Sweet vocals, gentle harmonies, fiery fiddle playing and a swinging rhythm section is what you get when you see the styling of four-piece The Drowsy Maggies. Melting hearts and filling dancefloors, the all-female folk band have been capturing the attention of the music scene with their fresh approach to folk, Celtic and acoustic music, leading them to win consecutive awards at the National Folk Festival back in April.
“We won the 2016 Gill Rees Memorial Award for the best upcoming Youth Act and then this year we were lucky enough to win the Peter J. Daly Memorial Award for the Best Celtic Act so that was very exciting, especially because we had already got an award last year so we definitely weren’t expecting that,” says guitarist Rhiannon McArthur.
The timing of their award for the Best Celtic Act comes appropriately in the lead up to Portarlington’s National Celtic Festival where the girls will be sharing their self-titled debut album with festival goers for a real winter treat.
“We’re really excited for that one. The atmosphere there is great. We love how different it is from all the other festivals and we like that it’s cold. I grew up in Ballarat so I’m nice and used to the cold,” she laughs. “It’s just great – all the sessions we love and all the acts we love, it’s beautiful.”
The album, which was recorded throughout most of 2016, features 10 of their original songs, two sets of original tunes and a cover one of their favourites, which was recorded with Luke Plumb in various studios throughout Victoria before being mixed and mastered in the UK.
“We have been really overwhelmed with the amount of encouragement and support that we’ve received from everyone. It’s been really great. We released it [the album] at a few festivals such as Port Fairy Folk Festival, White Night in Melbourne and White Night in Ballarat, The Grampians Music Festival and the National Folk Festival so we’ve had some really great opportunities to get it out there. The amount of support we’ve received has been incredible.”
Growing up with traditional Irish music and spending her youth at many folk festivals listening to bands like The Waifs, McArthur found her place with The Drowsy Maggies in 2015 after winning the Stars on the Lake award from the Lake School of Celtic Music, Song & Dance in Koroit alongside the three other members – Ballarat’s Ari Lane, Adelaide-based Caity Brennan and Camperdown’s Jordy Hickey. Two years later, the girls have found their sound as one of the finest and most versatile new acts on the scene.
“We started off with a big focus on Celtic music and doing traditional tune sets, but now we have original tune sets that are written by our fiddle player Caity, however our main focus is writing and singing original songs. We have really developed in the last two years. We still love the traditional stuff, but we’re really focusing on the songwriting at the moment,” she says.
“I think we’ve found our style and our sound but we have considered bringing some new ideas to the group, perhaps a percussionist or something to lift it a bit more. I think we have really found where we want to be though.”
“We are just really happy doing what we are doing and are just all in it for the music.”
When & Where: National Celtic Festival, Portarlington – June 9 – 12
By Talia Rinaldo