From the twang of Willie Watson’s claw hammer banjo to the highly infectious and energetic stage show of Tash Sultana, the 41st Port Fairy Folk Festival had everything to whet the appetite of every music lover regardless of age.
As you’d expect, heading along to such a festival with an incredible heritage in Australian music, you are always going to find artists that you’d never turned your attention to before.
With such a broad array of talent on show over the three days, it was hard to know where to look first. Heading down on the Friday afternoon, my highlight for the night would definitely have to be legendary blues act The Backsliders. Over the past 30 years Dom Turner has redefined the path of the blues guitarist with Ian Collard and Rob Hirst (of Midnight Oil) along for the ride recently. Their highly energetic and upbeat set in the bar was just what the Friday night needed. Playing tracks off their latest album, Heathen Chemistry, The Backsliders sure knew how to get everyone in a fine dancing and singing mood.
One of the coolest aspects to Port Fairy is the feature concerts they put on with a common theme. My favourite to the Saturday would have to be; It’s Got To Come From The Heart: Songs That Strike A Chord – which featured artists at the start of their career and seasoned performers. For the best part of an hour and a half, punters were gifted to songs from Charles Jenkins, Gretta Ray, Melody Pool, Boo Hewardine and Don Walker as they discussed the art of their songwriting.
Despite the weather turning nasty on Saturday night and my tent becoming saturated, the great family friendly atmosphere makes this festival a stand out. Festival highlights included Willie Watson leading the whole crowd at Stage 4 in a few choruses of the ‘Midnight Special’, Fem Belling doing a cover of Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself’ and Tash Sultana packing out the tent and launching into ‘Synergy’ and ‘Jungle’. Thank you Port Fairy for once again surprising me with great overseas talent and new discoveries. See you again in 2018 for more party vibes. Until then, cheers!
Photographed and reviewed by Tex Miller