Well, another National Folk Festival has come and gone – and I thought I’d share some of my personal highlights. Firstly it was great to meet up with so many old friends from interstate – including most of the former Mucky Duck members who I played with in the early-mid 1980s.

I got to a number of concerts in between music sessions in the Session Bar.

Vin Garbutt – I last saw him in 1980 in Perth Western Australia and he has just got better over the years – more political edge to his songs, and hilarious repartee. I bought his CD “Plugged” just because it had “Man of the Earth” on it.

Danish band Faerd played some great traditional Danish music and Swedish polskas… the combination of Peter Uhrlbrand’s fiddle playing (also lively in the Session bar!) with Eskil Romme’s saxaphone and Jens Ulsvand’s bouzouki was stunning

The Session Bar proved popular and I had some great sessions with Bob McInnes, Scott and Louisa Wise, and Chris Duncan

And Butch Hooper and I played at the Merry Muse to a great audience – really responsive and ready to party!

The Genticorum concerts were wonderful – I love the fiddle player’s foot percussion and the trio’s great harmonies. But one thing puzzles me… are all Quebec folk songs about food and sex or some combination of the two? I loved the story about the fiddle’s time out in the winery, slinking back home to its case after a night on the town with a ukelele πŸ˜€ and how when the fiddler picked it up again, he was playing tunes even he didn’t know and at twice the pace!

Trouble in the Kitchen started in Canberra a few years ago and have gone from strength to strength. I love the new direction they are taking their music. The tune “The Darkroom Fiddler” is on my must learn list. And I bought the last copy of their CD. My apologies for the poor photo quality.

Other highlights were David LaMotte and Liz Frencham – David’s guitar work was fantastic

I ran into “Gurdy Girl” Jane Ruckert playing a nyckelharpa – a kind of Swedish bowed hurdy gurdy – and we swapped instruments for a play – she on my hardingfele (eight-string Norwegian fiddle) and me on the nyckelharpa. Suffice to say I have increased my respect for nyckelharpa players – but what an awesome sound!

And speaking of amazing instruments, I saw this hurdy gurdy in the session bar

The sessions were terrific

And after trying one of David Guscott’s violins I decided that I needed an octave violin – so I bought some octave strings for my electric fiddle and mmmm love that sound! – You’ll hear more of that on our website soon!

And I have a heap of tunes to learn πŸ™‚



Well folks – the National Folk Festival is on again right now – and you will be able to catch me in the Session Bar tomorrow from early til late πŸ™‚

I might even bring along my pochette… it’ll be a good test of its volume!

For those who haven’t been before, this is what the Session Bar looks and sounds like

What an amazing festival!! This one has to have been the best yet – The only downside was that my attempts at moblogging failed dismally, so here are my highlights of the festival – after the event.

a most unusual instrument

Key highlights were some great concerts – Martin Pearson’s satyrical recitation of the Lord of the Rings trilogy in two parts… Dingo’s Breakfast – especially the “Original Goon Show”; Nancy Kerr – an amazing fiddle player (My apologies Nancy if my anti-session caused you grief); Jane Brownlea’s band; the Wise Family Band (Scott Wise made my hardanger fiddle); and many more.

Other highlights included our ‘Anti-Session in the session bar – where we welcomed bodhran players and squeeze boxes, performed random stand-ups during the tunes, and then topped it off with literal musical chairs – getting up and wandering around and sitting down randomly where other musicians had been sitting – it was a no-frown celtic music session. Yes it was loud and raucous but everyone had a big grin and a laugh – after all music is all about enjoyment and never mind the odd random notes! Many came up afterwards and said it was the best session they’d ever played in – high praise indeed.


Other highlights included a couple of one-to-one sessions with Jane Brownlea – an awesome fiddle player; sessioning with Louisa Wise, Scott Wise and Jane Brownlea; performing a concert spot with the venerable Billy Moran – an Irish accordionist from Melbourne in his nineties and still going strong! Also jamming with some cayjun fiddlers; lots of guinness and sessioning until six AM most mornings.

jerry and Billy

One of the biggest surprises was finding another hardangerfiddle (hardingfele) – a genuine Norwegian eight string fiddle of the type mine was modelled on. So we played some Scandinavian tunes – and had the very great pleasure of Dave deHugaard joining in – and suggesting we all ge together for a spot of Scandinavian music at the next National Folk Festival.

hardanger fiddle

dueling hardangers
Dueling hardangers!

My own performances with Will-o-the-Wisp circus street performers (stilt walkers and associated characters) went very well and received a lot of attention throughout the festival – especially when we invaded the Session Bar!

Jerry and Julz - stilts

And finally, the many friends I caught up with from many years ago from Perth, Western Australia, and from Adelaide – along with the many new friends I met and the many new friends I haven’t met yet πŸ™‚

It was exhausting, but exhilarating!

jerry flaked

The Festival flu I came home with was a small price to pay!


Well, recording is coming along – very happy with the results so far. Here are a couple of images from our preliminary recording session live at the National Folk Festival in Canberra, Australia:

Full Circle Band in concert

and a more intense moment πŸ™‚

Full Circle Band in concert

Jerry (Canberra, Australia)

Easter weekend – I know I haven’t been blogging for a few days – here’s why:

National Folk Festival Four days of fiddling, concerts, guinnesses (guinnaeii?), and *ahem* recording…

You see, it was like this… I met up with some old mates, including ex-Mucky Duck Band (like myself) and now poet extraordinaire, Roger Montgomery – who won this year’s recitation trophy; John Angliss of Dingo’s Breakfast fame (and also ex-Mucky Duck Band and Ten Pound Tourist Band (like myself), and a raft of other West Aussie and South Aussie mates. Much sessioning in the Bar (with the likes of Billy Moran, and Scott and Louisa Wise (Scott made my hardanger-fiddle about 20 years ago!). More sessioning until about 4.00AM. Sleep.

Dawn (well crack of noon actually). Analyse reason for headache… it wasn’t the two bottles of wine; nor was it the five pints of guinness; nor was it the three cans of Fosters Light Ice… but perhaps the combination of these? Better put the mute on the fiddle – at least while I tune up…

*Carefully* began learning a new reel – Star of Munster – and met my neighbour from the next tent – a New Zealand fiddler.

concert highlights: Wongawilli Band – Jane Brownlea’s excellent fiddle playing was truly outstanding – awesome. Finnish band called Jepokryddona and you can hear some of their music here. Other highlights included the Toe Sucking Cow-Girls, a guy with a two-metre unicycle! and a recording offer…

A what?? Well… I was checking out the market stalls, and stumbled (can’t think why) into a stall full of bodhrans [Irish frame-drum played with a single, double-headed stick] (okay I was a champion player once – many years ago) and the stall owner said “Maaaate, have I got a deal for you!” – I thought hello, he’s going try to sell me a bodhran – next thing he’s saying that he saw me and me guitarist mate for the last couple of National festivals in the session bar and was wondering if we’d like to record some instrumental tracks so he could market a CD for aspiring bodhran players to play along with… I hesitated for, perhaps a millisecond bfore saying, er… okay. The upshot was that we ended up the following day recording some preliminary live tracks courtesy of some borrowed equipment (thank you National Festival) so we could test the concept. The real work still lies ahead – I’ll blog you later on that little project.

More sessioning, some concerts – some great young talent and a whole new repertoire of classy musicians. And so to sleep…. Or try to… Canberra’s freezing nights saw me awake more than asleep.

Up at the crack of noon (again!) Argh the frustration of finding all five volumes of Brendan Breathnach’s Ceol Rince tune collection – at fifty dollars apiece! Missed a blackboard concert slot by about three people… back to the session bar. A short afternoon nap – in the van this time – much more comfortable, and ready for a Kranski German sausage moment. More wonderful concerts, more sessioning with my daughter (who plays mandolin) then retiring early (about 2.00AM) for the first full night’s sleep

Awoke refreshed – finally after a good night’s sleep. Greeted the early morning sun with some spirited tunes (other happy campers provided some vocal accompaniment with lyrics like “shurrup!” “b*gger off” and “what tha?”) A truly good start to the day πŸ™‚

A little light rain settled the dust a bit and took the edge off the mild sunstroke – I was glad we brought the tarp for some cover. Got a bit more of the Star of Munster reel down – I hope whoever was recording the radio interview on the sportsground just ahead of me enjoyed the backing track of me playing the Star of Munster over and over and over…

All too soon it was time to pack up and leave – my daughter was to stay on for a couple of days as she was a volunteer so we left the camp site up. I took my leave of many good friends and and new – until the next festival! it was adieu and back to the day job. Great festival – well worth it if you are in Canberra over Easter

Wongawilli Band
Wongawilli Band