A Punter’s Perspective 30 — Overheard at Kangaroo Valley Folk Festival 2011

Randall Sinnamon and friends, Kangaroo Valley Folk Festival, 2011
Randall Sinnamon and friends, Kangaroo Valley Folk Festival, 2011

A Punter’s Perspective

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

#30 Overheard at Kangaroo Valley Folk Festival 2011
First published in Trad and Now magazine, November 2011

There’s something deeply satisfying about dragging yourself out of a festival precinct in the early hours of a Monday morning, feeling tired, happy, slightly unsteady on one’s legs, buzzing with a head full of pleasant memories, and with the CDs spilling out of the glove-box.

So it was in October as Kangaroo Valley put the lid back on a very fine vintage….. well, it’s not so much a matured taste, but more a cheeky, young and slightly adventurous drop.

At the risk of repeating this column from 12 months ago, KVFF just keeps getting better and better.

Wheeze and Suck Band. Tired and shagged out after a long squawk.
Wheeze and Suck Band. Tired and shagged out after a long squawk.

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A Punter’s Perspective 22 — Festival Withdrawal Syndrome

Festival withdrawal syndrome
Festival withdrawal syndrome

A Punter’s Perspective

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

#22 Festival Withdrawal Syndrome
First published in Trad and Now magazine, October 2010

Q. What do air and folk have in common?

A. You never notice either that much – unless you’re not getting any.

OK, that’s a twist on an old joke, but this is a family publication.

I still contend that if you’re not getting any of either (or the other), the gasping and longing soon kicks in.

For various reasons, I’ve withdrawn from many folk-related activities for the latter half of this calendar year. And like quitting smoking or taking a month off the grog, I’m gagging for a puff or a dram of my favourite art form.

(Kids, don’t smoke.)

I know it’s around, it’s happening, and people are getting their fair share, but it’s on the back-burner for this little black duck until Illawarra in January 2011.

Abstinence does makes the heart grow fonder, and the pulse beat quicker, though.

I think the hardest part of keeping away is being hooked into social networking sites online with several hundred folkies. Watching your friends and acquaintances counting down to, travelling to, enjoying, and then reminiscing about this or that festival is a tough ask.

Especially when there are so many online albums full of photos that evoke familiar sights and sounds, recall favourite haunts, or illuminate new venues, performers and crowds. Continue reading

A Punter’s Perspective 15 — We couldn’t do it without you

Volunteering
Volunteering

A Punter’s Perspective

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

#15 We couldn’t do it without you
First published in Trad and Now magazine, April 2009

Ok, this could get messy.

‘Messy’ is a service I do often provide. And if the only ‘Messi’ you’re interested in plays for the Argentinean football team, it’s maybe best to fast forward a couple of pages.

I’ve been thinking a lot about volunteerism lately. And in choosing to write on topic, I realise this is not a new subject, and has been covered substantially, and in these pages within the last 12 months or so by others.

But I’m choosing to delve and dive a little deeper, as the hypnotist said to the snorkeller, and look at motivations and treatment of volunteers.

It didn’t come out of the blue. It comes off the back of a couple of rather trying experiences, and for that I apologise now for the use of personal pronouns. It’s something I (pardon me) usually shy away from, but the subjective nature of my ruminations requires it.

Volunteers come in all shapes and sizes, and more saliently, in all levels of commitment, application and motivation. Warning: disclaimer follows. If you cut me in two, you’ll find a volunteer’s medallion and a couple of unused complimentary festival beer tickets. I collect them both (the former more than the latter).

There’s nothing particularly noble or virtuous about that; it’s just the way that I’ve been hard-wired from an early age. Volunteerism motivates me and drives me (in many worlds, including and external to music), and I know there are hundreds of others who put in far more than what I do. Continue reading

A Punter’s Perspective 12 — Ladies and gentlemen, could you please welcome…

MicrophonesA Punter’s Perspective
Random observations on the wide, weird world of folk from the side of the stage

#12 Ladies and gentlemen, could you please welcome…
First published in Trad and Now magazine, August 2008

A former housemate of mine would often look askance at me whenever I mentioned the concept of masters of ceremonies (MCs) at folk festivals. More used to the rock, pop and dance festivals, to her the thought of having someone bob up between acts to announce and back-announce the talent was novel.

I offered the opinion that if you’re at a major rock festival, you’re probably not likely to need much more prompting about the next act further than someone off-stage mumbling, ‘Give it up for Crowded House!’ or ‘Let’s hear it, folks, for Silverchair!’

(It is of course at this point the writer pauses while certain readers look up and ask aloud: “Who or what is Silverchair?”)

Folk festivals are slightly different, bringing together as they do, a mix of soloists, duos, bands, choirs, and poets from the local region, interstate and abroad. While a program can give a sketchy outline, and while some artists may be extremely well-known, it’s not always the case that an audience fronts up to a performance where the artist truly does need no introduction.

Added to that, there is the festival goer who pays little or no heed to the program and just drifts around from venue to venue, taking pot luck or Russian Roulette on whatever they stumble upon. For them, it helps to have some idea of what’s going on, and maybe a little geographical and background information.

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A Punter’s Perspective 09 — After the Party (NFF 2008)

National 2011469A Punter’s Perspective
Random observations on the wide, weird world of folk from the side of the stage

#9 After the Party (National Folk Festival 2008)
First published in Trad and Now magazine, April 2008

By Bill Quinn

After the band has played ‘Waltzing Matilda’
They’ve torn down the streamers
And left you alone
And the carpark’s deserted
And the weeds they’re growing
I’m still here
I still love you
Come on; I’ll take you home.

From ‘After the Party’, from the album “Etched in Blue” (1987).

Reprinted with kind permission of John Schumann

I’ve always thought that some of the truest words are said in jest, or at least with little thought. Some of these utterances unexpectedly reveal the deepest meaning, and illuminate the most clichéd and the most banal of banal sayings.

On topic, and ‘front-brain’ for this punter ever since the 2008 National Folk Festival, is the often repeated claim that musos, organisers, volunteers and punters ‘grieve’ when a festival closes.

‘Are you OK?’
‘Yeah, just in mourning for the [insert name of latest festival].’

Sometimes they really do die a little inside as the tents come down and the sound gear packs up.

It sounds a touch melodramatic, but this proposition has been validated by some light investigation, and by comments solicited from a selection of festival-goers, not just at the National. Continue reading

A Punter’s Perspective 07 — The folk that’s flipped sunny side up

Image from the Asia-Pacific  Database on Intangible Cultural Heritage
Image from the Asia-Pacific Database on Intangible Cultural Heritage

A Punter’s Perspective
Random observations on the wide, weird world of folk from the side of the stage

#7 The Folk That’s Flipped Sunny-Side Up
First published in Trad and Now magazine, February 2008

By Bill Quinn


Firstly, my sincere thanks to everyone who’s granted me interviews for a series of articles I was planning on kids in folk. Apparently another writer for this fine publication has started doing something similar, so let’s not be crossing quills and spilling ink.

I’ll start using that material elsewhere in the near future.

At short notice, I came across some stuff written at length about nine-ten months ago when the pages of Trad and Now were awash with the great folk debate. While choosing to not throw my tuppence in at the time, I started a rambling, direct reply to the protagonist that took on a life of its own (nine pages), written during the month leading up to the National while tripping around the country-side for work.

It evolved in a series of hotel rooms, empty training rooms, planes, waiting lounges, and the occasional airport bar. (The protagonist of the piece latched on to this last point and said I was under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Hmm. Have you seen what they charge for a Guinness or Carlton Crown at any airport bar? A single Dad and volunteer can only get so ‘influenced’ at those prices.)

Without wanting to re-open old wounds, I do notice via some unsolicited junk mail that there’s a new festival starting over Easter at Grafton, so with that by background, here are some very edited, meandering bits from that 2007 missive.

Strap yourself in; this stuff bounces around more than a Dash 8 in heavy turbulence. Continue reading

A Punter’s Perspective np — Cloudstreet

cloudstreet -- Nicole Murray and John Thompson
cloudstreet -- Nicole Murray and John Thompson

A Punter’s Perspective
Random observations on the wide, weird world of folk from the side of the stage

NP Cloudstreet: On the road and on the phone
Not published, for some strange reason. Possibly due to the eye-watering length of the text. Used in Monaro Musings at roughly the same time.

By Bill Quinn
Many readers would be familiar with the name Cloudstreet (the folk music act, not the book. Maybe both. Let’s stick with the former for now).

Nicole Murray and John Thompson have been plying their trade as individual performers for many years, and as a duo for about ten years, turning out fine studio albums and countless live performances in the process.

I spoke to Nicole and John in April this year, following a post-National Folk Festival gig in Canberra, and then again to John in June, when Cloudstreet’s first live album had just seen the light of day.

John and Nicole shared their views on singing, recording, live performance, and most importantly, what makes a really good cardboard box drum.

*************

Trad&Now: How was the National Folk Festival for you this year? Continue reading