Random observations on the wide, weird world of folk from the side of the stage
#29 Turn, Wave, Repeat to fade
First published in Trad and Now magazine, October 2011
Let’s get one thing clear first, to ensure plenty of web search hits hit and many related links link: The Turning Wave Festival 2011, the festival of Irish and Australian music, dance, song, spoken word and related arts.
Gundagai, New South Wales, Australia. Wednesday 14 to Sunday 18 September 2011.
There. That gets that sorted, and we’ll return to the central theme and subject shortly.
But first it’s time to re-visit a very familiar theme from this column, this pseudo-folkie, and this quill and ink.
That last one is not rhyming slang.
The first (unofficial) festival of the (unofficial) NSW folk season is a much-anticipated and eagerly-awaited thing of beauty and joy to behold. Continue reading →
A Punter’s Perspective First published in Trad and Now magazine
#1 From a punter’s perspective First published in Trad and Now magazine, December 2006
The world of folk boasts a limitless supply of people whose breadth and depth of knowledge of their craft and art is simply breath-taking. Their technical knowledge is detailed, their repertoires seemingly endless. Some folklorists have researched, collected and interpreted material for decades, their own lives becoming living folk legends of themselves. Traditional and contemporary artists encapsulate decades and centuries of history in a few short verses or stanzas.
But then there be folk like the author: the punters. We’re the people who hang around the back of session bars in dumb-struck awe (“Awww!”). We watch musicians on stage and can’t work out how they tune an instrument and breathe at the same time, much less engage an audience in simultaneous banter. And as for the seamless transition between fiddle, guitar, bodhran and tin whistle – did those people start learning their trade in the womb?!
We don’t know our jigs from our reels or our airs from our graces. We think an autoharp is Dublin’s car club, that a bouzouki is something immediately followed by ‘bless you’, and that lute is something you get paid if you manage to shift a few CDs.
But we attend festivals, buy the music, wear the t-shirts, sniff out the folk clubs, find when acts are playing in the mainstream world, and even surf off into cyberspace to broaden our folky horizons. We occasionally pluck up (pun intended) the courage to blunder up to musicians at an appropriate time and place (i.e. the middle of the campground – Hi, Geraldine!) to tell them their work has moved or touched us in some way or inspired us or had some profound, life-changing effect.
We don’t necessarily know good folk, but we know what we like. Sometimes we even struggle to spell it proper: hey, if it rhymes with ‘joke’… Continue reading →