Review:Riverboats Music Festival

Brian Nankervis-7
Photos by Stuart Bucknell Photography

Here at Timber and Steel, we’ve been to a fair few festivals. From huge national events, to small and intimate gatherings celebrating local. For quite some time, The Riverboats Music Festival on the Victorian border has been on our radar, and 2020 was the year we made the trek.

We are used to Folk Festivals being set on gorgeous land with camping facilities and asense of remoteness. The Riverboats Music Festival however is nestled in the center of bustling Echuca in a natural reserve come ampitheatre. With modern accommodations surrounding the venue, a strong local supporter base, and performer curation to die for, the festival clearly is on a winning ticket. See our full gallery on our Facebook page, and read on for our full review.

Welcome to Country-3

We were welcomed on Friday with the caress of the afternoon sun and a Welcome to Country that gave a great account of Yorta Yorta country and its history, delivering a friendly warm welcome in local language. The festival kicked off with the Americana stylings of charismatic Matt Joe Gow. He wowed the crowd with an assortment of pieces, changing pace and rhythm to mix things up, sliding some blues in and telling great stories and tales of how songs came to life between. Amongst his tales, the truth behind Break Rattle and Roll lit up the crowd as the favourite track echoed across the space. A perfect opening to a weekend of great music.


Dyson Stringer Cloher-11

Next was a delight, surprise, and treat wrapped in one – Dyson Stringer Cloher, the trio made up of Jen Cloher, Mia Dyson, and Liz Stringer. Dusting off their 2013 collaboration project, and bringing recent debut album to life on stage, the exceptional trio were a vision in technicolour. In fact, if The Wiggles were an all female indie band, this would be it. Their clever multi-layered vocals complimented the inspired guitar, creating rich captivating aural textures. Their beautiful harmonies reflected the beauty of the setting sunbeams shining through the leafy green glen. Sultry harmony soaked ballads slipped innocently between upbeat indie fun times, and the stage was set for the night.

To round out the opening night of the three-day festival, Country star Troy Cassar-Daley made his own dreams come true, finally taking to the Riverboats stage. He was at once friendly, yet charismatic, filling the stage with his presence. The set revolved around his storytelling prowess, drawing upon his family heritage to weave musical magic. He played both instrument and audience perfectly, switching from country to blues, kicking up in to higher gears, bringing the tone back down with harmonica trills, and the audience singing along.Troy Cassar-Daley-2

Saturday morning brought a number of options for festival goers – the morning was full of sideshows on the water, with one-hour riverboat cruises. But the main gates and festival tunes kicked off in the early afternoon with delightfully insightful Ainslie Wills. Performing as a 3 piece, the clear, scintillating harmonized duet reached out grabbed attention. Storytelling intertwined with her own musical style uncovered tricky relationships past, fear of missing out, and treated the crowd finishing with Triple J hit favourite I Blame Society.

Hailing from Go-Betweens fame, Robert Forster’s presence on stage filled the ampitheatre with an indisputable warmth. Working alongside talented musicians, the troubadour was revealed as tales tall or true build vivid imaginings whether a scandal or a flood, a secret rendezvous, the stories unraveled in front of a willing crowd, with a big  city dreams flowing.

Horns Of Leroy Feat. Thando-9Switching gears, the Horns of Leroy, featuring Thando turned the energy up to 11. With their own take on nostalgic track Dancing in the Moonlight, they serenaded the newly wed couple who chose the Festival as their wedding reception location! The party was truly started as combos of instrumentals, smooth vocal tracks, sassy blues, hit covers, hip hop and rap, soul, blues and more and big booming voices got the crowd up and grooving. They delivered a toe tapping, head nodding good time from start to finish. The clincher was the finish, a rendition of I Wanna Dance with Somebody, and the entire festival singing along word for word.

Mama Kin Spender-7

Two long-time friends made their festival debut together as Mama Kin Spender. Mama Kin, and Tommy Spender have a stripped back duo style that allows music to rattle, roll and tremble forth. They knew how to whip up a crowd, bringing a soulful opening, punctuated with clever harmonies and snippets of sass. Their spellbinding on stage rapport was elevated by the amazing 15 piece choir on stage throughout to bolster and support their music to deliver moving moody melodies alongside a playful, eclectic, inclusive and engaging repertoire of rejoicing in song.

As the night set in, Something for Kate took to the stage amongst rapturous applause. Opening with Electricity, it was an apt description as the crowd quickly swelling to see nostalgic favourites and Paul Dempsey in the lead did not disappoint. They kept the energy going, moving in to Echolalia much to everyone’s delight, and then delivering new album tracks that had the unmistakable, iconic sound and emotive edge we’ve come to know and love from Something for Kate. Using a haunting red stage lighting, Stop had the crowd enraptured, before rounding out their set with a rousing performance of Captain.

Something For Kate-15

As the night came closer to an end, the much anticipated performance of the night was finally here. Bernard Fanning took to the stage to huge applause and enthusiastic crowds waiting to sing the night away. He was in fine form, warm yet rugged, and a knowing look in his eye, ready to take us all on a journey. A robust musical tone, strong and vibrant, built an anticipation and eagerness as the musicians melded their prowess in to an all round satisfying and comforting blanket of music. Highlights of course included an emphatic Songbird, the set was a walk down memory lane as Day You Come, and Wish You Well particularly carried the crowd on a tide of good wishes.



Mama Kin Spender-16

Sunday morning saw the customary festival breakfast treat the crowds who snapped up tickets to see some of the festival acts do it all again in a more intimate setting offsite.

As the Festival proper kicked off late morning, the somewhat smaller crowd (perhaps some sore heads from the night before) gathered to appreciate the dulcet tones of Jess Locke. Her mellow tunes were a perfect, lilting, comforting way to wake up to the final day, her style not dissimilar to Julia Jacklin (appropriate given she toured with Jackiln), had an understated passion and vibrancy to enliven the day.

Bob Evans-7

Bob Evans received a very warm welcome from the crowd as he took to the stage, his set eagerly anticipated. His quintessential rapport with the audience, with nothing but his acoustic guitar and wit set his charisma filled set on fire. With backing from violin punctuating through the gum-scented air, the singalong was strong and a happy crowd lapped up every reminiscent note that hung in the air.

Australian music royalty took to the stage, filling the audience with reverence and anticipation. Archie Roach’s magical storytelling took the crowd on a journey through different times, both dreamtime and modern, with dreamlike qualities to transport the mind, heart and soul. A passionate and engaged crowd lapped up every moment, giving Roach attention and energy to uplift his voice. It’s no surprised his set ended to a standing ovation.

Kate Miller-Heidke-5As the sun started to shine through the trees, signaling the impending sunset, the final act of the festival, probably the most anticipated performance took to the stage. Kate Miller-Heidke, to rapturous applause took her place on stage and beamed just as brightly as the sunbeams soaking her in gold hues. A lively set full of energy to the biggest crowd really was the most magnificent end to a weekend full of mirth and joy. Miller-Heidke’s set was laced with all the big songs you wanted to hear, and her genuinely delightful demeanour and powerhouse performance had every set of eyes glued to the stage. Her set transitioned from slow and insightful to upbeat and poppy, adding a lively breath of fresh air to the ampitheatre and every attention was captured by her mesmerizing vocals. Zero Gravity was of course the finale and was every bit as breathtaking as the audience had hoped. A stellar performance that absolutely stole the show.

All in all, Riverboats Music Festival is probably the most comfortable festival to attend – accommodation is nearby, the venue is easy to navigate and facilities excellent. The curation of the line up ensures a great variety of complimentary acts. MC Brian Nankervis of RocKwiz fame kept acts rolling and entertainment between sets going – never have we seen so much dedication from a crowd to either quiz answers or a Frisbee competition.Brian Nankervis-3

With programming allowing late starts so festival goers can appreciate surrounding businesses is a great way to integrate the local community in to the whole weekend vibe, it’s like all of Echuca is the festival, not just the grounds. No doubt the 2021 line up is going to be just as great (but we won’t know what it looks like until 12 October), and the die hards with their chairs for the central ‘island’ will be there bright and early each day to secure their best position – so be sure to get your tickets early, make your way along to pick a spot, set yourself up for a full weekend of great music, no matter who is on stage.


First Artist Announcement for the Port Fairy Folk Festival 2018

Port Fairy
Image Courtesy of Port Fairy Folk Festival

With early bird tickets just about to go on sale for the 2018 Port Fairy Folk Festival, Victoria’s premiere folk even have just released a huge swathe of artists for first announcement.

Firstly the Port Fairy Folk Festival will be showcasing two very specical performances of Exile: Songs & Tales of Irish Australia featuring performances from Troy Cassar-Daley (AUS), Declan O’Rourke (IRE), Shane Howard (AUS), Pauline Scanlon (IRE), Andy Irvine (IRE), John Spillane (IRE), Leah Flanagan (AUS), Lynnelle Moran (AUS), John McSherry (IRE) and an eight piece band of traditional musicians.

Along with the artists announced as part of Exile: Songs & Tales of Irish Australia the Port Fairy Folk Festival has also added a bunch of other performers for 2018 including Alan Kelly Gang (IRE), The Band Who Knew Too Much, Chris While & Julie Matthews (UK), Gordie MacKeeman & His Rhythm Boys (CAN), Harry Manx (CAN), Nano Stern (Chile), Rebecca Barnard, Steve Poltz (USA), The Topp Twins (NZ), The Ahern Brothers, The Brothers Comatose (USA), Faith I Branko (Serbia/UK), Gina Williams & Guy Ghouse, Jack Broadbent (UK), Mental As Anything, The Mexicans, Sophie Koh & Her Lady Choir, The Teskey Brothers and YolanDa Brown (UK).

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to full Port Fairy lineup so expect a bunch more announcements over the coming months.

The Port Fairy Folk Festival is held in Port Fairy, Victoria from the 9th to the 12th March. For more information check out the official site here.

Bluesfest Ninth and Final 2014 Artist Announcement

Image Courtesy of Bluesfest

Yesterday Bluesfest dropped its ninth (yes, ninth) and final lineup for 2014 and it rounds out what’s shaping up to be a pretty special festival. The ninth lineup includes a couple of Australian country music legends – Troy Cassar-Daley and John Williamson – as well as a number of other very exciting artists. Check out the full announcement below:

Troy Cassar-Daley
John Williamson
Coronet Blue
Zane Carney
The Mastersons
Phil Manning
Round Mountain Girls
Claire Anne Taylor
Byron Bay High Schools
Glenn Skuthorpe
Chris Tamwoy
Jannawi Dancers
ACPA Dancers

Bluesfest will be held just north of Byron Bay from the 17th to the 21st of April 2014. Tickets to the festival are already on sale via the official site.

Win A Double Pass to A Day On The Green with Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson

A Day On The Green
Image Courtesy of A Day On The Green


The A Day On The Green concert series has built a reputation of staging wonderful events in the picture-perfect surrounds of wineries around the country. A Day On The Green provides music in a variety of genres from pop to rock to jazz and more and this November it’s time for country music’s best and brightest to have their turn.

On the 18th November Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson, John Williamson, Troy Cassar-Daley, Catherine Brit and Felicity Urquhart will be boot-scooting their way to Sirromet Wines, Mt Cotton, QLD just south east of Brisbane. General admission tickets start at $89 and the day will preogress as follows:

2.00pm Gates Open
2.30pm Felicity Urquhart
3.30pm Catherine Brit
4.40pm Troy Cassar-Daley
6.00pm John Williamson
7.20pm Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson

Timber and Steel is lucky enough to have one double pass (two general admission tickets) to give away to one of our readers for this fabulous day of country music. All you have to do is be the first to email through your full name and address to – as always first in first served.

For more information on A Day On The Green check out the official web site.


Thank Folk It’s Friday – 20th July


This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– The week kicked off with a 100th Birthday tribute to Woody Guthrie. Tributes and celebrations are planned all year – check out the Woody Guthrie 100 web site for more details.

– The original anti-folk heroine Regina Spektor announced a string of Australian tour dates this September. Details here.

Jinja Safari released the long awaited video for their single “Toothless Grin” on Friday evening featuring all sorts of budget effects and green-screen trickery. Details here.

– After weeks of speculation Mumford and Sons revealed that the title to their second album will indeed be Babel. The cover art and track listing was also revealed with the album hitting stores on the 21st September. Details here.

– And if you’re hanging out for new Mumford and Sons tunes you’d be wise to listen to the new track “The Brightest Lights” from King Charles which features the UK quartet. “The Brightest Lights” comes from King Charles’ new album Loveblood. Details here.

– Having just released his new album Broken Brights Angus Stone has announced a massive national tour in November. Details here.

Boy & Bear drummer and accomplished singer-songwriter Tim Hart has announced the details of his forthcoming solo album Milling the Wind including a gorgeous video for the first single “A Number of Us” and a national tour throughout September. Details here.

– Local record label Inertia are offering up “Ho Hey” by The Lumineers as a free download. We think you should realistically be buying the whole album – it’s fantastic. Details here.

– Syndey locals Billygoat and the Mongrels released their video for “Dance Like a Baby Deer” and, well, we’re still not sure what to think of it. Details here.

Jim Conway’s Big Wheel, Hat Fitz & Cara Robinson (above), Claude Hay, Eli Wolfe, Lyall Moloney and many amny more have been added to the lineup for the 2012 Sydney Blues and Roots Festival. Details here.

Laura Marling recorded a Tiny Desk Concert for NPR Music and in the process revealed a brand new track titled “Once”. Will this be on the new album she’s currently recording? Details here.

– The National Indigenous Music Awards revealed their finalists for 2012 including a lot of folk-leaning acts like Busby Masrou (above), Gurrumul Yunupingu, Black Arm Band, Warren H Williams and Troy Cassar-Daley. The winners will be announced on the 11th August. Details here.

– Brother-sister duo Dan and Hannah Acfield have announced a mini-tour of the East Coast kicking off tonight at The Loft on the Gold Coast. The tour is to help launch their gorgeous new single “After You”. Details here.

– We posted the 1950s inspired new video from Sydney artist Miss Little, titled “A Place Without Time”. Details here.

– A joint UK tour late last year between Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo and Frank Turner resulted in the wonderful duet “Fields of June”. A new 1920s silent movie inspired video for the track has just been released. Details here.

– One day I’ll make it to the Newport Folk Festival. In the meantime I’m grateful for the fact that NPR Music will be streaming concerts from the festival online again this year. Details here.

– After a string of bad luck folk legends The Felice Brothers have found themselves in dire financial straits. To help them get back on the road and back into the studio you can purchase their brand new, 20 track digital album God Bless You Amigo. Details here.

Missy Higgins stuns us again with her gorgeous new single and video “Everyone’s Waiting”. Details here.

– After sharing stills from the shoot for the last week Lachlan Bryan has finally released the video to his track “Lily of the Fields”. Lots of sexy girls with candy-skull makeup. Details here.

– 50 years after his self-titled debut Bob Dylan has announced the release of his 35th album Tempest. Details here.



“Hollywood is exactly what I wanted from The Falls – a recording that captures the pitch perfect harmonies and energy of their live performance and enhances it through solid production”The Falls, Hollywood. Review here

Releases This Week

Carry Me Back
Carry Me Back, Old Crow Medicine Show

God Bless You Amigo
God Bless You Amigo, The Felice Brothers
Official Site

Gigs Next Week

Ben Howard, Michael Kiwanuka, Tim Hart
Tuesday 24th July – The Factory Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Wednesday 25th July – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Breaking Hart Benton
Friday 20th July – Upfront Club, Maleny, QLD
Sunday 22nd July – St Elmo Sunday Social Club, Byron Bay, NSW
Tuesday 24th July – Old Bar, Melbourne, VIC

Communion Melbourne (The Tiger and Me, Liz Stringer, Sam Lawrence, Al Parkinson)
Sunday 22nd July – Toff in Town, Melbourne, VIC

Dan and Hannah Acfield
Friday 20th July – The Loft, Gold Coast, QLD
Saturday 21st July – Sol Bar, Maroochydore, QLD
Sunday 22nd July – Dowse Bar (Iceworks), Brisbane, QLD

Father John Misty
Friday 27th July – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney, NSW

Grievous Angel: The Legend of Gram Parsons (Jordie Lane, Clare Reynolds)
Friday 20th July – Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne, VIC

Jack Carty with Packwood
Sunday 22nd July – Betty Bar, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 26th July – Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

John Williamson
Friday 20th July – Belmont 16ft Sailing Club, Belmont, NSW
Saturday 21st July – Rooty Hill RSL Club, Rooty Hill, NSW

Lachlan Bryan
Sunday 22nd July – Hickinbotham Winery, Dromana, VIC

Missy Higgins
Fri 27th July – Mackay Entertainment Centre, Mackay, QLD

The Paper Kites
Friday 20th July – Alhambra Lounge, Brisbane, QLD

The Rescue Ships
Friday 20th July – 5 Church Street, Bellingen, NSW
Thursday 26th July – The Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane, QLD

Friday Folk Flashback

“Man” – Cherbourg

To celebrate the launch of Communion Melbourne this weekend we thought we’d bring you this classic track from Communion co-founder Kevin Jones’ old band Cherbourg (most of the members of which can now be found as part of Bear’s Den). If you’re in Melbourne makes sure you get down to The Toff In Town this Sunday.

National Indigenous Music Awards Finalists Revealed

Busby Marou
Image Courtesy of Busby Marou

The National Indigenous Music Awards Finalists were announced this morning with a bunch of folk-friendly acts making the grade. Busby Masrou (above), Gurrumul Yunupingu, Black Arm Band, Warren H Williams and Troy Cassar-Daley have all been recognised this year for the amazing music they have been producing along with a raft of other acts from a myriad of different genres.

The National Indigenous Music Award winners are set to be announced at a ceremony in Darwin on the 11th August. Check out the full list of finalists below:

NATIONAL Artist of the Year
The Black Arm Band
Gurrumul Yunupingu
Jessica Mauboy
Busby Marou
Troy Cassar-Daley

NATIONAL Album of the Year
Ngambala Wiji Li-Wunungu – Together We Are Strong – Shellie Morris and the Borroloola Songwomen
Winanjjara – Warren H Williams and the Warumungu Songmen
Foundations – The Medics
Busby Marou – Busby Marou
Home – Troy Cassar-Daley

NATIONAL New Talent of the Year
The Medics
Impossible Odds
Dewayne Everettsmith

NATIONAL Song of Year
“I Still Don’t Believe” – Busby Marou
“Song Of Arnhem Land”- East Journey
“Griffin” – The Medics
“Everything” – Impossible Odds
“Are We There Yet” – The Last Kinection
“It’s Like Love” – Dewayne Everettsmith
“Bayini” – Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu (with Sarah Blasko)
“Wangkaja” – John Bennett

NT Film clip of the Year
“Song of Arnhem Land” – East Journey
“Ngarrpiya” – East Journey
“Cultural Ways” – The Sandridge Band
“Wati”- Tjupi Band

G.R. Burarrawanga Memorial Award for significant achievement in the NT music industry
East Journey
Catherine Satour
Tjupi Band

NT Cover Art of Year
Bayini – Gurrumul Yunupingu & Sarah Blasko
Brolga Dreaming – The Sandridge Band
Guwak – East Journey

Song Peoples Session: Shellie Morris and the Borroloola Songwomen – Ngambala Wiji Li-Wunungu & Warren H Williams and the Warumungu Songmen – Winanjjara

“When I First Met Your Ma” Mother’s Day Compilation

Paul Kelly
Image Courtesy of Paul Kelly

A host of top notch Australian (and Kiwi) artists are contributing to a new compilation celebrating motherhood and inspiring women, available in time for Mother’s Day this year (on the 8th May). The compilation, entitled When I First Met Your Ma after the Paul Kelly song, will feature tracks from Timber and Steel favourites such as Julia Stone, Matt Walters, John Butler Trio, Gurrumul, Clare Bowditch, Troy Cassar-Daley, Matt Corby and of course Kelly himself.

When I First Met Your Ma is due for release on the 22nd April and features a mixture of covers and originals (some unique to this compilation). The full track listing is below:

Paul Kelly – “When I First Met Your Ma”
Oh Mercy – “With You”
Julia Stone – “Oh Baby”
Gin Wigmore – “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”
Washington – “Lightwell”
Gurrumul – “Djarrimiri”
Bertie Blackman – “Gold Dust Woman”
John Butler Trio – “Treat Yo Mama’ (live)”
Jenny Queen – “Early Freeze”
Matt Walters – “Mother & Child Reunion”
Katy Steele – “Newborn”
Andy Bull – “Mother Nature’s Son”
The Dead Leaves – “This Must Be the Place”
Clare Bowditch – “Lucky Life”
Troy Cassar-Daly – “Ladies In My Life”
Matt Corby – “Lighthome”

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