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Yackandandah Folk Festival 2019

Here are our thoughts on the 2019 Yackandandah Folk Festival

Yackandandah Folk Festival 22 – 24 March 2019

By Keiran Croker

I’ve returned for another look at the Yackandandah Folk Festival after first experiencing it last year. It’s the 22nd edition of this lovely festival.

Yackandandah is a small historic village (population 900 plus) located in the north east of the State of Victoria, having grown out of the mid 19th Century gold rush in the area, and about 300 kms from the capital city of Melbourne. It retains its charm with a tree-lined main street framing the mainly century old buildings.

The festival envelopes the town with traffic blocked off allowing easy pedestrian access between venues. And the township certainly embraces the festival. Main venues included the public hall, a large marquee in the school yard and a stage at the rear of the Star Hotel. Smaller venues included spaces at several cafes and acoustic stages (i.e. no mics or amplification) at the old Court House and St James Church.

The line-up was diverse and included a range of international acts from North America and the UK. These days folk festival acts cover a broad variety of genres including traditional, Americana, alt-country and those leaning to straight out blues, rock or pop. This diversity was perhaps best illustrated by my two favourite international acts.

Z-Star Delta is a powerhouse UK blues rock duo headed by Trinidadian Zee Gachette on vocals, drums and guitar, with support on guitar delivering a mix of originals and blues covers, all in a high octane mode. This is dance party stuff and oh, what a party. Zee rocked the Marquee on Friday and Saturday nights.

By contrast Red Tail Ring is a traditional duo based in Michigan USA. Laurel Premo and Michael Beauchamp trade vocals and instruments –
guitar, banjo and fiddle and harmonise on songs strongly of place and experience. They have that rare talent of placing you within their environment and inviting you to come and stay. Just gorgeous! I’m now enjoying their latest album release Fall Away Blues.

Of the other international acts, I was impressed with The Frank Burkitt Band from over the ditch in New Zealand – hard to categorise, mixing elements of jazz, swing, pop and folk underpinned by a quirky sense of humour. Well worth spending some time with.

I do attend a reasonable amount of festivals and gigs throughout the course of the year, both locally and on occasions overseas, and it’s always a delight to hear new acts that capture the imagination. Fitting that bill this time were two local female solo singer/songwriter/guitarists – Genevieve Chadwick and Claire Anne Taylor.

I saw the end of Genevieve’s set at The Star Hotel on Saturday and was inspired to make an early start on Sunday to take in her whole set at the Court House. An accomplished acoustic guitarist in the folk blues style, Genevieve sings with a powerful blues voice presenting original songs about growing up on the south coast of New South Wales. With support on blues harmonica, Genevieve is a captivating and relaxed performer.

From our island State of Tasmania, Claire Anne Taylor has a soulful voice which made me think of Ray LaMontagne – an earthy, breathy style. Songs of place and environment held the attentive crowd in the Public Hall on Saturday night.

All Strings Attached and Hello Hello Tut typified the gypsy-style bands that provided high-energy dance music that one expects of a folk festival. Great fun!

While I’d call this a moderate sized event, I still managed to see less than half of what was on offer. My friends were impressed with a folk rock band called The Settlement from western Victoria, though I missed seeing them.

I won’t mention all the acts that I saw snippets of, or missed all together, though perhaps a special mention to Fred Smith, who weaves great yarns around his experiences as a foreign diplomat. Fred is quite the raconteur. I hope to see more of him in the future.

A final mention to my mate Pete Denahy, who is a ‘Yack’ local and award-winning performer. An accomplished instrumentalist, Pete’s special humour had the whole crowd in stitches. It’s worth the trip just to see him.

I can highly recommend this festival. There is much on offer to cater for a broad palette of tastes, and then there is the town of Yackandandah … what a gorgeous little town! I’d recommend getting in early if you want to stay in town, as we encamped over in Beechworth, a larger historic gold rush town about 25 minutes away.

We will be back next year for the 23rd edition.

See our Australian festival list

(All photos by Keiran Croker)

Here are our thoughts on the 2019 Yackandandah Folk Festival

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Author: Rob Dickens

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