Festival brings world of music to Bulli
by Nick Hartgerink
Illawarra Folk Festival organisers have announced a quality line-up of 87 international, national and local acts for the 2024 festival at Bulli Showground, NSW, on January 19-21.
Acclaimed Irish singer-songwriters, Wallis Bird and Andy Irvine, young Scottish fiddle maestro, Ryan Young and his countrymen, celebrated Celtic band, Tannahill Weavers and the Scottish/Irish quartet, Dallahan, head a strong international lineup.
National acts range from National Living Treasure, Ted “The Drover’s Boy” Egan to singer-songwriter Alana Wilkinson, Jordan Ireland from Queensland Indie band The Middle East, and Indigenous performers the Stiff Gins, Jessie Lloyd and Pirritu.
The annual festival, staged by the Illawarra Folk Club, will run from Friday evening to Sunday with six stages featuring its traditional mix of folk, indie, world, roots, Celtic, Balkan and bluegrass music, poetry, dance and comedy, as well as the one-day Festival Folk School.
Long-time festival Artistic Director, David De Santi, who is sharing the festival programming with Festival Director, Cody Munro Moore and Co-Artistic Director, Illawarra singer-songwriter, Kay Proudlove, urged patrons to get in early for tickets after many were left disappointed when the 2023 festival was sold out.
“Last January we were returning after a COVID-enforced two-year break.
“We restricted attendance to 2,000 tickets, which sold out before the festival started,” Mr De Santi said.
“We have extended the 2024 festival to 2300 tickets, but with the amazing diversity of the line-up we expect to sell out again.”
Ms Proudlove said the Illawarra Folk Festival had once again booked a number of the international acts who come to Australia in December-January to perform at the annual Woodford Folk Festival in Queensland, as well as booking Ryan Young and Alana Wilkinson as part of their involvement in the National Festival of Small Halls tour.
Wallis Bird is on her fourth tour Down Under and will introduce Australian audiences to her latest album, HANDS, the title of which reflects her life changing childhood accident.
Wallis strums an upside down, right handed guitar, and explains it simply: “As a child I fell under a lawnmower and cut all my fingers off.
“Four were reconnected.
“One was lost.
“This led me to relearn how to hold things, and, when the time came, to play the guitar differently”.
Ted Egan is one of Australia’s most highly regarded folk singers, after an extraordinary life which included a period as Governor of the Northern Territory.
He is now aged 91, and he is returning to the Illawarra Fiolk festival for the first time since 2015.
David De Santi said he was excited by the wide range of international and national acts to complement the local acts.
“I’m particularly looking forward to the return of folk legends Andy Irvine and Ted Egan, and traditional music sensations Dallahan, Ryan Young and The Tannahill Weavers,” he said.
“And I am pleased that we have such quality female artists with Alana Wilkinson, Charm of Finches, Fiona Ross, Jessie Lloyd, Kerryn Fields, the Stiff Gins, Sue Ferrer Trio, Tuck Shop Ladies and Vardos.
“And I am also really excited to have the amazing Darren Hanlon, Jarabi Band, Haystack Mountain Hermits, The Inadequates, and the Coomba All-Stars at their first Illawarra Folk Festival.”
Cody Munro Moore said he expected young audiences would be interested to see Jordan Ireland, who wrote many of The Middle East’s songs, including the band’s signature track, Blood.
Early Bird Three-day Passes are $135 – a saving of $40.
They will be available on the festival website www.illawarrafolkfestival.com.au until December 23.