Harriteville 2009 Review

by | 30 Nov, 2009

God willing and the creeks don’t rise.

Thanks to Ed Lowe from Western Australia for providing a run down on the 2009 Harrietville Festival.

Leaving aside theological issues, I think that everyone would agree that the creeks did rise at Harrietville this weekend. The rain was not quite of biblical proportions, but it sure did come down steadily. Timely re-arrangement of a couple of tents and distribution of straw in the damp areas certaintly helped. Just another example of the hard work put in by the organisers and volunteers. My thanks to all of you.

A quick survey of the West Australian contingent found most of us agreeing that about the only effect of the rain was to curtail any opportunity for leisurely chats in the festival area. Mind you, we’re all old enough not to care what we look like in raincoats. My youngest daughter would rather drown than wear a raincoat or carry an umbrella.

Concerts and Program

There was a significant change to the program this year with the blackboard concerts moved to end of each day’s program. This seemed to be aimed at the increasing number of people who attend to listen rather than jam. It also allowed the organisers to schedule a large number of acts in the main tent. I heard no adverse comment with regard to this change. It certainly didn’t get in the way of jamming!
The “Hub tent” and re-located food area worked much better, in my opinion, and provided a place for informal jams when not in use for blackboard concerts.

Marty playing my banjoLow cloudss Workshop

Concert highlights for me were Hungry Hill, Pigeon Wing Strings and Bluestone Junction’s set in the Gospel Concert. Garry Brown’s resophonic guitar playing was just wonderful in a number of settings.

I was particularly taken with the energy and passion for the music apparent in Pigeon Wing Strings Friday night set.


Festival workshops can be unsatisfying. It’s very hard for the presenters to know where to pitch their presentation. That said, some manage it very well. Bluegrass Parkway’s harmony workshop is very well thought out and works well. From all reports the harmony workshop run by Hungry Hill was very good too. So much so that Jenny’s DVD on bluegrass harmony singing sold out immediately after the workshop.

I attended two workshops.

Mandolin -  Bob Hamilton

This was a well presented workshop for both players just starting out and those who some experience. Well presented and easy to understand. Bob has thought about his playing and is good at explaining things.

Banjo Styles – Ross Nickerson

Sometimes in a workshop the presenter explains something in a way that suddenly joins up the dots for you. Ross Nickerson’s comments about playing in the key of D did that for me in this workshop. I didn’t see his beginners workshop, but I found this one to be valuable.

As it has been every year that I have been to the festival, it was the informal and unplanned interaction with other pickers, some of whom have become friends over the years, that was the best part of the festival.

So I’ll see you next year. Qantas willing; and the creeks don’t rise – Ed Lowe.

You can see  Ian Fisk’s pictorial review of the festival on the Harrietville page.