Dorrigo Folk & Bluegrass Festival



News from the Dorrigo Folk and Bluegrass Festival

by Bridget Rees

TN162 Mar 24

A couple of misty mornings remind us of the return of Autumn as the year seems to be quickly passing by.

There are lots of reasons to be supporting our creative and music worlds at the moment, let us be thankful that we can, and work hard to make our days fulfilling.

We are excited to be receiving our performer and volunteer applications, keep them coming in until the end of May.

The festival doesn’t happen without them and they form our strong backbone.

I will be excited to have my head filled with program possibilities to share come festival time.

Tickets for the festival, old-time music school and camping are now available online.

We hope that you are planning your visit in late October.

In between times, over the years, we have been able to support many touring artists as they travel the East Coast from Australia and Overseas.

More recently, through my connection with the Megan Hall Committee, we have held Summer Sessions there featuring Andy Irvine, Alum Ridge Boys & Ashlee, Dallahan and Cigany Weaver.

We are midway through our Autumn Sessions having hosted Shark & Fox, The Guanaco Trio and The Whitetop Mountaineers, and still to come, we have Re-Imagined, contemporary reworks of Lennon, Harrison and McCartney songs featuring Louise Gore and friends on April 6th.

Then on May 3rd, we’ll have prairie balladeer, Canadian, Scott Cook with Pamela Mae.

For all bookings and enquiries please call Bridget 0428 415 078.

The Festival will look forward to sharing this year’s line up and the tutors for the Old-Time music school in due course.


Celebrating 21 Years and still as Inspiring as ever

by Bridget Rees

TN158 – P34-35

We are counting down the days now as the 21st Dorrigo Folk and Bluegrass Festival fast approaches.

The gorgeous setting of the Dorrigo Showgrounds, the absolute cracker of a lineup and so many choices to make, ensures a perfect weekend for you and your family and friends.

The lineup is brimful of so much talent and diversity with a host of high calibre Australian and International artists.

The immediate connection between the public and the performers is felt as soon as you sit down in a concert, find a partner and new friend at the hoedowns, or attend a workshop that takes you on a new musical journey.

After 21 years, the Festival still maintains a sense of family and belonging combined with world class musicianship and mentorship for generations to come.

It has been a pure delight to bring to our little town such headliners as The Foghorn String Band, The Special Consensus, You – Me- Everybody, Ryland Moranz, Erynn Marshall and Carl Jones.

All have brilliant reputations and followings across the globe and bring a wealth of musicianship right to our doorstep.

There is so much happening here in Australia as well and we have such a great representation of home grown artists the likes of Alana Wilkinson, Minor Gold, Ernest Aines, Sionnach Rua’s Great Irish Songbook, Pirritu, The Good Behaviours, The High Street Drifters, and, Parvyn and Josh Bennett, to mention a very few.

Have a look at the line up as there is so much more!

We always find a way to add into the programme something a little bit new and this year you will not be disappointed, it is too tempting with so much talent in one place not to take advantage and give you a taste of something a little bit different.

But you are going to have to get your tickets and be there and we encourage patrons to come along and camp up at the festival for the weekend.

For many, this is also the cream on the cake as many new friends and lasting ties are made.

As well as The Pitts Family Circus, we also have a full programme for the young and young at heart including stories, all things musical and a chance to take home a little of their own festival bunting.

There will be dance and dedicated concert venues and an array of workshops, and a chance to join the festival choir and become a member of The Sinners for the weekend!

Music seeps into the town cafes on the Saturday and Sunday mornings before the programme begins at the festival grounds, a chance to share the delights of our small town’s hospitality and friendliness.

So many reasons to get yourselves up to the Plateau for the Dorrigo Folk and Bluegrass Festival and have a weekend of pure musical delight.

An array of food will be available at the Showgrounds and as always we maintain our passion to make Dorrigo a waste free Festival.

All Information and ticketing can be found at our website and tickets are also available on-site over the weekend.

We look forward to welcoming you.

Come and be part of our celebration!



Old-Time Music School and Festival plans well underway

by Bridget Rees

TN157 Aug 23

As the year passes by at what seems like a lightning pace, it is so good to see festivals and events giving it their all to stand strong, in what is still a difficult environment, to hold fast to our ideals.

Small festivals can be tough going over the years, and successful grant applications are not easy to come by.

Yet, I’m not complaining, because it is what is at the heart of a festival that counts and builds the event into a memorable time for all those involved.

That beating heart opens up opportunities for many participants and I feel privileged to share the pulse with so many.

The programme for Dorrigo is underway and I am over the moon to be working with a top line up of performers – and to be inspired by the many workshops that will be offered, always attempting to make each year a little better than the last!

his is all done with a small, but amazing, team of eight as the core, and extends into our wonderful family of volunteers leading up to the festival and packing down.

We would love for you to get on the website and check out our artists for this year, and to take note of our 5th Old-Time Music School which, in a similar mode to the festival, is becoming a must do for many people.

The school is a great lead up into the festival, where you really get to put into practise what you have learnt, and still have room for abundant inspiration from our old-time artists.

We are working on introducing some new creative elements for the young, running alongside the storytelling workshops under the shady trees.

There is plenty of camping available at the showground, which puts you right on site, just a short walk to town, where once again we will be running our cafe breakfasts.

If you are lucky enough to put aside some extra time, then the Dorrigo Plateau beckons with rainforest walks, waterfalls and rolling hills.

We hope you will come sit down with us and enjoy amazing concerts, inspiring workshops, dance the floors, join in a session, and immerse yourself in our small, family friendly, and earth conscious festival.

We aim to be a plastic, smoke, drug, and alcohol free festival and thank our contributors for acknowledging this.

Now, it’s time to jump online and book your tickets! 


Something to Celebrate

by Bridget Rees

TN 156 July 23

Looking back through the collection of Dorrigo Folk & Bluegrass Festival posters from the very first to the recently released 2023 copy, one thing that really stands out to me are the memories of the folk along the years who have helped to create this coming together of a musical family since the very beginning.

From the start, we had a feeling that the Dorrigo mountains and community would welcome and nurture the impulsiveness of a 17 year old who conceived the idea, laying the foundations for future years.

We began by treading new waters, creating a new event with the support of the local Arts Council and the generosity of an ever expanding musical family sharing their time and support to the new kid on the block.

Knowing that it would be difficult to run a purely Bluegrass Festival, the inclusion of Folk in the header has proven to be a partnership that has become very enduring to the event.

The format of those early fundamental years has been well and truly proven to be what makes the festival’s heart still beat strongly.

It has been nothing short of a pleasure to have worked alongside the wonderful folk who have helped get us here and to acknowledge the present committee who I hope will have a chance this year to see a little of their hard work!

Each year the festival continues to follow the original format of presenting concerts in our large and smaller intimate venues where clear acoustic sound invites the listener to connect with the performer.

Vocal, instrumental and dance workshops engaging participation and creating inspiration.

Sessions for sharing and connection, dances, circus, poetry and storytelling for pure delight!

All fostering and enabling a chance to respect, contribute and engage with music that is steeped in tradition, connecting times past with times present.

With such a lovely line up of artists, I am really looking forward to creating this year’s programme and seeing what evolves in the mixing pot!

Presenting the festival as a safe, inspiring and environmentally friendly event is of paramount importance to the committee and we endeavour to work always to create a space where folk and families can come together to immerse themselves, make connections, collaborate, continue traditions and make new ones.

The flags will be flying high, so get along and purchase your tickets.

If you have been before, please spread the news amongst friends.

If it is your first time, we are sure that it may not be your last!


5th Dorrigo Old-Time Music School.

The Dorrigo Folk and Bluegrass Festival is delighted to be hosting yet another wonderful group of tutors to teach at our Old-Time music school which runs for three days leading up to the weekend.

A perfect way to get to know and learn from Foghorn Stringband, Erynn Marshall and Carl Jones, and Ian Alexander, and a unique opportunity to learn and play alongside these International and award winning Old-Time musicians.

The school includes three whole days of tuition, a tutors concert and an optional chance to perform during the festival alongside your tutors and fellow participants.

The venue is just across from the festival site where camping is available.

Previous participants have commented on just how influential attending the school has been to their musical journeys and acknowledging the emphasis the shool places on culture and why the music sounds the way it does.

A link to the festival and to the Old-Time music school can be found at


Performer applications for Dorrigo are now open

by Bridget Rees

TN155 Apr 23

The 21st Dorrigo Folk and Bluegrass Festival will take place on the 27th, 28th and 29th of

October, with the 5th Dorrigo Old-Time Music School running from the 25th to the 27th.

For now, the gumboots and umbrellas have been put away, but we are still hearing stories of that Dorrigo red mud still visible on items of clothing and footwear.

We are even considering having a wet weather stall.

We are looking forward to hearing from folk who would like to play at Dorrigo.

The Performer Expressions of Interest are open until May 15, and as always, we are excited to put together a programme that reflects the diverse origins of folk, bluegrass, old-time and old -time country music featuring local, national and overseas artists.

We are looking to not only curate a musically satisfying programme within our highlighted genres, but one which seeks to educate and entertain people of all ages and one that showcases a variety of creative artists; poets and storytellers, instrument builders, visual artists, environmentalists and children’s entertainers.

Please contact us at if you have a unique workshop opportunity you would like to present.

We are well into the planning stage and it is an exciting time as applications come in and a vision of the programme begins to appear.

We are looking at ways that we can improve the festival and keep on doing what we do even better.

After last year’s experience and digging numerous ditches, at least we have the names of our transitory waterways in place and have put some serious thought into how better we could cope, should the skies open up once more.

Our committee has always been quite small and folks usually have numerous commitments outside of their personal lives, and as Director of the festival, I am continually grateful for the work they put in.

21 years on and I am asked by some “oh, the festival is still happening?”

Yes it is, and my heart warms as I say it because it is a joyful thing to be a part of.

To help create a small little happening that brings together such a mix of happiness through music and voice, to be a part of the wider, wonderful small festival culture that we have here in Australia, where performers, patrons, volunteers, organisers and communities unite in one big happy family, it is such an important part of our creative beings, so thanks to the people who inspire and support such events.

We hope that some of you will find your way to the Dorrigo Plateau this coming October.

Our tickets are now on sale and we look forward to sharing more news next time.


Dorrigo Folk & Bluegrass Festival 20 years on

by Bridget Rees   Published in T&N 150 September 2022


In 2002, just over 300 people, mostly visitors, gathered at the Dorrigo Showgrounds.

Together, they were there to enjoy and participate in the first ever Dorrigo Folk & Bluegrass Festival.

Supported by the Dorrigo Arts Council, a 17-year-old’s vision unfolded and so was planted the strong seed that today has come to encapsulate all the elements of a successful and family friendly acoustic music festival.

The picturesque venue is still the same and the nights can be chilly, but the heart of that first festival has kept growing over the years, as has its popularity amongst musicians, performers, and volunteers, who all help to create a unique atmosphere during a full weekend each October.

The Festival has grown a little, but not much else has changed, and the festival is still passionate about affiliating with other groups in our community and providing opportunities for the community to partner with the festival.

We hope the Dorrigo mountains beckon you this coming October, as we look forward to welcoming you into our music community.

What’s happening?

We are delighted to let you know that the Dorrigo Old-Time Music School is happening for three days leading up to the festival.

This is a unique opportunity to learn and play alongside international, award winning old-time musicians.

This year we are excited to welcome Smith Allen Peterson, the Whitetop Mountaineers, and Shay Garriock as our tutors from the US.

It has been a long two years and we are very much looking forward to catching up and making new friends.

We have not reinvented the wheel, rather gathered strength in knowing that what we do best has been learnt over the last twenty years with input from all of you who have supported the festival.

Beginning Friday, October 21, from 6:00pm, through to late afternoon on Sunday, October 23, we will be holding concerts across five performance venues and two workshop venues.

There will be an old-time dance (Friday), an Irish Ceilidh (Saturday) and a farewell Cajun dance (Sunday).

The famous Pitts Family Circus will be there to entertain in more ways than you can imagine.

In addition to storytelling, poetry, open mic, and jam sessions, we will have workshops for the kids and some hands-on activities to encourage their creative spirits.

And let us not forget, we will have performers from all six states, and a few surprises from across the way!

We are very grateful for the Australian Government’s Regional Arts Fund, which supports art in regional and remote Australia.

Because of their support, we have been able to promote the Festival in our local and surrounding regions.

If you have friends in the 2450 area who have never been to the Dorrigo Folk & Bluegrass Festival, we would love your help spreading the word!

Ask your friends and family to sign up to our Newsletter.

We’d love to see our music community grow within the local communities.

So get your tickets booked, tell your friends, have your traveling shoes ready and come join us this coming Spring as part of our 20th festival, helping to take us onwards to many more.
















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