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: Save The Last Dance Or Beer For Me

The Volunteer Party is like a baffling market selling ice cream and fruit dessert in tall glasses: a trifle Bazaar
The Volunteer Party is like a wondrous market selling ice cream and fruit dessert in tall glasses: a trifle Bazaar

As the sun set slowly over Kilcoy, we bade farewell to the last performance at Woodford Folk Festival as Fantuzzi reggaed the crowd into a fervour.

Actually, the sun was long gone by the time Fantuzzi closed out proceedings. And as they finished their last number, the vollys were just getting going and took responsibility for their own entertainment.

I was professionally torn. My obligations were long since dispensed with. I wanted to capture some vision of the band, but……….

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.

Continue reading

The Woodford Files: Fire Event Climaxes in Fire (hence the name!)

Fire Event image courtesy of Woodford Folk Festival
Fire Event image courtesy of Woodford Folk Festival

Before I’d heard much of anything about Woodford Folk Festival, back in the unenlightened days of roughly 2006, I’d sure heard about the Fire Event. Attending between 2007-2010, I joined the Fire Choir each year and loved it to bits.

BUT being able to sit in the audience with a smashing view, able to take in the full spectacle and stunning sound and light production, I was like an excited 10yo boy.

Heightening the experience just behind me was an almost two year old who was in paroxysms and frissons of delight and was joining in, improv-style, during the choral bits.

Wonderful. An absolutely stunning achievement.

My favourite part, and a moment for me that seemed to encapsulate Woodford, was when the cast on the ground just got stuck in hoe-down style while the tragic-comedy drama face burned.

The Woodford Files 2014-15: New Year’s Eve at The Duck with Black Market Tune

Image courtesy of Black Market Tune
Image courtesy of Black Market Tune

You’re spoilt for choice as to where to spend those last moments of the year at Woodford Folk Festival.

I had probably my most memorable NYE a few years ago in the then Duck and Shovel, at a Beatles Singalong of all things, but this year, it was a case of same venue, completely different music on offer.

Enjoy these guys’ new year vicariously again!

The Woodford Files: Trouble In The Kitchen (Sarah Island)

Trouble In The Kitchen at the Concert Stage
Trouble In The Kitchen at the Concert Stage

Youtube has a simple facility where at the push of a button, your shaky video is stabilised and appears much more professionally recorded than when you were actually adding some extra jigginess via mundane bodily functions such as breathing or sneezing.

Or weeping uncontrollably.

Let’s go back a few years.

At probably my first Woodford Folk Festival, I got a treasured copy of the then very new ‘The Next Turn‘ album by Trouble in the Kitchen. As I set off down the D’Aguilar Highway on 3 January, processing eight days’ worth of festy wonderfullness, I was in an emotional, impressionable state, making listening to the 14 tracks all the more powerful.

(Some of my most treasured and loved folk albums have seared straight into the deepest levels of my cerebrum by dint of being absorbed in post-festival drives.)

However, my attention must have wandered on Track Five as I didn’t pick up all the lyrics nor their significance. I acquired and adopted a handful of mondegreens, and ran with those for many months until one day I sat with a stack of 20-25 Woodford-collected/purchased CDs and…

I read the liner notes.

Continue reading

The Woodford Files: The Lettering House

The Lettering House at Woodford Folk Festival
The Lettering House at Woodford Folk Festival

Bill Quinn was sitting having his ritual cup of peppermint tea in Fine Earth Foods at Woodford Folk Festival when a postie came into the venue and started attempting to deliver letters.

To people.

With certain characteristics like a writer from Sydney (“Hello!”) with blue eyes (“Strike one!”)

And then someone with odd socks.

What could possibly be happening? What was this specifically non-specific form of delivering items of mail?

After an intrepid search through the back-blocks behind the Holy Cow chai tent, we managed to find Roger the Postie who explained all.

And as mentioned in the rambling intro, and to Roger off air, the whole shebang gave a strong resonance of Jacques Tati in Jour de Fete.

UPDATE 1: Wednesday 31 December 2014

Todd and Julie in The Lettering Office, Woodford Folk Festival
Todd and Julie in The Lettering Office, Woodford Folk Festival

On New Year’s Eve in the Woodford Folk Festival media centre, a young couple walked in with a story to tell and wanted someone to tell it to. Megan and Jake had come to the right place to tell the story of Megan’s mum, Julie and the letter she’s received from Todd.

Listen in for the full romantic story:

UPDATE 2: Wednesday 31 December 2014

After posting this article, someone picked it up because the number of reads keeps rolling around like a poker machine dial, and this morning, it was getting a lot of interest in USA.

Then on Twitter, a lovely man named Geoff Richards piped up and told me about a song of his called ‘Write A Letter Home’. An’ it goes a little somethin’ like this: