The Port Fairy Folk Festival in March is always an exciting time of year in Victoria - music lovers from all over the world converge on this little coastal town located about three and a half hours from Melbourne to enjoy a wonderful weekend.
New festival director Caroline Moore has curated a world class program featuring some amazing talent, Andy Irvine and Luke Plumb, Archie Roach, Tex, Don and Charlie and Jordie Lane to name but a few. Over 100 acts across 20 venues over four days.
The benefits for those who can’t get to the festival is the fact that artists visiting from overseas can use events like Port Fairy as a cornerstone upon which to build a tour with sideshows and tours all over the place at the moment. We’re spoiled for choice.
Going back 20 odd years, Australia used to be a bit of a cultural backwater. Logistics, distance and cost were the tyranny of touring down under.
Nowadays we’re included on pretty much all the runs, and independent artists know they can come out here, do some great shows to appreciative audiences, build a fan base and hopefully head home with a few dollars in their pockets.
One such band is Breabach, the award winning Scottish group who are visiting our shores once again, starting a tour at Port Fairy and playing 17 shows throughout the country over the next month.
Breabach are an incredible band as many of you reading this will no doubt know. Class and quality are two words that spring to mind. Aside from the performances and incredible songwriting, their latest album is a lesson in quality production. The sounds are superb, the mix is brilliant.
I had a chat to James MacKenzie from Breabach for this Saturday’s episode of Big Island which you can catch at 7.30pm in Australia or next Wednesday at 2pm and 7pm in Canada and the UK respectively.
He’s a ripping bloke and one of the things that came out of chat was the band’s love of collaboration and sharing the creative process with other like-minded people. It really typifies what music should be all about I reckon.
Green South Records, a Celtic, Folk and Roots label I run has just released the back catalogue of young folk singer William Alexander, two albums that could have been recorded in the 1940’s. He’s from another time is William, just amazing.
I’m not and never really have been into music trends; I don’t subscribe to the top 40 cookie cutters that permeate the mainstream and I’m tipping if you’re reading this you don’t either.
What I am into, however, is passion, talent and a solid work ethic - these are the key motivators for me when I sign a new artist to the label.
What defines cool music to me is an artist or group with self belief and conviction, not ego or arrogance, just a clearly defined sense of what they’re bringing to the table.
That’s what William is all about; a young bloke, just 21 years of age, singing the music that speaks to him.
The late David Briggs, Neil Young’s producer and engineer, once said to Neil, ‘the more you think, the more you stink.’ That phrase has stuck with me for years.
What it says to me is that the brain, the conscious mind, can be an impediment to creativity and immersion. The moments I’ve been totally lost in the moment on stage, I haven’t been thinking at all. What happens is a kind of alignment between what is coming out of my hands or mouth and the creative energy that is buzzing around me.
We’ve all seen those transcendental moments as an audience member, watched someone on stage just give it everything, the eyes rolls back, the energy shifts, the moment is charged with expectation and joy.
That’s what cool music is.