Organisers share their views on recent festival
TN157 Aug 23
Festival organisers are SO excited to be “back in full swing
by Erin Collins
Published in T&N 152 November 2022
The 2023 Cygnet Folk Festival (Tas) will return in January 2023 for the first full weekend event since January 2020.
Like so many in our music community, we have had over two years of cancelled events and the inevitable disappointment in not only being unable to present a much-loved festival, but the inevitable loss of income for all our beloved musicians and crew who work so hard to make ours and other events happen each year.
Also, as with so many events in regional towns, the festival provides an annual boost to many local businesses who are of course feeling the ripples of the past two years’ pandemic and reduced visitations.
Thankfully, Cygnet has thus far been spared the devastating weather events that have impacted other festivals.
We collaborate with many of these aforementioned businesses and others in the community, such as local schools and churches to produce the festival.
Churches have the BEST acoustics!
The local scouts do an amazing job managing the festival campground, and like so many similar events, we run on the wheels provided by a veritable army of fantastic crew and volunteers.
Tasmania has a proud aboriginal history and stories of survival, and we are honoured by the generosity in which they share their stories, musicianship and culture with us.
We work closely with South East Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation (SETAC) for cultural support and guidance.
In 2023, we will host a couple of very special collaborations with the first nations’ community during the festival.
Returning to Cygnet stages is the wonderful Frank Yamma, one of Australia’s most significant Indigenous songwriters, with an ability to cross cultural and musical boundaries.
An initiated Pitjantjatjara man, Frank sings in his native language and English.
His mighty songs, magical guitar playing and deeply evocative voice tell stories of country, protection, heartache, travel and love.
We’re also bringing Tin Camp Studios to our newly relocated Willie Smiths Paddock.
Tin Camp Studios is the brainchild of Warren Mason and provides a safe and welcoming space for unique music and cultural events.
The studios are constructed from salvaged materials and modelled on typical 1950s Aboriginal housing that could be found on the fringe of countless Australian townships.
For the first time, we’ll be offering day tickets to this one outdoor space, with access to the Willie Smith’s marquee and Tin Camp Studios, both with a whole weekend of amazing music and other events as well as food and drink and roving performances.
We will also be showcasing “Brothers of Country”: A band of brothers from across Tasmania, Australia and the World.
Raw, earthy sounds of the Tasmanian bush from Elder Songman, Dougie Mansell, singer and drummer Mwase Makalani, Yao and Chichewa man from Malawi, Yorta Yorta and Yuwaalaraay man, Warren Mason, Tasmanian born Yorta Yorta man First Nations producer and musician, Josh Langford, Tasmanian Aboriginal pakana traditional dancer, Harley Mansell, walker and keeper of stories, Sean Mansell, and Adelaide born cultural magpie, Matthew Fargher.
Ours is one of the most popular and long-lived events of the Tasmanian summer calendar having just, with a significantly smaller event than we’d hoped for, celebrated 40 years!
In 2023, as we celebrate the opening of international borders, we welcome back to Cygnet, The Paul McKenna Band from Glasgow, touring for the Festival of Small Halls with the wonderfully enigmatic Emily Lubitz.
In Tasmania for their first visit, will be The Jellyman’s Daughter from Edinburgh.
We’re also very excited to bring to Cygnet the extraordinary voice and protest songs from Grace Petrie from Leicester.
From over the ditch (AKA NZ), we’ll showcase the beautiful voice and playing of Holly Arrowsmith, duo, Looking for Alaska, and welcome back festival darlings, Albi and the Wolves.
Performer highlights of the weekend from around Australia are Pitjantjatjara man, Frank Yamma, Tibetan singing and playing from Tenzin Choegyal, and always remarkable songs and stories from folk icon, Eric Bogle.
From NSW, Austral are making a name for themselves around the festival circuit.
We’ll hear Sephardic and Sevdah songs from Saray Illuminado, a unique take on Aussie songs from Bush Gothic and remarkable duo harmonies from Lior and Domini, We Mavericks and Charm of Finches.
Returning to Cygnet will be Lithuanian singers and dancers, The Lost Clog, festival favourites Fred Smith, the award-winning Michael Waugh, David Bridie, Lucy Wise, Liam Gerner with Luke Moller, Ruth Roshan and Tango Noir and many more.
Other Aussie legends include Bill Jackson, Tiffany Eckhardt, Michael Fix with Mark Cryle, Ruth Hazleton, our own Meyers and McNamara, Peter Hicks, and The New Holland Honey Eaters, the namesakes of whom have been prevalent in my Spring Garden.
There will of course be workshops and masterclasses, some very special themed performances, including Fred Smith’s “Sparrows of Kabul”, Liam Gerner and Luke Moller’s take on Henry Lawson and Banjo Patterson in “The Bulletin Debate”, Bruce Watson’s “The Man, the woman and the Edison Phonograph”-the story of Fanny Cochran Smith recording with Bruce’s ancestor, and John Hickey’s “The Young Irelanders in Van Diemans Land” to mention but a few.
The dance programme will run in a couple of venues over the weekend and will feature the best of both local and interstate acts with some great callers to teach those steps.
We’ll also be presenting some world class circus from ROOKE with their family friendly show, “Tony’s Imaginary Circus”, as well as pop up performances and workshops from the equally talented and seemingly ever multiplying Sands Family Circus.
Like so many folk festivals around the country, ours is a showcase of eclectic music genres featuring both Australian and international musicians, dance, poetry, masterclasses, kids’ entertainment, food, wine, art and local handicrafts.
Cygnet folk Festival is set in the breathtaking scenery of Tasmania’s Huon Valley; and summer in Tasmania and the Huon Valley in particular, shouts cherry, apricot and berry season.
If you’re driving down to Cygnet from Hobart, there’s a plethora of roadside stalls to satisfy your summer fruit cravings.
Finally, we are thrilled to announce that five of the eight award winners at the recent Australian Folk Music Awards through Folk Alliance Australia presented on October 26 will be performing at Cygnet Folk Festival next January.
So come see these and many more fantastic acts in Cygnet in January.
We are SO excited to be “back in full swing!”
The full performer line-up and tickets at www.cygnetfolkfestival.org