Bluegrass At The National Folk Festival

by | 18 Apr, 2009

This year’s National Folk Festival presented another fantastic mix of musical experiences for the packed crowds who attended Canberra’s Exhibition Park over the Easter weekend. Across 18 venues, more 170 acts from Australia and overseas demonstrated why this Festival maintains its status as the number one Folk gathering in Australia.

Flying the Bluegrass flag amongst these performers was Victoria’s Bluestone Junction & Coolgrass, each of whom performed several shows separately to packed rooms.

Coolgrass’s irreverent take on the genre was very popular with large crowds at their two shows, with new material demonstrating their vocal and instrumental arranging capabilities are still top notch. This band has a great grasp of dynamics, and after many years with the same line-up, have developed a seamless stage show that is very entertaining.

nffslideBluestone Junction’s Easter weekend was particularly busy, combining four high quality performances showcasing their traditional sound with five Bluegrass-related workshops over the weekend. Amongst their shows was a live national broadcast on ABC radio from the 2,000 seat Budawang auditorium, where they demonstrated why they are considered one of the better bands on Australia’s Bluegrass scene.

The Bluestone Junction workshops covered Bluegrass fiddle, banjo and dobro, each lead by the respective players who provided great tips on the finer points of performing bluegrass on their chosen instrument. Complimenting these were a gospel harmony workshop (packed to the rafters), and an intimate workshop session on How To Get That Bluegrass Sound which consisted of a free-flowing discussion on building the essential instrumental elements, player awareness (etiquette) and a general history of the genre. This workshop was extremely informative, which was evident by the high level of audience feedback and participation.

Late on Sunday night, members from both bands were spotted belting out tunes together in the legendary Session bar, displaying that brotherly perspective that makes our Bluegrass fraternity so great. Onto the next festival.

Submitted by John