A Punter’s Perspective September 2012: Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own Part III

Nobody gonna break-a my stride. Just give me a minute...
Nobody gonna break-a my stride. Just give me a minute…

A Punter’s Perspective

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

Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own Part III

First published in Trad and Now magazine, September 2013

“Do you have to go on stage? Can’t you just get a radio mic and just let them know it starts in ten minutes off stage?”

The speaker was (and still is) a talented musician and a lovely bloke and what he was to say next was in no way meant to be demeaning. He was in his own pre-game/pre-show warm up and consequently his head was processing a few things and on auto-pilot.

Meanwhile, the MC was fatigued and slightly ill, on the road for 11 days and 3000 kms by road, rail, air, sea, and lots of walking, pack mule style. He…

Ok, let’s leave this third person malarkey alone. I had been on the train down the escarpment to the gig, nodding off slightly as the NSW Trains carriage gently rolled about from side to side within a narrow range of oscillation.

The phone had rung and the gig promoter had asked me to step in at the eleventh hour to MC the big, almost sold out extravaganza that many in the area had been building up to for many weeks.

An MC's pharmacy shelves
An MC’s pharmacy shelves

I’d literally run down Crown Street then back onto the one that runs parallel, stopping off for a bottle of medicine for later after the show. You know the sort of medicine I’m talking about. It comes in 700ml receptacles, this one was blended (many are single malt), and there are fine healers from Scotland who distill and distribute it for its magical, health-giving properties.

(As it happened, the stopper never came out and it stayed parked outside the venue, and I went to bed, un-dosed and with my medicine uncapped.)

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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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