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

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, 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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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: 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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2013 Illawarra Folk Festival — interview with David de Santi

Sarah from the WooHoo Revue, appearing at the 2013 Illawarra Folk Festival
Sarah from the WooHoo Revue, appearing at the 2013 Illawarra Folk Festival

On Sunday 6 January 2012, I mooched into the Illawarra and managed to pinch 2’56” of artistic director David de Santi’s valuable time as the countdown to the Illawarra Folk Festival ticks inexorably down.

Note: after a two-hour session at Dicey Riley’s Hotel in Wollongong, the constabulary were testing patrons’ ability to say or spell ‘inexorably’ in order to test levels of sobriety.

The session was one of a series held at Dicey Riley’s Irish pub in Crown Street to get punters in the mood for the merriment to come at Slacky Flat, Bulli from Thursday 17 to Sunday 20 January 2013.

So here’s that brief interview, and the text is available at the Timber and Steel blog.

*** THE AUDIO OF THIS INTERVIEW HAS BEEN DELETED FROM SOUNDCLOUD DUE TO SPACE LIMITATIONS ***

*** THE AUDIO OF THIS INTERVIEW HAS BEEN DELETED FROM SOUNDCLOUD DUE TO SPACE LIMITATIONS ***

And here’s the very fine TV ad for this year’s festival:

A Punter’s Perspective 31 — Watching the passing parade at Illawarra

Peter McLeod, Rick Saur, Arch Bishop, Rosie McDonald, Bill Arnett
Rosie McDonald and her "beautiful men". Illawarra Folk Festival 2012

A Punter’s Perspective

Random observations on the wide, weird world of folk from the side of the stage

#31 Watching the passing parade at Illawarra
First published in Trad and Now magazine, January 2012

There’s an old saying that goes, ‘If you sit in one spot at a festival, eventually the whole festival will pass you by’.

This is especially handy for making unplanned musical discoveries and for finding lost friends if (heaven forbid) you can’t hunt them down by mobile phone.

(I’m still working on a device that turns everyone’s mobile phone off or to silent as soon as they’re within 100m of a festival. Patent pending.)

As I found at my sixth Illawarra Folk Festival (their 27th), sitting in one place is also a great source of inspiration when you want to get material for an article. Continue reading