Easter festival of mixed folk

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IT’S an early Easter this year, but that’s no problem for the 47th National Folk Festival.

With nearly 800 musicians and singers, 450 dancers, four choirs, a kids’ festival, workshops, poetry recitals, instrument classes and dozens of food and craft stalls, it’s bigger and brighter than ever, festival director Sebastian Flynn says.

Storyteller/composer David Olney, left, and guitar picker Sergio Webb.
Storyteller/composer David Olney, left, and guitar picker Sergio Webb.
There’ll be smaller, more intimate venues around EPIC and an innovation whereby people can bring kids aged under 7 at no cost, while young people from 7-15 qualify for children’s prices.

As usual the “National” will have folk superstars from Ireland, Paul Brady and Andy Irvine; former UK Singer of the Year, Seth Lakeman; Kieran Kane, from the US; David Francey, from Canada, and Himmerland from Denmark.

Then there are “these two shady guys from the States,” storyteller/composer David Olney and top guitar picker Sergio Webb, known for highly theatrical performances.

Olney is doing a one-off songwriting masterclass at Ainslie Arts Centre, Braddon (more information at folkfestival.org.au).

Alternative folk/country singer-songwriter, Jordie Lane.
Alternative folk/country singer-songwriter, Jordie Lane.
Flynn is keen to stress the importance of indie/young artists such as Triple J “Unearthed” winners, Husky, and alt folk/country singer-songwriter, Jordie Lane.

Contemporary singer-songwriter, Fred Smith, has contacted “CityNews” to tell us he and his “accomplice” Liz Frencham are staging “something of a retrospective”.

Smith’s been around town for years performing his songs about Canberra, Bougainville, Solomon Islands and Afghanistan, and on Easter Monday Smith will present songs from “Bagarap Empires”, the CD he reckons put him on the map. (Smith needs photos from Bougainville, either pre-or post-conflict, and can be contacted at fredsmith.com.au)

Canberra, naturally enough, will be the “feature State” to mark the Centenary, so artistic program manager Pam Merrigan has scheduled local performers such as Julia and the Deep Sea Sirens, Shortis and Simpson, Wiradjuri Echoes, Franklyn B Paverty and the Bush Capital Band, the Miss Chiefs, Hashemoto, Burley Griffin and Son of Rut.

They’ll be entertaining, certainly, but they’ll also be there as living proof that Canberra strides the musical stage with ease, flair, and conviction.

National Folk Festival, EPIC, March 28 to April 1.

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Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

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