FESTIVAL & FOLK GATHERING REVIEWS
| Neurum Creek Music Festival 2013
| Mulgowie Washup 2013 |
NEURUM CREEK MUSIC FESTIVAL, SEPTEMBER 13 - 15, 2013
Review by Michael Whiticker
Neurum Creek is a small festival in the big scheme of things - with 1200 people attending, and that is the way the regulars would like it to stay. It is a perfect size for a folk festival with everyone camping within a minute or two of the stage and workshop sheds, and wandering from one campfire tune or song session to another late in the evening seems an acceptable thing to do, assuming one has the stamina required after a solid day's listening and playing. As festivals go, the facilities couldn't get better -- very clean and reasonably new, the food and coffee right up there with the best, and the setting is pretty well ideal with the most exquisite creek imaginable for bathing and walking within a stone's throw of the stage, and being about 75 minutes from the centre of Brisbane, is within a day excursion for most attendees.
What a pleasure and delight it was for me to attend my first NC, and with my usual passion for total involvement, assisted with the sound on the stage the weekend long and so got to enjoy at close hand every act on the program! With well over 100 performers it would be folly of me to list them all, and as the standard was extraordinarily high, remiss of me to list my favourites as few performers failed to lift their game to the standards being achieved. Here is the program: www.neurumcreekfestival.com/program/ - Do have a look. It was an impressive get together of a wide range of musicians crossing stylistic borders with ease -- traditional folk, celtic, a capella, gospel, world (Brazilian, Latin, flamenco, Cajun), bluegrass, country, blues, jazz was all there, and some in abundance to be savoured.
It'll be on again next year -- after 7 years Ange and Don aren't taking a break! Do yourself a favour and get on their mailing list, then hot foot it down to NC for whatever bonanza they'll have planned for us in 2014. I'll certainly be there!
MULGOWIE WASH UP 2013
Review by Mike Boggan
What a great weekend was had by all despite the inclement weather.
We celebrated 2 Birthdays over the weekend, Peter, a local, brought all his family along and the pub was packed on Friday night.
It was also Joan’s Woof's 70th Birthday so we celebrated that on Saturday. (ed: some of you will remember Joan from the 1970s. Now lives in the Nimbin area.)
It was a tad damp, but we never had a problem with the roads, the usual first Saturday market went ahead and many a nice cake was eaten by us.
We were down on numbers, but that was understandable with the weather, so, those of us who turned up had to take up the slack and give it everything we had. My finger tips are very sore from playing.
We almost evacuated the place on Saturday afternoon due to rising water, but decided to stay and wait it out. That was a good decision, and we had a blast on Saturday evening.
Wellie boots were the choice of footwear and crocs were not far behind. It was a pretty damp backyard so most of us parked out front except Michael Bourne, If this gets published I will know he got out. (ed: No effort at all. :)
Apart from the mostly light rain outside it was a fabulous weekend and many thanks to Simon (publican) who helped us make it a memorable weekend.
MAIDENWELL FOLK GATHERING (March 2013)
See the videos online
We enjoyed good weather at Maidenwell plus a great turn out; some people
traveled long distances, even crossing borders....
Maidenwell Folk Gathering event on Facebook web: Maidenwell event page
"Maidenwell Folk Gathering Group". web: Group FB Page
Links to the video producer's website
Also search Youtube for "Maidenwell Folk Gathering" videos.
GET DOWN TO ST JAMES INFOLKERY
Review by Juda Bacon
Wonderful night last night (8 August 2012) reconnecting with why it is so good to be a folkie; St James Infolkery is usually held on the Second Wednesday of the month in St James Church Rectory Hall in Toowoomba. Next: 12 September
About 30 people showed up to share a laid back evening of mostly singing with a few tunes sprinkled in like icing sugar. Besides the Toowoomba crew, we were blessed with two ring ins. Helen Rowe, what a warm and rich woman, whether it is her singing, her fiddling or her laughter, she is always a treat.
However, what really brought it home about how acoustically blessed that hall is, was the a cappella blackboard performance from Miguel Heatwole, visiting from Sydney. Nothing is like a cappella to test acoustics.
Each month numbers have increased, and each month has been different mostly because of who shows up. The format remains the same: For starters, a session, for mains, a blackboard, and for afters, another session. Predominantly there is folk on the menu with bluegrass and newgrass side dishes as well as country extras. All acoustic and all good!
If you fancy coming from further afield than the Darling Downs, there are plenty of people who have spare beds. Bring your voices, instruments, a plate, and for a gold coin, you too can get down to St James Infolkery.
Many thanks to Ryk Rostron and Alan Mackey for running a grassroots venue that recharges the folkie batteries.
St James Church Rectory Hall, 145 Mort Street, Toowoomba. (cnr Russell Street)
The good old blackboard (6 spots of 20 minutes), with acoustic, unplugged, warm and fuzzy ambience PLUS ... a friendly jam before and after the "blackboard", so make sure you come on down and join the fun. 7-10pm (doors open 6pm).
or ph: Ryk 0418 611446 or Alan 0422 467 108
2012: FOLK REDLANDS FESTIVAL INDIGI DAY OUT
Review by Julie Minto
June 2nd & 3rd 2012. Despite the weather being overcast spirits were still high and the rain held off except for a few light sprinkles. The blackboard was well populated both days. Kara Mia and Franke kicked proceedings off with a jazzy warm up set before heading off to do the first spot on the Garden Stage on Saturday. Ted Smith holidaying from Melbourne and also Sugar Cane Slim played some great fingerstyle guitar, as well as excellent original songs by Vicky MacDonald, Michael Dorman and Jules Makk. The Kindred Spirit belly dancers did street performances both days and were a splash of colour against the sometimes grey skies with their exotic costumes.
On Saturday Aussie songstress Rebecca Wright supported by equally talented Scottish husband Donald Mackay played a spellbinding set on the Garden Stage, while on the Kingfisher stage Evan Mathieson had the balcony crowd engaged with his rich voice and autoharp. On the Garden stage Balyana played some eclectic covers bluegrass style and The Bushwackers had the crowd singing along and smiles all round with the closing concert for Day one.
Stockade played as a duo on Saturday then came back to rock the Garden Stage with their full band line up and superb Australian original songs on the Sunday. Scottish born Gibb Todd told stories and sang folk songs with guitar and banjo, then did a workshop spot on The Kingfisher.
The Ragged Morris Dancers got people involved in their infectious dance with sticks. Mama Juju played a mix of jazz, blues and folk with the sun peaking through followed by the finale of the event - the very talented Vicky O’Keefe and band who had the crowd reminiscing and singing those wonderful rock ‘n roll songs made famous by her father Johnny O’Keefe.
Special thanks to the festival goers who braved unpredictable weather to come along and enjoy this annual community event held in celebration of World Environment Day. Thanks also to the Folk Redlands crew for the excellent sound on both stages and the BBQ making the event such a success in conjunction with the fabulous Indigiscapes team.
Review: NUMERALLA FOLK FESTIVAL 2012
Numeralla Folk Festival, The little festival with the big heart, was held over the Australia Day long weekend in January.
Review by Steve Case - singer-songwriter.
Stay up to date with Steve’s travels around Australia to gigs and festivals on his blog: www.waggatowherever.blogspot.com
The Festival is located at the junction of the Numeralla and Badja Rivers in the peaceful village of Numeralla, 22km east of Cooma in South Eastern NSW.
Although I didn't know anyone there, everyone whom I walked by had a ready-smile and a G'day to offer this lone traveller as I arrived mid-afternoon on the first day.
After a brief walk around the camp site, it was time to head off to the local Hall, a mere 5 minute walk from the camp site, for some dinner and dancing.
Being a budget-conscious traveller, one thing that immediately struck me about the Festival is that it's completely free and the food and drinks were at a very reasonable price with all profits going directly back into the community.
One of the major highlights of Folk Festivals for me are the camp fire jams at night. It's difficult to adequately describe the wonderful experience of being serenaded to sleep by people playing acoustic instruments and singing around a camp fire - there is simply nothing quite like it. The next day I woke up just in time for the Poet's Breakfast which was held at the Tennis Club.
A small group had already gathered by the time I arrived so I chose a seat and listened as folkies recited poems and had a yarn, laugh and cry about them.
After lunch, it was time to check out the waterholes and despite the trek to get there, it was well worth it. There was one little waterhole which I had all to myself and it felt great to wallow away the afternoon in the bright summer sun.
The night time activities were similar to the night before with bush dancing in the Hall. The next day (Saturday) there was another Poet's Breakfast held at the Tennis Club. There were some familiar faces from the day before but also some new ones who had just arrived to the Festival for the weekend.
In the afternoon, the famous Blackboard Concert was held in the Hall. I got to the blackboard too late to put my name down as there were already more than 20 performers chalked up so I had to content myself with taking a seat amongst the sizeable audience.
An entertaining afternoon was enjoyed by all with songs sung, poetry recited and much merriment had. It was especially good to see the younger ones get up and perform in front of a supportive audience.
The Festival survives by the hard work and generosity of its volunteers and tonight it was my turn to lend a hand. I volunteered on the barbecue which was run by the sprightly 81 year old Ken and his dedicated team of Mike and Ken's grandson Chris. It felt good to be able to give back to the Festival which had already given me so much.
Sunday morning was spent at the Markets held in and around the Hall. There was a variety of wares on offer including second hand books, various musical instruments, confectionery, organic meats, plants and flowers, trinkets and much more. After wandering around for a couple of hours I sat down for a little rest and over the course of an hour witnessed a fantastic bluegrass jam develop right before my eyes. That's the joys of a good folk festival – there are no pretences, airs or graces, just good people getting together to play some good music.
In the afternoon, I attended a bluegrass workshop and got chatting to a bloke who runs the official Australian Largerphone Website! I did not see that coming – how funny, and interesting!
Judging by the happy faces of everyone who attended, I think it's safe to say the Numeralla Folk Festival was a resounding success.
According to the Festival's website, they also managed to raise a record amount of money for the community. For a free festival this was a marvellous effort and all involved should be congratulated.
I will definitely be telling all my folkie friends and I hope to see you all at Numeralla again.
IMBIL ACOUSTIC MUSIC WEEKEND 2011
A review by Alison MacKenzie
The Imbil Acoustic Music Weekend, held at the Borumba Deer Park each November, has always been a highlight on the acoustic music calendar for me. The annual gathering was my first introduction to a picking weekend (thanks Snowy!) so it has a special place in my heart. It also always marks for me the beginning of summer and a terrific chance to relax in the lovely natural environment the park offers. Oh, and of course, to learn from and to play loads of music with old and new friends alike!
A big congratulations to Sue and Steve Treloar for organising yet another successful gathering; this year was Steve and Sue's fifth and final year as the organisers of this event and what a way to go out! The concert, in particular, on Saturday evening was an absolute treat. The standard of musicianship was superb; the variety of programming beautifully thought out and the sound quality in the venue was outstanding (well done to Mal Nebe and the hardworking support team). From 2012 the event's organising baton will be passed on to Brenda and John Withers, Lynne Dand and Geoff White and I'm sure I join many in wishing them all the best for the future. We'll look forward to their new energy and direction. The festival has now been going for 18 years (and counting!) and special thanks needs to also go out to the founding organisers, Julie and Jamie Witney, for their innovation in creating such a lovely weekend.
The workshops this year were diverse, fun and well attended by devotees and beginners alike, 'yodeling' by Karen Jackson proving a most ground-breaking idea! The poet's breakfast and unplugged blackboard concert were, as always, the perfect way to start a lazy, warm Sunday. And, the addition of a coffee, pizza and hot foods van was well appreciated by all.
Unfortunately the weekend did not end on the high note that it should have. There was confusion and dissent over the way the festival admin fee was collected by the venue from some attendees, and very sadly a ten o’clock curfew was enforced on the last evening, cutting short what should have been a terrific last night of jamming.
Hopefully the new organisers will be able to sort out these important issues with the venue owners so that there is no confusion and upset caused at future gatherings.
CONFESSIONS OF A SLACK PUNTER
by Maree Robertson
First, I have to admit, the August FolkRag Old & New Concert was the FIRST I've been to since it moved to Newstead. It was also my first musical outing of any kind in months (long story, broken ankle, broken mind, blah blah), but that was only a part excuse. The truth is, I hate going to new places, & it takes a lot for me to risk something I don't already KNOW to be comfortable, warm & safe. So, it was the driving motivation of stir-craziness that had me mass-texting my mates to take me out, ANYWHERE, which really got me there on August 20th (thanks Shez!).
From now on, I will try very hard to never miss it again. I love everything about the FolkRag, its history (herstory - Fiona & June Nichols), its refreshing lack of shiny advertising, & its sheer faithfulness in providing Brisbane folk with a reliably comprehensive guide to everything folk & beyond. I love being able to refer newcomers to it (& the brisfolk elist, thanks again Shez!).
These concerts are its lifeblood. The performers donate their time & energy, & a great team of people make it happen seamlessly, with the most welcoming, relaxed, friendly atmosphere you could hope for. At this venue, the Danish Association sell a delightful diversity of food at affordable prices, & the bar is quiet, respectful & well placed for discreet purchasing (not like most pubs who seem to ignore the MUSIC making).
So, I loved it before the music even started! & I kinda thought I'd heard most of it before, so I wasn't really expecting to be blown away, and yet I was, with each and every set, of wildly diverse genres of music.
I've seen Evan Mathieson play many times, but I felt like his 'stage presence' had softened, grounded, & blossomed (if you can imagine Evan 'blossoming' ;-). I especially loved his poignant setting of Harry Robertson's words about the abomination that was the Reform School & prison on Cockatoo Island. I thoroughly enjoyed every song, & had my first opportunity to 'sing along' in way too long, thanks Evan!
The next act was new to me, a fledgling combo, two thirds of The Switch, which features Alison St Ledger's amazing vocals, I can only imagine how impressive the trio must be, because the duo of Sallie Campbell & Dave McGuire was extraordinary. I kept being reminded of some of the world-class fiddlers & guitarists I've seen at the National, such new virtuosity was a great discovery! I'm not adept at identifying instrumental styles, time signatures etc (& Terry Jacob beside me was no help at all ;-), but it was all what I like best, 'quirky'. I shall follow them, and I expect that to be far.
Due to a scheduling juggle, the third act was the 'big band' of the night, Greshka. Their music was more obviously identifiable, in the pocket of the Klezmer/Balkan/East European mix that's been very popular with the 'young crowd' via Doch, Cat Empire etc. I LOVED the brass, there's nothing like a woman playing saxophone ;-) The clarinet playing was super, & it's the wonderful mark of the FolkRag's stretch that we get to hear such a spectrum of instruments being played (& kudos to Mark Smith, the volunteer sound engineer - the sound was uniformly great!).
The real serendipity of the juggled set-times was that the last act of the night was the most gentle of all, Christine Douglas & Mark Davidson as Martine. The 'story arc' style of this, which meant we were left with a beautiful, settling set of well chosen, story-filled songs, sung with open-hearted, genuine love… was for me, the perfect end to a truly gorgeous evening.
Thanks to Michael for his astute programming, and to the regular attendees, for keeping this series thriving! I do always make sure I DONATE an equal amount to the entry fee for every concert I've missed, & suggest that everyone who can't always make it, do the same.
My only disquiet is, at 47, why did I feel like I was the youngest person there, apart from the bands? I remember folk clubs where the age range was broad, but our next generation seem to not be 'audience' oriented, other than via the festival culture, is there some way to ensure we aren't the last generation of this 'revival'? Should we possibly ask one of the 'young ones' to organise their OWN concert events occasionally, & mentor them, so we have some generational handover of THOSE skills?
In the meantime, thanks be to The Folk Rag