Interview: Ann Vriend (Canada) 2015 Australian Tour, January 2015

Image courtesy of Ann Vriend
Image courtesy of Ann Vriend. Photo by Brad Gibbons.

Ann Vriend is always a popular visitor to Australia at about this time every year.

The contrasts between frozen Alberta, Canada and sizzling Australia are rarely more stark than in January/February. So Ann can hopefully leave the tissues and cough syrup behind, and look forward to sandy beaches, dazzling coral reefs, and the inside of a string of popular Australian venues on her ‘For The People In The Mean Time’ tour.

On an afternoon when frying eggs on the pavement in rural Queensland was definitely an option, Bill Quinn spoke with Ann from her sick bed in Edmonton, as she was putting the final touches on her tour, and readying to hop on a plane the following week.

It was a baking hot day in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast hinterland, and the only place to get a half-decent phone signal was from the front deck at Maleny Hotel, battling the sound spill from rumbling trucks and other traffic on the main road through town.

*** Audio file will be removed be the end of March 2020 ***

*** Audio file will be removed be the end of March 2020 ***

AV2
Image courtesy of Ann Vriend

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The Woodford Files 2014-15: Goodbye, Farewell and Amen (for 347 days…), January 2015

Woven Cloud. Image courtesy of Woodford Folk Festival.
Woven Cloud. Image courtesy of Woodford Folk Festival.

“I always judge a festival by its program. If a festival can’t attract big name acts, it’s not much good and I’m not much interested.”

I listened to my host as they spelt out their assessment criteria of whether a festival is deserving of attention.

Without much in the way of any comment from me. Certainly no critique or counterpoint.

I’f I’m living temporarily under someone else’s roof, I listen and nod a lot. Even if I have strong opinions to the contrary, it usually takes a team of wild horses to extract them.

Here’s a case in point of initially ignoring the program before embarking: The 2014-15 Woodford Folk Festival. Continue reading

The Woodford Files 2014-15: Save The Last Dance Or Beer For Me, January 2015

The Volunteer Party is like a baffling market selling ice cream and fruit dessert in tall glasses: a trifle Bazaar
The Volunteer Party is like a wondrous market selling ice cream and fruit dessert in tall glasses: a trifle Bazaar

As the sun set slowly over Kilcoy, we bade farewell to the last performance at Woodford Folk Festival as Fantuzzi reggaed the crowd into a fervour.

Actually, the sun was long gone by the time Fantuzzi closed out proceedings. And as they finished their last number, the vollys were just getting going and took responsibility for their own entertainment.

I was professionally torn. My obligations were long since dispensed with. I wanted to capture some vision of the band, but……….

The Woodford Files 2014-15: Volunteer Party, January 2015

Image courtesy of Woodford Folk Festival
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.

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The Woodford Files: Fire Event Climaxes in Fire (hence the name), January 2015

Fire Event image courtesy of Woodford Folk Festival
Fire Event image courtesy of Woodford Folk Festival

Before I’d heard much of anything about Woodford Folk Festival, back in the unenlightened days of roughly 2006, I’d sure heard about the Fire Event. Attending between 2007-2010, I joined the Fire Choir each year, initially with the tenors then the bass-baritones, and loved it to bits.

BUT being able to sit in the audience with a smashing view, able to take in the full spectacle and stunning sound and light production, I was like an excited 10yo boy.

Heightening the experience just behind me was an almost two year old who was in paroxysms and frissons of delight and was joining in, improv-style, during the choral bits.

Wonderful. An absolutely stunning achievement.

My favourite part, and a moment for me that seemed to encapsulate Woodford, was when the cast on the ground just got stuck in hoe-down style while the tragic-comedy drama face burned.

The Woodford Files 2014-15: New Year’s Eve at The Duck with Black Market Tune, December 2014

Image courtesy of Black Market Tune
Image courtesy of Black Market Tune

You’re spoilt for choice as to where to spend those last moments of the year at Woodford Folk Festival.

I had probably my most memorable NYE a few years ago in the then Duck and Shovel, at a Beatles Singalong of all things. This year, it was a case of same venue, completely different music on offer.

Enjoy these guys’ new year vicariously again!

The Woodford Files 2014-15: Coming Attractions, January 2015

Woodford 2014-15: In the rear view mirror, but not out of sight yet
Woodford 2014-15: In the rear view mirror, but not out of sight yet

The curtain has long since fallen on Woodford Folk Festival for 2014-15.

However, I still have a stack of video to share, and a notebook overflowing with observations, gags, anecdotes and stories.

I’ll bring those to you very soon, though right now I’m a little tech-challenged.

I’m writing this in a tent. To get reception, I’m holding one phone balanced on my stomach pointing towards Maleny while typing on the other.

During the day, I either walk down to the road and lean one phone against a fence post, OR I have now found if I place it in the tree in the forecourt, I get a good data flow, but it’s no good for phone calls.

Please comment on this post
Please comment on this post

Tomorrow, the public library beckons.

Apart from the midnight countdown, Fire Event, camp wrap-up, and volly party plus speeches, I do want to tie a bow around the lot separately for Timber and Steel, Galloping Sheep, and Trad and Now.

Coming here and there soon.

 

Bill Quinn
In a tent
Sunshine Coast hinterland
Queensland, Australia

Writing on the road: it's in tents
Writing on the road: it’s in tents