Described as equal parts vulnerable folk singer and vitriolic poet, the shining beam of sunlight that is Alana Wilkinson has turned heads recently with stellar performances across major festivals such as Blue Mountains, Queenscliff, Woodford and Nannup. Combining delicate melodies with disarmingly insightful vignettes about the human condition, Wilkinson is a smiling assassin who leaves audiences feeling like they’re sitting in her living room, chatting about life over a steaming cuppa.
The Alaska String Band brings the best of Americana. Winners of the Fame Awards – Bluegrass Band of the Year, this group is polished, with riveting harmonies that are totally off the charts. Groove along while this captivating four-member family band offers up American roots favourites … swing, jazz, rock, original, pop, folk and Bluegrass.
Not just another Singer/songwriter! Bruce’s music is joyful, thought provoking, with totally engaging original songs from one of Australia's folk icons. Bruce is a master storyteller in song. His music reflects life in all its beautiful, funny, tragic and messy glory, often with a twist and a quirky sense of humour. “An Australian folk hero!” (The Boite). “The best songwriter I have seen in a long time.” (Eric Bogle)
In 2020 the Bush Music Club celebrates the centenary of the birth of one of its founders, folklorist John Meredith AM, whose extensive collections are in the National Library. Since 1954 BMC has actively promoted Australian folk traditions though collecting and publishing all forms of folklore. The oldest folk club in Australia, BMC holds regular dance and music workshops, bush dances, concerts and colonial balls and offers a Saplings program for young musicians.
Drawing their inspiration from the warmth of old-style bush entertainment and folklore, the Roweths work with vibrant arrangements of new and old traditional Australian ballads and work songs, early country music, original music, poetry, yarns, and dance tunes, weaving together and carrying forward diverse threads of the Australian tradition. Integral to the sound is the formidable and expressive double bass of Matt Nightingale.
The Concertina Convergence provides opportunities for concertina players at all levels and of all keyboard systems to network with other players and to participate in structured sessions and workshops led by some of Australia's finest exponents on the instrument.
Shortlisted for Scots Singer of the Year in Scotland’s 2019 Trad Music Awards, Fiona Ross has established her reputation as a leading interpreter of Scots song. Her earthy singing style, grounded delivery and diverse repertoire showcase the richness of the Scots song tradition. ARIA Award winner Shane O'Mara is one of the nation's most respected guitarists. These two highly accomplished artists combine to deliver a set of Scottish songs and tunes that is both steeped in tradition and imbued with contemporary flair.
Folk Alliance Australia (FAA) is the peak national body representing folk cultural activity and the folk industry in Australia. A membership-based organisation, FAA provides an information resource, networking and showcase and professional development opportunities for the Australian folk community.
The Good Girl Song Project anchors itself in great storytelling and original songwriting and features Penny Larkins, Penelope Swales, Helen Begley and Jamie Molloy. They present their stunning folk song cycles “Settlement” and "Voyage" which follow the experiences of new female immigrants to colonial Australia of the 1830s. The struggles and triumphs of new immigrants in an old world are brought to life with finely wrought folk arrangements and tightly scripted stories
Graham Seal and Rob Willis have been collecting and performing Australian folklore for many years. Drawing on their own archives and the collections of the National Library, they bring these traditions to life in radio, books, their Verandah Music blog and through engaging performances for audiences around the country.
With lots of hats and voices, he’s a wonder to behold, a writer and performer – three-times champion, we’re told. Bush poetry performance makes him come alive, you see; it’s dinkum Aussie culture that will fill you full of glee. So come along, experience his characters in rhyme, come climb the slime and grime, no crime, it’s prime – a time sublime!
Festival faves and Bluegrass Golden Guitar finalists, The Hillbilly Goats are a “show” featuring stories and song combined with hard fiddle, fast harmonica, clogging bones and big harmonies… Drawing influence from trad folk tunes, their passion lies in the history and they love to seek out stories of songs almost forgotten and bring them back to life with boundless energy. Kicke yer shows off! These Goats are FUN and not to be missed!
A leading member of Australia's small clan of folklorists, Keith doubles as a slightly crazy performance poet, the only person to have recited 'The Spirit of the People' in the Australian High Court, 'A Study in Linguistics' in the Sydney Opera House, and 'McArthur's Fart at the United Nations in New York. His acclaimed solo tour de force, 'Yet More Lies that Made Australia' is a hilarious thought-provoking entertainment simply not to be missed.
2018 Troubadour Award Winner and perennial festival presence Liz Frencham is stepping back into centre stage supported by virtuoso multi-instrumentalists Pete Fidler and Josh Bennett. She has a BRAND new album and a swag of new songs along with favourites from her 'Jigzag', 'Jimmy The Fish' and duet album days. Come and be warmed by that cheeky grin and cradled by her luminous, generous presence.
Maddie Diamond – 2020 ACT Young Australian of the Year
Maddie Diamond – 2020 ACT Young Australian of the Year
Maddie is a 22 year old environmental activist from Canberra. She is the founder of Trash Gather, a grassroots group that builds community while removing rubbish from the natural and urban environment. She is also Executive Officer of SEE-Change, a not-for-profit organisation that fosters community-led sustainability projects in Canberra. Maddie was named 2020 ACT Young Australian of the Year for her community leadership in sustainability. Under Maddie's leadership young people are working together to take control of the future they would like to see.
The Mammals are an Americana/folk/rock band fronted by husband-and-wife songwriting duo, Mike Merenda and Ruth Ungar, the daughter of fiddle legend, Jay Ungar. The Mammals joke that they’re “too folk for the rock show” and “too rock for the folk show”, but in reality they hit the critical emotional and sonic touchstones of both. Their performances are propelled by just the right amount of guitar grit, soothing harmony, barn-burning fiddle, retro grooves, and storytelling savvy.
Fresh from their Edinburgh Fringe triumph, Neil Adam and Judy Turner have brought together some of Victoria's finest instrumentalists to present a dashing collection of their award winning songs and tunes. With Vince Bradley (trumpet) Gus Rigby (sax) Louise Godwin (cello) and Bec Rigby (vocals), Judy (fiddle) and Neil (guitar/vocals) will delight with a mix of Australian and Scottish inspired material, including timeless classics such as 'Pickers Train' 'Yellow Shoes' and 'Gates of Gold'.
Take a spellbinding journey to the far reaches of the galaxy with one of Australia’s most prolific Indigenous songwriters, Warren H Williams, and members of the acclaimed Griffyn Ensemble. Discover western and Indigenous astronomy through a synthesis of masterful storytelling, music and short film, and ask yourwelf – what do the stars mean to you?
Pachamama (‘Mother Earth’) is a new Latin American music ensemble that will inspire you with music both familiar and strange, speaking of love, longing and the fragile earth. Their music weaves the textures, colours and cultural richness of South America with four-part vocal harmonies and a colourful platter of exotic folk instruments: the charango, tres, guitar, flute, zampona, mandolin, bouzouki and percussion.
Called “the best folk band to have come out of Scotland in the last twenty years” by the New York Times, award-winning Glasgow singer Paul McKenna is ranked among Scotland’s finest young songwriters, armed with a powerful yet intensely emotive voice and passionate social conscience. Alongside Conor Markey (banjo/ bouzouki/ guitars) and Ewan Baird (percussion), Paul McKenna draws on both Scottish and Irish roots in a dynamic full-bodied array of original and traditional material.
Seven decades of music: hundreds of stories, thousands of photos, 500 pages of folkie goodness documenting folk music in Brisbane 1950 to now’. Celebrate the stories, laugh with old friends and make new ones as the Brisbane Folk History Project launches ‘Brisbane Folk’ – part history, part memory, all heart
The Rondanihan traditional Filipino plucked string orchestra in Rondalla tradition commenced in 2002 in Canberra and has performed in the Philippines, Qld, NSW and the ACT, with regular performances in Canberra and surrounding regions. Based in Canberra, the group performs at major cultural events festivals, diplomatic and public receptions. The repertoire combines traditional and popular music from the Philippines along with classical and popular tunes arranged for plucked stings. Performances are often accompanied by dancers.
Since 1992 the National Library of Australia has brought people interviewed in the field to record in their studios and perform at the National Folk Festival. Performers (both farmers and the famous) have come from many musical genres including, traditional, Indigenous, multicultural, blues and country. In 2020, the 28th year, the NLA's guests are Fred Pribac, Rachael Gates and their children Minna and Reuben, collectively known as The Scary Family Band.
John and Robin have extensive careers a capella or accompanied (for 20 years they were most of 'The Roaring Forties' harmony engine room!). Very successful composers, they have numerous themed collections of songs. John’s folk cantata 'Yarri of Wiradjuri' is famous, and 'We Made the Steel', their songs of the 1960s NSW steelworks, got rave reviews in Australia and England. Look for a lively interactive style, brilliant harmonies and many new compositions.
For over 25 years, the National Library of Australia and folklorist Rob Willis and friends have been presenting themed concerts based on the NLA’s extensive oral history and folklore collections. Interesting, exciting and informative, these productions have covered everything from Surf Music to Skiffle. This year’s performance is ‘That’s Alright Mama’, with plenty of songs and stories about Elvis and Australia. Some you will know, and more that you won’t.
The Victorian Folk Music Club's Billabong Band is the longest continuously performing bush band in Australia. With its emphasis on traditional Australian (European) folk song, dance and poetry, it strives to keep alive the traditions that are sometimes overshadowed by the American and Scots/Irish traditions. It performs regularly around Melbourne and country towns at local festivals, dances and various private functions.