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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When: 27 December 2018 – 1 Jan 2019

Where: Woodfordia, QLD

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

The Gum Ball Interview: Irish Mythen

Photo by Stuart Bucknell, taken for Timber and Steel at Bluesfest 2016

We fell in love and got all fan-girly over Irish Mythen when we met her at Bluesfest last year (and we’ll see her again at Bluesfest this year), so we’re really looking forward to seeing Irish at one of the most intimate festivals in Australia, The Gum Ball!

We caught up with Irish to see what she loves and what she’s looking forward too.

When did you first visit Australia and how did it make you feel? How do Australian audiences respond to your style of music? 

I actually first arrived in Australia in 2000! Went to Perth and never left until 2005. Had a ball and met the most amazing people. Never came to the east though so when I first started touring the east in 2015 it felt like the first time. It’s just such a bloody amazing country. The Australian audience is unlike any other. They get behind a new artist like their one of their own and I’ve been shown incredible support. They learn the songs, buy the merch, follow you to all the shows. Incredible stuff

How do Festivals like BluesFest compare to your experiences back home and overseas?

The calibre of artists at a festival like Bluesfest speaks for itself so that and Woodford are unlike any other in the world. You just have to go because words don’t do them justice. The other Aussie festivals I’ve played are a little different from the rest in that people feel a real connection with the festival…they take over the space and it’s their home for the day, weekend or week. They are all so well run and so many volunteers. You turn around and there’s someone there asking if you need anything. I love the way every artist at any level is treated like the headliner. On ya Straya!

 What’s your favourite kind of show to play, venue gigs or festivals?

Well they’re completely different animals but I think festivals would sneak it but only because I get to see so much music myself at festivals so I get to also GEEK OUT!

What’s your favourite thing about your previous visits to Australia and what are you looking forward to most this trip?

Food, people, wine, weather (even the rain), crowds. Answer number two see first answer 😉

Do you find there are customs, jokes or themes that don’t translate for Australian audiences? Or perhaps that really do resonate more than expected?

I think due to the amount of world travel that goes on there’s not much of a difference BUT I surprise some Aussie audiences when I throw in a Kath and Kim reference or The Twelfth Man …hahaha can’t get enough of his Richie Benaud

What are you looking forward to about performing at The Gum Ball?

Ah look just getting back there. I was there for their other festival, Dashville Skyline, and I mean ye can’t get a more beautiful setting truly. And the people who run it, volunteers etc well they are brilliant. I also met some real characters in the crowd who’ve promised they’re all coming back so hope to see them all!

Irish Mythen plays on Friday 21st April at The Gum Ball (Dashville, Belford, Hunter Valley NSW).

Tickets are available to buy online.

Irish Mythen’s remaining tour dates are below:

Friday 7th April – The Heritage, Bulli, NSW
Saturday 8th April – Revamp The Amp, Kuranda, QLD
Thursday 13th to Monday 17th April – Bluesfest, Byron Bay, NSW
Friday 21st April – The Gum Ball Festival, Dashville, NSW

The Woodford Files 2014-15: Volunteer Party

Woodford
Image Courtesy of Woodford Folk Festival

2014-15 is only my fourth trip to Woodfordia, so there are others who are 25 visits ahead of me.

The first three festivals I attended as a volunteer, and like my introduction into the world wide weird of folk merely two years previously, I could not have made a better choice than to join the ranks of vollys, as they/we are affectionately known.

Woodford Volly Camping

Woodford Volly Camping

 

I have very little if anything to compare with the frissons of excitement I had as a wide-eyed young 41 year old, reduced by an event to a gibbering little schoolboy.

(Except when on stage; always a professional behind the microphone, of course!)

I was in a trippy paradise of heaven. Everything was new, everything was bigger and more colourful, more musical, more stunning, than anything else I’d encountered in music and art to that date.

Sorry, Bayern State Opera, but Woodford takes the strudel!

(It even proved to be a sorting hat for me, because my partner at the time came with me (to her first Woodford). In stark contrast, she whinged and whined and moaned and griped and complained. It was too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, too expensive, too cheap, too too too much. I put her at an arm’s distance, revelled in my then very patchy mobile phone reception, and on 31 December when she texted me to say she’d gone home to mother near Chermside, I punched the air, danced a jig, yodelled from the Hilltop, and dived right back into the festival. A week later we were over for good and she ended up marrying the sound guy. Good luck to them both!)

I left home several days before the festival started and made a savage hook turn trip from Canberra down to Bodalla then later from Moruya to north Brisbane in one Christmas Day non-stop haul. Google maps informs me that’s about 1450kms on the black-top. Another 74kms to the front gate of Woodfordia, in near carpark conditions on the Bruce Highway. Travel north from Brisbane to the festival on Boxing Day at your own peril.

The taste of service station sausage rolls still lingers to this day. Nothing on the highway of any higher gastronomic fare was on offer in 2007, apart from days old sandwiches in those hideous plastic containers that look like they’d been washed and glazed for display.

But as I left my then Canberra base, with one foot out the door, the phone rang and it was then MC Convenor, now Queensland Folk Federation president Rose Broe, telling me who I had on my rota to MC for.

Tripod, Sarah Blasko, Ernie Dingo, Eric Bogle (twice). And John Schumann (twice). I was going to walk out on stage and introduce my absolute god of music of 25 years plus standing.

Gulp.

“Rose?”

“Yes, Bill?”

“I’m a little bit excited now.”

“Yeah, thought you might be!”

Coopers Bar

 

It was wonderful. Pure magic. I was even asked to mentor the wonderfully talented, but new to MC-ing, Ange Takats. After watching one MC performance (Spooky Men’s Chorale), I told her simply this: “I have nothing to teach you. You’re a natural.”

And she is. Because (as I’ve written extensively elsewhere), she went on stage and was herself. Natural. No artifice.

Woodford

Woodford volunteering is usually In tents

 

Mixing with the vollys, gathering in the then (and still) just on the adequate side of adequate Volly Centre, where you got to recreate scenes from The Good Earth by traipsing through mud to get there!

Did we care? Not a jot. It was fun, it was wet, it was wild.

I came back the next two years running, and lapped up every second. Volunteering is THE best intro to a festival, especially for the slightly or very out-of-pocket, and definitely for the sole traveller.

At my second Woodford, I met the guys from the Tokyo Bar and made friends and compadres for life. After a five year break, it was a sheer delight to be co-located with them again, even though I went there on a media pass this year.

On the night of 2 January, when the punters have gone home, the musos have moved on to their sideshows and petrol money gigs, and the stalls are coming down, the last bar standing (this year, the Bazaar) pumps out slightly cheaper drinks, a couple of bands are roped in to get a little bit nutty and let everyone let their hair right down, and there’s something of a feeling of ‘get down and maybe not get up again’ in the air.

And there are speeches. Or really, just the one speech this time, with a miniscule intro.

You can hear my surprise on the tape, as I did not know that my former boss (of sorts) and mentor is Ms Prez now. You would only expect an MC wrangler to speak with credibility, authority and clarity.

Rose Broe knocked it out of the park. Even with a large furry animal half way down her ‘festival throat’.

If like me before Easter 2005, you’ve been sat back sucking the air in through your clenched teeth at festival ticket prices due to your current financial circumstances, have a good hard look at volunteering. We need our paying punters, but festivals would be nowhere without an army of volunteers, and they don’t come much better than at Woodfordia.

The Woodford Files: Moochers Inc.

The wonderful Woodford Folk Festival kicks off on the Sunshine Coast hinterland in a magical kingdom called Woodfordia on Saturday 27 December 2014, and ends in a fiery extravaganza on the evening of Thursday 1 January 2015.

If you’ve not experienced Woodford before, then don’t delay. There’s still time to kennel the cat, grab your significant other, and point the wagon train north to Caboolture* and peel off left. Or south to Palmview and peel off to the right past Beerwah.

Ok, I could keep going but you’ve probably got Google Maps too, so you can keep playing at home if you like.

This is the first in a series of interviews, vignettes**, features and story-ettes that will seek to entice you off the couch and away from the Boxing Day Test to a sport far more interactive (and you can get in on the cricket action with the Woodford XI).

OR if geographically, monetarily, fiscally-responsibly***, or familyscomeoverfromSweden-ly you’re not able to, you can pull up a bean bag, grab a bag of Smith’s Chips and a Passiona and tune in for a Christmas and New Year of music, song, dance, spoken word, art, community, and probably a shipload of rain and mud OR stinking heat and 40+ degree external saunas.

Me, I personally take Woodfordia in all its many-splendoured glories. If life sends you a baking sidewalk, cook eggs and bacon. (I was never into lemons or lemonade.)

First cab off the rank is a wonderfully fun, fast and very toight outfit from Canberra called Moochers Inc. As Rafe Morris says in the interview, they’re a band for dancing, singing and drinking with — during the show, and before and after if the mood takes you and them.

Warning: jazz students sitting in the first row trying to follow the complex chord progressions, you may have your view impeded by writhing, sweaty, beautiful young dancing bodies. Which can’t be a bad thing. I’d jump right in, if I were you.

I probably will.

Gig dates and times for The Moochers Inc. at Woodford:

Sunday 28 December, 5pm – Parlour
Tuesday 30 December, 5.30pm – Bluestown
Wednesday 31 December, 1.05am – Parlour
Thursday 1 January, 12 noon – Bluestown (Old Timey Concert)

 

* ‘North To Caboolture’ is the original song title until ‘Spud’ McGinty fell on hard times, actually did lose the bottom out of his tweeds, and sold the rights to the US where ‘Alaska’ was chosen as it scanned better.

** If you are trying one of our vignettes, I recommend the saucier’s favourite which is a white wine ‘Inclination’ fusion with Aldi’s finest $2.69 range. Actually, it’s just gone up to $2.79. Zut alors!

*** Inset your own devastatingly edgy political joke with a gratuitous GFC reference.

ENDS

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 24th October

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– The Woodford Folk Festival dropped its massive 2014 lineup including Violent Femmes (USA), The Cat Empire, Archie Roach, Nahko and Medicine for the People (USA), Jeff Lang, Lau (SCOT), Tiny Ruins (NZ), We Two Thieves, Shooglenifty (SCOT), Flap!, Husky, Lior, Mama Kin, Siskin River, Andrew Clermont, The Mae Trio, Fred Smith, Lucy Wise Trio, Oh Pep!, Betty & Oswald, The Company and so so so much more. Details here

The Staves released their latest video “Blood I Bled”. Details here

The National Folk Festival revealed its first six 2015 artists including Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas, Mark Moldre, Gordie MacKeeman and his Rhythm Boys, Fred Smith, Chloë and Jason Roweth and Dark Horses. Details here

– The Port Fairy Folk Festival have added Buffy Sainte-Marie and Richard Thompson to their 2015 lineup. Details here

– Another festival to reveal its lineup this week was the Illawarra Folk Festival who added to the likes of Afenginn, Eric Bogle, Ted Egan, Big Erle, The Bottlers, The BordererS, Chloë and Jason Roweth, Claude Hay, Cloudstreet, Fred Smith, The Go Set, Lime & Steel, The Lurkers, The Mae Trio, Margaret & Bob Fagan, Martin Pearson, The Morrisons, Sparrow-Folk, Stray Hens, Takadimi, Timothy James Bowen and many more to its 2015 program. Details here

Passenger released his brand new video “27”. Details here

– The new track from Caitlin Park, “Hunt for the Young” featuring Aidan Roberts (The Maple Trail) now has a brand new video. Details here

– Sydney indie-folk band Georgia Fair have announced a handful of shows for November. Details here

– UK based singer-songwriter Hattie Briggs released her new video “Share Your Heart”. Details here

– Perth’s Joel Barker gives us a laugh with his new video “Casual Batman”. Details here

– Blue Mountains roots trio Eddie Boyd and The Phatapillars have announced a massive national tour from next week. Details here

Lachlan Bryan and Harmony James have announced a joint tour this November. Details here

– The October edition of Little Features takes place tomorrow night and will feature The Bon Scotts, Ella Fence, Ollie Brown and more. Details here

The Wilson Pickers are reuniting for a series shows in Victoria this November. Details here

The Bearded Gypsy Band will be touring their new EP Leaving Town this November and December. Details here

Interviews

“I’m from a place called Lyttelton which is just outside of Christchurch. It’s a town of about 3,000 people but per capeta it’s got the most country music of any place I’ve ever been to. Inexplicably – I don’t know why there would be country music there. Before we had the earthquakes there were about six or seven really good venues in a town of 3,000. Now there’s two or three”Marlon Williams chats to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

Releases This Week

Eddie Berman
PolyhymniaEddie Berman
iTunes

Jep and Dep
Word Got OutJep and Dep
Bandcamp

Lanie Lane
Night ShadeLanie Lane
iTunes

Pepperjack
Buckles & BruisesPepperjack
iTunes

The Staves
Blood I BledThe Staves
iTunes

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Country & Inner Western feat. Shane Nicholson, Jenny Queen, Ruby Boots, Andy Golledge, The Morrisons

Country and Inner Western

The Country & Inner Western nights in Sydney have become legendary, with some of the countries best and brightest folk, alt-country and Americana artists getting together for one big jam session. This time around Shane Nicholson, Jenny Queen and Ruby Boots, Andy Golledge will take to the stage with local Sydney legends The Morrisons playing ad jamming throughout the night.

Wednesday 29th October – GoodGod Small Club, Sydney, NSW

Gigs Next Week

All Our Exes Live In Texas
Friday 24th October – Newtown Social Club, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 25th October – Katoomba RSL, Blue Mountains, NSW
Sunday 26th October – Front Gallery, Canberra, ACT

Buby Marou
Friday 24th October – Kidgeeridge Music Festival, Conjola, NSW (Full Band)
Saturday 25th October – Sydney Blues & Roots Festival, Windsor, NSW (Full Band)
Thursday 30th October – Byron Theatre, Byron Bay, NSW
Friday 31st October – Armidale Club, Armidale, NSW

Caitlin Park
Saturday 25th October – The Newtown Social Club, Sydney, NSW

Country & Inner Western feat. Shane Nicholson, Jenny Queen, Ruby Boots, Andy Golledge, The Morrisons
Wednesday 29th October – GoodGod Small Club, Sydney, NSW

C.W. Stoneking
Friday 31st October – The Hi-Fi, Brisbane, QLD

Dorrigo Folk & Bluegrass Festival
Friday 24th to Sunday 26th October – Dorrigo, NSW

Eddie Boyd and The Phatapillars
Thursday 30th October – Some Velvet Morning, Clifton Hill, VIC
Friday 31st October – The Crown and Sceptre, Adelaide, SA

Festival of Small Halls feat. Andy Brown, The Mae Trio
Friday 31st October – Isisford, QLD

Fred Smith
Saturday 25th October – Dorrigo Folk and Bluegrass Festival, Dorrigo, NSW

Jack Carty
Thursday 30th October – Babushka Lounge, Ballarat, VIC

JamGrass Music Festival
Friday 31st October to Sunday 2nd November – Thornbury Theatre, Melbourne, VIC

Jep and Dep
Friday 24th October – Birdhouse, Wagga Wagga, NSW
Saturday 25th October – The Retreat Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 31st October – Junk Bar, Brisbane, QLD

Katie Noonan, Angie Hart, Melody Pool, Sam Buckingham
Thursday 30th October – Artbar, Perth, WA

Lanie Lane
Wednesday 29th October – Corner Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 30th October – Newtown Social Club, Sydney, NSW
Friday 31st October – Anita’s, Wollongong, NSW

Little Features feat. The Bon Scotts, Ella Fence, Ollie Brown
Saturday 25th October – Hibernian House, Sydney, NSW

Liz Stringer
Friday 31st October – Basement Discs In Store, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 31st October – The Bridge Hotel, Castlemaine, VIC

Mark Moldre
Thursday 30th October – Quattro, Erina, NSW

Mark Wilkinson
Sunday 26th October – The Grand Poobah, Hobart, TAS
Friday 31st October – Heritage Hotel, Bulli, NSW

Missy Higgins
Saturday 25th October – AEC – Theatre, Adelaide, SA
Wednesday 29th October – Regent Theatre, Melbourne, VIC

Nikki Lane and The Delines with Ruby Boots
Friday 24th October – Meeniyan Town Hall, Meeniyan, VIC

Oh Pep!
Thursday 30th October – Yarra Hotel, Abbotsford, VIC

One Up, Two Down and Dan Parsons
Friday 24th October – The Junk Bar, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 25th to Sunday 26th October – Dorrigo Folk And Bluegrass Fest, NSW
Tuesday 28th October – Mother’s Milk, Coffs Harbour, NSW
Wednesday 29th October – Newcastle Uni, Newcastle, NSW
Thursday 30th October – Clarendon Guest House, Katoomba, NSW
Friday 31st October – Tanswells Hotel, Beechworth, VIC

Out on the Weekend
Sunday 26th October – The Brightside, Brisbane, QLD

Sahara Beck
Friday 24th October – The Jive, Adelaide, SA
Saturday 25th October – Babushka, Ballarat, VIC
Saturday 1st November – The Wesley Anne, Melbourne, VIC

Sam Newton
Friday 24th October – The Family Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Saturday 25th October – Belongil Treehouse, Byron Bay, NSW
Wednesday 29th October – The Lass O’Gowrie, Newcastle, NSW
Thursday 30th October – The Great Northern Hotel, Newcastle, NSW
Friday 31st October – Roundabout Inn, Gloucester, NSW

Steve Smyth
Sunday 26th October – The Wollombi Tavern, Wollombi, NSW
Friday 31st October – Newtown Social Club, Sydney, NSW

Sydney Blues and Roots Festival
Thursday 23rd to Sunday 26th October – Windsor, NSW

Tattletale Saints
Friday 31st October to Sunday 2nd November – JamGrass, Melbourne, VIC
Wednesday 5th November – Araluen Town Hall, Araluen, NSW
Thursday 6th November – The Front Gallery and Café, Canberra, ACT
Friday 7th November – The Newsagency, Sydney, NSW

The Acfields
Saturday 25th to Sunday 26th October – Tablelands Folk Festival, Atherton, QLD
Thursday 30th October – Cafe Le Monde, Noosa, QLD
Friday 31st October – Rainbow Beach Hotel, Rainbow Beach, QLD

The Gloaming
Saturday 25th October – Hamer Hall, Melbourne, NSW
Monday 27th October – Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW

The Perch Creek Family Jugband
Friday 24th October – The Substation, Newport, VIC
Saturday 25th October – Theatre Royal, Castlemaine, VIC

The Pierce Brothers
Friday 24th October – 170 Russell, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 25th October – Swagger Music Festival, Mountain View Hotel, Wandiligong, VIC
Friday 31st October – Railway Club, Darwin, NT

Friday Folk Flashback

“The Ballad of ’75” – Roaring Jack

There have been a lot of musical tributes to the late Gough Whitlam this week, many featuring “From Little Things Big Things Grow” from Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody and of course “Gough” by The Whitlams. I thought I’d add this Roaring Jack/Alistair Hulett classic to the mix. Maintain your rage and enthusiasm!

The Woodford Folk Festival Drops 2014 Lineup

Lau
Image Courtesy of Lau

There were a ton of folk festival announcements all over the weekend but the one that everyone is talking about is the 2014 Woodford Folk Festival lineup. The full musical program dropped yesterday with the usual mix of folk, roots, trad, singer-songwriter and I-don’t-know-why-they’re-at-a-folk-festival artists.

The lineup itself is too huge to list here (you can see it for yourself here) but the highlights include the likes of Violent Femmes (USA), The Cat Empire, Archie Roach, Nahko and Medicine for the People (USA), Jeff Lang, Lau (SCOT), Tiny Ruins (NZ), We Two Thieves, Shooglenifty (SCOT), Flap!, Husky, Lior, Mama Kin, Siskin River, Andrew Clermont, The Mae Trio, Fred Smith, Lucy Wise Trio, Oh Pep!, Betty & Oswald, The Company and so so so much more.

The Woodford Folk Festival takes place from the 27th December to the 1st January. For more information including how to get your hands on tickets check out the official site here.

The New Year Conundrum

Every year as the calendar days roll by, friends and family start asking the inevitable questions about what you are doing for Christmas and New Year. In the past, there has been a good range of folk friendly festivals stretching up and down the East Coast of Australia for eager punters to choose from, but with the demise of both Pyramid Rock Festival and Peats Ridge Festival, it shrinks the obvious choices down to Woodford Folk Festival and The Falls Festival (which has conveniently added a new venue/ location for the 2013/14 event).

But, what if you’re not after a big and busy festival for your New Year’s celebrations? Well, let’s take a look at what’s on offer, both the big guns and the ones you might not have come across yet.

Woodford Folk Festival – Woodford, QLD

Woodford Cart

Undeniably one of the largest festivals in Australia, it has been repeatedly nominated for all kinds of awards in the events and tourism industries and remains one of my favourite festivals of all time, even if only for a 35 hour experience, I’d love to go back (but sadly, not this year). Based on their own site (Woodfordia, about one hour north of Brisbane), The Queensland Folk Federation have delivered outstanding line ups year after year and offer a range of musical acts and arts activities for all ages making this festival easy for the whole family to attend. While this year’s line up hasn’t yet been announced, we would put money on it being another outstanding list of great musicians from around the world, a quick glance through the 2012/13 programme book will attest to that.

Tickets and camping are still available at pre-festival web prices up until Christmas Eve, or if you’re feeling the pinch, they are always looking for willing volunteers who gain free entry in return for their help before, during or after the festival. Highlights of Woodford, apart from the amazing line up (in which we would name almost ever artist we’ve covered on  Timber and Steel if we were to list past festival performers), includes the huge range of workshops, crafts and activities for all ages to participate in, the exciting range of food and stalls available on site, the breathtaking lantern parade and the penultimate fire event bringing in the New Year. Completely safe for the whole family with plenty for the young and young at heart, if you haven’t been to Woodford, it is probably the festival I would tell everyone to go to no matter what their musical leaning. Don’t believe me? Check out their latest promo video:

The Falls Festival – Lorne Vic, Marion Bay Tas and Byron Bay NSW

Falls Festival, Lorne, 2008, Music Festival

Now, before I get you all excited, tickets for two of the three sites have sold out, tickets are now only available for Marion Bay in Tasmania. So, for those of you already with tickets to Lorne or Byron Bay, I’m only going to be reaffirming your excellent choice in festival for the New Year period. I went along for the 2011/12 festival in Lorne Vic and discovered an experience I had not anticipated, it was so big it required multiple small reviews, no single post could encapsulate it all. 2013 is the first year they’ve expanded to Byron Bay (which has successfully hosted Splendor in the Grass and nearby is the home of Bluesfest) so there is no hesitation that a New Year’s festival will have any trouble in such esteemed company.

Just like Woodford, The Falls Festival is not just a music festival, it has a vast array of arts workshops and experiences to keep every punter engaged no matter their hangover or musical interests, from themed days and fiesta’s through to art attacks. For those thinking still and wondering about Marion Bay, we can confirm it is a kid friendly event meaning, like Woodford, the whole family can come along and enjoy the line up.

Speaking of line ups, since The Falls Festival is not exclusively a folk festival, it means the artists cover a range of styles but still features some of our favourites including Emma Louise, Gossling, Grizzly Bear, Neil Finn, The Cat Empire, The Paper Kites, The Preachers and a whole lot more that we’d love to check out live. For the full line up, visit the listing on their website.

If you’re heading to the Byron Bay site and haven’t decided whether to camp, glamp or swag it, all the accomodation options are available on the Falls Festival travel page including the incredibly groovy Tepee Life village (Tepee Life also available in Marion Bay).

And if the idea of heading to Tasmania isn’t immediately appealing, just pause for a moment to consider the great adventure you could embark on. Not only do you get to head to one of the most pristine and beautiful forest areas within Australia and see some of the best acts around (including voting by Oct 31 in the Foster A Band competition to choose a local band to grace the stage), you can also take advantage of the 29 December start date to have an adventure around Hobart and broader Tasmania before bringing in the New Year!

If you’re struggling to decide, or wish you’d got a ticket to Lorne or Byron Bay, don’t despair, there are a few more options including applying for an Art Camp at any of the three sites to create the artistic heart and soul of the festival, and includes a coveted ticket to the festival. If you’re not so artistically inclined, but don’t mind a bit of work, volunteer applications are still open for Marion Bay.

Now, I move out of my comfort zone to two festival’s I’ve never been to!

Gulgong Folk Festival – Gulgong NSW

Dancing Gulgong Folk Festival by Flickr member farmgrovePhoto courtesy of Flickr member farmgrove

Technically not actually a New Year’s festival, the Gulgong Festival (which Gareth enjoyed earlier this year) takes place over the weekend immediately prior, 28 and 29 December 2013, making it a good option for those who have to work those pesky week days between the public holidays – if you’re in NSW and can manage a drive out to Gulgong that is. However, it’s also a great option for people that want a folky fix AND their big city New Year’s party as you could manage both pretty easily. If a nice jaunt out to Mudgee isn’t tempting enough, what if I told you tickets were free? I kid you not.

There’s no obvious camping options unless you seek out a camping ground but their website does list a number of motels and accommodation options, and really who doesn’t like a trip out in to the countryside and a good B&B to see you through?

Again, their line up is not announced yet, but with past acts like Jack Carty, The Falls, Mustered Courage, April Maze, we’re pretty confident it will be an impressive selection. A little birdy has shared some inside information that Daniel Champagne, Melanie Horsnell, Alan Caswell, Big Erle and Matt Southon may well make appearances *nudge, nudge, wink, wink*

Nariel-Creek Folk Festival – Nariel Creek Vic

Vendulka performing at the Nariel-Creek Folk FestivalVendulka on stage. Photo courtesy of Nariel-Creek Folk Festival

A beaut little festival in regional Victoria (North East for those playing at home) which looks to be the kind of scale of The Gum Ball or Corinbank and equally delightful feel for all the family. They went simple in their online presence – a facebook page only, having pulled down their website earlier in the year. Tickets are cheap at $20 a head and available at the door, camping is an incredibly low $5/ night and you can turn up early and stay late if you really want. No idea who is on their bill, but in honesty, it just looks like an amazing and relaxed way to spend a New Year’s, especially if you want to avoid the crowds! Plus there is ample opportunity to dress up for the fun of it with plenty of great shots of their past New Year’s Even cocktail parties on their facebook page.

Gum Ball Crowd

An honourable mention goes to The Gum Ball, who last month put the call out online to see who might be inclined to turn up at their Dashville property for a New Year’s Gum Ball-esque event. Unfortunately they didn’t get enough interest to make anything happen this year, but if you’re keen to see a New Year festival in the Hunter Valley for future years, we think heading to the 2014 Gum Ball and making noises at the organisers might help them decide to go ahead in 2014.

So, where are you spending New Year’s? We’re still considering the conundrum ourselves!

Guide to Summer Festivals Part 1: Preparation

The Gum Ball 2011 Story and photos by KT Bell

Everyone’s excited about Christmas, but here at Timber and Steel we’re gearing up for a huge Summer Festival season, especially for the New Years period. There have been 4 main festivals lining up loads of Timber and Steel friendly acts to get excited about, namely Woodford Folk Festival in QLD (you may remember my 35 Hour Woodford experience from last year), Peats Ridge Festival in NSW and two VIC festivals on either side of Port Phillip Bay, Pyramid Rock Festival and The Falls Festival (also on in Marion Bay, TAS). We’ve managed to rustle up a couple of reviewers to give you the wrap up of some of these festivals in the New Year. But in preparation, let’s take a look at how to make the most of the New Years festival experience.

Our four festivals are all multi-day festivals set in lush settings away from the hustle and bustle of the city, leaving festival goers two accommodation options. 1. pay for a hotel away from the site and drive to and from the event every day (access to some festivals are limited on 31 Dec) and limit your experience ,which is no fun, or, 2. camp. Having camped through a number of different scenarios, here’s a short list of tips which will make your camping festival experience that much better. Peats Ridge offers some sustainable camping tips to check out before the festival too.

Bluesfest Saturday
Tent Options
Woodford offers Tent City which is a great option for those who need to travel light – a tent, bed, light and basics are supplied for an additional fee, you just need to buy tickets with camping and bring your own bedding (pillow, blankets etc).  Peats Ridge has begun offering Tepee camping in recycled Tepees with both 2 person and up to 4-6 person camping options and you even get to take your Teepee sleeping bags home with you.  Both are a stress free, easy way to experience a camping festival, with none of the effort of camping.

For all the other camping events, either take a tent you can stand up right in, or be prepared to spend very little time in your tent, most of which will be in a half sitting/ laying position.

Dealing with Mud and Rain
Proof I was there, in my gumboots. Given the very unseasonal start to Summer, it would be wise to steel yourself for the likelihood of rain and eventual mud. Lots of mud. Best things to do are to take gumboots, extra socks (thick socks deal with chaffing better) and why not think about a gel or wool inner sole for your gumboots while you’re at it – I can say from days dancing in boots at Peats Ridge 2009, your feet will be worn out before the end of the festival.

Take a poncho or rain coat – not umbrellas. Alternately take a couple of heavier hoodies, they’re also quite good at keeping the rain off, but they do soak through. If you’re at Woodford, I did pick up a beautiful waterproof parasol from a vendor who I believe goes regularly and it’s gotten me through a number of both sunny and rainy days since.

Take extra changes of clothes and some gear that you don’t care if it’s ruined by mud. If you are going to go sliding in the mud, whether in clothes or not (yes, another fun Peats Ridge image yet to be removed from my memory), make plans to get through the shower or dip in a creek before your favourite act hits the stage, otherwise you’ll be sweaty, tired and still muddy.

Best tip: Take a bucket, an old towel and/ or a bathmat – leave them outside your tent and use them as a door mat and to rinse off your feet before climbing in to your tent to avoid the mud spread through all your belongings. And make sure to take your gumboots off outside before entering, leave them outside or just inside the door.

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Hygiene
There are a couple of elements to the whole multi-day camping festival and keeping yourself clean. Showers are often hugely sought after at the usual peak times, mornings and early evenings. Mind you at both Peats Ridge and Woodford, I walked past the shower blocks very late at night (as late as 2am) and they were well in use. Plan your showering/ bathing times ahead, have a look at the timetable and see if you can pop back from a quick shower before the next act.

Alternately, if you’re tough, you could forgo the showers altogether – in some locations there’s rivers to have a nice dip in and keep yourself fresher, but you will need to wear something in, be decent people. Even if you take to bathing, take along some baby wipes or wet ones and give yourself a good wipe down all over at least once a day and apply deodorant liberally. You might be able to cope with no showering, but the people around you might not cope with your odour.

Toilets at most of these festivals have moved towards the sustainable compostable toilets. No flush toilets can be challenging, especially after a few days in to a festival. Firstly, learn how the toilets work – usually there’s a tub or pile of sawdust available. If you’re heading for number 1s, just go without sawdust, and you can pop some toilet paper in after you if you need. If you’re going number 2s, take a cup/ handful of sawdust to throw in after you’ve finished. If it’s a big number 2, well, take some back up sawdust. ALWAYS close the lid no matter what number you’ve been to so that insects are not attracted to the contents – no one wants to use a fly infested loo. If everyone uses them properly, these toilets can work very well. And boys, you’re always welcome to take to the bushes if that’s easier.

Supplies
Bluesfest Saturday Most festivals are no BYO and all would be No Glass – there’s nothing worse than some broken glass to ruin your day by slicing your foot, or worse, your butt, open. Some festivals have fire bans – check the FAQs for your festival and check what you can and can’t take in. If you can afford it, budget to buy your meals, it supports the vendors which in turn supports the festival and allows it to go ahead every year. The same goes with alcohol and festival bars, bringing your own alcohol might seem like a sneaky and clever idea but it jeopardises the festivals liquor licence and can have a detrimental effect on the bar provider which may lead them to choosing not to be involved in the future. Everyone likes to save a buck, but bars and food vendors are the life blood of funding for festivals and events, so spend with them to help your favourite festival continue year to year.

Check out your festival’s website for information about the dos and don’t’s at your festival and travel information. Also don’t forget to take some important items that are often forgotten including sunscreen, a hat, jumper/ warm clothes, a water bottle, toothbrush and paste. It’s a good idea to invest in some ear plugs, they cancel out much of the noise and volume but none of the music, you can even hear the lyrics plus they save your hearing. Having now attended a few festivals with ear plugs, they’re a staple in my stash.

Woodford has both an Eating at Woodford and a What to Bring section available from their home page.
Falls Festival has a What to Bring section which reminds punters to bring tickets. Believe it or not, I’ve seen it happen.

If all of that planning and packing seems like too much trouble, you could check out a new venture called Festival Kits which is an online service able to deliver a package to your at home before you depart which contains all the essentials, and they’re catering to all of our festivals and more.

Get In To It!
The Gum Ball 2011
Plan your festival, work out who you want to see, and read the bios of acts you’ve never heard of and check them out, you might find a brand new favourite you would have otherwise missed. Make a note of what non musical things you want to see like arts, workshops, talks and displays so you don’t forget to catch them. A number of the festivals have lantern and New Year parades complete with fancy dress or masquerade themes which you can get right in to the thick of helping create and perform. If you don’t want to be involved, at least make sure you have your camera handy for some amazing photo opportunities.

Bluesfest Saturday If you’re taking technological devices like phones and iPhones, why not download relevant information to your phone, or if you’re lucky, there will be an app for that. However, think twice about how you’re going to power and recharge your device – it’s a good idea to take a car charger with you and plan some time recharging. Also keep an eye out for recharge bars seen at many festivals which allow you to plug in to solar power and recharge your devices. However, you’ll need to stick around and wait for your device to charge as the people running it sure aren’t going to babysit your phone for you.

If you’ve got some time free, or you’re not really feeling the festival experience, try volunteering. All of these festivals rely on volunteers to make the magic happen and being involved in helping the festival run can be really rewarding. All of the volunteering programs have closed except for Woodford, however no matter which festival you’re at, if you’re bored, find the volunteer tent/ center and ask about volunteering. If you do enough hours, you might even get your ticket price refunded – but you will definitely have a unique experience of the festival.

Tickets are still available to all of these festivals, except the Lorne edition of The Falls Festival, however if you feel like crossing the ditch to Tassie, you can still get tickets to The Falls Festival at Marion Bay. Why not treat yourself to an early Christmas present and grab yourself a ticket if you haven’t already!

Plan and prepare now, and stay tuned for our next installment of our Guide to Summer Festivals.

Bluesfest Interview: Kim Churchill

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Kim Churchill on the Woodford Stage, photo and interview by KT Bell

Here at Timber and Steel, we’ve developed a bit of a crush on Kim Churchill and we’re always keen to see what’s next on his agenda. Since we caught him side of stage at Woodford, he’s flitted through the US and Europe, so we couldn’t resit the opportunity to catch up with him properly after his Bluesfest sets.

KT Bell: I’m sitting here, drinking Scotch with Kim Churchill, because that’s what you do on the last day of Bluesfest!
Kim Churchill: That is! The interview’s started well. [laughs]

KT: The last time we saw you was side of stage at Woodford and you were about to disappear off to Peats Ridge.
KC: Oh yes!
KT:You were doing that crazy 2 festivals in 2 days thing. And you’ve done 2 shows here at Bluesfest, how have they been?
KC: I guess probably what every artist would say after playing a set at Bluesfest is they’ve been amazing and that is kind of the only thing that a show at Bluesfest can be. It’s one of those festivals that has created over the course of 22 years or however long long they’ve been running, similar to Woodford, they’re the gigs you live for as a musician, they’re the ones that you play all the other shit gigs, not that there’s many shit gigs, but you work through whatever tough times we have, be them small tough times or large tough times, you work through those to get to the sets at Bluesfest and stuff like that.
KT: I’m glad you had lots of adoring fans to see you and the Mojo Stage must have been great.
KC: I don’t know if they were my adoring fans, but I stole a few off Dylan.

KT: Excellent! Now, you’re just back from touring overseas, Europe and America, how was all of that?
KC: Intense! For me, the transition between being an adolescent living out of the back of a van, busking and doing small pub gigs, the transition came a lot quicker than I thought it would. All of a sudden, we’re living out of hotel rooms and planes and the whole thing was pretty intense to be honest. I don’t look back on it with complete happiness and lovely nostalgic feelings, it was hard work. But, an amazing experience, one of the most amazing I ever had and we’ll be touring Canada and America and Europe for the rest of this year, so it’ll be a chance for me to find my comfort over there more than anything. Because, to this point, I’ve sort of, especially with no surf, it bloody hurts. Like, we got to LA and had a couple of days where the booking agent, he said we were gonna go surfing and it rained, and if it rains in LA, all the poo and crap comes out of the rivers and you can’t surf in the water because it’s too dirty. So we just had to watch these perfect waves breaking off Venice Beach boarwalk. But anyway, I mean, I’ve hardly got anything to complain about.

KT: You played South by SouthWest (SxSW), how was that?
KC: Yeah, no surf there! Kind of in general, I think ridiculously overwhelming to the point where I have very little to say about the whole experience [laughs].
KT: Lot’s of gigs in a few days?
KC: Oh yeah, the gigs, SxSW is, every gig is amazing. The whole vibe of the festival is kind of like “Who are we going to find? What are we going to stumble across?” So as an artist, who, your biggest goal is to be that person that somebody stumbles across. It’s a nice situation to be in because you’re kind of handed everything on a plate, and all you have to do is deliver and then there’s always going to be a couple of thousand people that are going to wander past your set wherever it might be and they will either stop and be intrigued or continue walking. So, in that sense, it was kind of easy, and fun for that reason. I would say playing a wedding 2 years ago was a lot harder. SxSW, at the end of the day, it was a lot of fun, I certainly wouldn’t tell anybody to go there to be ‘discovered’ because there’s 120,000 people and maybe 5,000 are good for doing something in terms of helping you break America and the odds are that they’re probably doing something terribly wrong on the 20th floor of a hotel at any given time. [laughs] But it’s a festival at the end of the day, so you see a lot of amazing bands and you have great gigs.

KT: How does the music and festival scene overseas differ or compare to Australia?
KC: It’s larger, definitely larger. It’s more intense, kind of you have to, I find with festivals in Australia, it’s quite easy to wake up early in the morning and go for a surf and have a bacon and egg roll at the surf club and there’s that kind of relaxed element that only Australia offers. Whereas, overseas, bam! 9 o’clock starts and there’s interviews and there’s breakfast and there’s coffee with this person and you’re in the middle of this city and there’s thousands of people watching shows and you’re watching shows with them. The whole thing is just more intense. At the same token, you get that kick from it, being at those kinds of festivals, you sort of get the kick out of masses of people and the animosity of the whole event. But I feel a lot less at home, naturally.

Kim Churchill on the Mojo Stage big screen at Bluesfest.
Photo Courtesy of Tao Jones

KT: So have you been writing much while you’ve been on the road, or have you just been too busy playing?
KC: No, the more busy I am, for some reason the more I write! As soon as I stop, and I have time to write songs, I can’t f*cking write one! [laughs] It’s a pain in the arse. So, say when we were touring in Europe, it was one of the most thick, dense periods of songwriting I’ve ever had. I feel like there’s so much new stuff to write and record now that I’m a bit lost as to where to go in the future with my music. I’ve been writing a lot of very heavy  stuff on electric guitar and stuff that would probably suit a band, and then lot’s of calm and pretty folk stuff that’s finger-picking on acoustic guitar, and then everything in between. So, writing a ridiculous amount of music and now just kind of trying to process how to find the best stuff from that and create an album that isn’t half a heavy metal album and half a folk album [laughs], something in between.
KT: So, Folk Metal?
KC: Folk Metal! Yeah!
KT: Kim Churchill shall master Folk Metal.
KC: [laughs] I like Folk Metal!

KT: When we spoke at Woodford, you said that you were on track for recording later this year, is that still  on the cards or is it pushed back a bit?
KC: Oh no, it’s been happening, we’re just waiting to pull the right things out. We did quite a bit of recording at Sun Records in Memphis, which was amazing! We got to record though the mike that Elvis sung through for the first time. And, that was amazing. We’ve recorded quite a bit in Byron and we recorded  in Canada as well. Just waiting to grab the songs in the right way I guess. It’s been quite a complicated process and it’s taken longer than I thought it would, to reach something that I want to release. Probably now there’s about twenty songs that we could release and we could put two albums out or two singles and an album, or two EPs and an album or something. But, it’s not right yet.  So, recording will continue until the stage where it’s right enough.

KT: At Timber and Steel, as you know, we spotlight artists who we see are coming up and we think we should support.
KC: You do an amazing job too, I’ve got the mailing list.
KT: Thank you. And we try and cover as much of the Australian scene as we can and I actually interviewed Ash Grunwald earlier this weekend and asked him one of the things we ask a lot of established artists, which is who to watch out for and who is coming through on the scene who we should follow, and he said instantly, without batting an eyelid, Kim Churchill.
KC: [laughs] He’s a legend
KT: And he did tell me that you toured with him, you supported him a few years ago
KC: Yeah man! you know what, I actually , I pushed that guy and he proved himself as an amazingly nice person. I was 18 or something and that was when I was trying to get a gig, at a wedding, busking at market, you know, whatever! And, I saw he was playing this venue about half an hour away that some acts used to tour through, and he could pull a big crowd there, sort of five or six hundred people. I begged him, I found his number personally, Ash Grunwald’s number and I called him and I said “please let me play’. And he did, and I’ve had the utmost respect for that guy since then, he’s an amazing person, so I’m quite honoured to be the person that he mentioned.
KT: He just had such great things to say about you, so I wanted to make sure you heard that one from me!
KC: Oh, good on him! Man, I saw a bunch of his music on a Hollywood movie, the other day.
KT: Yeah, he was saying, Limitless.
KC: Yeah, the amount of work that guy has done, and the element of old blues  he brings in to a very new sort of rock music style, he deserves everything he gets. He blows my mind, that guy.

KT: He’s one of the legends here this weekend, and you jumped up with Micahel Franti on Thursday, because you’ve been touring with Michael Franti, which must be amazing.
KC: It has been amazing!
KT: Jaunting back to Sydney in the middle of the weekend for gigs with him, that must have been a bit mind blowing. So with all these legends in Bluesfest, are there any musicians that you haven’t played with yet and you have an absolute burning desire to meet, play with, jam with, any of that?
KC: Oh man, there are so many names that I would want to say, and the first names I would want to say, this Bluesfest has given me the opportunity to see some of my favourite acts from previous tours and stuff, the Hussy Hicks, A French Butler Called Smith, The Mojo Bluesmen, Transvaal Diamond Syndicate, all those acts, they’re the acts you see at festivals all the time and you go “they should be playing the big festivals, they should be doing the big stages”, and that’s what Peter Noble [Bluesfest’s Creative Director] I think has nailed, as he gets everything from them to Dylan to Elvis Costello, to BB King to Wolfmother! Like, he gets it all. The act that I would most like to write, record, meet, everything with is Dylan, and it always will be, so that is my answer to the question is, Bob Dylan. Whether that will ever happen is something that we will wait to find out about and we shall see.

KT: Like I said, we ask who to listen too and people have said you, so I’m asking you who to listen to, who we should check out.
KC: Alright, at this festival, everybody should go check out Mavis Staples, she is brilliant, she blew my mind, Trombone Shorty, in the Australian scene, the Hussy Hicks, A French Butler Called Smith and the busking comp winner Minnie Marks, she plays guitar like nothing I’ve ever seen before, she sings like Janis Joplin, she’s 17 and she’s going to blow the world apart.

KT: Thank you so much for your time Kim, pleasure again, see you again soon. Thanks for the Scotch!
KC: Thank you, cheers. Oh, you’re welcome!

Spotlight On: Mardi Pannan

Image Courtesy of Mardi Pannan

One of the things I love about my day job is that I get to seek out and book acts of all genres. In focussing on the local area and using all manner of online resources, like Triple J Unearthed, I have found a vast array of acts that I can not only book, but also feature here on Timber and Steel. One such singer/ songwriter I discovered late last year is the delightful Mardi Pannan. Now, I’ve been keeping her all to myself and listening to her self titled EP, but now is the time to share her with you all in readiness for the launch of her new single “Tattooed” this Thursday.

Writing since she was 18, Mardi achieves a certain delicacy in her music, that balance of innocence, experience, pain and joy all in delightful packages of rich sound. It’s no wonder she’s been a Music Oz finalist twice and has won the Lighthouse songwriting award at the Port Fairy Folk Festival. With other festivals including Woodford, Falls and Tamworth Country Music Festival under her belt, it’s testament to the calibre of her music and style. Having seen her live, she is an unassuming performer who plays for the audience, clearly wanting to please them with the best set possible. Her career has taken a slower pace than most musicians try to push for, however, she has collected fans across her home town of Sydney and is now set to expand her fan base throughout Australia.

With her latest single “Tattooed” set for launch at El Rocco Room in Sydney’s Kings Cross tomorrow night (Thursday 12 May), we can only assume that her air play will begin to rise and many of you will be in the ‘I knew about her first’ category. Her soft and folky voice is an absolute pleasure and her EP is one of those recordings you just want to wrap yourself up in and have a cup of tea. With diverse themes to each track on her EP, you’ll find something for every mood, including a couple of nice summery numbers to while away the cold winter days.

Tickets are still available for her single launch tomorrow night, doors open at 8pm with support by Hello Vera and Caitlin Harnett, all for the princly sum of $10. Who said Sydney’s music scene is dead?

Country of origin: Australia (Sydney)
File Under: Alt-Folk, Pop-Folk, Acoustic
Sounds like: Julia Stone and Lisa Mitchell
Myspace: myspace.com/mardipannan
Official:
 mardipannan.com

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