I spent the long weekend at Port Fairy Folk Festival. There was lots of awesome music.
Blair Dunlop: beautiful tone. Instrumentation perhaps not as sharp as it will be, but intricate and compelling. Song about Kit Marlowe, and another from a poem. Nice stage presence. Classic story songs, but more complex contextualisation.
Antonio Serrano: there is nothing at all like listening to a classical composition played on harmonica. We clapped at the end of the first movement because we’re a folk audience. Captivating.
Altan: Fiddling, which is awesome. They also sing in Gaelic. It is such fluid music.
Their performance takes on the diversity of Irish music, including newly composed reels.
David Bridie: I know David Bridie’s work pretty well, so it was familiar, even the new things. This is not problem because his work is moving. He also made the point that having the asylum seekers in Manus is bad for the people of Manus.
Ben Salter: good. Enjoyable, but I got the sense that all his songs were trying to be the same. It might have been the fact that I was sleepy, because I warmed up to him.
Love Over Gold: I just caught the end of this. Lovely. Sweet.
Bruce Mathiske’s Sizzling Strings: So brilliant. Fabulous intricate playing. Diverse sounds. Good humour.
The Good Lovelies: Definitely lovely. Nothing particularly interesting, but sweet, good sound and evocative.
Mama Kin: Mama Kin is awesome. So energetic. I loved her analogy that “long term love is tidal.” Very funny banter, moving and massive songs.
The Tealeaves: These guys were fun. They started with a Cat Stevens song and then their original stuff, which just a bit tell-y. Like Ben Salter. They got tier up to play, and he can sing, but songs were just not doing it for me, and the instrumentation didn’t do much to the songs.
Ash Grunwald: Very energetic. While not exactly my sort of music, very engaging. He got everyone up and dancing, which is awesome. All those guys kind of sound the same to me, but I am always impressed by them.
The Recycled String Band: I caught the end of these guys. They played Midnight Special, but it sounded way too light, especially after Ash Grunwald. Not enough something, although that may have been the mix, which can be bad at the Lighthouse cafe.
Ding Ding Yvonne Calling: I did take myself off to get food in the middle of this, because I don’t like the comedy at Port Fairy. It requires a far more active engagement and potential for embarrassment than I like.
Hot Club Swing: I’d like to get these guys to do live music as a ball or something. Good sound and the gypsy jazz thing is great. It just kind of goes on a bit without structure that I can hear. (Which is not to say that it is without structure, I just can’t hear it.)
Lunasa: These guys were good!. Friendly and engaging irreverent relationship on stage and simply accomplished, which contributes to a sense of relaxation on stage.
Women in Voice: All over very good. Everyone can sing and there was such warmth and respect. I think that is was kind of awkward to put Celia Pavey last in the lineup as she is the least established performer. She did wet well with a cover at the end. I think Mama Kin would have made a better last performer; she is indomitable.
The Twoks: I loved these guys. Deceptively simple – violin, vocals and drums – but strongly instrumental and fantastic textural work. Xani is so exuberant.
Archie Roach: Archie Roach is amazing. Diverse repertoire. He had a great voice. Also, his song about violence against women explicitly includes sistagirls.
Damien Dempsey: Damien had to leave after two songs because he was sick. I would like to hear more of him.
Madeleine Peyroux: I saw her at women in voice and so was glad to take the opportunity to hear more. She’s from Southern US. Much more a big club jazz kind of sound than one usually expects for Port Fairy. Great.
Tolka: Were very engaging. Caught them on way to Tiger and Me. Traditional style of Irish set playing, with original as well as traditional stuff and covers.
The Tiger and Me: I might have a crush on this band. Boppy style, fabulous instrumentation and they seem to have a great time together.
John Cleary and the Absolute Monster Audience: Excellent. Well played well presented good songs. Not particularly my type of music, so it’s difficult to really get into, also I have the beginnings of a headache. But I can appreciate that it is awesome.
Jaaleekaay: These guys were great. An instrument I’ve never heard before! They were funny, too. Lovely sound.
Bobby Alu: He opened with four-person drumming, which was fabulous. He’s great. There was lots of dancing, which is always nice. I had to leave early before I had to get up at 5.