National Folk Festival Easter 2018

Media campaign: National Folk Festival, Canberra 2018

Offering ‘five days in a perfect world’, Canberra’s award-winning National Folk Festival is one of the country’s longest-running, family-friendly and widely loved music festivals. The five-day celebration of music, song, dance, circus, spoken word and film features more than 200 international and national acts. Hundreds of volunteers transform Exhibition Park (EPIC) into a fantastical village, complete with roving entertainers, street circus, stages of all sizes, market stalls, food vans, shopping precincts, cafes, themed bars and arts and craft activities.
The 52nd National Folk Festival runs throughout Easter, 29 March—2 April 2018 at Exhibition Park, corner Flemington Road and Northbourne Avenue, Mitchell, ACT. Tickets on sale now: discounted Early Bird Tickets available.
w:  folkfestival.org.au
t: (02) 6262 4792 e: info@folkfestival.org.au
#ournff #5daysinaperfectworld
@natfolkfest

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Bakers' Dozen banner web.jpegUS, IRISH, GREEK, ENGLISH AND SERBIAN ACTS JOIN TOP AUSTRALIAN ACTS
The National Folk Festival has announced a bakers’ dozen of 13 more artists, joining the growing line-up of exciting acts for 2018.
Performing in Australia for the first time and exclusive to the National is US acoustic duo, Ryanhood. Starting their music career as street-performers at Boston’s Quincy Market, they have won more than a dozen music awards in their home state of Arizona including Best Folk Band and Best Rock Band. Cameron Hood’s rich and folky lead vocals, Ryan Green’s explosive guitar and mandolin riffs, their airtight vocal harmonies and easy rapport with audiences have become a hallmark of their shows.
With a name that combines the Latin word for purple, a colour symbolising spirituality and mystery, with the name of group leader Chrysoula Kechagioglou, Chrysoula K. & Púrpura (Greece) bring together East and West. Creating a sound mosaic that is nostalgic, vivid, playful and airy, their music is a mesmerising exploration of ‘the endless dialogue between the four cardinal points of the horizon’.
From Serbia and the UK, Faith i Branko merges the genius of Branko Ristic—one of the leading Roma violinists of this century—with Faith Ristic, a charismatic and virtuosic UK accordionist. The two came together when Faith travelled to the Balkans in search of a Gypsy violinist to join her circus band. Their music is sheer delight with their fusion style switching with ease from exuberant Balkan Romani music to ragtime, classical influences and reggae.
Also joining the register of international artists for the 2018 National Festival are young, high-energy contemporary bluegrass quintet Flats and Sharps (UK) along with Ireland’s John McSherry and Donal O’Connor, regarded as the finest traditional Irish Uilleann Pipe and fiddle duet of their generation; their sound is acoustic perfection itself.
Headlining the Australian contingent is Damian Howard (VIC), whose new album, Ned, includes new interpretations and original-penned songs that celebrate the life and times of one of Australia’s most notable historical figures, Ned Kelly.
The impressive list continues with Miriam Lieberman (NSW) performing on kora (African harp) and guitar. Her songs are reminiscent of Joni Mitchell infused with the rhythms of West Africa, enhanced by the soaring string and vocal accompaniment of Lara Goodridge on violin and Liz Frencham on double bass.
The Black Swans of Trespass (TAS) will have audiences up on their feet with their funky, soulful, sound, while high-energy travelling folk band, The Button Collective (NSW), combines new Australian stories with elements of traditional Irish music, spiced up with the spirit of fast-paced American old-timey grooves.
Horns of Leroy (VIC) take street music to a new level with their New Orleans to Fitzroy inspired flavours, The Royal High Jinx (VIC) write, play and sing music inspired by European traditions while sporting a spectacular burlesque wardrobe and Squeebz (VIC) takes Irish, Cape Breton, Québécois and Breton music to a new level with their high-energy tunes and songs.
For the kids, it will be a chance to buckle up and take a trip in a giant time machine to get up close and personal with a life sized T-Rex! Dinosaur Time Machine incorporates the latest discoveries about dinosaurs with circus and puppetry, in this unique educational theatre production.


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NATIONAL FOLK FESTIVAL MAJOR LINE-UP ANNOUNCEMENT
The National Folk Festival celebrates the diversity of folk with a major announcement of artists for 2018.
Audiences will be treated to some of the very best exponents of their craft from Australia and the world when the 52nd edition of this iconic event hits the Nation’s capital next Easter. Headlining a stellar list of acts is Scottish super group Breabach, Nashville darling Lindsay Lou, the ‘unhinged genius’ of Steve Poltz, Celtic songstresses Cara, wildly entertaining and brilliantly named Ten Strings and A Goat Skin, and Indigenous performer Gina Williams, who returns to the Festival with her full band.
Today’s announcement also features a mix established and much-loved artists alongside new and emerging performers of uncommon talent and virtuosity who have yet to become household names. The National presents a superb opportunity for audiences to hear these acts on stages from the intimate through to the capacious, all within a lively village environment.
With music and entertainment to capture every age and taste, from young indie duo Amistat (twin brothers Jan and Josef Prasil) to the ‘rebellious beauty’ of Bush Gothic or The Western Flyers with their electrifying Texas swing, there will be plenty on the table to whet the appetite for good music.
The National is renowned for presenting the very best of folk. Old-timey and trad acts rub shoulders with the contemporary and new. Audiences will relish the gritty hill-style gospel blues duo Hat Fitz and Cara, virtuoso folk-blues guitarist Daniel Champagne, sublime UK duo Chris While and Julie Matthews, Canadian trio The Good Lovelies and glam-folk sirens-of-satire Sparrow-Folk. Add the lyrical bluegrass songs of the John Flanagan Trio, glorious tunes and vocals from Marcia Howard, diplomat-turned-musician Fred Smith and the sensual, theatrical performances of Chaika, and you’ll be spoilt for choice.
The list goes on: old time fiddle and banjo duo Cat and Clint; Charm of Finches (teen sisters Mabel and Ivy Windred-Wornes); The Chordwainers playing instruments crafted by world-renowned leather sculptor, Garry Greenwood, and the ‘infectiously fun’ Coconut Kids with French-influenced world folk using ukulele, brass, bass, keys, violin, mandolin and percussion.
In a treat for dancers, Australia’s leading Scottish Country Dance musicians, Chris Duncan with Catherine and Jennifer Strutt, will blow the party shoes off everyone on the dance floor! Ace fiddle player Gordie ‘Crazy Legs’ MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys will thrill with their exuberance and unstoppable roots music force, while Gippsland-born troubadour Harry Hookey, performing with Lucky Oceans and David Hyams, will wow audiences with their rousing sing-along stomp.
Families and children will delight in Australia’s favourite family puppet show, the Amazing Drumming Monkeys, blending puppetry, live music and comedy while lovers of circus will be enchanted by the glitter and laughter of Madhouse Circus and the nautical nonsense and sea shanty shenanigans of Pirateman Michael.


 

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NFF ANNOUNCES SIX-PACK TASTER OF TOP ARTISTS
The 52nd National Folk Festival has announced its first round of artists for 2018, with six outstanding headline acts from the UK and Australia.
From England, Faustus and Belshazzar’s Feast will head to our shores to perform exclusively for Festival goers. Also on the bill is returning Festival favourite, Katey Brooks (UK) as well as homegrown heroes Mick Thomas and The Roving Commission (VIC), 19-Twenty (NSW) and Frumious (TAS).
From ‘bloke folk’ and ‘punk blues’ to gypsy jazz fusion and the indefinable and yet unmistakable sound of grassroots and suburban Australia, these diverse acts represent the very best in folk music today. They’re at the top of their game as virtuoso musicians, songwriters and entertainers, and each will bring their unique sound to Exhibition Park, Canberra throughout Easter (29 March—2 April 2018).
Heading the list is Faustus (UK), a ‘bloke folk’ triumvirate of prodigiously talented multi-instrumentalists; Paul Sartin, Benji Kirkpatrick and Saul Rose. This trio evolved from award-winning band Dr Faustus, and all three members have performed in other leading acts including the Seth Lakeman Band, Bellowhead, Waterson:Carthy and Whapweazel. Their three albums and dynamic shows have earned them widespread acclaim as the leading lights of their generation, with The Guardian describing them as “one of Britain’s outstanding folk bands” and The Independent on Sunday declaring their mission to be “to rescue contemporary folk from the curse of feyness…”.
Belshazzar’s Feast (Paul Hutchinson and Paul Sartin, UK) play breathtakingly beautiful and wickedly inventive tunes on oboe, accordion and violin, many of which incorporate slapstick comedy with outstanding musicianship.
Guitarist-singer-songwriter Katey Brooks (UK) has a haunting intensity and a “voice to melt glaciers” (Venue Mag). After blowing away three full houses at the 2017 Festival, Katey is packing her guitar and returning to Australia with her new album, We The People.
Another returning Festival favourite is the ‘raucous and manic’ trio from the NSW east coast, 19-Twenty. Featuring Kane Dennelly (vocals and guitars), Syd Green (percussion, drums, dobro) and John Gwilliam on double bass and vocals, 19-Twenty believe in “asking for forgiveness not for permission” and, accordingly, their music is the closest to punk the blues will ever get.
Each year the Festival draws on the best folk acts from two feature states, in a nod to its history as a travelling festival. For 24 years the Festival was held in different Australian cities and towns before putting down roots at its permanent home at Exhibition Park, Canberra. Tasmania and Victoria are the featured states for the 52nd National Folk Festival.The first acts announced for the featured states are Frumious, a high-energy quintet from Hobart. Borrowing from many styles and cultures, their music is an infectiously upbeat fusion of folk and gypsy jazz with a fresh, contemporary and original sound.
Mick Thomas & The Roving Commission (VIC) features raconteur, troubadour, balladeer and poet, Mick Thomas, along with Squeezebox Wally on piano accordion and a rotating lineup of talented performers to keep the party alive with Mick’s unique mix of folk, roots and country.

Adam Simmons

Adam Simmons and Arcko ensemble: Melbourne premiere of Travelling Tales

REVIEWS

Adam Simmons review: Potent demonstration of the necessity of art
—4 stars, Jessica Nicholas, The Age
“Travelling Tales is another marvellously assured step in Simmons’ own journey as musician and composer, and a potent demonstration of the usefulness – no, the necessity – of art as an expression of our collective humanity.”

Travelling Tales
—5 stars, Raphael Solarsh, Arts Hub
“An exquisite musical journey that takes you from sun down amongst natural beauty to first light after a sleepless city night. Simmons’ music is rich and evocative with the cinematic string arrangement given a grittier and more tactile edge by saxophony that spanned subtle breath all the way to unrestrained wail.”

Travelling Tales (fortyfivedownstairs)
—4 stars, Des Cowley, Australian Books and Arts Review
“With three projects in the series now completed, Adam Simmons’s ‘The Usefulness of Art’ can increasingly be viewed as a major musical statement by a mid-career artist. The radical decision by a musician most often associated with jazz to conceptualise these large-scale performances – each in collaboration with a different ensemble – as artworks rather than club gigs is testament to the broad-ranging ambitiousness of Simmons as a composer. For Travelling Tales, the Arcko Symphonic Ensemble provided admirable support, performing their task with extraordinary precision, an impressive feat given that it followed just two rehearsals.”

Useful = accessible
—Clive O’Connell, classical music reviewer
“And the concert fulfilled the aim of Simmons’ intent: to illustrate the usefulness of his art – both to himself and to us.  I think that the basis of what he is attempting is to found his music in comprehensibility – no, instant understanding.  Music that is accessible, intellectually and emotionally, is useful; composers who choose to obfuscate, inadvertently or intentionally, are heading in the other direction and writing music of no help to anyone.
“More down-to-earth, the composer has succeeded in linking his own swooping performance creativity and the pervasive power of his playing with a formal framework of such character that should reassure even the most conservative listener.”

Adam Simmons’ Travelling Tales music review (45 Downstairs, Melbourne)
—Shane Murphy, Daily Review
“Simmons is relaxed and warm in his introductions; it’s clear he’s someone who loves what he does. This is not the art of torturous self-analysis, but for this instalment at least, reflections on travel and the experiences encountered… a smooth night of sweet music.”

What Melbourne Loved in 2017, part 3 —Favourite moments
—Sarah Walker, Sometimes Melbourne
“My other favourite moment was during The Adam Simmons Creative Music Ensemble’s The Usefulness of Art concert at fortyfivedownstairs. The whole concert was so suffused with joy and excitement. At the crescendo of the work, Adam was standing in front of the orchestra, furiously conducting, not so much leading the music as wrenching it from the performers – punching the air to bring the sound along with him and as the piece peaked, he let out this yell that was the most cathartic release of energy, and the band crashed around him, and, holy shit, I had goosebumps coursing up and down my whole body and everything was shining.”

2017 Arts Highlights of the Year
—Des Cowley, Australian Books and Arts Review
There were many memorable performances by jazz and improvising musicians throughout 2017. Two that stood out incorporated strong visual and theatrical elements.
Composer and multi-instrumentalist Adam Simmons’s The Usefulness of Art (ABR Arts, 8/17), performed by a large ensemble at fortyfivedownstairs, similarly incorporated theatrical costume and design to heighten the power of this impassioned music.


Hotter-than-hot musical wunderkind Adam Simmons brings the Melbourne premiere of his musical suite Travelling Tales to fortyfivedownstairs from December 7—10.
Simmons will perform this rapturous avant garde-jazz-classical suite with the 20-piece world-class Arcko Ensemble, conducted by Timothy Phillips.
Simmons composed and first performed Travelling Tales for the 2013 Piraeus Festival in Athens, Greece, with the Intrarti Orchestra. The work comprises musical vignettes inspired by his worldwide travels, love of Japanese shakuhachi music, and profound belief in the usefulness of art.
It will be the third in his acclaimed The Usefulness of Art concert series. Comprising five concerts over two years, The Usefulness of Art series is inspired by a Rodin quote, and is the driving force behind Simmons’ formidable musical career.
The first two concerts have elicited rapturous praise from critics and audiences alike. The Age Classical Reviewer, Clive O’Connell, wrote, “At a time when really adventurous musical events are rare, this night was a breath of fresh air, leaving you elated with its accomplishment.”
Des Cowley, Australian Book Review, described the second concert as, “… a triumph in every way,” and the Daily Review’s Shane Murphy said, “If the usefulness of art is to make one happy, then Simmons went a long way to doing so.”
A virtuoso player of saxophones, clarinets, flute and shakuhachi (Japanese flute), Simmons stretches the boundaries of modern composition and infuses a sense of wonder and playfulness into musical art forms better known for their gravitas.
His performances are not so much ‘concerts’ as staged auditory spectacles—drawing audiences in to share in the uniquely communal power and euphoria of his music and art.
Revered by his peers, lauded by critics and adored by audiences, up to now he’s been somewhat of an unsung hero on the Melbourne music scene. This is all about to change; as well as co-directing a killer line-up at the latest Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues, he’s just got a gig as artist-in-residence for FOMA MONA 2018 and won a spot in the Australia Council’s prestigious Arts Leaders Program.
For Travelling Tales, Simmons chose to work with Timothy Phillips and the Arcko Ensemble not just because of their virtuoso playing but also their focus on Australian works and composers. With a 20-piece string orchestra and conductor, Simmons will be playing tenor and soprano saxophones as well as bass clarinet. Continuing the theatrically-inspired theme for his concerts, the musicians will be wearing costumes designed by Christine Crawford.

An award-winning and world-renowned musician, Adam Simmons redefines the term ‘multi-instrumentalist’, stretches the boundaries of modern composition, and infuses a sense of childlike wonder and playfulness into musical art forms better known for their gravitas. He has a deserved reputation as one of Australia’s most prolific and eclectic musical artists, appearing on festival stages and recordings with some of the world’s finest classical and jazz musicians, and is renowned for his inclusive, collaborative and uplifting performances.

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Concert #2: Meditation on The Usefulness of Art is music for our times (The Usefulness of Art)
Concert #1: Unique concert series to explore The Usefulness of Art (Concerto for Piano & Toy Band)