16 April 2022

Love is in the air: The Folkie is back!

| Ian Bushnell
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Archie Roach on stage

Let love rule: Archie Roach and 13-year-old Gubbi Gubbi singer Layla Barnett. Photo: NFF/Facebook.

The Folkie is back, with perfect Canberra Easter weather greeting thousands of music lovers relishing being able to come together and hear live artists again after two years of cancelled festivals.

The streets of Exhibition Park and the multiple venues across the National Folk Festival site have been filled with local and interstate fans spanning multiple generations.

Archie Roach headlined an emotional official opening concert on Friday night, performing his classic Let Love Rule with Queensland and Gubbi Gubbi youngster Layla Barnett, together with the Folk Festival Choir.

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The strong First Nations presence also included a performance of Waraumpi Band’s My Island Home in English and Ngunnawal by Canberra’s Alinta Barlow and the Folk Family Choir.

The closing concert on Monday night will also feature the Folk Family Choir, which will sing with Sammy Butcher and Neil Murray from Warumpi Band in Blackfella/Whitefella, after which Yothu Yindi will close out the festival.

The opening concert showcased the Festival’s diverse range of artists, including the sublime voice of Festival Artistic Director Katie Noonan herself, soulful Indigenous vocalist Emma Donovan, Canberra string quartet The Phoenix Collective, harmonious Queensland duo Charm of Finches, Australian Punjabi singer Parvyn Kaur Singh, Tibetan/Australian singer Tenzin Choegyal and award-winning songstress Kate Ceberano.

The concert was live-streamed with proceeds going to the UNHCR to aid Ukrainian refugees.

More than 200 all-Australian acts are on offer across the Festival’s 12 venues, as well as workshops, dance, craft and storytelling.

The festival features some bespoke concerts, including ‘Songs of Judy’, celebrating the work of Judy Small, recipient of the 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award; ‘Songs of Don’, celebrating Cold Chisel’s Don Walker; and ‘Songs of Joni’, celebrating Joni Mitchell.

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The Canberra region is also well represented with the Hauptmann Trio, Cooma’s Montgomery Church, Queanbeyan’s Omar Musa, Fred Smith and Kim Yang performing.

The COVID-19 pandemic meant the usual contingent of international artists could not be booked, but an unfazed Noonan says Australia has more than enough talent to stage a festival.

As well as the music, Festival-goers are enjoying the multi-cultural food vendors, snapping up bargains at the market stalls, kids entertainment and two Sessions Bars.

To learn more, visit 2022 National Folk Festival.

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Would have loved to go but at $1160 to take my family for the weekend I couldn’t justify it. That’s three adults and two kids

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