Arts / Bogle’s lifetime waltz towards top folk award

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Gold Coast harpist Elska

“FOLK is best when it’s contemporary, but tradition is important”, National Folk Festival director Pam Merrigan told those present last night at the launch of the 2019 event, coming to Exhibition Park in Canberra over Easter.

It was the clearest possible statement of her thinking about the celebration, which this year will see 200 acts on the many stages, viewed by 45-55,000 visitors from all over the country.

ACT Arts Minister Gordon Ramsey, in officially launching the festival, emphasised the inclusion of many talented local artists in the otherwise national line-up, revealing that Bungendore’s Shortis and Simpson would be performing their new show, “Happy Little Copyrights” (dealing with appropriation in music), songstresses Sparrow Folk, the duo Guy and the Foxx and slam poet Andrew Galan.

National Folk Festival president Jacq Bradley, left, and director Pam Merrigan, right, at the launch.

The Minister also praised the festival’s commitment to sustainability and the environment.

On hand to entertain the crowd with song and chit-chat at the Canberra and Region Visitors Centre on Regatta Point, was popular Gold Coast harp-player Elska, who, “CityNews” heard, had been discovered by Merrigan at Folk Music Week last November.

But the big announcement of the evening came from Folk Festival chair Jacq Bradly, who stepped up to the mike to announce that the Festival’s highest honour would go to Scottish-born Aussie singer-songwriter Eric Bogle, who back in 1974 at an early National Folk Festival had failed to win first prize for his now-legendary song “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda”.

Bogle will receive the 2019 National Folk Festival Lifetime Achievement Award onstage at opening night, when he will also perform.

The 2019 National Folk Festival, at Exhibition Park in Canberra, Easter, April 18-22. Bookings to


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Helen Musa
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