First Sydney Folk Festival

Rebecca Varidel
18th Jul 2019

No Gumboots Needed When Folk Music Floods the City!

Timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, top notch musicians aged from 9 to 90 will thrill audiences with a wild rainbow of sounds. You’ll hear fresh young world beats and original voices, traditional music (ballads, shanties, blues, bush music, bluegrass and newgrass) and way, way beyond to Afro funk, Celtic punk and more!

Artistic director, well-known Aussie cultural historian and performer Warren Fahey (Folkways Music, Larrikin Records), says this festival will ‘totally blow away’ any outdated stereotypes of ‘old school’ folk.

“We’ve prepared a joyous celebration of all the musical genres that sit under the big umbrella of ‘folk’. Storytelling – colonial, indigenous, multicultural – is central… but so is participation. There’s dance, poetry, theatre, food and drink… and much, much more. The entire line-up is Aussie – in fact all but two acts are from NSW! In the heart of the city – every venue is within 5 minutes’ walk of Sydney Town Hall.”

The next generation of folk is the festival theme. With an emphasis on youth, the performers will range from extraordinary talent, ten-year old Allegra Dunning and 2019 Young Folk Award winner Cowra’s Josh Maynard, to legends like internationally-acclaimed singer- songwriter, Eric Bogle – who will sing his much loved hits and submit to a BBQ ‘grilling’ by number one fan and legendary Australian author Tom Keneally. The festival will even go a little ‘mellow’ with a musical hippy tribute in honour of the Woodstock anniversary!

One of the most exciting aspects of the festival will be its use of creative venues. Its main hubs will be the City Tattersall’s Club; the historic 750 seat Pitt Street Uniting Church, a John Bibb designed ‘fire and brimstone’ church built in 1841; the Edinburgh Castle Hotel (1885) and venues within the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts (SMSA established 1833). A unique musical adventure for every taste, weekend or day ticket holders will be able to explore the musical offerings with several performances programmed concurrently. Sydney Folk Festival also features a number of theatre pieces too, among them...

Dead Men Talking
Max Cullen and Warren Fahey bring their hit musical play to Sydney for possibly its very last performance (well, they have already performed over 150 shows over the past five years). Join Australia’s two favourite poets, Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson in the Leviticus Bar & Grill, Heaven’s Gate, as they catch up on old times, sing a few songs, recite their favourite poems and ruminate on past literary glories. “Cullen and Fahey craftily bring the two great poets back to life” (ABC TV).

A revival of Reedy River the legendary 1952 musical, by the Blood 'n' Bone Theatre company.
Directed by Tony Guyot, Reedy River successfully brought the Australian bush to the city when in 1953 the Australian folk musical about the 1891 Australian shearers’ strike became a theatrical hit. The libretto was written by Dick Diamond with songs chosen by John Gray. Two new songs were written for the musical by Diamond with music by Miles Maxwell. The play premiered at the Melbourne New Theatre on 11 March 1953. The Sydney production featured The Bushwhackers instead of an orchestra. It played throughout Australia over three years and was toured in England. It was seen by over 450,000 people in Australia during its first run and has been revived several times. The songs include Widgeegoweera Joe, Reedy Lagoon, Banks of the Condamine, Old Black Billy, Reedy River, Bare Bellied Ewe (Click Go the Shears), Ballad Of 1891. The Blood'nBone ensemble production retains all the rawness and vitality of earlier revivals and is not to be missed. A unique slice of Australian musical history.