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Folkie 2013 wrap up

By Barcham - 2 April 2013 8

folkie

I love Folkie. I’ve haven’t missed a Folkie for 13 years. I get excited when it’s coming and depressed when it’s over. The combination of music, circus, friends, tents, kransky, and pyjamas pluck at a banjo that resides deep in my chest.

However, with the National coming in at the rear of the craziest festival and event season Canberra has ever known, even I was feeling a bit reluctant to dive into four days of fun and art. I could see it in the eyes of those around me too. Everyone was just so tired.

Thankfully Folkie is a caring and loving creature. She comforted her attendees with some new apple and ginger cider (which was as good as it sounds), a fantastic variety of food, and of course, quite a bit of rather pleasant music.

This year saw some rather large changes to the layout and organisation of Folkie, mostly due to liquor licensing requirements. The session bar’s outdoor area is now caged in. Smokers are stuck sitting in a small box with no view of the oval, with just a large hessian covered fence to keep them company. Even as a non-smoker this change really bugged me. The hill outside the session bar was the ideal place to stop for a drink in the afternoon, with the view of the oval and the fact it was a thoroughfare between the festival and camping area making it a great place to hang out and bump into people. Alas this is no more.

The oval in now a massive campsite. More camping closer to the festival is always good, but this did mean we no longer saw any impromptue circus/sports/drama games being played on the oval throughout the day which was a little sad.

As usual I spent almost my whole time at the Majestic, which had received a shiny new tent and a relocation off the oval and into the festival proper. The huge wait times that tended to occur during the evening were a thing of the past, and the fact that the Majestic was inside the main festival meant that whatever lines did form had plenty around them to keep them entertained. The move wasn’t without its downsides however. the Tent was placed on an area with little grass, which unfortunately meant dust became a huge problem. This problem was most noticeable when the audience were moved to dance, but it never really stopped. I’ve been sneezing out clouds of dust for days and my sinuses feel like a desert. It was not ideal.

Despite this, the Majestic was very much the place to be.

The lineup was fantastic. Julia and the Deep Sea Sirens played better than I’ve heard them play before, while Fun Machine did what Fun Machine do best (make everything bright and fabulous). For me however, the real stand out of the Majestic’s lineup was Sam King’s new solo (with friends) act.

Sam King has played in some of the Folk Festival’s (and Canberra’s) most beloved bands over the past decade or so, but has never been the frontman. It was time. Sam’s music was touching in its sincerity and beautiful in its arrangement. He was joined on stage by some of Canberra’s nicest and most talented musicians. It was very pleasant. Absolutely a festival highlight.

The circus presence at the National is always spectacular, and this year was no different. The Gadjo Family was a supergroup of Folkie regulars and plus a few new faces. World class performers each of them. Every year I watch their shows and every year I see something new and terrifying. Also of note was Poncho Circus, a group of young and exciting circus artists who formed at last years Folk Festival. Their work was creative, energetic, and hilarious. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next year.

Bad!Slam!No!Biscuit! ran wonderfully at the festival, better than ever before. Although I co-ran that event so maybe I’m a bit biased. Still the poets who entered were amazing and the audience got into the spirit of the event so I really can’t claim any real ownership of its success.

The final day of the Folk Festival came with the most surprises. Fun Machine got into the April Fools spirit by convincing their audience they were becoming a Oasis cover band, although the enthusiastic support of the audience during the prank makes one wonder if that shouldn’t become the bands actual direction.

I managed to fall over and injure my ankle while on my way to teach a workshop on clowning where I was going to teach people to fall over correctly. That wasn’t an intentional April Fools joke from me, but it did kinda felt like the universe was having a laugh at my expense.

Lastly, the Majestic Director Adam Hadley said goodbye to the festival, claiming he would not return for 2014. This was met by an outcry of emotion from the audience. Hadley claimed he would like to see the venue live on in someone else’s hands, and pleaded with the audience to let the festival know via social media if they wanted the majestic to live on.

The Majestic has been a bright sparkling light in the festival for the past four years. A place for the fringe-arts of the scene to come together, a celebration of the absurd, and a home to the non-traditional but still kinda folkish bands that might have otherwise been ignored.

Let the festival know if you want to see more of that.

[Image by robynejay (CC BY-SA 2.0)]

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8 Responses to
Folkie 2013 wrap up
sarahsarah 10:25 am 03 Apr 13

I went to College with Sam King – I have a vivid memory of running in to him after school one afternoon. He was out on the grass, playing a flute and when I remarked on it he said he’d just picked one up because he wanted to learn it. No training, no nothing but gee was he playing that sucker like he was born holding it. Such a musically talented guy, glad to hear he’s still owning it. 🙂

chewy14 10:21 am 03 Apr 13

Deref said :

LSWCHP said :

Here comes my humungous whinge though, not about the festival but about mainstream media reporting of the festival.

Thoroughly agree. When you consider the fawning coverage of the Summernats with shiny photos of burnouts day after day, coverage of the Folkie was an absolute bloody disgrace.

The festival itself, by contrast, was magnificent. Heartiest congratulations to everyone involved.

You’re kidding right? The fawning coverage summernats gets? Bahahahaha.

Equivalent coverage would show a couple of hippies smoking marijuana and claiming the event was a disgrace because of the drug use.

Madam Cholet 10:05 am 03 Apr 13

Deref said :

LSWCHP said :

Here comes my humungous whinge though, not about the festival but about mainstream media reporting of the festival.

Thoroughly agree. When you consider the fawning coverage of the Summernats with shiny photos of burnouts day after day, coverage of the Folkie was an absolute bloody disgrace.

The festival itself, by contrast, was magnificent. Heartiest congratulations to everyone involved.

I was listening to 666 on my way to the gallery on Monday. Jo Laverty was waxing lyrical about the folk festival, in fact she did not stop. It was interesting to hear about the instrument makers et al, buti thought it was a little bit of overkill. They were also talking about it on Tuesday still….and I didn’t hear any mention of Morris dancers or child buskers.

switch 9:25 am 03 Apr 13

Affirmative Action Man said :

Been to the last 5 & my impression was that this year was a bit lame by comparison. Did not seem to be as many quality acts. On Friday afternoon I was struggling to find someone interesting whereas in past years I seemed to have had no problem. Maybe I’m just getting old.

I heard they are still in the red, and have been for a few years now, so the money to pay for many quality acts is just not there. But I found lots of new things on the various blackboard menus to keep me entertained.

Deref 9:02 am 03 Apr 13

LSWCHP said :

Here comes my humungous whinge though, not about the festival but about mainstream media reporting of the festival.

Thoroughly agree. When you consider the fawning coverage of the Summernats with shiny photos of burnouts day after day, coverage of the Folkie was an absolute bloody disgrace.

The festival itself, by contrast, was magnificent. Heartiest congratulations to everyone involved.

Affirmative Action M 10:18 pm 02 Apr 13

Been to the last 5 & my impression was that this year was a bit lame by comparison. Did not seem to be as many quality acts. On Friday afternoon I was struggling to find someone interesting whereas in past years I seemed to have had no problem. Maybe I’m just getting old.

LSWCHP 10:04 pm 02 Apr 13

And while I’m here, you’re right about the dust. I was dancing in the Scrumpy on Thursday night..coff coff…and bore the brunt of it. However, due to a more than adequate supply of mucus, my collected dust tends to be blown out packaged in congealed lumps rather than clouds.

I bet you wanted to know that. Right? Right? 🙂

LSWCHP 9:54 pm 02 Apr 13

Nice work Barcham. My family all had season tickets, and I’m sorry I didn’t catch up with you at some stage. It was a great festival, and we’re all sad that it’s over. I thought the new layout worked OK, although some tweaking will probably be required.

Here comes my humungous whinge though, not about the festival but about mainstream media reporting of the festival.

Despite my background, I’m married to a left-wing, hippy, radical feminist greenie who performed regularly at the festival back in the 80s and 90s. My wife introduced me to the festival when we met, and we’ve attended every festival from 2003 onwards. However, without her introduction I would never have considered going because of the image of the festival that is presented in the ABC and other MSM.

Once again over the weekend, the ABC had the same old tired and stale cliches in its report on the Festival. This consists of footage of Morris Men, bush poets and children busking. No sign whatsoever of the astounding local, regional and international talent that is on display. Some people want to see Morris Dancers and bush poets, but most people don’t. In my experience, most people who go to the festival go to see the great bands. It’s all about the music.

I saw Julia and Sam King for the first time this weekend at the Majestic. I was really impressed, and I’ll go see them again. But despite the excellence of their dancing and their great outfits, I’m not going to be actively seeking out any Morris dancing action over the coming year.

There were elderly musicians performing at the festival who have devoted their entire lives to perfecting their astounding musicianship, probably without making a helluva lot of money from it. I’m a (crappy) musician, and some of the gigs I saw brought tears to my eyes, knowing as I do what effort is required to achieve such technical and artistic virtuosity.

Morris dancers, bush poets and busking children are all a great part of the festival, but they’re a small part compared to the sheer volume of musical talent that’s on display. The festival organisers should get in touch with the TV and other media, and arrange for them to see and report what the festival is really about, which is the music. At the moment, the MSM representation of the festival is doing nobody any good. The festival misses out on punters, and the punters miss out on the music.

End rant and hats off to Barcham and the RA crew for, as usual, presenting a non-mainstream, personal and correct view of an event that is an ACT and national treasure.

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