25 April 2011

National Folk Festival

New photos and reports now available below...

What an exciting time we had over Easter at the National Folk Festival! The Bush Orchestra played every day. in programmed gigs at the Stock Camp and busking around the Festival precinct. Quite a few other NFFC members were there too, including Steve and Anne, Moira Y, Christine M, Simon L and Simon K. It was busy four days with so many workshops to go to and other musicians to listen to. Not to mention the great fun of jamming with other musicians from all over the country in the Session Bar!
See blog posts below from Bruce, Greg and Leonie.

Bruce's take on his 2011 National Folk Festival.

Well, I went to Canberra last week, blinked a couple of times, and here I am back home again! Thought I’d jot down my impressions of the 2011 National Folk Festival while they’re still fresh in my mind. I’ve found that each of the five National Festivals I’ve attended has been very different and this year was no exception. I arrived last Monday in order to attend the mandolin workshop run by one of my mandolin heroes, Mike Compton. I spent four hours per day from Tuesday to Thursday with mandolin in hand; running through some wonderful tunes and exercises. Mike was a great teacher and a fun person to be around. I have to say that this time around, the three days of the workshop were a personal highlight of my festival as opposed to the acts of past years.

The Bush Orchestra crew started turning up on Tuesday, and by Thursday afternoon most people had arrived. On Friday morning a number of Bush Orchestra members had an informal practice come busking session just outside the Session Bar. This drew a lovely crowd and we got lots of compliments – and the offer of a live to air mountain district community radio gig from it (http://www.3mdr.com/). We’ll be talking to the radio station people soon.

The Bush Orchestra’s first gig at the infamous Stock Camp was on Friday arvo and to my mind was very successful. I think we were all very happy to be there and were high on the overall buzz of the festival. We played well and got a great response from the audience.

That evening I cut loose in the session bar and staggered home at about 3.45am after Rob Richmond tore the house down (and yes, the bar staff have photographic evidence of this) with a killer version of ‘8’th of January’. Unfortunately I was in no condition to hold, let alone focus a camera. I do remember getting back to my tent and trying to open it with my house keys!

A significant portion of the Bush Orchestra crew, including our esteemed leader, a nefarious ruffian named Grumpy Greg, over-indulged that evening and were somewhat worse for wear at our second Stock Camp gig. The music for that gig reflected the way our stomachs felt – strange rumblings and odd gurgling noises every now and then! We realised that a few of the tunes we thought we had down were in fact not quite gig ready. This was easily fixed with a quick rehearsal on Sunday morning and consequently we were back on song (figuratively and literally) for the next gig. Rob, Leonie and Alasdair also contributed wonderfully with their signature songs; ‘Boatman’, ‘You Are My Sunshine’ and ‘Rd to the Isles’ and ‘Loch Lomond’, all of which went down a treat.

As I remember it, we pretty much paced ourselves at the Session Bar that night and I recall getting back to my tent at a much more respectable 2.30am – although I also have vague recollections of trying to put my long johns on over my head.

On Sunday we were raring to get back into the music and had a great session with the well-known fiddler Harry Gardner at the Stock Camp just prior to our gig. Dave and Alan also contributed songs that went down very well at the Harry Gardner session. A number of the musicians from that session stuck around and help us bring it on home.

That evening Leonie, Rob, Wendy and myself watched a number of the regular dances. There was a Colonial Dance, a Contra Dance and a number of others. It was wonderful to watch and listen to. I later found out that Simon Dew actually went to a workshop and played in the band at the Contra Dance!

On Monday, the rumour went around that Ted Egan, one of the larger acts, had decided to slum it down at the Stock Camp and consequently we (and a number of other acts) got bumped (he didn’t turn up). Our initial disappointment quickly changed to happiness as we discovered the joys and (financial) rewards of busking. We made some dosh, handed out a bunch of NFFC cards and had a lot of fun. It was a perfect way to finish up the festival. We also made one young busker’s day when we donated our ‘earnings’ to his busker’s hat!

Well, that just about wraps up my take on the festival. It was wonderful to play music with everyone and learn the kind of skills that can only be gained through performance. I had a ball and hope that the other Bush Orchestra players had as much fun as I did.

Photos to follow soon.


Greg on National Folk Festival

Bruce has said most of it.
This is what i would like to say.

When I put forward the idea of going to the N.F.F. I came on strong about how it was putting my long term and the Folk Clubs' short term reputation on the line.
It had me really worried. I wondered if it was too soon to be taking on such a high profile project and so on.
I am delighted to say that ALL the members who went excelled themselves. Our reputations had a huge boost. The festival director thanked me directly for our contribution. It will make our return to the National a much easier prospect, now we have a great track record.

I am also so pleased to be associated with a group of people who can work as a team. I want to thank those folks who chose to rein in their emotions for the benefit of the group. It will not be forgotten. Some members missed out on having their moment in the sun mainly because I was making decisions on the run. I apologize for that and thank them for taking it on the chin.To those BO members who did not come, could you please bear with us while we rave about our experiences, I promise you will have another opportunity to go up there( maybe next year).

I was expecting the festival to take a physical and emotional toll on me but thanks to you and your efforts the opposite happened.
Thank you all.
Grumpy Greg
PS I was jamming with a great accordionist from Sydney, Greg Wilson, when dulcimer player Kath on my left called out "hey grumpy". We both turned our head! I am not the only Greg to be grumpy!

National Folk Festival - by Leonie

What a week! Fun and festivities coming at you from every angle!

A simple walk to the shops could involve dodging Morris Dancers all a-jingle, leaping about through the crowd, hankies flapping in the breeze. Or you could be led Pied Piper style into a nearby tent by some fabulous tune.

Workshops galore! Ever wanted to learn Appalacian Clogging? How about Broom Building? Choir, Percussion, Dance, Yoga, all manner of Arts and Crafts from Blacksmithing to Oragami. Brush up on your Fiddle Skills, learn some Swing Guitar, improve on the Bits Between your Songs or maybe Stage Craft is your thing.Buskers, busking at every turn. Acrobats performing deadly acts, street performers, giant seagulls pinching your chips, little kids trying out their newly learned skills, groups of teenagers having a sing-along with their favourite tunes, an assortment of choirs, dance troups, poets and musos. Even the Newport Bush Orchestra strutted their stuff and drew a crowd.

And speaking of NBO, you could catch us everyday at 2pm at the Stockman's Camp. It was a fantastic gig, watch out for the photos.

There was plenty of eye candy at the instrument makers exhibition . We got to drool over some beautiful, hand made instruments. You could chat to the makers themselves about the finer points of constructing their wares. They even let us play them.

A huge circus tent dominated centre arena. This hosted a variety of shows, including a late night Not For Kids Kid's Show. We were treated to some acts of absurdity by balloon blowers, contortionists and the like. Plenty of ooohs and ahhhhs and ouches coming from the audience.
The session bar was just a bit too much fun. A huge human soup of all kinds of people, sporting every concievable instrument. Dancers leaping about, singers singing. Too many of us made the tragic error of going for one last quick stroll through on the way to bed. You would be dragged into the maddness, and before you knew it, you would be performing solos to an appreciative, but slightly sozzled audience, dancing on tables etc. until they threw you out at the crack of dawn. And then you had to find your way through a sea of tents, tripping over guy ropes, making lots of apologies, (sometimes to the people that you woke up, sometimes to lamp posts).
Then you had to chip the icicles off your tent, quickly put on every piece of clothing that you own and get into bed. Those Camberra nights are freezing!

It was all great fun. The best bit of all for me was the comeradie. There were plenty of Newport Folkies at the festival, and in true NFFC style we soon constructed a small community. Some of my favourite moments were sitting around the camp site, sharing food, a cuppa, a bottle of wine, a conversation and some music. I had so many belly laughs that my ribs were aching.

Go Life!

19 April 2011

The Exodus Begins: Newport to Canberra

Early yesterday saw the first signs of a mass exodus of musos from Newport on their way to Canberra for the National Folk Festival over Easter. Bruce Williams lead the advance party last week, and Anette and Marilla were the next ones on the road, seen here in thier new home on wheels with everything from a mobile shower to a supply of schnapps. All the best to the tourist and we look forward to lots of blogging from the Bush Orhestra and others as they soak up the music and entertainment of the National!

12 April 2011

"Badmouth with Mal" voice workshop 9 April

What an inspirational afternoon in the Newport Scout Hall that was!! The question is: What can’t Mal Webb do with his vocal chords, lungs, diaphragm, mouth, face & nasal passage? He has introduced us to another world! Thank you from the bottom of our lungs!

Mal guided us through the art of jamming. Using the form of bass – rhythm – lead, we were soon jamming together with our voices, improvising marvellous compositions with each other. What fun! Percussion also played a strong part in our music together, all coming from our own mouths of course.

Each of us had the privilege of improvising our own songs, accompanied by the marvellous rhythmic sounds flowing from the throats of our friends. The key to the song compositions is to keep it simple when jamming with accompanying voices. Mal also taught us the critical skill of conducting the vocal orchestra when improvising these masterpieces. No baton or manuscripts, just strong and distinct gestures, plus an ear out for your fellow musicians.

Explore and have fun with your own creativity was the essence of this workshop. I know that waiting at the traffic lights will never be the same. Thankyou Mal.

09 April 2011

Bush Orchestra Goes Bush!

On Friday 08/04/11 a number of Newport Bush Orchestra members travelled to the Central Victorian Goldfields at the invitation of the National Trust and the Central Goldfields Shire.

We were privileged to play two gigs on the day. The first gig was at the opening of the National Trust Heritage Festival which took place at the historic Grand Duke Mine at Timor a few kilometres away from Maryborough. This mine was one of the State's richest deep alluvial gold mines in the mid to late 1800's. Five members of the Bush Orchestra (Bruce W, Kathryn, Bruce S, Alasdair and Greg) played for the guests as they arrived and provided accompanied a group of local students as they demonstrated a variety of Bush Dances. About half of the tunes played were actually written within about 40 kilometres of the place we played!

We then moved on to the Tren DuBourg Hall in Maryborough for an evening Bush Dance. More Bush Orchestra members made the trip up and a great time was had by all! Many thanks to all Bush Orchestra members who made the trip a success.

The photos above show the evening Bush Dance crew, Alasdair, Kathryn and Bruce S at the mine, Greg entertaining early arriving schoolchildren, and the remains of the Grand Duke Mine.

Bruce W

06 April 2011

Newport Bush Orchestra Monday 04/04/11

Present: Alan, Alasdair, Annette, Bruce S, Bruce W, Chris K, Christine H, Christina P, Greg O, Helen H, Ian, Julie, Kathryn, Kerry, Michael d V, Rob, Simon D, Wendy, Trevor and Garry.

This evening was the last official Bush Orchestra rehearsal for Term 1, 2011. Keep posted though, as there may well be a couple of 'informal' gatherings at yet to be announced locations around Newport over the next couple of weeks. Why? Well, with the National Folk Festival just around the corner, we don't want to get rusty just before we all head up north to Canberra. Keep your eyes on your email inbox for details.

We spent the evening playing through most of the Victorian repertoire that we'll be doing up in Canberra. We also managed to press gang a poor chap who only turned up to by a fiddle from Michael on Ebay!! Good on you Garry. You not only scored a great fiddle, but stuck around, jammed on a bunch of our tunes and even entertained us all with your lovely version of 'Click Go the Shears'. I'm sure you never expected all of that when you hit the 'Buy' button on Ebay!

As always, heres the link to mp3's and pdf's of the tunes: Click here to get to the new site.

03 April 2011

Impromtu gig at Menzies Creek Primary School Fete.

   Key elements of the NBO answered a distress call from one of its members Mike de Valle to fill a spot on stage at the Menzies Ck. P.S. fete yesterday . This was the school of Mikayla Francis the 7 yo who did not want to be forgotten after her death from cancer.
Helen and I arrived late and was totally gratified to hear that in fact we were not needed as the sound was full and compelling!
Here are Mike's comments:
Hi everyone,
I just want to say a big thank you to Greg, Helen, Dave Isom , Marilla,
Annette and Llyn for helping me out yesterday at the Menzies Creek
Primary School Fete. I really appreciate it.

The parents, teachers and kids of Menzies Creek absolutely loved it
and told me later that we sounded fantastic.

Quite a few of them mentioned that they would have liked to do a dance
or two, so who knows, maybe I can convince them to run a bush dance
some time in the not too distant future.

Together the seven of us put in a rollicking good 30 minute set of
Aussie bush tunes, which included Black Cat, Rita Baker, Syd Briggs,
Railway Hotel, Galopede, Brown Jug, I'll Tell me Ma, 40 Pound flat,
the Gervasoni Waltzes, Helen's Heart Waltz, Jack and Lil, Harry
McQueen's set tune, Clare Jig, Herb's Jig and Cunnamulla Stocking Jig.

Greg, Helen, Dave, Marilla, Annette and Llyn, thank you again.
Michael de Valle

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