Port Fairy Folk Festival 2012

Lest you think that everything is about bikes, here is a brief summary of our long weekend, now a couple of weeks ago:

Liz and Harry and Jack and I attended the Port Fairy Folk Festival.  That’s a brief summary for you.

Here’s the slightly longer version:

The Port Fairy Folk Festival has been running for, ooohh, ages.  Decades.  Well, according to their website, 36 years.   This was our second year, so we’re relative newcomers.  Unfortunately Zoe couldn’t make it this year, since she’s otherwise occupied, being in New York, or Philadelphia, or Boston or somewhere like that, at the start of her own odyssey.  However, something like 15,000 people did attend this event, which swells the normally sleepy seaside town of Port Fairy considerably.  (None of them made up for Zoe’s absence, by the way…)

OK, so I just looked it up.  When the festival isn’t in town, the population is 2500.  So “swells” is a pretty mild word to describe what happens to the place.  There isn’t a bed or a manger to be had in the place, and finding a spot to stick your tent in the camping ground isn’t necessarily all that easy.  You should book early and arrive early!

There are tents and cars and vans and people as far as the eye can see.

There are tents and cars and vans and people as far as the eye can see.

Once you’re there you get to choose between a bunch of big venues inside the fenced-off area of the Festival proper, or from a bunch of smaller 0ff-site venues scattered about the town of PF and its environs.  The main venues within the festival area are temporary structures called “tents”, although not the kind that you’d pick up for cheap at the local Disposals store.  These are some big-arse tents.

Like any other festival, fete, carnival or event with a large number of essentially trapped punters with nowhere else to go there are also smaller tents selling over-priced food, over-priced bottles of water, and fantastically over-priced alcohol.  At $7.50 for a half pint glass of Guinness the grog is definitely over-priced, but that doesn’t seem to slow anybody down!

Here is a bunch of Youtube links to the acts that we saw over the course of a couple of days:

The Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band.  These guys were meant to be the bees knees of Bluegrass, but they left me a bit cold.  It *was* early on Saturday morning, though, so maybe they just needed a bit longer to warm up:

The Junes.  This is a local group, singing “glam country”, swing and gospel music.  They were fabulous, darling.  Great musicians, didn’t take themselves too seriously.  Lots of fun.  One of the women turned up again on Sunday morning singing gospel songs, but more on that later.

The Davidson Brothers.  The two boys from Gippsland are the current national bluegrass fiddle champion and national bluegrass mandolin champion between them.  They grew up playing in the Scottish Highland Fiddle Club, and when they played to their Celtic roots they were superb.  But a lot of their stuff was more Lee Kernaghan than Trad. Celtic, and whilst it was good, it just isn’t my cup of tea.  But I don’t wanna sound too picky here.  Like I said, the more traditional stuff they played was fantastic, and it’s easy to see how they won their respective titles.  Apparently their banter between songs is usually a bit blue, but perhaps because they saw lil’ ol’ prim and proper me in the audience they toned it down a bit.

Harry James Angus is perhaps better known to some as the guy that plays the trumpet in The Cat Empire.  But he also plays a few other instruments, and he sings, and he writes his own stuff, and stuff for other people, and all that kind of multi-talented kind of stuff.  Not bad.  If you like that kind of thing.

The Sharon Shannon Big Band was headed by this crazy-happy Irish lass whose name you can probably guess.  She gave the impression of having downed 3 or 4 strong coffees, a couple of Ectasy tablets and maybe smoked a small joint before jumping joyfully and lovingly onto the stage.  They were good.  And then they let their fiddle player loose for just one tune – and he was absolutely sensational.  Can’t find video of him I’m afraid.  I guess you just had to be there.

Adam Cohen.  Son of the famous and rightly legendary Leonard Cohen.  Normally it is true that the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree, but in Adam’s case it seems that the fruit had some difficulty finding the ground, and when it did it must have got kicked around a bit, and maybe chewed on by a passing horse.  The guy has a lovely, rich, sonorous and deep voice, a bit like his dad’s, only maybe a bit better.  But that’s where the comparisons end.  He was vacuous, self-centred, embarrassingly and transparently libidinous and also not very good.  We walked out on him after 15 minutes.

That takes me nearly to the end of our first day.  I’ll post more soon….


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Heidi
    Mar 22, 2012 @ 16:27:01

    Impressive lineup and commentary. Certainly sounds like lots of fun!


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