Folk On The Road – 2019 Cobargo Folk Festival

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All images in this article by Bill Quinn

Folk On The Road

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

Back to Cobargo

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, New South Wales. Not too far south of Narooma, and within a five iron of a heaven.

For this peripatetic scribe, it was a homecoming of sorts to the world of Australian folk festivals. A temporary one, as it transpired.

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 a 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.

(A handful of hours at Slacky Flat, Bulli in 2016 and 2019 doesn’t really count, does it?)

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, May 2018

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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, a year when I barely felt like I was there. Some nights I was tucked up in the tent by 10.30pm. It happens sometimes.

But of course, your worst day at a festival beats your best day doing many other things, so…

Events transpired that at the 2018 festival, 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 an absolute delight and pleasure to not only see Jenny Thomas and Jenny M. Thomas and Jenny Thomas and the System and the current incarnation of Bush Gothic perform, but also to interview Jenny several times, both here on the blog and also on radio in Canberra.

It’ll be great to see Bush Gothic perform again, 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 we are looking forward to another five or six days of magic at an upcoming National Folk Festival.

*** Sound file will be removed by the end of March 2020 ***

*** Sound file will be removed by the end of March 2020 ***

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Image courtesy of Bush Gothic

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Big Tobacco Company – Alternative Progressive Metal from Ohio, May 2018

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Image courtesy of Big Tobacco Company

When opportunity and access to the appropriate hardware of the trade allows, it’s great to go on a whim and speak with random bands and artists around the globe.

On one memorable occasion, I was connecting with an Icelandic MOR band (Dikta) and within the week their interview with me was on radio in Canberra. That led to some lovely chats with their management in LA as well.

Something similar happened in March 2018 with Bobby Ullmann from Big Tobacco Company on Twitter.

Big Tobacco Company come from Cincinnati, Ohio and their sound has the sort of raw, rough edge that you might expect coming from people who live on the southern edge of the cold and forbidding waters of Lake Erie. Or it would be if I got the name of the city right, because that’s Cleveland that’s on Lake Erie.

Ok, American geography is not a strong suit. I have Google Maps.

I’m just guessing that if you’re that far up the country, it’s going to be colder than balls – except for maybe a week or two in July and August.

High tech interview setup at St Marys Rugby League Club, NSW, Australia

Minimal research before our interview proved to be a bonus. Some might call this ‘laziness’; the glass half-full version is: ‘living in the moment, all spontaneous and shit’.

No, seriously, it’s been beneficial in the past to not know too much about the interviewee before diving into a stack of questions, guided more by their responses than any predetermined views about the music, the genre, and the band’s ethos.

And so it was with Bobby. Any and all surprised responses from the interviewer are genuine.

Big Tobacco Company have a new self-titled album out now, and you can listen to tracks and buy them individually or en masse via their website.

On a stunning, clear, late summer lunchtime in St Marys in far, far western Sydney, Australia I pulled up a pew in the rugby league club and had a great chat with Bobby.

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

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

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Image courtesy of Big Tobacco Company

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Coming To Blues On Broadbeach: Blues Arcadia, May 2017

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Image courtesy of Blues Arcadia

Blink twice, and in a two shakes of a lamb’s tail, it’ll be time for Blues On Broadbeach, that annual four day free festival of meaty and felafel-y good blues music in the heart of Queensland’s Gold Coast at (wait for it) Broadbeach.

About a dozen years ago or so it seems, Chris Harvey of Blues Arcadia sat down with Bill Quinn of Overheard Productions at Stones Corner Hotel to have a chat about the then way distant festival.

This interview is vividly memorable for several reasons, mostly because it was the day that, after giving Bowen and Ayr and surrounding areas a drenching and satching, Cyclone Debbie finally blew in to Brisbane.

We got our chat in just before the heavens opened.

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Herewith the chat.

Please excuse the references to the then upcoming Stones Corner Festival. That’s in the rear vision mirror now, and my colleague of sorts Ashley will be presenting her review in an upcoming edition of Trad and Now magazine.

I’d say see you at Blues on Broadbeach, but you’ll just have to have my share of the fun, and flood social media with pictures, videos (if allowed) and reviews.

Rock on!

Bill Quinn
In a Central Queensland caravan park camp kitchen typing with one finger!

David M McLean, Skinny Devil Music Lab and Lexington Music Awards, January 2017

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Image courtesy of David M McLean

David M McLean is yet another of those prolific musical entities that are the engine room of independent music.

You know the sort of person who slogs away in the foreground and background, tirelessly making things happen and ensuring the world is a music-filled and art-filled place to live, breathe, and hear.

A writer, composer, guitarist, producer, teacher, and possibly most front-brain right now, the brains* behind the Lexifest music awards for Lexington, Kentucky.

* Refer to the interview for how the brains and brawn of this event are distributed and attributed.

In 2017, I spoke with David as he sat in his truck with his cell phone somewhere on a cool Lexington KY evening. We spoke so long that my intention was to break the interview into two parts. However, after a series of technical gremlins and many edits later, I’ve whittled this down into the one sound file.

Part of the editing leaves the back end of our chat slamming like a door in a stiff breeze, so apologies for the abruptness.

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

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

I’m looking forward to hearing about Lexifest 2017, and here’s hoping the blizzards stay away from town in the run-up this year.

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Image courtesy of David M McLean

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Fred Smith Launches ‘Dust of Uruzgan’ Book, October 2016

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Image courtesy of Fred Smith

The first lesson of communication is that everyone digests information in different ways, and the savvy communicator has their content in multiple formats for multiple audiences.

Fred Smith certainly has a few bases covered with his ‘Dust of Uruzgan‘ project.

“It started as a war then turned into an album and then into a theatre show then into a musical and now into a book. It’s a pretty straightforward sort of setup, really.”

Fred Smith spoke just before his Brisbane book launch and a house concert in Maleny.

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There is an award in a supporting role for Fred’s daughter Olympia, but we cut out and saved some of the higher high C notes she regaled us with for the extended 12″ remix of the audio file that originally appeared in this article.

Fred next takes the book on the road to Melbourne, Victorian regional centres, Canberra, Sydney, then back to Queensland for some regional appearances.

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Harry Manx – 2016 Australian Tour

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Image courtesy of Harry Manx

To tell the story of Harry Manx would take several lifetimes, and hopefully a progression of life-form hierarchies over those lives to tell the story, because the story is so mesmerising and complex that we would not be very present and in the moment of most of those lives, and that could put the telling of the tale at risk as we would not be making gradual and continuous improvement as…

Moving on…

Harry Manx performs at the 2012 National Folk Festival
Harry Manx performs at the 2012 National Folk Festival

Harry Manx has already begun his 2016 Australian tour which will take him from Sydney down to Victoria (where he is on stage tonight, Friday 23 September in Frankston) then around to Queensland, South Australia, Perth and up to Broome and Darwin, ending in the beautiful, lovely, gorgeous, I-may-be-a-little-hereditarily-biased New South Wales locales of Katoomba.

Ah, Katoomba. If there’s a more intimate, special venue than Clarendon Guest House, I want it stuffed, mounted, and hung above my fireplace – or I at least want an invite to your venue if it can go close to kicking the Clarendon into a cocked hat. Or any poultry millinery for that matter.

And finally wrapping it all up at Club Saffire in Merimbula.

So it’s a very eclectic path Harry treads, and look, I’d draw you a picture if I had a free hand, but imagine a much-twisted paper clip that’s been sitting on your desk all day on a slow Friday when you’ve been watching the clock since 9:36am – now you’re in the ballpark.

OR picture a moose that somehow wandered into your yard, found your sippin’ liquor in the shed, and is now making a bedraggled, loquacious, and somewhat winding stagger back to the forest by a circuitous route, two-thirds of it sideways.

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Interview with Matt Barker Radio: Podcasts and Digital Radio, September 2016

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Image courtesy of Matt Barker Radio

Matt Barker hails from Southend in Essex UK, which is a shame since most of the taxis won’t go further than Basildon.

(That gag was an entry in the Morris Men-tal Institute Joke Competition of August 1936 and told repeatedly until a cease and desist order from the Greater London Department of Public Transport and Sun Beds in February 1937.)

Where were we? Talking about Matt Barker and his two fabulous radio shows.

The Matt Barker Radio Show is two hours of finely-organised chaos, going out to the world on Fridays at 6pm UK time, available on podcast from Mixcloud.

While the Deuce Radio Show is a tight little package (careful!) of the best new independent music to tumble onto Matt’s desk.

In this interview, Matt talks with Bill Quinn of Overheard Productions about the mechanics and motivations behind these shows, plus his future plans for well-funded world domination.

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

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

Deuce Radio Show. Image courtesy of Matt Barker.
Deuce Radio Show. Image courtesy of Matt Barker.

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Michael Johnathon talks about the Woodsongs Front Porch Association and Gathering, August 2016

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Image courtesy of the Woodsongs Front Porch Association

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, performer, producer, tour organiser, and 36 other roles, it’s spreading its tendrils across the USA and the world.

I’ll not steal any WFPA thunder by block copying and pasting here, 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 musical information, resources and networking, opens its arms, and invites the world of art and artists in to share, share, share.

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).

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

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

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

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Talk With Everyone – Even With Limited Head Space, November 2015

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Sitting like The So Not Littlest Hobo on Oxford Street, writing a story about an indie band.

This is Limited Head Space.

It’s fairly descriptive of how I feel right now!

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Image courtesy of Limited Head Space

Dashing up Oxford Street tonight to get to the BWS bottle shop by 9.55pm, because NSW liquor licensing doth sayeth thou shalt not serve takeaway alcohol one second after 10pm.

Google Maps said I had 3.2kms to cover in 45mins. Yeah, try roughly a kilometre. I stopped and asked a Security dude outside The Paddington Inn at about 9.27pm how far it was, and he said, about 100 metres!

And it was at Paddo BWS that I met Denis serving behind the counter, and he told me about his band, Limited Head Space.

And he wrote the band name down on the back of a docket.

Right now, Denis and his mate, also in the band, have just shut up shop. It’s 10pm and the grille went down at 9.55pm. NSW Liquor Licensing laws: thou shalt not vend takeaway alcohol after 9.55pm. I may have mentioned that before.

BWS are all over this like a cheap suit. I have been that guy who stormed away at 9.56pm, stormed back at 9.57pm, then fumed off into the night before the sweep hand had time for another full revolution.

BWS St Leonard’s, April 2014. Ah yes, I remember it well.

The original text above cut out because in the 36 minutes that I was sat there outside Astton Shoes and some indie Bed, Bath and Table shop, my browser had fallen over nine times.

Ten times. I’m going to embed their video then make this thing pretty later.

Eleven times. Farouk!

My wine 🍷 is getting warm!

Bill Quinn with “Neville” the Labrador
Oxford Street, Paddington
22:22 Saturday 21 November 2015

12 times!

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