2020 Festival Blog No.3 – Illawarra Folk Festival 19 January, 2020

WATER RUNNERS RUNNING HOT

By Nick Hartgerink

Among the many impressive things about the Illawarra Folk Festival is the way it nurtures new talent, and gives local Illawarra acts a chance to perform in front of new audiences.

And more often than not, its loyalty to local acts is repaid in spades.

Take The Water Runners for example. Four years ago this Kiama band debuted at the Illawarra Folk Festival, playing the festival’s smaller stages to audiences made up mostly of family and friends, with a few interested onlookers.

The band has played the festival each year since then – and each year their performances have grown in quality, stature and audience size. The band has had a few changes of personnel but its nucleus of front man John Littrich (guitar and vocals) and Neil McCann (banjo and mandolin) has remained firm. John’s son Dominic is on percussion, while the addition of superb fiddle player Danita Harris has really added another dimension to their sound.

This year The Water Runners really came of age, packing out the Slacky Flat stage with an audience in the hundreds and standing room only at their Saturday lunchtime show. They blew everyone away with their set of mostly originals, with the occasional cover (like their bluegrass re-imagining of U2’s standard “Still Haven’t Found What I Am Looking For”).

John’s haunting new song for the recent South Coast bushfire victims, “The End Of The Year”, brought the house down, and brought tears to many eyes.

Unfortunately this was The Water Runners’ only performance at the Illawarra Folk Festival this year, as they are packing up and heading for the Tamworth Country Music Festival in the coming week where one of Neil’s songs is nominated in the Best Bluegrass Song category of the Tamworth Songwriting Awards.

They will be doing five shows at Tamworth, so clearly their growing reputation has preceded them.

No doubt they’ll be back at Bulli in future years. Loyalty works both ways.

 

Timber and Steel

Review: Majors Creek Festival 2019 

December 15, 2019 at 21:32

If you’ve never been to a folk music festival, you might be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed with choices. Across Australia there is everything from mega-festivals of international renown, down to the salt of the earth community run festivals. Last month we had the pleasure of visiting the Majors Creek Festival for the first time, to sample the local folky flavor. 

Celebrating more than a quarter of a century, the Majors Creek Festival is an absolute gem, tucked away in the Southern Tablelands of NSW, an hour from Canberra, and 3 hours from Sydney. 

The festival venue takes advantage of the local amenities, including the local church, and the showground hall, as well as creating a cosy, welcoming village green peppered with markets, delicious food outlets, circus entertainments and multiple easy to access music stages. 

The site was thoughtfully decorated with beautiful styling and simple execution giving a cohesive connectedness across the the venues. With activities and entertainments for the kids at the centre of the field in a big top tent, the adults were treated to a weekend of musical delights across 7 different stages...

The Water Runners kicked off our Sunday, delivering upbeat bluegrass vibes, harmonies, and fun frivolity. Their topical set covered everything from climate change through to lovesick stories, and cautionary tales.