Mid North – Tales From a Mountain

Mid North AlbumScott Collins is one of Australia’s very few songwriters contributing to the ongoing collection of original Australian bluegrass music. Scott’s previous album was called You Were Right About the Stars. This new album is called Tales From a Mountain.

Songwriting can be a challenge for some. Writing words for a song can require one to search deeply into feelings, values and beliefs to deliver one’s message. Indeed the challenge is often one of having to bare the soul to deliver heartfelt beliefs and stirring messages from, sometimes, tender personal experiences.  Scott Collins has opened his heart on this album.

The music on Tales From a Mountain ranges from heart-wrenching blues, and haunting old-timey ballads to lively bluegrass instrumentals. His music underpins some great song writing and open-hearted confessions to the listener.

The album features Scott Collins on guitar and vocal, John Woolhouse on mandolin and fiddle, Bill Faulkner on banjo and Will Pregnell on bass. Adding to the vocal work is Cath Cooper and Josh MacKenzie.

Additionally we hear Kat Mear and Sammy Lind on fiddle, Hamish Davidson and Jenny Shimmin on banjo, Jamie Sampson on bass, Paddy Montgomery and Caleb Klauder on mandolin with Josh MacKenzie on backing vocals.

Corn Liquor is the opening track on the album and sets a great pace with Hamish Davidson’s hard-driving banjo and Cath Cooper’s supportive harmonies. Overall Cath does a fine job in supporting the vocals with her pure clear harmonies.

One of my favourites on the album is No Return. It tells the tale of a cowardly retreat of a gambler, philanderer and wonton cheat who is heading down the road of no return, leaving a letter of some regret and to be read by his abandoned woman.  A mournful ballad, haunting in melody and lyric and executed with style by Mid North’s band leader Scott Collins.

In short, this album is full of fine song writing delivered in a blend of complimenting musical styles and instrumentation with deft performances by a host of Aussie musicians delivered through a fine production effort from NoiseLab Studios. Congratulations Scott on another great album.

The Wayward Angels Head To Tamworth

The Wayward AnglesThe Wayward Angels is a four piece all-girl band delivering sweet vocal harmonies to a repertoire of alt country/bluegrass tunes.

The girls met through a local Brisbane bluegrass jam session and went on to form the Wayward Angles. They say they bring a taste of bluegrass with a feminine edge to Brisbane audiences and now they are heading to Tamworth.

The group cites their main influences as: Gillian Welch, Old Crow Medicine Show, Blue Highway, The Punch Brothers old-timey and bluegrass music

The Wayward Angels are: Kay Armstrong on banjo, Jody Bell on mandolin, Brenda Kelly on guitar and Anne-Marie Lawton on double-bass.

Performance Schedule:

  • Sat. 17th Jan – Post Office Hotel – 1:20pm – 2:00pm
  • Sun. 18th Jan – RB Sellars Stage – 7:00pm – 8:00pm

Gold Coast Folk Festival Artists Applications

GCAMFThe Gold Coast Folk Festival will be held 19-20 September 2015 at Country Paradise Parklands in the Gold Coast Hinterland. Around 4000 people attended the 2014 festival. The festival is expected to attract around 6,000 this year. There are three stages with 30 performances over the weekend.

Organisers are looking for up to 20 acts with a mix of local, interstate and international artists. Previous years have included Wes Carr, Hanneke Cassel (USA), John Schumann, the Bushwhackers, Round Mountain Girls, Michael Fix, Hat Fiz and Cara, The Company and many more. Click here to see the 2014 program.

The venue is an ideal setting for a festival. Set on 30 ha of rural farmland, each stage is under cover and has an intimate barnyard feel. The main stage can easily fit up to 600 people under cover. Sound production is by Patric Burke and the team from the Soundshed, who specialise in, and are exceptionally good at managing folk and acoustic music festivals around Australia. Colorful markets and food stalls are dotted under huge spreading fig trees, adding to the laid back atmosphere.

How to apply:

Applications will close once the program is full so get in early. For more information, please see the festival website or contact Rob Saunders.

The 2015 Gold Coast Folk Music Festival is sponsored by the Gold Coast Acoustic Music Club (Coast Acoustics), Councillor Tracey Gilmore, City of Gold Coast and Tourism and Events Queensland.

Mustered Courage – Kiss From a Rose

Mustered Courage’s brand new double single “Kiss From A Rose” & “Candle Creek” is available now.

Mustered CourageBased in Melbourne, Australia, Mustered Courage bridge the gap between traditional bluegrass and modern roots music. The quartet – consisting of three Aussies and a Texas expat – has risen to the top of Australia’s folk and roots scene on the strength of their energetic live shows and an eponymous debut album that won them a string of glowing reviews, loads of national radio support, an endorsement from Seal, and a trophy at the 2012 MusicOz Awards.

Mustered Courage’s quick ascent has not gone unnoticed in music industry circles, both in Australia and abroad. These pickers have played many of the major Australian festivals, have showcased in the at the International Bluegrass Music Association Conference’s “2014 Bluegrass Ramble” and are lining up the follow-up 2015 US tour.

Like the Avett Brothers and Old Crow Medicine Show or Nickel Creek, Mustered Courage breathe new life into the bluegrass scene with a style that appeals to both traditionalists and newcomers alike.

We’re excited to be signing this deal with Lost Highway and feel the label understands us artistically, which is extremely important to us as a band. We’re looking forward to growing as recording artists under the Lost Highway label.” Julian Abrahams - Mustered Courage.

I first encountered Mustered Courage jamming at a back-yard party; real blue-grass harmonies, extraordinary musicianship, but with a modern new take on it all to their style. They played like their life depended on it – and that was at a BBQ! Just wait to you see them perform at a club or venue – or hear their new recordings. Urgency isn’t a word one associates with Alternative Country Bluegrass music – but that is just one of the special elements that makes Mustered Courage the leader in their space and so enjoyable to get wrapped up into – Michael Taylor Managing Director, Universal Music Australia.

33rd Yarra Junction Fiddler’s Convention

Yarra JunctionThe 33rd Yarra Junction Fiddler’s Convention will be held from 20th to 22nd February, 2015 at Camp Eureka, Tarrango Rd, Yarra Junction, Victoria, Australia.

Australia’s oldest and biggest old-time music festival for fans and players of String Band, bluegrass Cajun Old-Time Roots, Concerts, workshops, dances, fun, and of great sessions.

Expected to play are High Times String Band, Hill Williams, , Appalachian Heaven String Band, Snowy Mountain Ramblers, Nine Mile Creek, Faux Grass, My-T-Fine String Band, Kissin’ Cousins, Cat & Clint, Mama’s Mountain Jug Band, The Pups, Chilli Strings, Fruit Jar, Passionate Fools and Flying Engine String Band, Special guest Richard Klein fiddling with the Le Blanc Cajun Band.

Unpowered camping in 30 acres of beautiful bush, in a Heritage listed site. With a beautiful creek. Some (free) bunk-house spaces (contact Ken). Hot showers. Communal kitchen. Food van all weekend. $50 all weekend including cabins, bunkhouse or camping. All you need is a pillowcase and sleeping bag. Day tickets & concessions less. Under 18 free. Under-cover dance, concert & workshop areas. People start arriving on Thursday from 2.00 p.m., and we wake you up and throw the last of you out on Monday.

One hour drive from Melbourne central via Lilydale. Regular suburban train & bus.
For more information go to our website yarrajunctionfiddlersconvention.com, or phone Ken McMaster, (03)9481 7662, 0451 680 266 kennithmcmaster@gmail.com or Max Amos at 95512123,0428306687 amosmax@bigpond.com

Check us out on YouTube for lots of great videos of our concerts, dances, sessions and workshops.
It’s definitely not just fiddles. Truth is we named it after the Galax Old Time Festival in Virginia. It is the longest running old-time and bluegrass festival.

30th Illawarra Folk Festival

30th Illawarra Folk FestivalThe Illawarra Folk Festival will be celebrating its 30th Pearl Anniversary in 2015, and the engine room is full steam ahead with plans for what will be their greatest celebration and collection of Australian and overseas folk talent.

With 180 acts made up of 15 international acts, 74 national and 91 local Illawarra acts in 450 concerts, dances, workshops and sessions in 13 venues this festival will be a pearler.

International artists: Afenginn DENMARK, Bettina Schelker SWITZ, Black Market Tune SCOT/AUSTRIA, David Francey CANADA, Debasis Chakroborty & Kriti Ensemble INDIA, The East Pointers CANADA, George Mann USA, Jaron Freeman-Fox & The Opposite of Everything CANADA, Kristina Olsen USA, Melisande – Electrotrad CANADA, Reg Meuross UK, Scott Cook CANADA, Tim Edey Trio UK

National artists: Stephan Pigram, Eric Bogle, Ted Egan, Folkaphonic Youth Orchestra (premiere), Allez-gator, Appalachian Heaven String Band, Azadoota, Bernard Carney, Big Erle, The Bottlers, The BordererS, Chloe & Jason Roweth, Claude Hay, Cloudstreet, Curragh, Dave de Hugard, David Beniuk, Deep River, Choir, Enda Kenny & Lindsay Martin, Fred Smith, Guerilla Zingari, Gina Williams & Guy Ghouse, The Go Set, Greg Champion, John Broomhall, Jordan C. Thomas, Junior, Lagoon Hill Zydeco, The Lazy Farmer’s Sons, Lime & Steel, The Lurkers, The Mae Trio, Margaret & Bob Fagan, Martin Pearson, Melbourne Scottish Fiddle Club, Michael Fix, Mike Martin, The Morrisons, Neil Adam & Judy Turner, Nick Rheinberger, On The Stoop, Pat Drummond, Sally Harris, Sparrow-Folk, Springtide, The Squeezebox Trio, Stray Hens, Takadimi, Terry Serio’s Half Truths, Timothy James Bowen, The Transylvaniacs and Kengugro, Vardos, The Wish List and many more.

Click here for the whole lineup | Click here to buy tickets

7th Australian Banjo & Bluegrass Conference Day 3

Jens KrugerAfter an incredible concert Friday night at the Maleny Town Hall, Saturday started at around 7:30am with another breakfast offering of bacon, eggs, hash browns, savoury mince, sausages, fruit, yoghurt, toast, coffee tea and juice. The catering and support at Tranquil Park has been nothing less than incredible. What a fantastic team of people.

The morning of day 3 consisted of more of the same with masterclasses, workshops and demonstrations by Ross Nickerson, Jens Kruger, Mark Miracle, Uwe Kruger, Quentin Fraser and Joel Landsberg. By this time people were rising to the many challenged thrown out by the conference faculty and discussion around the breaks and meal times were focussed on the inspiration provided by the days teachings.

Lunchtime – more food.

The afternoon session gave us all an opportunity to listen first hand to one of the worlds most amazing music trio talk about their early lives as emerging musicians, their discovery of and inspiration from rock, blues, bluegrass and other forms of music, and the influences of those early music forms on their own music. It was a very moving and inspirational presentation listening to Jens and Uwe reflect on the early memories of their childhood and homeland. Joel Landsberg sat between them offering support musically, emotionally and with just as many stories of the Kruger’s history, like a third brother.

GeorgeJackson GregDunn Jens Kruger Mark Miracle Ross Nickerson Chris Melville

By mid afternoon the conference broke up to provide an opportunity for students to move off and rehearse for the evening’s in-house concert. This is a showcase of what they’ve learned and presented before a very supportive group of their peers and the conference faculty over the course of the evening.

Throughout the day Chris Melville of Melville Guitars, gave of his time to personally inspect our instruments, make small adjustments and offer advice of major changes as requested. His attention to detail and some 28 years of experience in building, repairing and setting up instruments was an immense benefit to many of the musicians gathered for the weekend.

Dinner time – more food.

The evening concert begins. Students take to the stage some bathed in fright, others quietly confident and composed. Through out the evening the camaraderie continues to build as students encourage each other both on and off the stage. A fitting finale to the weekends intense training programs, ongoing challenges and many demonstrations.

The Australian Banjo and Bluegrass Conference has developed a winning formula. The efforts Peter Nahuysen of Bellbird Banjos and his brother Mark has delivered yet another great conference aimed at fast tracking development opportunities for bluegrass musicians across Australasia.

7th Australian Banjo & Bluegrass Conference Day 2

ABBCAfter an amazing concert presentation as part of the opening of the 7th Australian Banjo & Bluegrass Conference, Friday’s offerings came think and fast after a wonderful breakfast served up from the Tranquil Park kitchen.

The workshops for the first morning’s session included instruction on what every banjo player should know in the way of solid technique; a range of tips and techniques for intermediate banjo players; solid Scruggs techniques, introduction to clawhammer banjo; some tips to create Dobro magic, and a host of essential techniques for bass, mandolin and guitar players delivered by 10 of the resident instructors.

Dobro MagicMid morning Ross Nickerson, Jens Kruger gave masterclasses while Uwe Kruger (guitar), Mark Miracle (mandolin), George Jackson (fiddle), Joel Landsberg (bass) continued with workshops.

The general vibe around the conference is one of enjoyable reflection on the already completed inspirational workshops, coupled with eager anticipation of the next round of presentations from the Kruger Brothers on arranging and creating their music followed by a session by master luthier Chris Melville on banjo, guitar and mandolin setup, environmental dangers and other nasties that may play havoc with our instruments.KrugerBrosMaleny

The conference retreated to the Maleny Town Hall to join members of the wider Sunshine Coast community to hear performances from Brisbane band The Company and USA’s The Kruger Brothers. The concert venue was almost at capacity and The Company played the first set wowing audiences with the own bluegrass flavoured, acoustic music and wry onstage humour. Next came the Kruger Brothers who launched into what I can only describe as an exploration of what’s possible on banjo, guitar and bass. The unique talents of Jens and Uwe Kruger and Joel Landsberg leave you wondering what just happened. Inspired by their love of bluegrass music, The Kurger Brothers have re-defined Acoustic music.

Saturday awaits…

7th Australian Banjo & Bluegrass Conference

KrugerBrothersMaleny is a popular tourist spot atop the mountain range some 20klm inland from costal city of Caloundra. Caloundra is the southern most coastal city on Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast which boasts of a laid-back lifestyle centred around pristine beaches, freshwater rivers, lakes, subtropical forests and warm sunshine.

Maleny’s Tranquil Park Resort, overlooking the Glasshouse Mountains, played host to the opening of the 7th Australian Banjo & Bluegrass Conference – although it could rightly be named an “Australasian” conference with regular attendees arriving from New Zealand each year. The now annual conference is an initiative of Bellbird Banjos which kicked off in 2009 by Peter Nahuysen and his brother Mark.

This year’s event sees a collective of almost 90 people gathered in Maleny. They will attend workshops and masterclasses delivered by sixteen instructors, five of whom have come from the USA.

Last year’s conference featured Jens Kruger on banjo who, so taken with Australia and the conference, promised to return this year with his band The Kruger Brothers. The conference opened last night with a warm welcome and general program introduction for the weekend from Peter Nahyusen. Peter gave a huge and enthusiastic welcome to the international guests Mark Miracle, Ross Nickerson and Kruger Brothers’ Jens Kruger, Uwe Kruger and Joel Landsberg.

Last night’s opening concert featured The Nahyusen Brothers on banjo and guitar with Mark Miracle on mandolin and Peter’s daughter Anita Nahuysen on double bass. Ross Nickerson followed solo on banjo and then the Kruger Brothers who closed the night leaving the many inspired musicians in the audience to jam on into the night. A fitting start to a weekend of bluegrass music in the mountains of the Sunshine Coast.

Friday Awaits…

Second MountainGrass Success

Chris Henry BandWord from many who attended the weekend festival at Harrietville this past weekend was that the music over the course of the weekend was the best that Harrietville has ever seen.

Greg Cahill and Special Consensus took headline status on main stage. These boys were highly energetic and entertaining and musically brilliant. For many however, the big surprise was Chris Henry and The Hardcore Grass. This band was the most entertaining, and oft talked about – of the weekend. They amazed audiences with their musical prowess, affable nature and highly amusing onstage antics.

The local bands were a treat also with the re-formed Flying Emus – looking none the worst for wear after more than a 20 year hiatus – taking to the stage in a hilariously funny and no less musical treat as they played a host of their many hits from the 1980’s.

Other bands included Harrietville regulars such as Applachian Heaven, Pipi Pickers, Kissin’ Cousins, Bluegrass Parkway, The Davidson Brothers and Old South all of whom are right on the top of their game musically. It was a pleasure to see so many well-known bands all appearing at the one festival.

Special ConsensusThis year under the artistic direction of Melbourne based George Jackson, there were a number of new appearances for Harreitville which included bands like Little Rabbit, Lonesome Still, One Up Two Down, String Theories, The Company all of whom dazzled audiences with their musical ability and onstage presentations. This was a festival unlike many of the previous festivals I have attended at Harrietville – there was great music and entertainment everywhere.

The workshop program, set up by Geoff Bridgland, was also ramped up this year with a variety of new initiatives including a number of slow jams hosted by Old South, and The Pipi Pickers. There was an introduction to Bluegrass Jamming workshop, clog dancing along with the usual presentations on banjo, Dobro, mandolin, guitar and fiddle workshops.

It is hard to imaging how it could have been improved on in terms of range of high quality talent presented, however, that is the challenge for the MountainGrass team in 2015.

The weekends weather was a variety of hot weather to cold wet drizzle, none of which dampened the enthusiasm of either the performers or audiences. But that’s Victoria.

Ian Fisk has publishes several hundred photos of the weekend and they can be seen on his website: Ian Fisk Photos.