a fresh, exciting take to Irish trad tunes when they first emerged in the lat 90s. The four piece has since become the gold standard by which all other Australian Irish-trad groups have been compared.

At the same time as Trouble in the Kitchen was making waves at folk festivals around the country guitarist Kate Burke joined with Ruth Hazleton on their duo project, exploring and reinterpreting traditional songs from the British Isles and the United States (and the occasional contemporary or self penned song).

To celebrate both bands’ second decade in the folk scene they’re playing their first ever double bill on the 9th September at Open Studio. If anyone has been to Open Studio before you’ll know it’s a super intimate space so we recommend getting to this gig early to avoid disappointment. For more details check out the official Facebook event here.

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