When you agree to perform as one of the acts for the Woodford Folk Festival in Woodford Queensland you are signing on for so much more than your conventional, run-of-the-mill gathering of musicians, brought together to provide concerts and workshops. Woodford is not so much a festival as an experience. Now before you let out a heartfelt, That’s what they all say, I can tell you from personal experience that this is actually the case.
There are thousands of performers supplying not only a music festival but also a dance, film, children’s, spoken word, circus, street theatre, vaudeville and comedy festival. This thing is big. Acts cover the range from international to local and the diversity is staggering. The festival site could easily maintain its own postcode and performers are shuttled to their respective gigs in vans from the Green Room via a series of back roads cleverly concealed for the most part from the general public. The amazing thing is however that even though it is a huge logistical undertaking, the people you are relying upon to get the organisation right are all so relaxed, personal, approachable and willing to make your experience a good one. This is not to say that sometimes things don’t go to plan but when it happens, there they are, smiling and asking you what they can do to help make everything better.
Last year we were told that it did not stop raining from the minute the festival started till the curtain went down on the final event; yes the entire six days. This year we copped the other end of the spectrum, very hot and very, very humid. I can tell you first hand that Bluegrass Parkway’s commitment to presenting bluegrass music in its original form with the full suits, hats and 1940s dresses was surely tested at Woodford. We did it though and by the end of the festival we had come to a group consensus that we were easily the hottest band playing at Woodford.
With so many people at the festival (we were told up to 130,000 over the week) it is easy to worry that you might get lost in all the programming but we were received really enthusiastically by big crowds at each of our shows and especially the bluegrass gospel harmony workshop where the participants were spilling out of the marquee. Folks at this festival are out to experience everything and carry an open mind with them to each act they go to see.
A highlight for us was getting to see and meet Martha and Jackson, The Whitetop Mountaineers from the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia. These two wonderful people provided an authentic old time country musical experience that included singing, fiddle, mandolin, banjo, guitar and some fantastic clogging. They are on tour throughout January so try to catch their show, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.
This was our fourth Woodford Festival and it amazes every time, if not simply on its scale. Everyone should do it at least once and we intend to do it again some time; once we recover.