June 12, 2019 / By Shelley Ann Morgan
Historic St Albans village, about 1 hour from Sydney or Gosford (2.5 hrs from Newcastle), is the perfect setting for the St Albans Folk Festival. From Anzac day public holiday Thursday 25th to 28th April, this 4 day, easy-going and affordable festival showcases local and interstate performers, songwriters and musicians.
St Albans village comes alive during the festival with a diverse range of traditional and modern sound, as musicians take part in impromptu street performances in a convivial and relaxed style. Enjoy the sounds of banjos, acoustic guitars, fiddles, accordions and singing voices that echo through the valley. While festival-folk saunter through the village, the landscape becomes a kaleidoscope of colour. The main stage areas are a buzz of delightful sounds as performers shine.
With an outdoor stage, The Settlers Arms Inn (image below), one of Australia’s oldest pubs, is the spot for families, with musicians performing in the beer garden and toddlers chasing after chickens and the pet peacock that roam free on the pub’s grounds. It’s here where the energy of the festival is first felt, before venturing to the adjoining main festival site.
Traditional folk music (commonly associated with folklore) has been around for centuries, however, the term ‘folk music’ became popular during the 1800s. In its traditional sense it is music that connects families and communities through storytelling that is rich in history and culture, and is passed on from one generation to next (music that is transmitted orally). Australia’s folk music development began during the early colonial days, with distinctive themes of life in the Australian Bush - which became known as bush music or bush ballads, and perhaps most widely known is Banjo Paterson’s Waltzing Matilda.
The festival runs fun children’s activities, interesting and diverse food stalls, craft and clothes stalls and more. However, before the village becomes a busy party zone, the event begins with an important riverside ceremony. The ‘Welcome to Country’ is a mark of respect and an opportunity to acknowledge the past and continuing connection local indigenous people have with the land. With respect for the Darkinjung people and their land acknowledged, the local indigenous performers kick-start events with a smoking ceremony, dance, song and storytelling around a big fire as the sun sets. What a start!
There is a sense of camaraderie between festival folk and performers creating an all-round feel-good festival experience. While the festival highlights today’s remarkable interstate and local folk performers, it also captures a mix of historic, traditional and modern storytelling in a cheerful, yet peaceful and heartfelt way.
This year the diverse selection of performers will delight all music lovers. The line-up of over 50 acts includes; the Shane Howard Trio, who will have the audience on the edge of their seats while waiting to hear the anthemic ‘Solid Rock’ (first recorded with his band Goanna during the 80s); Chloe & Jason Roweth Band; Senor Cabrales (image above); Stillhouse Union; The Dead Maggies; Whisky Dram; Traditional Graffiti; The Trippy Hippy Band (with Hippytrippyaoke - live band karaoke songs of the 60s), just to name a few!
Expect a fair serve of Celtic, Bush, Blues, Bluegrass, Old timey, Traditional and Contemporary music, poetry and more, plus a splash of comedy thrown in for good measure. This year there's a Bollywood Dance on Friday night and the regular Bush Dance on Saturday night.
With an intimate atmosphere, this is one easy and enjoyable, family-friendly festival, where you can join in, or sit back and relax, and embrace folklore festivities at its best. Mark the diary, buy early bird tickets online and tell your friends about what many consider to be “The BEST little festival going.” SEE YOU SOON!
Top image: The button collective St Albans Folk Festival 2018
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