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  • Writer's pictureJenny Wynter

Woodford Folk Festival: A Spaced Odyssey

Wow. I may never recover. For this year’s Woodford Folk Festival was definitely up there amongst one of the best weeks of my entire life.

I’ve been to five Woodfords now, but this one was the first in years that has featured a marked time without kids. We took them up for the first couple of days – unfortunately these were the days that decided to be rain-drenched and mud-soaked – still, the kids had a wicked, if not messy, time, spent mostly at the kids’ fest. Which, might I add, completely rocks. Ella totally dug her juggling workshop and is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to do it again next year when her gross motor skills actually allow her to catch.

Woodford with kids = fun but hard work.

Wooford with rain and kids = hell on a mud-stick.

Hence, a couple of days in and we opted for a trip up the Coast to drop the kids off for a lovely little holiday with Auntie Liz and Uncle Andrew, thereby giving Mummy Jen and Daddy Tim the first ever occurrence of four nights off together since Ella was born.

Let me hear you say “YEAH!!”

In short, we had a blast. Highlights in bullet point:

– camping with the comedians and posse at the infamous Retox Centre in the performers’ camp (including S Sorenson, Alan Glover, Simon Rogers, Bart Freebairn, Chris Radburn, Mandy Nolan and regular visits from Liz Skitch and more…) with conversations, rants and outbursts that left my insides absolutely sore from laughter, far more than anything I’ve ever seen onstage.

– jamming some improv songs with fellow camper Doctor Harry and having a go at performing a couple in a fill-in spot I did in the club on Thursday; it was okay but I think I’ve since decided that improv songs alone probably isn’t the best thing in a stand-up environment, but I’m dead keen to experiment more with it, get better at it and find a form where it does work for solo stuff!

– performing in the improv night, where amongst other things, I was bestowed the absolute unadulterated honour of playing “The World’s First Hippy.”

– rocking out in a couple of gigs at the Chai Tent (a place so close to my heart and dreadlocks…not that I have them but if I did that’s where it’d be) where a couple of teenage boys called out to me saying “We adore you!” Not really who I would have picked as my typical audience (nor would I have picked that as the language they would use for a compliment) but I enjoyed both. Oh, plus two cute young ladies found me backstage after and told me “Oh my God, we’re like totally being your groupies.” “Oh my God!” I replied. “I have groupies!”

– bringing in the new year at the amphitheatre with my hubby, darling sister Ang, and the posse of friends & limbs.

– getting my mojo back yet again with my gorgeous hubby: whaddya know, all we needed was a few nights off.

– seeing (in no particular order:)

Mal Webb (who also caught my Chai Tent set and we chatted backstage after: what a lovely man and bloody brilliant performer – I WANNA LOOP STATION!)

Hamill on Trial (WHOA WHOA WHOA) – talk about a guy who is just so confident in who he is and by asking nothing from the audience, is actually rewarded with complete authority over them. Just amazing.

Kya – I was on a deadline to get back to the campsite yet could NOT walk past the concert stage when I overheard these girls’ stunning voices and harmonies. I bumped into them later that night in the Bazaar and told them as much.

Kaki King – technically brilliant but I didn’t make it through more than two songs. I know some people were raving about her, and I do admire the confidence of someone whose approach is ‘I’m so genius at what I do I really don’t need to do anything but sit here and play’ but I guess I’ve realised I do appreciate showmanship.

Rory McLeod – I first saw him in Tasmania years and years ago and thought he was brilliant then, so seeing him be one of the ‘it’ people of this year’s fest was quite cool. An amazing storyteller – you really feel like each of his songs really holds huge significance for him.

Herb Armstrong – I can’t remember his full name, only that he’s apparentyl Louis Armstrong’s grand-son…talk about stage presence. The guy had the audience eating out of his hand the night we caught him in the Blues Tent – he seemed hugely disappointed at the end when he wasn’t allowed to proceed with the encore due to time constraints.

Umbilical Brothers – I could barely see cos the concert stage was bulging like a fat gut over the top of jeans, but the bit I did catch was enjoyable. Their physical commitment to everything they do – and their connection with each other – is just perfect.

PO’ Girl – this folky four-some of girlies from Canada just played some of the most gorgeous melodies: we crossed paths backstage at the Chai Tent and…what do you know, they’re nice too.

Kafka – who, I’m so chuffed to say, were playing with my and Mango Lick’s dear mate Kelly Timmons, who was BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE. I was so proud, I almost shed a tear of chai.

Oh, oh, and so many more…but in short, I learned something about performing from every single person I ever saw. It was by far the best Woodford I’ve ever been too, though in fairness, that’s possible just cos I had my hands free.

Excuse me now while I battle off my post-fest blues.

*sniff*

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