Jack Broadbent is on the way to Port Fairy Folk Festival

You’re always working on the next thing. I want to keep evolving and speaking what I’m feeling.”

Everybody loves a festival, but there are a chosen few that manage to rise above the usual happy shenanigans and become something not only memorable, but generational. That’s how Jack Broadbent was sold on the Port Fairy Folk Festival; hearing gushing praise from a travelling Aussie while on holidays. With his return to Australia approaching, we chat to the celebrated ‘master of the slide guitar’ about life, writing, and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
“I didn’t know much [about Port Fairy],” Broadbent says from his adopted home in Montreal, “until I was in Costa Rica for a couple of weeks and met a girl from Australia who said it was her family festival. They’d been every year and was enormously excited to tell me about it, so I got a really good secondhand feel for it. Me and my parents were going to festivals every year as I was growing up, and it sounds like a similar vibe.
“[But] whether it’s a big club or festival, I always play to the audience. I don’t think I change too much of how I play, but I might change how I approach it. In a small space, I can spread out a little more between songs, talk more bullshit. I did a tour opening for Lynyrd Skynyrd, and those were crowds of 17,000 a night. There’s something about that amount of people, you’re not going to go out and say, ‘Good evening, everyone.’ You’re going to go out and scream, ‘It’s fucking amazing to be here.’ As long as you’re still delivering the same thing musically, it doesn’t change too much.”
Make no mistake, however; Broadbent’s music itself has changed significantly over the years. In conversation, he comes across as a man happy to deliver an honest answer and make fun of himself at the same time, but his work ethic speaks of someone incredibly driven. Momentum and metamorphosis may well be the two angels on his shoulders.
“I’ve just recorded a new album, and I’m trying to bring everything full circle. I wrote a lot of folk music when I was younger, and a lot of raucous stuff through my teens, and then got into playing a lot of blues and jazz as I got older. Now I’m trying to pull it all together. The record I’m working on is that mixture, and I’m trying to get away from being pinned to any genre. The album after this …” He trails off, and laughs. “Well, you’re always working on the next thing. I want to keep evolving and speaking what I’m feeling. I’m in the middle of mixing this beautiful album with a lot of folk music, [while] the songs I’m writing right now, for the first time in eight years I’ve picked up my fucking electric guitar and I’m making a lot of noise. I think that’s the next move for me. It’s different hats for different emotions.”
Given the man’s energy, it’s no surprise to learn Broadbent is currently in the midst of a Jack Kerouac bender. You suspect the life of the Beats would have a strong appeal to the man who left home in England to find a new path on the other side of the world, and indeed it is in those lessons and talents of the past that he finds his inspiration.
“I’m not really one to listen to an awful lot of modern music, for many reasons. I like to try and keep my waters clear of too much influence by what is merely current, not something that is artistic, that I see flair or enjoyment in. This is where I’m a lot safer, listening to music from a past era, because I think the music of that time is more timeless than the music of now.
“You look at the film industry, and its endless remakes with modern technology. If I thought for one minute that was what I was doing with my music, I’d be pretty concerned. But I think it’s about finding this balance. There are covers I like to play in my set, and I like to put my spin on it, and that’s fine. But it’s not like I’m putting a modern twist on it or anything. I’m just putting my twist on it.”

Jack Broadbent will perform at Port Fairy Folk Festival, taking place from Friday March 9 until Sunday March 12 with The Ahren Brothers, All Our Exes Live In Texas, Sophie Koh, Stella Donnelly, and more.