Folk On The Road – 2019 Cobargo Folk Festival

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Folk On The Road

A highly irregular series reflecting on the wide, weird world of folk from the side of the stage

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Cobargo Folk Festival (CFF) in early March 2019 was a breath of fresh air for many who made their way to the beautiful green valleys and rolling hills just north of Bega, not too far south of Narooma, and within a five iron of a heaven.

For this peripatetic scribe, it was a homecoming of sorts. (Albeit what now looks like a temporary one.)

CFF came towards the end of a week or so in the Eurobodalla/Sapphire Coast region, just after the last member of my immediate family had left their home of almost twenty years in Bodalla, on an estate overlooking the quite stunning ranges of the Deua National Park.

But it was also my proper return to folk festivals after roughly five and a half years of continually wandering up and down the Australian east coast, from the deep south of New South Wales to the middling far north of Queensland.

(I can’t really count a handful of hours at Slacky Flat, Bulli in 2016 and 2019.)

In those intervening years, the closest I’d come to our festival culture was random assorted gigs, and attendances, media, and volunteering/MC-ing at regional Queensland festivals in Cleveland, Stones Corner, and Boyne Island.

Though all events had minor folk elements, it was wonderful to be back among the campers, revellers, singers, musos, and so, so many familiar faces in a dedicated folk festival.

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Bush Gothic – Looking Forward To A Festival In The Past

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Image courtesy of Bush Gothic

Back in early February 2018, I interviewed Jenny Thomas from Melbourne-based folk band Bush Gothic, at a time when both of us were looking forward to attending the National Folk Festival in Canberra at Easter.

One of us got there!

It wasn’t me. 😥

It was to have been my first National since 2013 when I barely felt like I was there. Some nights I was tucked up in my tent by 10.30pm. It happens some time. But of course, your worst day at a festival beats your best day doing many other things, so…

Events transpired that instead of running around with various recording devices, filing copy for a small coterie of publications, I was roughly 400kms north on Lake Macquarie, providing various gardening and handyman services for a friend.

If you want to give your or any god a good laugh, make some plans!

Back to the subject at hand.

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Image courtesy of Bush Gothic

It’s been my absolute delight and pleasure to not only see Jenny Thomas and Jenny M. Thomas and Jenny Thomas and the System and the current incarnation: Bush Gothic perform, but also to interview Jenny several times, both here on the blog and also on community radio.

I’m looking forward to seeing Bush Gothic perform again in the not too distant, down one of many dusty roads, but for now, here’s the interview we did in February. You’ll just have to put your headspace into some sort of cerebral TARDIS and pretend you and we are looking forward to another five or six days of magic at an upcoming National Folk Festival!

Follow Bush Gothic on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bushgothic/

[Audio Interview] Michael Johnathon talks about the Woodsongs Front Porch Association and Gathering

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The Woodsongs Front Porch Association (WFPA) is an amazingly and elegantly simple creature.

Based in Lexington, Kentucky and the brain child of Michael Johnathon, singer-songwriter and 36 other titles, it’s spreading its tendrils across the USA and the world.

I’ll not steal any WFPA thunder by block copying and pasting here – yet, but please follow the links, and your rewards shall be many and bountiful.

The Cliff Notes, as MJ would say: it’s a cheap-as-chips member association which opens everyone up to a world of information, resources and networking, and opens its arms and invites the world of art and artists in to share, share, share. Stop, collaborate and listen!

On Friday 23 and Saturday 24 September 2016, the WFPA is holding its second annual Gathering in Shaker Village, Pleasant Hill, Kentucky – see main picture for all the salient details of the wheres and whens.

Full details at www.songfarmers.org

It’s the how much that’s the real news story here. And it’s a good, good news story at a time when good news stories are pretty gosh-darned thin on the ground.

Choose your preference: click on a hyperlink or click on the audio file link below, and listen in as Michael explains WFPA and the Gathering in his signature succinct, clear, resonantly-voiced vocal stylings (even over the tech equivalent of two cans and a 9063 mile piece of string!)

ENDS (for now, but really it’s just the beginning!)

Some basic notes for the interview… which I never referred to!

 

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Image courtesy of www.songfarmers.org

 

Clans On The Coast (Nelson Bay, NSW) Celtic Festival – Saturday 19 September 2015

Clans On The Coast, Nelson Bay
Clans On The Coast, Nelson Bay

Nelson Bay in the shimmering coastal locale of Port Stephens invites Celts and their friends* to a celebration of music, song and Celtic culture on Saturday 19 September 2015: Clans On The Coast.

* ‘Friends’ means all other human beings, so the invitation is opened fairly wide!

The day-long Celtic festival has been running for several years since Ron Swan threw on a Ceilidh at the local golf club in 2007, with 200 turning up and another 100 having to be turned away.

Nelson Bay is located to the north of the sprawling Tomaree National Park, less than an hour’s drive north east from Newcastle. It’s an area of stunning natural beauty, with bays, inlets, sandy beaches and walking trails. From October to March, the place is bustling with tourists, but the third weekend in September is ideal to take in the surrounds (and the festival) without an overwhelming holiday crush.

Nelson Bay
Nelson Bay

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

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 opined their assessment criteria of a festival deserving of their attention.

Without much in the way of my comment. Certainly no critique or counterpoint from my way came.

I’m like that if 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: The 2014-15 Woodford Folk Festival. Continue reading

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

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

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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