Bob Hawke talks but music reigns supreme in first two days of Woodford Folk Festival

In the hidden valleys of the Sunshine Coast lies Woodford, a town full of bustle and old-time shops and bars. It’s a Queensland town that is a little different to the rest this time of year as revellers come down to party away for one or the whole six days of the Woodford Folk Festival.

Throws of people, after they visit the beautiful little town drive four kilometres away into the more fancily titled Woodfordia, where a city blooms. It’s one of those amazing cities where many come to “connect” as Festival Director Bill Hauritz stated at the Welcoming Ceremony.

Earlier in the day, once all the hustle of the camping set up was cleared, Woodford started to give us delightful offerings of music to start of this hurrying run to the end of 2016. First stop was to Bill’s Bar, where Rod Quantock and Fiona Scott-Norman joked and chuckled our creaky bones with their Two Leggy Redheads extravaganza, featuring a rubber chicken, trivia and a beautiful tune from Yirrmul. Perch Creek got all boots a-shaking at the Bluestown stage with some beautiful harmonies and bouncy soul too for what seemed an amazingly eager crowd for 10 am in the morning.

While the line of site was a bit horrible for me at the Greenhouse Stage, I got to hear some unique science facts from Dr Karl Kruzelnicki in his Great Moments in Science presentation.

With all that information within my brain, it was time to feed the stomach and saddle onto see Brendan Maclean over at the Parlour, pizza in hand. Maclean has an amazing liveliness about him that sets the room into rapture despite the bleeding hot nature of the sun out. He covered songs from those who we dearly lost in the year – Leonard Cohen, George Michael and Pete Burns, and did a great job dropping his own identity in these covers.

Brendan Maclean. Photo: Philippe Perez
Brendan Maclean. Photo: Philippe Perez

After a lie down (it was around about this time things got amazingly stinkingly exhausting for this trooper), we got enough energy to see the Byron Bay via Berlin act Parcels play up a storm with some disco-infused pop. It was evident who this band were playing to, with many energetic young fans dancing up the front while many of those with greying hairs enjoyed the sounds from the seats up back.

After an astonishing Welcoming Ceremony which included large amounts of fire, Bob Hawke singing “Waltzing Matilda” and courting some controversy talking about Nuclear Waste in Australia, a wonderful speech from festival organiser Bill Hauritz and many-stories-tall puppets we sidled back to the festival grounds to the comedy club for the night which made us chuckle into the night much like we chuckled in the morning with David Quirk, Geraldine Hickey, Corey White and Judith Lucy. All provided crude, weird and just interesting laughs which were lapped up enormously, especially with a very cheeky AUSLAN-interpreter.

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Welcome Ceremony. Photo: Woodford Folk Festival

Finishing off the first night was BULLHORN (yes, their band name is in all caps) funking the night away with no more than an MC, drums and a swathe of brass instruments in a horn section you could make a hundred knuckles with them.

As the sun rose very, very early on the next day, we got prepared to set out again into the sunny fields for day two. On a side note, seriously Queensland, figure out your daylight savings debacle and get in line with the southern states, why don’t you? It saves us from getting up at 5 am (!) for a festival with a bleeding sun bearing down on tents.

The first order of the day was to delve into some comic drawing care of Jackie Ryan (the brains behind Burger Force) and while my drawing was horribly crude and terrible, Jackie’s advice was inspired and informed with a rich knack for telling a story via comics.

Musically, we went from more horn sections with Hot Potato Band invigorating themselves all over the place to The Mae Trio providing some beautiful harmonies and sweet harmonies.

Workshops became the order of the day it seemed, though, as a saunter through to the Singing Space saw Mr Percival and Josh Lovegrove showing off some amazing looping techniques, and encouraging the audience to discover the wonders of looping too.

Woodford Art. Photo: Woodford Folk Festival
Woodford Art. Photo: Woodford Folk Festival

Arnhem Land artist Yirrmal was clearly the highlight of day two. Playing to a packed crowd at the Tropic venue, his voice soared into the recesses of the crowd and just stunned everyone watching into quite the aural experience. This totally awe-inspiring young indigenous artist started his set quietly with songs like ‘The Bridge’ but also later in his set ensuring that his performance has power and meaning with an amazing cover of Yothu Yindi’s ‘Treaty.’

After the daily lie down at the camp site, the production of EGG[S] at the festival pond gave us the story about, Goblins, condemned houses and a couple about to have a child in a refreshing way, despite there being a few weird instances when it was not clear what was happening. More performance was needed after that though when Scotch and Soda performed an intense, but also an attention-grabbing combination of trapeze artistry and old-time jazz.

Monsieur Camembert Photo: Philippe Perez
Monsieur Camembert Photo: Philippe Perez

The cabaret-esque vibes continued through the night with Monsieur Camembert giving us some danceable gipsy fusion, delighting crowds with their version of ‘Hava Nagila’ and some cuts from their Leonard Cohen tribute album Famous Blue Cheese released a decade ago.

The long night of cabaret continued in name and performance with East End Cabaret providing some very adults-only material combined with high kicking, high styling performance. The awkwardness played beautifully as a scene of outrageous hijinks featuring audience members thrusting their bodies and crawling onstage.

All the humour were amazing from this UK duo, but it all capped off a couple of days of fun in many aspects, both theatrically and musically. There are four more days of this to come. Four more days of fun. Four more days of Woodford.

Woodford Folk Festival is on now until January 1st, just outside the town of Woodford, Queensland. If you would like to purchase day tickets or overnight camping prior to the date head to the Woodford Folk Festival site.