Media release: Butoh—the dance world’s punk rock—
is here to disrupt your preconceptions of dance

Tickets are now on sale for the eagerly-awaited 2019 ButohOUT! Festival—Forbidden Laughter. Thanks to pioneering Japanese-Australian performance artists Yumi Umiumare and Takashi Takiguchi, Melburnians have the chance to experience this unique and captivating dance form. Incorporating elements of cabaret, Bouffon, burlesque and visual installations, Forbidden Laughter is created by Yumi Umiumare along with award-winning performer Maude Davey, and the unstoppable force of WEAVE Movement Theatre, devious duo Willow J Conway and Zya Kane, and the Butoh OUT! Ensemble.

About Butoh
Australia’s love for dance shows no sign of waning and we’ve demonstrated our eagerness to embrace genres from around the world. We lap up the televised dance shows, from Dancing With The Stars to So, You Think You Can Dance. And on any night of the week, we can head to a class and kick up our heels in the style of our choice, whether it’s rock-and-roll, Latin, Irish, tap, line dancing, clogging and more. So when you think of imported dance styles, Butoh probably won’t spring to mind… and yet this Japanese-born performance medium offers us the chance to immerse ourselves in a fascinating, hitherto unexplored dance form that’s as revolutionary and subversive to dance as punk rock was to popular music.
Butoh, the so-called Dance of Darkness, emerged out of post-WWII Japan as a rebellious and anti-establishment reaction to the country’s social turmoil. Butoh’s crude physical gestures and ‘natural’ movements rejected traditional Japanese aesthetics of refinement and understatement, and eschewed what creators Hijikata Tatsumi and Ohno Kazuo saw as the imitation of Western dance styles. Butoh dancers were commonly covered in white full body paint, near-naked with shaved heads, moving excruciatingly slowly with clawed hands and rolled-up eyes, silently screaming.
The first Butoh performance at a Japanese dance festival in 1959—which incorporated a live chicken—shocked audiences and not only saw Hijikata banned from the festival, but established him as a cultural iconoclast.

ButohOUT! 2019—Forbidden Laughter
Now in its third year, ButohOUT! challenges the perception of Butoh as dark and grotesque by combining the dancing with elements of cabaret, Bouffon, burlesque, physical theatre and visual installations. Celebrating the unique and powerful performance medium of Butoh, Forbidden Laughter invites audiences into surreal narratives through a bizarre and mysterious domesticated installation within the rustic industrial school of Abbotsford Convent.
Forbidden Laughter is created and conceived by leading Butoh artist Yumi Umiumare in collaboration with Takashi, along with award-winning performance artist, Maude Davey and the unstoppable force of WEAVE Movement Theatre, devious duo Willow J Conway and Zya Kane and the Butoh OUT! Ensemble. Strange and absurd stories are woven between worlds that are mythically sacred and divinely carnal; the sensibilities of the East and West collide in a contemporary setting designed by the internationally acclaimed Thai sculptor, Pimpisa Tinpalit.
The two-month Festival program includes four public workshops held in March and April, two weeks of performances from Thursday 2 May—Sunday 12 May, and discussion groups. Facilitated by professional award-winning performance and visual artists and theatre-makers, the workshops are designed to cater for all age groups and stages of accomplishment including absolute beginners through to dance professionals, making Butoh accessible and engaging for all. The performance season will involve workshop participants (including dancers from the renowned WEAVE Movement Theatre) as well as the workshop leaders.

Creative team: Artistic director Yumi Umiumare, Producer Takashi Takiguchi, Dramaturg Maude Davey, Visual artist Pimpisa Tinpalit. ButohOUT! is being held in partnership with Abbotsford Convent and is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria; Arts Access Victoria; and WEAVE Movement Theatre.

Media release: “Not All Who Wonder Are Last”—Bowlines CD launch

World-class Melbourne improv string trio BOWLINES releases second album

Three of Australia’s leading improvising bowed string players, Bowlines, will launch their new CD, Not All Who Wonder Are Last, on Sunday 7 October at Carlton Church of All Nations.

Not All Who Wonder Are Last is a wellspring of sparkling improvised instrumental music created by Australia’s leading klezmer violinist, Ernie Gruner, with virtuoso players Helen Mountfort (cello; Cosmo Cosmolino) and Hope Csutoros (violin, viola; The Stiletto Sisters, Circus Oz).
The recording captures the trio’s inspired interplay, their musical brilliance, and the love, trust and respect they bring to each other, their music, and the moment.
The CD is true to the trio’s collaborative and creative sensibilities in every way, with input from artists including storyteller Niki Na Meadhra. Niki’s choice of the title Not All Who Wonder Are Last is a beautiful word play on J R R Tolkien’s “Not all those who wander are lost” line from the poem “All that is gold does not glitter” (Lord of the Rings). It speaks to the notion that slowing down to wonder may be at first a delay, but ultimately it is an enhancement of pace, focus and direction in a creative journey.
Like watching a flock of birds circling at dusk, engaging in an unexpectedly enlivening conversation with a stranger at a party, or turning—on a whim—to saunter down an unfamiliar path, Not All Who Wonder Are Last evokes a sense of exploration, playful whimsy and the inherent value of taking time to wonder and ponder.
The launch concert will be a theatrical and musical extravaganza, featuring improvised music from Ernie, Hope and Helen, along with creative contributions from Adam Simmons (saxophone, flute, clarinet and words), Karen Berger (hang drum), and members of the Melbourne Playback Theatre Company as well as Travel Art Theatre Company.
Bowlines concerts are a breath-taking experience for audiences, inviting them to dive into a rich and intense new world of ephemeral music. The players’ melodies curve and weave, together and apart, creating harmonies that fill the space and reach into the heart. In the words of one audience member, “… it’s inspiring to be in the presence of the communion, the communication, the listening, the connection between the musicians and to receive the gift of their musical creation, happening in the moment”.
Their CD launch will offer Melbourne audiences a rare opportunity to hear these three world-class string musicians creating new music in the moment and inviting others to experience the magical and transformative power of collective improvisation.


BOWLINES CD LAUNCH—details
What: Launch of Not All Who Wonder Are Last by Bowlines
Who: Bowlines string trio: Ernie Gruner (violin, octave violin), Helen Mountfort (cello) and Hope Csutoros (violin, viola) plus special guests Adam Simmons (saxophone, flute, clarinet and words), Karen Berger (hang drum), members of Melbourne Playback Theatre, and members of Travel Art Theatre Company
Date: Sunday 7 October 2018
Venue: Carlton Church of All Nations, 180 Palmerston St, Carlton, Victoria 3053
Time: 5pm
Tickets: $20/$15 (show only, online pre-purchase via Trybooking). All ages welcome.
Ticketing URL
More info: bowlines.com.au
Ends/ends…


ABOUT BOWLINES

Ernie Gruner formed the Bowlines trio in 2012 to create new improvised music by virtuoso bowed string players from eclectic backgrounds with a shared passion for improvising. The group’s music is inspired by The Necks (Australian experimental jazz trio), Coolangubra (atmospheric, genre-defying music), Kronos Quartet (celebrated contemporary US string quartet) and Born In A Taxi (improvisational theatre). Not All Who Wonder Are Last is Bowlines’ second CD (their debut was Circling Strangers).

MUSICIAN BIOS

Ernie Gruner (violin/viola, octave violin)
Ernie is widely recognised as Australia’s leading klezmer violinist and a significant contributor to the development of Australia’s world music scene (earning him a profile in Seth Jordan’s 2010 book World Music: Global Sounds in Australia).
Ernie has co-founded, performed, recorded with and guested in countless bands, theatre and cabaret groups, at countless major festivals and concert venues. He appeared twice on ABC TV’s musical quiz program, Spicks and Specks, and has more than 75 recording credits to his name.
His studies in New York, Kracow, Budapest and Montreal have helped him develop a technical brilliance that gives wings to his love of improvised music, resulting in inspired performances across multiple genres including klezmer, jazz, blues, Latin, art music, and folk (Middle Eastern, Balkan, Irish, Australian bush, gypsy), as well as in cabaret and theatre.
Renowned for his ambitious and ingenious musical collaborations, and as a much-loved fellow musician on the world music scene, he’s been a member of Dya Singh band (Sikh), Kalinka (European), Zingara (world/gypsy), Howlin’ Wind Band (world/rock) and accompanied Zulya Kamalova, Kavisha Mazzella, Bronwyn Calcutt, Gypsy Fire – Matthew Fagan, Texicali Rose (mariachi) Colin Reid, Brahim Benim (Moroccan), Afandi Siyo (Oromo/East African). As a classical musician, Ernie led the Monash String Quartet for 10 years and was an orchestral violinist.
His theatre involvement and collaborations include Melbourne Playback Theatre, Cafe Scheherezade, Progress and Melancholy, Our Chalk Circle, Dante, Russian Soup , Emma Celebrazione, Blue Absinthe and cabaret with Jugularity.

Hope Csutoros (violin, viola) (left hand side of photo)
Hope Csutoros studied at the Victorian College of the Arts and the Budapest Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Hungary. Performances and touring overseas includes My Friend the Chocolate Cake, Stiletto Sisters, Circus Oz, State Orchestra of Victoria, Phantom of the the Opera, David Chesworth Ensemble, Chamber Made Opera, and Deflocked String Quartet. Her recording credits include Midnight Oil, Deborah Conway, Mark Seymour and Renee Geyer.

Helen Mountfort (cello) (centre of photo)
Helen Mountfort performs with Fine Blue Thread, Cosmo Cosmolino and Not Drowning, Waving. She was a member of DeFlocked, improvising string quartet, and also David Chesworth Ensemble and My Friend The Chocolate Cake. She has recorded with many Australian artists including Missy Higgins, Archie Roach, Paul Kelly, Midnight Oil, Renee Geyer, Mark Seymour and the John Butler Trio.

SPECIAL GUESTS—BOWLINES CD LAUNCH

Adam Simmons (saxophone)
A virtuoso player of saxophones, clarinets, flute and shakuhachi (Japanese flute), Adam 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. He has a rare and uncanny ability to elicit the very best from the highly accomplished musicians he works with, as well as evoking spine-tingling emotion and rapturous applause from audiences.

Karen Berger (hang drum)
Karen has worked in Australia, Asia, Africa and Europe as a director, musical director, actor and musician. Career highlights include: devising and performing in an Edinburgh Festival Fringe First winning show, Believer (1992); improvising fairy stories for Bosnian children in Slovenian refugee camps (1993); musical directing and performing in a dance/music piece at the Melbourne City Baths, Walk on Water (2000); devising and directing a West African tour of Ashanti short stories, Who Stole Daawa’s Tail? (2004); playing teapot for the Melbourne International Arts Festival and Singapore International Children’s Festival in the Teapot Ensemble of Australia (2007) and co-directing ‘Forest Beats’, an outdoor circus show with 300 Zambian street children (2013).
Last year she was commissioned by the Dandenong Ranges Music Council to compose Bells of Peace for the Federation Bells at Birrarung Marr.
The original Hang (meaning ‘hand’ in Bernese German) was created in Switzerland in 2000. It uses some of the same basic physical principles as a steelpan, but modified in such a way as to act as a Helmholtz resonator – i.e. Air resonance in a cavity. Each note has a complex range of harmonics.

Travel Art Dance Company
Founded in 2003, Travel Art Dance Company brings together dancers from a range of dance and movement backgrounds, with the motivation behind the group being the combination of choreographed and improvised dance in a performance context. The experience of the dancers in the group ranges from contemporary dance, classical ballet, improvisation and creative dance to yoga, gymnastics, acrobalance, circus skills and martial arts.

Melbourne Playback Theatre Company
Melbourne Playback is a leading interactive theatre company that has been creating performances, professional training and workshops which transform, empower and entertain for over 30 years. They use personal story and the principles of improvisation as ways to awaken new perspectives.


NOT ALL WHO WONDER ARE LAST—CD DETAILS

by Bowlines
Release date: October 2018
Name of album : Not All Who Wonder Are Last
Artist : Bowlines
Musicians: Ernie Gruner (violin, viola, octave violin), Helen Mountfort (cello), Hope Csutoros (violin, viola)
Genre/s : World / improvised / art music / strings / classical
Recorded: Live at Northcote Uniting Church, Victoria, Australia, 30 October 2016
Recorded by: Nao Anzai and Yasutomo Umeki
Mixed & mastered by : Nao Anzai, Toys Of Noise
Australian distribution : Readings Carlton (309 Lygon St, Carlton), Captain Stomp (46 Forest Rd, Ferntree Gully) and L’Espresso Ballarat (417 Sturt St)
Via Ernie Gruner ernie@erniegruner.com ($20 inc postage within Aus)
Digital: https://bowlines.bandcamp.com/
Label : Independent
Cover art : Jamie de Rooij, DesignCrowd
CD layout : Implant Media
Photography : Rowan Gruner, Shawket Husseini
CD and track titles by: Niki Na Meadhra, storyteller

Track list :

  1. The Question Is The Key 3:14
  2. Rowing Into Sunlight 1:41
  3. The Traveller’s Dog 0:33
  4. Over The Hills To Faraway 0:33
  5. Unexpected Descent 0:33
  6. The Asking 3:16
  7. When Every Door Is Closed 2:51
  8. The Crone’s Advice 3:44
  9. The Horse Knows The Path Through 3:27
  10. Defeated By The Journey 3:37
  11. The Veil Is A Door 3:22
  12. Return To Home And Hearth 3:30
  13. A Home Outgrown 6:22
  14. Learning To Walk In New Shoes 4:44

Bowlines CD cover art

Media release: 29th Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues announces inspired world-class program

Australia’s foremost jazz and blues music festival, Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues, to be held from Friday 2nd through Sunday 4th November in Wangaratta, north-east Victoria, has announced a stunning program of international and Australian artists to tempt travellers, lovers of live music and locals alike.
This year’s program is the most internationally-diverse in the festival’s history, with the likes of electrifying UK blues guitarist Matt Schofield, US ‘sonic explorers’ FORQ, German jazz-hip-hop piano group Trio ELF, and, in a welcome return to Wangaratta for the first time since 2010, the Netherlands’ Yuri Honing Quartet.
And the local line-up promises to be stronger and more inspiring than ever, featuring the world premiere of the Australian Art Orchestra’s new work, revered Indigenous Australian jazz vocalist Wilma Reading, all-female soul band Sweethearts, Ray Beadle coming out of retirement to perform on both jazz and blues stages with Clayton Doley and Red Hands, and Tina Harrod performing her lauded new album, City of Longing, as well as guest-starring on the beloved annual Jazz Mass program.
Festival Chair Mark Bolsius praised the artistic team—Zoe Hauptmann, Frank Davidson, Scott Solimo and Adam Simmons—for creating a program jam-packed with fresh new faces, venerable favourites and award-winning musicians from the UK, US, France, Japan, Indonesia, the Czech Republic, India, The Netherlands, Asia, Germany, Sri Lanka, Canada and Australia.
“This year really builds on the successful rebirth of the festival in 2017, when our new venues, partnerships, precinct layout and programming team were universally endorsed by audiences, artists and music critics,” Mr Bolsius said.
“Not only do we have the most diverse international line-up ever, but we continue to offer a world-class Australian line-up, something that is unique to this festival. With more than 300 musicians in over 80 concerts across eight concert locations, we promise there’s something for everyone. We’re confident that we have the right mix of music, artists, stages and programming to satisfy and delight not just serious jazz and blues aficionados, but also tourists to northeast Victoria and of course our local music-lovers.”


Artist highlights include:

  • UK blues guitarist, Matt Schofield, whose virtuoso playing has seen him named as one of the top 10 British Blues Guitarists of all time and inducted into the British Blues Hall of Fame;
  • World-class sonic improvisers, FORQ, from the US, featuring keyboardist Henry Hey (David Bowie, Empire of the Sun) and bassist Michael League (Grammy-winning leader of Snarky Puppy) and touring their third album Thrēq;
  • Vocalist Wilma Reading, whose numerous international career highlights include touring with the Duke Ellington Orchestra, performing on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, lead roles on London’s West End, and featuring at New York’s Copacabana Night Club;
  • From The Netherlands, the Yuri Honing Quartet, in a welcome return to Wangaratta for the first time since 2010, this time with an acclaimed new album, Goldbrun;
  • The world premiere of a new work by the Australian Art Orchestra—a contemplation of the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day in music by Andrea Keller, Peter Knight and Tilman Robinson;
  • A slew of inspired local/overseas collaborations including The Three Seas, a cross-cultural and cross-genre collaboration between musicians from India and Australia;
    The new Victorian Youth Jazz Collective, led by James Mustafa, paving the way for a whole new generation of young jazz musicians;
  • Opelousas, a new blues collaboration between Kerri Simpson, Alison Ferrier and Anthony ‘Shorty’ Shortte of Collard Greens and Gravy fame;
  • Ex-Canberra guitarist, Alex Stuart, touring with his French quintet;
  • Wild woman of blues and 2017-18 MBAS Blues Performer of The Year, Kelly Auty, performing her new all-original blues album, Kelly’s Blues;
  • The Adam Simmons Creative Music Ensemble with the Afrolankan Drumming System (Ray Pereira) and Indian dancer Vikram Iyengar performing The Calling;
  • 2017 National Jazz Award winner, James Macaulay, with the Hishakaku Quartet;
  • Triple J Unearthed indie-jazz-roots darlings, JAKAL, with Jessie Hillel (NZ) on vocals;
  • A rare performance by jazz royalty, Ten Part Invention, celebrating over 30 years of creating music. The festival is thrilled to have on the bill this ‘small big band’ of virtuoso composer-improvisers, described one the Radio National Music Show as “one of the most expressive large ensembles to emerge from Australia”.

Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues, Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th November 2018
Artist details and program grid
Follow @WangarattaJazz on Twitter, @wangarattajazzandblues on Instagram and @WangarattaJazzFestival on Facebook
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Since 1989 the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues grown to become an internationally renowned event attracting around 25,000 visitors and 200 jazz and blues artists from the US, the UK, Europe and Australia to regional north-east Victoria every November.
With a diverse, eclectic mix of jazz greats and rising stars, each year the program showcases jazz and blues of all styles, including original, contemporary, traditional, mainstream, experimental and improvised. A central feature remains the National Jazz Awards; a competition designed to encourage and promote young musicians. The Festival has won numerous tourism and sponsorship awards, and is recognised internationally as the foremost jazz and blues event in Australia.

WFoJ Logo with Date - large - Copy

Music Moments Memories

Media release: Adam Simmons + Wang Zheng-Ting in world premiere of The Kites of Tianjin

REVIEWS

Adam Simmons: The Kites of Tianjin
★★★★★ Raphael Solarsh, Arts Hub
“… a fitting finale to the inimitable brilliance of The Usefulness of Art concert series by Adam Simmons.”
“The Usefulness of Art has been a ground-breaking and magnificent musical journey. Simmons and his collaborators have plotted a singularly innovative and evocative trail that has taken audience to the far-flung corners of the world with Simmons’ exquisite sonic journals. Each concert has offered not just music inspired by place but deeply personal narratives seamlessly intertwined.”
“… Adam Simmons is producing some of the most incredible jazz in Australia or anywhere else.”

Adam Simmons, The Kites of Tianjin
★★★★½ Des Cowley, Australian Books and Arts Review
“The extended applause that greeted the performance’s end seemed like a recognition of the monumentality of Adam Simmons’ Usefulness of Art series. Inspired by a direct quote from Rodin, ‘I call useful all that gives happiness’, his cycle of large-scale compositions has raised fundamental questions about the role of art in our society, and the ways in which art might bring us together. For this occasion, the performances by Wang Zheng-Ting and members of the Adam Simmons Creative Music Ensemble were flawless. For those of us fortunate enough to have attended the series, there was a sense that, for composer and audience alike, we had reached the end of a long and fascinating journey. And, like any journey, we had arrived changed from when we set out.”

Kites Soar on Breath of Life
★★★★½ Jessica Nicholas, The Age & Sydney Morning Herald
“…Simmons has used [The Usefulness of Art series] to explore the value of music and art in shaping identity and fostering a sense of community.”
“… the exceptional artistry of sheng player Wang Zheng Ting […] the sheng flutters and dances with the delicacy of butterfly wings, though it can also pulse with rhythmic vitality.”
“…Simmons uses his instruments and… his entire 15-piece Creative Music Ensemble… to draw parallels between music and nature, art and pleasure.”
“The Kites of Tianjin is all about wind and its relationship to breath – and breath to life – and as the piece comes to an end, the musicians put down their instruments and simply breathe. Simmons looks out at us, issuing a gentle invitation to breathe with them. It’s a simple but deeply moving gesture, signifying the inclusiveness and desire to share that makes Simmons’ work so meaningful.”

Wind as Breath, Breath as Life
—Roger Mitchell, Ausjazz.net
“Breathtakingly beautiful…the ending also draws the audience in to share and engage with the ensemble, but in a totally different way. We gradually become aware that the music is becoming breath-like and, in an utterly magic experience, realise as the music fades that all that remains is the breathing. Like gentle waves washing on a sea shore the breathing takes us to an utterly restful and peaceful place. Instead of our breath being taken, we are filled with and enlivened by our own breathing. Don’t miss the chance to hear this concert.”


MEDIA RELEASE

Acclaimed Melbourne composer, Adam Simmons, will perform the world premiere of his latest new musical work, The Kites of Tianjin, at fortyfivedownstairs from Thursday 26 to Sunday 29 July.
Inspired by Simmons’ experiences in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin, famous for its Wei Kites, The Kites of Tianjin will feature Wang Zheng-Ting on Sheng (Chinese mouth organ) as featured soloist with the Adam Simmons Creative Music Ensemble.
The Kites of Tianjin will be the fifth and final concert in Simmons’ acclaimed The Usefulness of Art series. Comprising five unique and original concerts over 2017-18, The Usefulness of Art originated from a quote by Auguste Rodin, and is the driving force behind Simmons’ formidable musical career.
Since meeting in 2007, Simmons and Ting have collaborated on a number of major concerts as a duo and with Simmons’s trio, Origami. The two were intrigued by the Wei Kites during a visit to Tianjin in 2017, where they attended a workshop run by Wei Guoqiu, a fourth-generation member of the famous kite-making family.
“There’s something irresistible about making your own kite… and about finding the way to ride the wind. It’s similar to playing with nature in other ways, such as creating sand tunnels at the beach or floating sticks down the river or stoking the hot coals to produce flames,” says Simmons.
“A kite is brought to life by the wind—and we in turn rely on breathing to give us life. This invisible force around us has such potential for creation and sustenance. My personal revelation a few years back is that really what I have been learning via my musical instruments is fundamentally about how to breathe—and that to breathe is to live. In this way, the kite in the wind becomes a metaphor for living.”
The Kites of Tianjin—which musically and visually explores breath and the fundamental nature of being human—is the culmination of the preceding Usefulness of Art concerts. Together, the concerts have used Simmons’ original art music to ponder such weighty concepts as the creation of form, art through music, qualities that art engenders in humanity, reasons to create art, how art connects communities and helps develop understanding of one’s place in the world, exploring personal identity, and connecting to place.
The first four concerts have elicited rapturous praise from critics and audiences alike, including The Age’s Jessica Nicholas: “… 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,” and “(The Calling was) arresting both musically and visually, reflecting the sense of empathy and shared experience that gives this work such a strong emotional resonance.”
Two 5-star reviews by Raphael Solarsh of Arts Hub effused: “… (a) sonic freefall into a raw and emotive tour de force… another masterpiece by Simmons and his collaborators,” and “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.”

This concert is supported by the City of Melbourne Arts Grants Program.


THE KITES OF TIANJIN—BIOS

Adam Simmons
A virtuoso player of saxophones, clarinets, flute and shakuhachi (Japanese flute), Adam 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. He has a rare and uncanny ability to elicit the very best from the highly accomplished musicians he works with, as well as evoking spine-tingling emotion and rapturous applause from audiences.
His concerts are joyous, inspired cross-genre collaborations with virtuoso musicians and theatrical artists. Previous concerts have involved not only his eclectic Creative Music Ensemble (in which his father, Paul Simmons, plays saxophone) but also artists of the calibre of Michael Kieran Harvey, the Arcko Symphonic Ensemble, and Diokno Pasilan.
Adam is the lead Co-Artistic Director of Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues. He was also selected for the 2017 intake for Australia Council’s Arts Leader Program.

Wang Zheng-Ting
Wang Zheng-Ting is a world-renowned musician (Sheng, Chinese mouth organ), musical director, lecturer, author and ethnomusicologist. He graduated from Shanghai Music Conservatory and completed an MA in Ethnomusicology at Monash University and a PhD in Ethnomusicology at the University of Melbourne, and is an honorary research fellow at Monash University.
He co-ordinated the Chinese Instrumental Music course at the University of Melbourne, was a Melbourne Festival Ambassador in 2014 and 2015, and has been invited as a visiting scholar to the City University of New York, guest professor at Xiamen University, and Research Fellow at the Sichuan Conservatory of Music. He is director of the Australian Chinese Music Ensemble.
As a lecturer and solo performer on the Sheng (Chinese mouth organ), he has performed recitals across the world including the US (New York Lincoln Center, University of California), and in Zurich, Germany, Thailand, Tokyo, Holland, China and Italy. His book, Chinese Music in Australia: Victoria, 1850s to mid-1990s was published in 1997.

The Adam Simmons Creative Ensemble (ASCME)
The ASCME first performed in 2004 at the Sydney Opera House for the Freedman Awards, resulting in a Special Award from the Freedman Foundation being awarded to Simmons for his work. Since then the group has performed at Melbourne Jazz Fringe Festival, Festival Of Slow Music and Wentworth Arts Festival, as well as being recorded by ABC FM at the Half Bent Music Festival. ASCME combines the outstanding talents of musicians from diverse backgrounds, performing cross-genre music that connects, engages and resonates powerfully with audiences. The ensemble has also performed in three of The Usefulness of Art concerts so far, and for the Kites of Tianjin will comprise:
Leader/woodwinds—Adam Simmons
Saxophones—Samuel Boon (Saskwatch), Cara Taber (Esstee Big Band), Gideon Brazil (Gotye, The Rockets), Paul Simmons (Adam’s father, from Ballarat; The Parrots inc. David Hobson, Kamahl, Dolphy’s Albatross)
Trumpets—Gemma Horbury (Orkeztra Glasso Bashalde, Tek Tek Ensemble), Gavin Cornish (Movin’ & Groovin’ Orchestra)
Trombones—James Wilkinson (Snuff Puppets), Bryn Hills (from Ballarat; The Boxing Tostados)
Bass—Howard Cairns (Origami, Way Out West)
Drums—Niko Schauble (Australian Art Orchestra, Tibetan Dixie)
Percussion—Nat Grant (The Amplified Elephants), Carmen Chan (Do You See What I Hear?)
Guitar—David Brown (bucketrider, Pateras/Baxter/Brown, Candlesnuffer)
Vocals—Pete Lawler (Weddings Parties Anything, RRR BBQ Orchestra)

THE KITES OF TIANJIN—COSTUMES
Fashion/costumier—Christine Crawshaw (Ballarat; BOLT Ensemble, Ballarat Heritage Festival)
Christine Crawshaw is a Ballarat-based freelance designer for events involving set dressing, display, costuming for events, weddings and theatre. With a background in visual arts (Victorian Collage of the Arts and Ballarat University College) Christine has worked with performers in live music and festivals for over 20 years, including BOLT Ensemble, Festival of Slow Music, Adam Simmons Creative Music Ensemble and Harvest Festival (Buninyong).

THE KITES OF TIANJIN—SET DESIGN
Set designer—Rachaeldaisy
Award-winning quilting artist Rachaeldaisy (Rachael Simmons, Springwood, NSW) has become synonymous with bold, colourful, highly detailed quilts. While honouring the age-old tradition of quilting, Rachaeldaisy constantly creates fresh ways and techniques to interpret conventional designs. Her use of 3D elements such as folded and gathered fabric techniques, yoyo puffs, prairie points, wool felt, appliqué denim and crochet doilies, as well as her mastery of colour and form, make for unique, exquisitely textural work. Rachaeldaisy’s quilts have been exhibited in national and international quilt shows and galleries. Rachaeldaisy is Adam Simmons’s sister.
https://www.instagram.com/bluemountaindaisy/

THE KITES OF TIANJIN—VISUALS
Visual designer—Jean Poole
Jean Poole is a Melbourne-based video artist, specialising in live projections, though extending to animation, music video direction and installation design. Jean has designed live visual sets for artists such as Gotye, Cumbia Cosmonauts and Cleverhorse. He has been commissioned to create and control projection mapped video environments for the MONA museum’s annual MOFO and Dark MOFO festivals.
His fascination with the possibilities of real-time video manipulation – has seen him projecting video onto 100-million-year-old dinosaur skeletons onto car wrecks in the Australian desert, onto Turkey’s Cappadocia cliffs, and onto masked wrestlers on rooftops in Mexico. This passion for shaping atmospheres with video, has also found him controlling multi-screened and projection mapped video for theatre, and accompanying musicians at the Sydney Opera House, ACMI, the OK Video festival in Jakarta, Indonesia, the LPM festival in Rome, Italy, and at Australian festivals such as Big Day Out, Meredith Music Festival, Electrofringe, Stereosonic, Golden Plains, Good Vibrations, Melbourne International Jazz festival and Falls Festival.

THE KITES OF TIANJIN—Other points of interest
Tianjin
With a population of more than 15 million, the northern coastal city of Tianjin is the fourth largest city in China. In 1980, Melbourne and Tianjin formed a sister city relationship—the first such relationship between an Australian and a Chinese city. In 1998, the Melbourne Office opened in Tianjin to facilitate trade, investment and exchanges between the two cities. The City of Melbourne remains the only Australian local government to have an established business office in China. Melbourne’s sister city relationship with Tianjin fosters understanding and goodwill between the two cities and recognises contributions made by the Chinese community to Melbourne’s business, culture and community life.

Wei Kites
Spring and autumn kite-making emerged as a traditional Chinese folk craft around 770 BC. In ancient China, kites were known as ‘paper eagles’ and used to measure distances and send signals, as well as for fun and recreation. Selecting the materials (silk, bamboo, and paper), designing, making and mastering the flying of these beautiful kites is a painstaking process.
The city of Tianjin is especially renowned for its kite craftsmen; the most famous of whom was Wei Yuantai, born in 1872. Nicknamed Kite Wei for his mastery of the craft, he made extraordinary kites for more than 70 years. Kite Wei created around 200 silk kites with many new designs, such as flat hard-winged, soft-winged, three-dimensional and foldaway kites, which have a flexible bamboo framework secured with glue instead of thread, and reinforced by a copper ring at every joint. Kite Wei passed on his craft to his family members, and today his great-great grandson Wei Guoqiu continues his kite-making tradition.


Previous concerts in The Usefulness of Art concert series:
Concert #4: The Calling (Adam Simmons with Afro-Lankan Drumming System)
Concert #3: Travelling Tales (Adam Simmons with Arcko Ensemble)
Concert #2: Meditation on The Usefulness of Art is music for our times (The Usefulness of Art, Adam Simmons Creative Music Ensemble)
Concert #1: Unique concert series to explore The Usefulness of Art (Concerto for Piano & Toy Band, Adam Simmons Creative Music Ensemble with Michael Kieran Harvey)

Media release: Uncovering Italian-Australian musical gems of bygone days

Rare and long-forgotten Australian-Italian folk songs are set for a major revival, with the 2018 National Folk Fellowship being awarded to musician, ethnomusicologist and composer Salvatore Rossano.
Dr Rossano was announced as the recipient of the 2018 National Folk Fellowship at a function at the National Library of Australia in Canberra on Tuesday 21 November.
The National Folk Fellowship, jointly offered by the National Folk Festival and the National Library of Australia, gives Dr Rossano access to the most significant folklore and related collections in Australia, through the National Library collections. He will analyse existing sound recordings of early folk music as interpreted by Italian migrants, map the journey of Italian music in Australia, and create a showcase performance of selected songs and stories re-imagined in a contemporary style to be performed at the National Folk Festival in Canberra next Easter 29 March—2 April 2018.
Dr Rossano is from the region of Apulia, in Italy’s south-east. As a musician (piano accordion, frame drums, guitar and saxophone), he tours extensively throughout Europe and Australia. As an ethnomusicologist, he has participated in research projects in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Argentina. He has a Masters Degree in Hispanic Music, a PhD in Ethnomusicology, and is an Adjunct Research Fellow at Monash University in Melbourne, where he has lived since 2014.
A delighted Dr Salvatore said that the award would enable him to deepen his research into these past songs, and share them with a new audience. “This is a big opportunity for me as a musician and researcher to show how Italian Australians contributed to folk music and to culture generally in this country and, that our Australian culture is not as Anglo as we think it is,” he said.
“Music(ology) is, for me, something that goes beyond a peer-reviewed article or a great album. It is the possibility to share an embodied knowledge. It is the possibility of deepening our connection with others.
“My travels and the amazing musicians I’ve met along the way have shown me that passion is the most important thing in life. Passion is the reason I love playing and working to understand the power of music. Passion is what moves me to be involved in education, video documentary, journalism, event organisation, and community music-making. I can’t imagine living without this multi-faceted passion for music.”
Those who want to experience the results of Dr Rossano’s research of early Italian-Australian music including some of his own compositions that capture the spirit of these early recording can hear performances at the National Folk Festival in Canberra next Easter, March 29th to April 2nd 2018. See further details about the Festival here: http://folkfestival.org.au.


About the National Folk Fellowship
The National Folk Fellowship is a significant award that brings together the research and performance components of folk music in Australia, providing a rich musical context to our cultural heritage, breathing new life into rarely-heard music from our past, and sharing songs with a whole new generation of Australian audiences.
Last year’s Fellowship winner, Jessie Lloyd, researched and performed songs from Aboriginal missions during the 1900s. Her work, The Mission Songs Project, essentially defined an entire new Australian musical genre, provided a cultural link between traditional and contemporary Indigenous music in this country, and created ongoing interest among major festivals around the country.
Awarded jointly by the National Library ofAustralia and the National Folk Festival, the Fellowship offers a unique opportunity for folk musicians, singers, dancers, poets, performance artists and collector-performers to discover and explore original collected material at the Library for use in their artistic work.
Further information:
www.nla.gov.au/awards-and-grants/fellowships-and-scholarships/creative-fellowships/national-folk-fellowship
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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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NATIONAL FOLK FESTIVAL CELEBRATING INDIGENOUS ARTISTS
Legendary singer/songwriter, musician and pioneer of contemporary Aboriginal music, Joe Geia, will perform with his band at the National Folk Festival in Canberra at Easter.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the release of his hit song, Yil Lull (meaning ‘sing’ in Kuku Yalanji language from North Queensland), which is widely recognised as the unofficial Aboriginal national anthem. Its message of hope, justice and belonging remains relevant and powerful to this day.
Joining Geia on the Festival’s First Peoples program for 2018 are multi-award-winning WA songman, John Bennett. Establishing a name as the ‘voice of the Kimberley’, Bennett returns to the National with his new album Country is Calling and sidemen David Hyams and Lucky Oceans.
Twenty-year old singer/songwriter Alice Skye is an exciting emerging force on the music scene. Her original songs sparkle with a sensitivity and maturity beyond her years, accompanied by gentle and hauntingly sparse melodies. Alice’s voice is a combination of hopeful and haunting, naturally sweet, and slow and dreamlike. She will be launching her debut album, Friends With Feelings, at the NFF.
Emerging North East Arnhem Land artist, Dhapanbal Yunupiŋu, will launch her stunning debut EP at the Festival. As one of Dr M Yunupiŋu’s six daughters, Dhapanbal grew up surrounded by the lyrics and rhythms of Yothu Yindi, the band her father co-founded, as well as the ‘Milkarri’—female grieving songlines to sing the spirits of the departed back to their ancestral homelands.
Indigenous artist and poet Peter Swain on didgeridoo will join Canberra poet John Passant to create an unforgettable tapestry of song, spoken word and Indigenous poetry.
Indigenous West Australian of the Year 2017 and Noongar singer-songwriter Gina Williams rejoins forces with Guy Ghouse and friends to bring her incandescent vocals, musical brilliance and a new album of songs in Noongar language to the festival.

Along with these and more Indigenous artists, the Festival today announced another slew of top-line international and local acts joining this year’s program.
SON (Susan O’Neill, Ireland) has been compared to Adele and Florence and the Machine, and picked up many fans including U2’s Bono. The amazing range of her vocals combined with her superb guitar technique, loop pedals and trumpet, make for a truly unforgettable musical experience.
Also from Ireland, Andy Irvine has been ‘one of the towering talents on the international folk scene’ (Sydney Morning Herald) for more than 40 years. For the National, he teams up with Tasmanian folk musician and multi-instrumentalist Luke Plumb, whose talents are well recognised on the global folk music stage.

The National continues to build on its well-earned reputation for diversity and inclusion, with a stronger-than-ever line-up of female artists as well as artists from all corners of the world.
Aine Tyrrell‘s music is a contemporary folk collision between the Ireland of generations gone, and the hope of tomorrow. Her songs are as honest as an old friend, warm and inviting. With spine-tingling harmonies, charming storytelling and humour, Co-cheòl has a rare ability to evoke a gamut of emotions from laughter to tears. This audacious quartet performs traditional Scottish, Irish and original music, traversing both a cappella and accompanied songs with sublime musicianship. All-female folk super group, The Drowsy Maggies delight audiences around Australia with their stunning harmony-filled original songs, cracking original tune sets and swinging bass. Monique Clare (Folk Alliance Australia’s Young Performer of the Year in 2017) is a cello-wielding songstress, hailing from the foothills of Mount Coot-tha. Between ongoing explorations into Scandinavian and American traditional folk, a classical cello degree and a Radiohead obsession, her beautifully quirky songs are a melting pot of eclectic influences.
Somewhere between an Italian wedding band and a French revolution, Bella Donna Gorgonzola knows how to start a party in eight languages. These playful paisanos perform a mix of youthful favourites and drinking hits that delight audiences of all ages. Afro Moses is a multi award-winning artist from Ghana, West Africa. His band delivers a vibrant, high-energy show, creating a fusion of styles from across the globe including African, reggae and funk. Balkanski Bus is a multi-ethnic group which plays traditional Balkan (Macedonian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Rumanian), Greek, Turkish and Romany music, both songs and dance tunes, in authentic style on a range of traditional and electric instruments. And the Ukulele Republic of Canberra returns to perform, and to host one of the most popular jam sessions of the Festival—the National Uke Muster. Each year this daily morning session has been growing in popularity and moving to bigger and bigger venues, as people discover the magic of playing this iconic little instrument together in a guided group.


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ELEPHANT SESSIONS JOINS NATIONAL FOLK FESTIVAL LINE-UP
Multi award winning Neo-trad quintet, Elephant Sessions, have just been confirmed to perform at the 2018 National Folk Festival.
Riding a wave of popularity, the indie folk band from the Highlands of Scotland has been enthralling audiences at some of Europe’s most notable festivals and attracting critical accolades from music writers across all genres, including Rolling Stone magazine.

The National Folk Festival today announced Elephant Sessions, along with a range of new artists in its 2018 line-up, including top-drawer overseas and local acts, loud and proud community choirs, and incisive and comedic poets.
Belgian quintet WÖR injects new energy into 18th-century tunes from the Flanders region with their finely textured, innovative arrangements. Theirs is a modern twist on old tunes from the masters.
A treat for lovers of Irish music, Compánach is an intimate, audio-visual concert of music, song and dance bringing alive Irish traditional music against a backing flow of large-screen photographic images. Irish band, The Young Folk will delight with their tender song writing and harmonies and Trouble in the Kitchen returns to the National with a fresh repertoire of their firebrand take on Irish traditional music. Dancing shoes required!
Festival favourites and recent ARIA award winners All Our Exes Live in Texas have been described as “the most badass girl folk group ever”. Their powerful harmonies and heartbreakingly good song writing have wowed audiences across Australia and internationally and this is their third time the National. Another favourite, Victorian triple ARIA winners, My Friend The Chocolate Cake returns to the National in 2018 after a long absence.
Esteemed Scottish tradition bearer Fiona Ross joins forces with guitar maestro and ex-Steeleye Span member Ken Nicol to deliver a mesmerising set of traditional songs while The Melbourne Scottish Fiddle Club, with members aged from 8 to 80 will play original songs and haunting airs, high-octane jigs, reels and strathspeys.
There’s New Orleans street music from Sydney’s own Low Down Riders, upbeat, irreverent, eclectic versions of folk, blues, rap, country and gypsy music from Jugularity, bluegrass from recent Golden Guitar award winners the Davidson Brothers, old-school blues, Delta gospel and Mississippi Jazz from Electric Tommy Johnston and blues, gospel and folk from Frets Patrick.
Winner of the 2017 Lis Johnson Award for Vocal Excellence, Loren Kate will perform her beautifully crafted songs, The Northern Folk will showcase their unique brand of folk/pop/stomp/rock, Zac Saber will perform his soulful vocals and teenager, Matilda Rose wows audiences with her powerfully emotive and insightful songs that show a maturity well beyond her 16 years.
Meyers and McNamara boldly combine Klezmer and Jewish music with experimental instrumentals and original compositions and there’s also Island music, fused with jazz, reggae and African roots from Benji and the Saltwater Sound System and a fusion of hard rock and blues from The Quick and The Dead.
Community Choirs sing loud and proud and this year’s line-up includes the Grassroots Union Choir of Tasmania, Alleycats Community Choir from Victoria and InterVarsity from the ACT. There’s also the Ukestral Voices from NSW, singing three to four part harmonies accompanied by the ukulele, with a touch of comedy thrown in.

The National Folk Festival celebrates not only music, song and dance, but also the spoken word and poets in the 2018 line-up include award winning Keith McKenry with his mischievous and irreverent mix of original verse and bush poetry, Sandra Renew with her social and political critique, Andrew Galan described by reviewers as “riddled with satire”, poet and folk musician Daniel J Townsend, bush poet Peter Mace, performance poet Jacqui Malins teaming up with cellist Julia Horvath and award-winning cowboy poet and wordsmith extraordinaire from the US, Dick Warwick, presenting classic and original verses.
There’s also satirist and poet-musician Martin Pearson, Canberra’s own BAD!SLAM!NO!BISCUIT! with their poetry, rhyming, hip hop, verse, manifestos, shopping lists, rants and more, bush poetry from Gregory North and the comedy act, Glover and Sorrensen, who say they are just two blokes having a chat with the audience.
There’s something for everyone at the National and in 2018, fun activities for the whole family include the Super Circus Squad with their interactive show following the journey of two super-heroes and the String Bean Puppets from New Zealand.


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.