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36th Port Fairy Music Festival @ Port Fairy

 

As always the fantastic Port Fairy Folk Festival was jam-packed with so many interesting acts that it was hard work trying to see everything. Our weekend began with the Cat Empire’s Harry James Angus who proved to be an engaging solo performer and Tinpan Orange who nailed some truly amazing vocal harmonies on Bottle of Whiskey. The shuddering life-affirming funk of The Bamboos provided a heady soundtrack to the lively Shebeen bar while the sonically and visually attention-grabbing Woohoo Revue brought the energy of punk to their foot-stomping gypsy music. Eagle & the Worm featured the idiosyncratic vocal talents of Jarrad Brown who has the sort of cloud busting voice that would cause fans of Canadian prog gods Rush to get over-excited. Skilled blues practitioners Eric Bibb and Staffan Astner inspired the audience to clap along passionately during With My Maker I’m One and played the excellent Troubadour which Bibb co-wrote with soul siren Ruthie Foster. Adam Cohen, displaying the suaveness and charm of his legendary father, proved to be an erudite entertainer with a wicked sense of humour and a swag of impeccably well-written songs. His hotly anticipated cover of So Long, Marianne was heartfelt and inspired. The magnetic Judy Collins, a star of the 60’s folk scene in the USA, reminisced entertainingly about her colourful career and blew our minds with her angelic voice which has clearly not been wearied by her decades in the music business. What a singer! London lads ahab impressed with their tight-knit vocal harmonies while Byrds legend Chris Hillman and multi-instrumentalist Herb Pedersen were spellbinding on that seminal psych-folk classic Eight Miles High. John Butler got a hero’s welcome at Port Fairy and packed the massive tent to capacity. His duet with Mama Kin on Jenny sounded wonderful while an incendiary Pickapart exploded with funky intensity. Lanie Lane showcased a thumpingly good cover of The Black Keys track Gold On The Ceiling as well as sparkling on magnificent originals such as Like Me Meaner. Krystle Warren, who has an acrobatic vocal range, dramatically reworked Eleanor Rigby while Sweet Jean brought our excellent weekend to a close with their dry-as-dust humour and dark and bluesy alt-folk

 

BY GRAHAM BLACKLEY

Photo credit: Elena Ksefteris

 

LOVED: Judy Collins’ incredible command of the stage.

HATED: The Wishart Gallery being closed which meant that the Red Duck beer stall was sadly absent.

DRANK: Health-giving Guinness.