Woodford Folk Festival, Sunday December 29, 2013: Music and Merry Mayhem

30 Dec

I’ve extolled the virtues of Woodfordia elsewhere in these pages so I won’t repeat the rhapsody. I would just point out the convenience of being able to transport ourselves annually from our home in Brisbane to second row concert seats with coffee in hand in under an hour, including purchasing day-evening tickets and passing through relaxed festival security. Woodford rocks!

First up a 9am set of Suitcase Trad, Canadian Style. The session turned out to be one of the highlights for us. The first band were the ridiculously talented foursome called Gordie MacKeeman and his Rythym Boys. Gordie is a hyperkinetic fiddler from Prince Edward Island who can simultaneously fiddle, tap dance and sing. A consumate showman. His band mates aren’t too shabby either.

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Act two were Dry Bones from the frozen prairies of Winnipeg. JD Edwards (guitar, harmonica and vocals) shared the lead with Nathan Rogers (guitar, trumpet and vocals) as they performed each other’s original compositions. Leonard Podolak on banjo and Gilles Fournier on double bass rounded out the sound. In a moment of light relief towards the end of the set JD and Leonard did a percussive hand slapping routine to Nathan’s song. Very energetic and funny, and given the heat rather admirable.

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At Blues Town we caught Leah Senior’s act. An emerging sing songwriter from Melbourne she sang two numbers, one with vocal harmonies by her sister, Andrea. I like Leah’s style so bought her debut EP, ‘Autumn Evenings’ from her afterwards.

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From there it was but a stroll to The Grande for three Scottish acts part-sponsored by Showcase Scotland and Creative Scotland.

Rachel Sermanni plays acoustic guitar in bare feet with a quirky style of singing and songwriting. She’s a tall slim girl who performs on tip toes much of the time. She does some interesting things with her voice and has a fantastic range.

Breabach are a five piece multitalented band. Main elements are bagpipes, fiddle, double bass and guitar but they gave us mandolin, tin whistle and flute too. The female fiddler sang a Gaelic song and also busted out some tap steps but I don’t think her heart was in it.

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Peatbog Faeries, from the Isle of Skye, true to their press photo, wore kilts and nought else (well two of them did). They played bag pipes, fiddle, piano and synthesiser, drums, guitar and tin whistle. I’d describe their music as techno scottish dance music although they did start with a couple of slow numbers. By the end they had the mosh pit pumping.

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Back in Blues Town we secured front row seats for Jordie Lane with Clare Reynolds on piano and backing vocals and his band. I’ve been listening to Jordie for two years but never caught his live act. I wasn’t disappointed and bought his new EP, ‘Not Built To Last’. Of interest to me was that Jeff Lang is producing Jordie’s albums. Jeff Lang was the first act to blow my mind at my first trip to Woodford many years ago.

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A photo of Jordie photographing his audience. Classic!

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All this and it was only tea time!

I am embarrassed to admit until I saw her yesterday at the Concert venue I had no idea what a great performer Beccy Cole is. She is gorgeous, funny, musically talented (as she proved when she had a crack at replacing her band members, except for the pianist) and writes good songs. Her finale, a ‘Jolene/Nolene’ Dolly Parton cover with pianist and backing vocalist Libby O ‘Donovan, was hilarious.

Passing by Blues Town we picked up the end of young Josh Needs’ guitar performance. Personable and competent but he seemed in too much of a hurry, especially on ‘Classical Gas’.

Rose Cousins has been doing the ‘Small Halls’ tour with Jordie lane and I’d heard great things about her. She performed with a Mullumbimby double bass player. Rose switched between acoustic guitar and keyboards and has a distinctive style for each. Her voice is beautiful but only one or two songs stood out for me. Her patter is dead pan and wryly humorous.

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I was impressed the northern hemisphere musicians coped with the heat and humidity. It must have been high thirties celsius in the tents and I was dripping with sweat the whole time.

We were looking forward to an evening of Clare Bowditch and Beth Orton at the amphitheatre but a thunderstorm that seemed to skirt around Woodford blew back. After two lightning induced black outs during Clare’s opening and bucketing rain set in we called it a day at 9pm.

Every year I tell myself I WILL go to see something other than music gigs at Woodford but I rarely do. The program is so packed with mind bogglingly talented artists I can’t pull myself away. Nice problem to have hey?!

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