19-Twenty have been whipping up a frenzy on the festival scene. They are electric – an infectious riff and groove-based blue-billy-grass-rockin'-roots band. The 19-Twenty lads have been performing their high energy sonic party nationally, headlining sell-out shows and festivals in all states and territories.
40 Degrees South
40 Degrees South (formerly The Roaring Forties) is a Sydney-based group renowned since 1988 for the powerful impact they make singing unaccompanied folk songs. They have a shipload of traditional maritime songs and some fascinating contemporary compositions collected on trips abroad. Don Brian, Thomas Hanson, Chris Maltby and Margaret Walters are strong individual singers who choose robust songs telling of real people, their lives and work. Whatever they are singing, choruses, harmonies and wit abound.
ABRASKA emerged from the national touring band Conchillia, fresh with new ideas and a different purpose and has won over audiences at major Australian music festivals. Their songs weave a rich tapestry of energy and inspiration that travels to places unexpected, building a sound that bridges genres. The music is eclectic, exciting and a truly unique mix of dynamic indie energy, pop appeal, global rhythms, jazz smarts and dance-floor sensibilities.
Afro Moses is a multi award-winning artist from Ghana, West Africa. He has been voted Ghana’s Best International Music Ambassador twice and has shared the stage with highly renowned artists such as Ziggy Marley and Youssou N’Dour. Afro Moses delivers a high-energy show containing positive messages of unity and individual beauty. His music spans countless styles including African, reggae, funk, and pop, and will have you jumping and wanting more.
Andy Nelson is an incredible musician from Central Western NSW who has burst onto the live music scene in a big way. He's fast establishing himself as a favourite with his original style and rustic vibe. His songs about family, love and loss seem to hit a note with people from all walks of life.
Melbourne blues songstress Anna Scionti (pronounced Shon-tee) is a singer/songwriter guitarist and bottleneck slide player. Scionti’s uninhibited foot stomping blues is honest and raw. On cigar box guitar, resonator, lap steel and stomp you will be deeply immersed into her world of electrified rhythmic tunes. Playing emotionally charged songs from her new album, Anna tell stories of loss, love, laughter and tragedy.
April Verch Band, The (USA)
While Verch is perhaps best known for playing traditional fiddle styles from her native Ottawa Valley, Canada her performances extend into old-time American and Appalachian styles and far beyond for a well-rounded tour-de-force of North Americana sounds. Sometimes she sings, steps, and fiddles all at once with apparent ease and precision. Verch is – as they say – a triple threat in performance. Her live show is a beautiful companion to her music: versatile robust and masterfully executed.
The Penguins are going out with a splash and this will be your last chance to join the colony at the National before they become extinct. Marking the start of their 12 month farewell tour these festival favourites will show you why they are the best a cappella comic trio in the country with well crafted lyrics, soaring harmonies and a keen eye for the absurd. Catch them while they're still 'tinct.
Black Mountain String Band
The Black Mountain String Band is a celebration of string band music in all its forms. They combine multiple fiddles and banjos along with guitar and double bass to draw from the well of tradition while adding timeless original material. They cleverly arrange their material in a seamless presentation that will delight aficionados and new audiences alike. The band is Donal Baylor, Jacqueline Bradley, Matt Nightingale and Pablo Shopen.
'Truly authentic' is the first idea that springs to mind when people see this incredibly experienced band strut their stuff. Bluegrass Parkway always has a great time on stage, leaving their audiences singing and laughing. Their single mic approach to traditional bluegrass is always a must-see ant any festival!
One of the UK’s finest exponents of storytelling through song, Bob Fox is deeply influenced by the working class culture and industrial folk song prevalent in his native County Durham. For over 40 years he has toured extensively throughout the UK, Europe, USA, New Zealand and Australia. Twice nominated as Best Folk Singer in the BBC Folk Awards Bob has long been a favourite on the live circuit.
Hailing from the beautiful Blue Mountains, Bonniedoon have attracted national attention with their latest EP ‘Take Me Down’. The title track entered the AMRAP charts at No. 9 and promptly moved to No. 7. The renowned ‘Rockin’ Soul’ outfit have been working tirelessly both in the studio and in live venues across Australia, wowing audiences with their entertaining, engaging and ‘give it all’ style of performance. Bonniedoon are a 'must see' at this years Festival!
The Bottlers are a hard playing, nine-piece, all acoustic folk punk band hailing from Sydney, Australia. They draw life breath from not only the traditionally folk-fuelled rural reaches of the nation, but also its cityscapes and suburban streets, with a solid tip of the hat to the folk, punk and folk-punk pioneers that have traipsed and trekked the trails well before them.
After six years on the road, Candice McLeod still maintains no fixed address. Once described as ‘Australian Soul’ listeners can expect raw, power-driven vocals with soulful folk undertones. Her debut album, 'Travellin’ Shoes', was launched in Alice Springs in October 2017, followed by a 6-month independent album tour from the NT to Tasmania’s Cygnet Folk Festival and back again.
Charlie & Jensen
Charlie & Jensen is a musical conversation between acoustic artists Hunter Beasley and Luke Wright. They journey through genres, shifting from vocally charged original songs, to virtuosic instrumental tunes. They take a stripped-back, raw approach to music and performance mixing bluegrass, gypsy jazz, country and spontaneity. Their musical chemistry is evident in their debut album ‘Whiskey Before Breakfast’, a collection of single take recordings, unedited and undeniable.
With his uniquely Australian performance, a dazzling guitar technique, and the ability to weave story in song like not many can Chris Matthews, is a tour-de-force on stage, honed from years of touring and performing all over the country. With a sound that can only be described as truly his own, and a deep baritone richness to his vocals and stories and songs to match, he’s a troubadour in the truest sense of the word.
Ciaran O’Grady & Aifric Boylan with Graeme Newell
Ciaran O'Grady & Aifric Boylan produced a breathtaking recording of Irish and English folk music on concertina and fiddle before they emigrated from Ireland in 2014. Beautiful and compelling – this is a rare duet. It took over four years for the CD to make it here – it got lost in Sweden for more than a year – but that’s another story. They'll be joined by Graeme Newell on guitar – a master of subtlety.
Cope Street Parade, The
The Cope Street Parade are a high energy Australian music ensemble. They blend spicy rhythms with unique songwriting that spans the genres of folk pop gypsy and swing. With tender ballads and rollicking dance numbers they capture the spirit and warmth of early music styles and successfully blur the lines between the contemporary and the classic. Their influences include Louis Armstrong, Louis Prima and Father John Misty.
Dead Maggies, The
From folk clubs of Scotland, to punk warehouses of Indonesia, and the Australian festival circuit (Falls, Spiegeltent, Port Fairy, National Folk Festival). The Dead Maggies (Hobart) have been spreading tales of Van Dieman’s Land’s dark and oppressive history, in the form of lively folk-punk music.
Den Hanrahan and the Rum Runners
Den Hanrahan's music is a compendium of ballads and reckless laments from his songbook of the open road. With his band the Rum Runners, he makes no secret of his love for Americana and the hard-driven word in a re-creation of the old-fashioned world that still lives in his heart.
East Row Rabble
East Row Rabble delivers a slick mix of funk, ska, blues and soul with heavenly horn lines that will get your booty shaking and your feet shuffling. Addressing a mixture of world issues and daily curiosities, Ben Drysdale’s songs explore the many, varied, and often conflicting elements of any situation with honesty, hope, and a little cheekiness. They also have a bunch of new songs just for the Nash!
Winners of the BBC Folk Award for 'Best Duo', Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin combine astonishing instrumental virtuosity, genre-bending material, warm personalities and achingly beautiful voices, telling tales of myth, history and legend. They combine incredible dobro and harmonica and lilting violin interwoven with mesmerising harmonies. This extraordinary UK duo have performed at Woodford, Cygnet Illawarra, Port Fairy and Blue Mountains folk festivals to an overwhelmingly warm reception.
Electric Tommy Johnston
Electric Tommy Johnston is a Canberra based duo playing high energy, whiskey-soaked blues. Delta to jazz, broonzie to hamfats, ETJ celebrates the legends and origins of blues. Formed at the 2014 National, Lightning Tommy and Flash Johnston bonded over their love of grimy 12 bar and upbeat ragtime, smooth electric and screaming slide. ETJ invites audiences through the roots of the blues, and shows why the blues remain one of the most enduring folk traditions.
Winner of 'Best Guitarist’ at Bluesfest Busking Comp 2017 and hailed as "The next big thing!" by Yumi Stynes (of ABC podcast ’Ladies, We Need To Talk'), Ella Belfanti is a solo artist with a sound as full as a band. Brandishing her guitar, stompbox and loop pedal, she takes the audience on a journey through folky ballads, to groovy atmospheric blues, largely instrumental percussive guitar pieces, and fast-paced heralds to the confusing human condition.
Infusing playfulness and wonder into the Australian pop music industry, Gold Coast artist ELSKA has redefined the humble harp – marrying the delicate instrument with the power of a loop pedal. Oozing charm with a new brand of breezy soulful pop ELSKA creates melodic harp-infused pop music designed for daydreaming, road tripping and romance. ELSKA's surprise-package live show will captivate curious romantics and prove that anything is possible in the world of pop music.
One of the best songwriters to emerge from the Australian festival scene to a worldwide stage in recent years, Enda Kenny has toured eight countries in the last two years. 'Simple Words', his long awaited follow up to 'Heart Tattoo', was released in late 2018. It includes 'Vigil' a song which had an estimated 200,000 Facebook views in its first month.
Evergreen Ensemble bridges the gap between folk music and baroque music. Known for their virtuosic programs bringing together the best of Australia's early music talent and folk icons, they weave stories back through time, rediscovering the sounds of folk melodies performed on period instruments. The group launched a second album, 'Snow in Summer', in Oct 2018 with a tour through Victoria and NSW.
Exciting! Mcgillicuddies, The
The Exciting! Mcgillicuddies is Australian music with a Celtic beat at its best! Lead by Mick Slocum, the charismatic former member of the legendary Bushwhackers and supported by master guitarist, songwriter and vocalist Damian Peck, in early 2018 the band expanded to include the delectable singer/songwriter/violinist Renee Bufton and internationally recognised saxophonist Paul Van Ross. It is a band of spirited, experienced musical Australians – the perfect combination that ensures a good time is had by all!
The Fagans are one of Australia's leading folk music families. They are loved internationally for their high-energy shows, stellar repertoire and close harmony singing and are delighted to reunite for the National, their heartland festival. The 5-piece includes founding duo Margaret and Bob Fagan (who for decades have been central to the Australian folk scene), folk-roots songwriter Kate Fagan, and renowned UK-based fiddle and bouzouki duo Nancy Kerr and James Fagan. They are an act not to be missed.
Western NSW raised Fanny Lumsden is hitting new highs with her second album ‘Real Class Act’. Released on her own Red Dirt Road Records label, the album debuted at No. 1 on the ARIA Country Chart and won Country Album of the Year at the 2018 AIR Awards while the 6th Annual Country Halls Tour throughout 2017–18 was Fanny’s biggest tour to date. It’s no wonder the words ‘I love Fanny’ are on everybody’s lips.
Freya Josephine Hollick
Freya Josephine Hollick, is the 'old world' country songbird from the Victorian goldfields. She sings of lowdown and dirties of high times and golden mansions and the bursting and the burning of the heart. With a voice that floats between Maybelle Carter, Dolly Parton and Skip James she has performed at Nannup, Boogie, Gumball, Broadbeach Country Music Festival, Gympie Muster, Queenscliff Music Festival, Kyneton Music Festival, Out on the Weekend and the Dorrigo Folk & Bluegrass Festival.
Gawurra Gaykamangu is a Yolngu performing artist hailing from Milingimbi (Yurrwi) North East Arnhem Land. Gawurra won the NT Song of the Year in the Pop category four NIMA Awards and received national recognition throughout the music industry and mainstream media including ARIA nomination and 4.5-star review in Rolling Stone magazine. Gawurra has established himself as a 'must see' live act gathering a mainstream following and captivating his audiences.
Girl on the Hill
Girl on the Hill is young singer/songwriter, Sadie Mustoe from Melbourne who is delighting audiences with her creative performances and unique indie-folk songs. Sadie accompanies herself on guitar, uke and fiddle and is joined by her brother Charlie on bodhran, guitar and vocals. After appearing in the youth showcase last year and winning the Lis Johnstone Memorial award for singing, Sadie is thrilled to be back at the National.
Green Mohair Suits
A quartet of expressive songwriters who take their four-part harmonies as seriously as they take their good times, Green Mohair Suits hold a reputation for inspired showmanship and performances as brash as they are emotive. Occupying a musical landscape somewhere between Hank Williams and The Flying Burrito Brothers, Green Mohair Suits bask in the glow of 'Garage Grass'. Fans should expect happy-sad songs or sad-happy songs in a harmonious blur of delight.
Loosen your suspenders, tighten your shoelaces and get ready to flap your extremities. Greška is a five-piece neo-gypsy/klezmer ensemble not unlike a chipotle and cocaine kebab: you’re not sure where it’s from, but it sure knocks you off your tits. A torn canvas of Romanian gypsy dons a filthy smear of western metal, jazz-funk and classical-arrangement.
Gudrun Walther & Juergen Treyz (GER)
Walther & Treyz are founding members of the band Cara. They have released two albums: 'Deitch', a mix of German dance music and traditional songs and 'Heimat', which explores the cultural exchange between German and Celtic traditions. Their live shows are spontaneous and inventive – they listen to each other intently, react to each other’s ideas within split seconds and never deliver the same show twice.
Guyy & the Fox
Soaring violin, epic instrumentals and powerful performances are the foundations of the award winning act – Guyy & the Fox. The duo is known for their exhilarating and mesmerising show and this year the duo adds a third dimension to their act – Taiko drummer Harry Cramer brings with him the sound of Japanese war drums and a third beating heart to Guyy & the Fox.
Homelands Tour, The (CAN/AUS)
Connecting songs across oceans, the Homelands Tour follows the night sky, journeying along plains, down rivers and across oceans to bring young and established First Nations artists from Australia and Canada together on their Homelands and out onto stages at festivals around the world. Featuring an eight piece line up, songwriters-in-the-round and a genre-fused and campfire-fuelled finale led by First Nations artists Glenn Skuthorpe (AUS) and Michel Bruyere (CAN) and produced by Katie Symes (AUS).
Irish Mythen (Can)
Irish is a true entertainer who is known for her gripping live performances. She is the storyteller who will grasp your attention and who will bring you on an incredible and emotional journey – as well as the comedian with a joie de vivre who’ll have you laughing from the very beginning until long after she’s left the bandstand.
Alt-folk oddity Jacob Diamond sings bold songs about love and death. After years in Perth’s songwriting underground, Diamond has recently emerged as one of the foremost singer/songwriters in the west, furnished with huge melodies and incisive lyrics. He pens intricate, genre-bent bangers taking all the best bits from a box of '60s compilation CDs, memories of a crowded Catholic childhood, Les Miserables and one reckless detour into jazz-study.
James Van Cooper
James Van Cooper is an Australian. He’s young, stylish and cool. He summonses the sounds of alt/country rock with catchy hooks and twangy guitars. He’s a man for those that like their country gnarly and epic as well as nuanced and intimate. James is a slick flamboyant performer and a heartfelt songwriter and is renowned as a wild guitarist who can leave an audience in smoking ruins.
JigJam are a multi-award winning quartet from the heart of the midlands in Ireland. Blending the best of traditional Irish music with bluegrass and Americana in a new genre which has been branded as 'CeltGrass', their onstage energy along with their virtuosic musical ability has captivated audiences throughout the world.
Vagabond Jimmy Bay has been travelling Australia for the past four years in a beat-up Kombi. In that time this multi-instrumentalist originally hailing from outback South Australia has captured audiences far and wide with his storytelling style and mesmerising live performances using guitar, harmonica and his suitcase kick-drum.
John John Festival
John John Festival is fast becoming the most popular Irish/Celtic three-piece fiddle/vocals, guitar/vocals, and bodhran & tajibourine-light (original tambourine) band in Japan. With rhythm, melody and emotion in a genuine groove they have a mutual ease and a 'music makes the audience and players both happy' mind set. They played Celtic Colours (Canada 2016) and Woodford Folk Festival (Australia 2017–2018).
John Schumann, Shane Howard & The Red Rockin’ Dirt Band — Times Like These
With instantly recognisable voices and a lifelong commitment to a tolerant, compassionate Australia, Shane Howard (ex Goanna) and John Schumann (ex Redgum) are two of the most influential singer/songwriters this country has ever produced. They have created songs that changed Australia.
John and Shane continue to enjoy substantial careers, decades after they left the bands that made them famous.
In times like these we need these two raggedy poets…
Kate Fagan is one of Australia’s leading folk-roots songwriters. She has earned a devoted following for the captivating warmth of her voice and the poetry of her songs, which have featured widely on ABC TV and Radio. She supported Joan Baez on her Australia/NZ tour and has been shortlisted as a writer for numerous literary awards. “A richly-textured voice, a gift for lyrics and a deep understanding of folk and country’s roots” (Bernard Zuel, SMH).
Kate Pass Kohesia Ensemble
Led by double bassist Kate Pass, the Kohesia Ensemble serves as a platform for Kate’s original compositions, which are influenced by her passion for both jazz and Persian music. This world music ensemble explores unusual time structures and microtonal melodies, combining the sounds of Persian flute (ney), percussion (daf) and oud with jazz instruments for a truly unique listening experience.
Kim is an acoustic songstress with a soothing ethereal voice that captures the attention of passers by. Born in Taiwan, Kim started her Australian music journey in 2016 with a ukulele and a guitar in the streets and cafes of Canberra. Joined by guitarist Steve Smith, Kim performs original songs speaking from her lived experiences as a daughter, a traveller, a partner, a friend and an insecure soul with mixed genres of folk, pop, blues and jazz.
Kimberley Wheeler & Roadside Holiday
This is a modern folk band playing original songs and reworked traditional repertoire. Their songs are moody and evocative, and presented in a spare acoustic style, with compelling melodies, and sophisticated three-part vocal harmonies. In 2015 Kimberley won the Tilley’s Choice Award for her song ‘Watching Over Joan’.
Kittel & Co. (USA)
Fronted by acclaimed American violinist Jeremy Kittel, Kittel & Co. inhabit the space between classical and acoustic roots, Celtic and bluegrass aesthetics, folk and jazz sensibilities. Kittel blazes through a Bach violin partita as easily as a Scottish reel, bringing the same intense focus and precision to both. Featuring mandolin phenom Josh Pinkham and genre-bending guitarist Quinn Bachand, Kittel & Co. captures a sonic landscape that’s equally as unpredictable as it is captivating.
Lily and King
Lily and King create rousingly catchy music that sits somewhere between a captivating '40s nightclub routine and the raw rambunctious spirit of New Orleans street buskers – a lilting, luring sensual haze of smoky opiate vocals that transport the captivated audience to a red-lit burlesque bar from the 1940s where the smoke curled thickly in the air and people only ever drank whiskey.
The Little Quirks are a young all-girl family trio from the Central Coast, NSW. Their sound is dominated by their vocal harmonies and their own brand of indie-folk quirkiness comprising mandolin, guitar and drum kit. Starting out as buskers just three years ago they have recently released their third EP and played festivals such as Bridgetown, Mountain Sounds, Port Fairy, Nannup and more. Their influences vary from traditional folk to Mumford and Sons!
Lloyd Spiegel is a trailblazer at the forefront of modern blues and is one of Australia's most recognised guitarists. Australian Guitar Magazine recently named him in its list of the top 50 Australian guitarists of all time. His show blends jaw-dropping guitar expertise with a commanding voice, powerful songwriting and storytelling to deliver a complete concert experience.
Loosely Woven is a group of 20 or so ad hoc singers and instrumentalists based in Sydney’s northern beaches who stage two to three public concerts each year just for the fun of it – no money involved! The concerts are strictly acoustic (no amplification) and consist of whatever the members want to include. On this occasion they take on Gilbert & Sullivan's wonderful Trial by Jury!
Lucy Wise grew up in WA, performing in the Wise Family Band until she moved to Melbourne in 2009. She has since delighted audiences across Australia, NZ, USA and the UK with her soulful voice, and intricate ukulele, guitar and Appalachian dulcimer playing. Joined by Dan Witton (double bass) and Mischa Herman (accordion), Lucy will be performing songs about love, joy and sadness, friendship and the relationships people form with their environment.
Tagged as 'Celtic-rock', Mànran’s music has an eclectic mix of influences with a central ethos built around the band’s traditional Celtic roots. Fiery tunes from fiddle, accordion, flute, uillean and Highland bagpipes bind powerfully to a rhythm section awash with elements of funk, jazz and rock to create some of the most innovative and uplifting instrumental music around. Songs in both Gaelic and English undergo the same musical mixology.
Margaret and Bob Fagan
Margaret and Bob Fagan return to the National with a stunning new duo album, reflecting decades of folk performance in which they have built an unmatched repertoire of songs. Festival audiences love them for their striking harmonies, musicianship, stage warmth and political integrity. Their shows move from working songs and traditional ballads to great choruses and contemporary stories. Margaret’s beautiful voice is underpinned by Bob’s superb fingerpicked guitar. A show guaranteed to lift your spirits.
Marios Papadeas Ensemble, The (GRC/Aus)
Mario was born in Athens and from the tender age of four he began his musical studies. He has become one of the undeniable mastours of the Santouri with a vast repertoire delving into Smyrneika early rembetika and nisiotika. He has appeared on multiple TV programs and performed at festivals in Australia, Paris, London, Vienna, Switzerland and Iran – to name a few. He is joined by local musicians Pascal Latra (Habibis Vox), Paddy Montgomery and Byron.
Marlee Morris dancers formed in 2018 and are based in Perth, WA. They perform traditional dances from the Cotswold Hills but also wilder Border Morris dances. The word Marlee comes from the Indigenous (Noongar) word for the Black Swan. Although a new group, the dances and musicians have a wealth of dance experience and take on challenging and energetic dances of the Morris tradition.
Mike and Lindsay have been part of the folk scene for many years – a lifetime. This year they are offering something special. Using their experience, talents and personality to draw out the ‘passion’. They bring out the 'Folk' in Contemporary Folk Music and present storytelling influenced by the integrity of social comment and the Magic Bus! Mike is an award winning songwriter joined by Lindsay a craftsman and influential Fiddle player. The Martins.
With his warm character, distinctive voice described as "like silk and honey with a touch of steel" and "like being hugged", and his own evocative self-accompaniment on guitar and mandolin, the multi-award winning singer shares song selections from diverse folk repertoires. You may recognise him from performances with Garida, The Fishbowl Boys, Anatole Road and Co-Cheòl.
Melisande [Electrotrad] (CAN)
The multiple award-winning group from Québec presents high-energy traditional French-language songs with strong vocals, acoustic and electric instruments and programming. Led by Mélisande and her husband Alexandre de Grosbois-Garand (Genticorum), the group continues to offer a fresh proposal to the folk music scene with its second album 'Les millésimes' (Borealis Records).
Mission Songs Project
Jessie Lloyd’s profoundly moving and important Mission Songs Project reveals what daily life was like for Indigenous Australians on Christian missions and state-run settlements. Through the discovery of rare secular songs that were sung after church, audiences can gain a deeper understanding about the history of elders, families and communities, from cultural identity to love and loss.
Mouldy Lovers, The
The Mouldy Lovers are a 7 piece band hailing from Brisbane, whose unique sound explores a handful of genres including punk, ska and folk. These styles are truly brought to life during the band’s high energy, eccentric live shows, which push even the most-faint hearted of punters into a frenzy.
Nancy Kerr & James Fagan (UK)
Outstanding UK-based partnership Nancy Kerr and James Fagan return as a duo, the format on which they built their career. Breath-taking instrumentation support two of the finest folk voices of a generation. Nancy (BBC Folk Singer of the Year 2015) has become best known as a poetic and hardhitting songwriter. Canberra-born James is a world-renowned bouzouki player. Together they are in their element and will launch their first ever live album at the National.
Nicola Hayes & Hélène Brunet
Nicola & Hélène have been making music together for fifteen years. Their ardent take on Irish jigs and reels, old-timey breakdowns and Cajun two-steps summon audiences into a universe where “the only proper way to react to the inner animal’s tunes is to dance to them”. Their first album, 'Travelling', released in September 2011, drew enthusiastic responses from reviewers and public alike. 'The Inner Indian', recorded live in Australia and Brittany, appeared in 2016.
Noel Gardner & Alex Bridge
With songs soaked in the natural elements and landscape of Australia, inspired by history and the ability to instigate positive change, Noel and Alex have the capacity to touch people's hearts with their combination of award winning songwriting and the unique ability of their voices to harmonise so beautifully. With a sensitive acoustic guitar style, their music paints pictures with imagery and sound and reflects upon social justice and our lives in an insightful way.
Nuala Kennedy, Gerry O’Connor & Eamon O’Leary (IRE)
Singer and flute player Nuala Kennedy and Irish fiddle legend Gerry O'Connor return to the NFF from Dundalk, Louth where they have played music together for many years. Their repertoire draws from the ancient kingdom of Oriel in the North East of Ireland and there is a great lively spark to their dance music. Eamon O'Leary is one of Irish music's foremost accompanists as well as an accomplished singer/songwriter.
O'Neill's Follies are mid-life learners of music who have taken adult music lessons, come together, been mentored by established and exceptional musicians in the Australian folk community, and are now taking their love of American and Celtic folk to small stages and venues in the folk scene. They are enthusiastic, energetic and getting better and better, demonstrating it's never too late to explore your passion, develop your skills, and make good music.
Ordinary Elephant (USA)
Ordinary Elephant captivates listeners with their well-honed combination of insightful writing, effortless harmonies and intertwined clawhammer banjo and guitar. Crystal and Pete Damore are a nomadic husband and wife duo from the US, living full-time in a van taking their music wherever they go. Winners of the International Folk Music Awards '2017 Artist of the Year', Ordinary Elephant are “as genuine as it gets” – Lloyd Maines.
Paverty Bush Band
The band, now known as Paverty Bush Band, Paverty or just the Pavs, is still going strong, comprising founder member Graham Chalker, Bob Buckley, Mary Firkins, Simone Dawson, John Taylor, Rick Kenyon with help from Bill and Sarah. The band is versatile, equally at home with bush dances for dancers of all ages and experience levels, from school halls, to church halls to woolsheds, to beer garden gigs, house parties and folk clubs.
Penny Davies & Roger Ilott
After almost 40 years of writing playing recording and singing together Penny Davies & Roger Ilott create the kind of seamless musical persona as a duo that only a long and loving musical relationship can. Their evocative versions of Queensland poet Bill Scott's songs are classics of the genre.
Phil has picked up many songs during his 50 years in folk music: some from other singers, some from records and books and one from a funeral. He has recorded some of these songs on his latest CD, 'Morningtime'. He sings in a voice that has been described as “delightful” and he’s an accomplished finger-style guitarist and banjo player. Phil makes each song his own with sensitive arrangements that enhance the song’s narrative.
Born in Pune, India, young sarod master Praashekh Borkar is regarded as one of India’s leading younger generation musicians. An outstanding sarod player and inventor of his own customised e-sarod, Praashekh hails form a sarod playing dynasty. In this quartet, Praashekh is joined by electrifying young tabla whiz, Sivakumar Balakrishnan, precociously talented Balinese bassist and recent jazz course graduate, Wayan Dana, and multi-reedman Mark Cain, a longtime leading figure in Western Australian world music.
Raduga trio brings you gypsy jazz, Russian, Balkan, klezmer and originals. Raduga – from Russian meaning rainbow or joyous arch – is an eclectic, energetic and exciting take on a raw gypsy style. Experience original compositions and arrangements of songs from around the world on the clarinet, piano accordion, ukulele, guitar and various hand percussion, flavoured with tap dance and singing in Slavic and Roma languages. Get involved with dance, clap and sing along!
Riccardo Tesi & Banditaliana (Italy)
Banditaliana is one of the most renowned Italian groups on the world music international scene offering a magical fusion of Tuscan traditional forms and rites jazz nuances, along with songs of fresh sunny music with a Mediterranean scent and no boundaries. Original compositions, instrumental virtuosity, precious rhythmical joints and refined arrangements are the key stylistic features of the group founded in 1992 by the composer and diatonic accordion player, Riccardo Tesi.
Having blown away crowds at blues, rock, folk, acoustic and music festivals alike, Richard Perso has already become a veteran of the festival scene in his 20s with over 200 festival appearances. With a guitar approach best described as ‘electrocuted acoustic’ blended with didgeridoo, combined with a voice likened to that of Eddie Vedder, this one man show delivers a full-on sonic performance that is energetic, unique and engaging.
Rory McLeod (UK)
Rory is a one-man soulband, poet and storyteller, singing his own unique upbeat dance stories. He is a modern travelling troubadour using tap shoes, a cappella, harmonica, guitar, trombone, spoons, finger cymbals, bandorea, djembe and various percussion instruments! "McLeod is one of the most energetic, most generous performers I've seen." – Doug Spencer, ABC Radio.
Ross Couper & Tom Oakes (UK)
Hailing from polar ends of the UK, Ross Couper (Shetland) and Tom Oakes (Devon) have been dazzling audiences with their fiery, driving rhythms and shared passion for the infectious melodies and grooves of celtic music for the best part of a decade. Their highly dynamic mixture of power and fragility delivered with warmth and humour leaves audiences exhilarated. **** “Gleaming with musicianship. Exquisite.” – The Guardian.
Saplings Sessions Bush Music Club
A daily session just for young musicians (about 8 to 16 yrs). Bring your own instrument and come and have some fun learning Australian songs and tunes or join in with percussion (some provided). Expert tutors from the Bush Music Club will be there to help you no matter what level you play at. Music will be available, or play by ear. There will also be an opportunity to play what you have learned on stage!
True to their namesake, Scroggin play an eclectic, high-energy mix of delightful morsels both savory and sweet. Well-rooted in bluegrass standards, they also branch into Celtic folk, Australiana, and western swing, with a sprinkling of country songs for more sombre moments. Scroggin embrace the contradictions of traditional music in the new age, playing country music for city folk, and old fashioned songs for the modern world.
The European Celtic music of Señor Cabrales is unique, pungent and not for the faint-hearted. The Señor emerges sporadically from mountain caves to play music which can be complex, fruity and biting, mouldy, sometimes crumbly, but never predictable. It is best enjoyed with tumblers of rustic cider.
Shortis and Simpson
John Shortis is a songwriter with a passion for politics and history. Moya Simpson is a singer who uses her considerable vocal range and comic flair to bring Shortis’ songs and scripts to life. Together they are Shortis and Simpson, Canberra-based performers of original shows that are always humorous, poignant, and informative.
Strange Weather Gospel Choir
Strange Weather Gospel Choir is a non-auditioned Canberra community choir whose repertoire includes gospel and spiritual songs as well as African, folk and contemporary pieces. Members are from all ages and walks of life and are united by the love of singing together. The choir's unique sound and exuberance have seen it grow to become a very popular choir in the Canberra region.
String Contingent, The
Renowned acoustic chamber-folk trio The String Contingent have a unique sound that confidently walks the line between folk, classical jazz, and bluegrass. In 2018, Australians Chris Stone (violin) and Holly Downes (double bass) with Scotsman Graham McLeod (guitar) took a road less traveled along the Savannah Way from Cairns (Qld) to Broome (WA) to deepen their experience of Australia and form the basis of their sixth album, which is being launched at thE Festival.
Sweet Mona’s Choir
Vibrant harmonically magnificent Sweet Mona’s Choir is a Ballarat-based gospel and world music choir of exceptional quality famous for their world-class arrangements. For over 20 years, the “Monas” have continued to delight audiences with their energetic stage presence and stunning vocals. The choir focuses on a cappella and rhythm, and performs a range of gospel and world music. They are a colourful and lively human music machine!
A trailblazer in alt-country, Taylor Pfeiffer is a singer/songwriter banjoist, guitarist and yodeller. At 19, Taylor has gained airplay on Triple J, featured on national shows Spicks & Specks, Weekend Sunrise, The Voice, and Nashville’s Music City Roots, and performed with Lee Kernaghan, Troy Cassar-Daley, Beccy Cole, Kasey Chambers. In 2018, Taylor travelled to the US, attending an advanced banjo course presented by Béla Fleck and performing at the American Banjo Festival and Nashville’s iconic Bluebird Café.
Telenn Trii brings driving rhythms combined with the delicate sound of the harp, fiery fiddle and punchy accordion, to 'soothing the soul' and infectious dance music of the Celts. Featuring harp, piano accordion, Irish bouzouki, guitar and Scottish fiddle, Telenn Tri perform music from deep in the heart of Brittany, up to the Scottish highlands to give you a true taste of what Celtic music can be.
The story of The Once is one of growth, propelled by the rare chemistry that comes from a decade of writing and touring together. Their songs have been placed in international film and television, they have YouTube videos with millions of hits, and there's a trail of trophy nominations and wins from the East Coast Music Awards, the Canadian Folk Awards, and the JUNO Awards in their wake.
Award winning songwriter Tiffany Eckhardt has been adopted by the folk/roots and festival scene in Australia as a firm favourite. She is excited to be returning to the National this year with a new album, joined on stage by husband and guitarist Dave Steel, Bass player Greame Beer and fiddle player Ross Smithard. Her music is inspired by nature and the human spirit, and will transport you through joy and tears, this is a feast for the soul.
Trioc is a collective of young Victorian instrumentalists performing Irish traditional music. They received the 2018 Peter J Daly Memorial Award in recognition of their previous National Folk Festival appearances.. Their repertoire includes jigs, reels, hornpipes and slow airs in inventive and sensitive arrangements. Trioc’s sound is at once earthy and ethereal, reflecting the band members’ respect for the torchbearers of the Irish musical tradition as well as their own unique musical vision.
Truman Smith Band
Truman Smith loves writing a good old-fashioned pop song, and he and his band know just how to deliver one. From vibin' tunes to sombre songs, his writing blends a love of classic melody-driven pop with fresh and folky flavour of production. Since teaming up with his band, Truman Smith's shows have been energetic and boisterous, which is balanced by the depth and colour of his new material.
Ukulele Republic of Canberra
The Ukulele Republic of Canberra is Canberra’s largest and longest-lived community music ukulele group. They meet three times a month and have an active performing group that has led the Ukulele Muster at the National Folk Festival for the past four years. They have more than a hundred active members and over the last decade have entertained audiences all over Australia, celebrating the beautiful little uke and its magic.