National Folk Festival, Canberra Australia

Posted by jerry on April 14th, 2004 — Posted in Journal, Music

Easter weekend – I know I haven’t been blogging for a few days – here’s why:

National Folk Festival Four days of fiddling, concerts, guinnesses (guinnaeii?), and *ahem* recording…

You see, it was like this… I met up with some old mates, including ex-Mucky Duck Band (like myself) and now poet extraordinaire, Roger Montgomery – who won this year’s recitation trophy; John Angliss of Dingo’s Breakfast fame (and also ex-Mucky Duck Band and Ten Pound Tourist Band (like myself), and a raft of other West Aussie and South Aussie mates. Much sessioning in the Bar (with the likes of Billy Moran, and Scott and Louisa Wise (Scott made my hardanger-fiddle about 20 years ago!). More sessioning until about 4.00AM. Sleep.

Dawn (well crack of noon actually). Analyse reason for headache… it wasn’t the two bottles of wine; nor was it the five pints of guinness; nor was it the three cans of Fosters Light Ice… but perhaps the combination of these? Better put the mute on the fiddle – at least while I tune up…

*Carefully* began learning a new reel – Star of Munster – and met my neighbour from the next tent – a New Zealand fiddler.

concert highlights: Wongawilli Band – Jane Brownlea’s excellent fiddle playing was truly outstanding – awesome. Finnish band called Jepokryddona and you can hear some of their music here. Other highlights included the Toe Sucking Cow-Girls, a guy with a two-metre unicycle! and a recording offer…

A what?? Well… I was checking out the market stalls, and stumbled (can’t think why) into a stall full of bodhrans [Irish frame-drum played with a single, double-headed stick] (okay I was a champion player once – many years ago) and the stall owner said “Maaaate, have I got a deal for you!” – I thought hello, he’s going try to sell me a bodhran – next thing he’s saying that he saw me and me guitarist mate for the last couple of National festivals in the session bar and was wondering if we’d like to record some instrumental tracks so he could market a CD for aspiring bodhran players to play along with… I hesitated for, perhaps a millisecond bfore saying, er… okay. The upshot was that we ended up the following day recording some preliminary live tracks courtesy of some borrowed equipment (thank you National Festival) so we could test the concept. The real work still lies ahead – I’ll blog you later on that little project.

More sessioning, some concerts – some great young talent and a whole new repertoire of classy musicians. And so to sleep…. Or try to… Canberra’s freezing nights saw me awake more than asleep.

Up at the crack of noon (again!) Argh the frustration of finding all five volumes of Brendan Breathnach’s Ceol Rince tune collection – at fifty dollars apiece! Missed a blackboard concert slot by about three people… back to the session bar. A short afternoon nap – in the van this time – much more comfortable, and ready for a Kranski German sausage moment. More wonderful concerts, more sessioning with my daughter (who plays mandolin) then retiring early (about 2.00AM) for the first full night’s sleep

Awoke refreshed – finally after a good night’s sleep. Greeted the early morning sun with some spirited tunes (other happy campers provided some vocal accompaniment with lyrics like “shurrup!” “b*gger off” and “what tha?”) A truly good start to the day 🙂

A little light rain settled the dust a bit and took the edge off the mild sunstroke – I was glad we brought the tarp for some cover. Got a bit more of the Star of Munster reel down – I hope whoever was recording the radio interview on the sportsground just ahead of me enjoyed the backing track of me playing the Star of Munster over and over and over…

All too soon it was time to pack up and leave – my daughter was to stay on for a couple of days as she was a volunteer so we left the camp site up. I took my leave of many good friends and and new – until the next festival! it was adieu and back to the day job. Great festival – well worth it if you are in Canberra over Easter

Wongawilli Band
Wongawilli Band


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