Illawarra Folk Festival



Strong international flavour at Bulli

by Nick Hartgerink

TN160 Dec 23

Scottish band, The Tannahill Weavers, won’t be coming to the Illawarra Folk Festival after all, but organisers have promised that the international quality of the festival at Bulli Showground, NSW, on January 19-21 won’t be compromised.

Festival Artistic Director, David De Santi, says “While organisers are disappointed that the Tannahill Weavers won’t be coming, the international component of the festival program will still be strong.

“We pride ourselves on having a great international side to our festival, introducing new acts that our audiences probably won’t know too well.

“Last January we brought English singer-songwriter, Grace Petrie, to Bulli and she absolutely blew everyone away.

“This time we expect performers like Irish singer-songwriters, Wallis Bird and Andy Irvine and young Scottish fiddle maestro, Ryan Young, will be doing that.”

Young, who has gained a huge following in the UK for his modern interpretations of traditional Celtic fiddle tunes, will be performing at the Woodford Folk Festival in Queensland before embarking on a Festival of Small Halls tour, which is bringing him to Bulli.

Other international acts include English duo, Dave Wilson and Kip Winter performing as Winter Wilson, celebrated Scottish/Irish quartet, Dallahan, and Ken Field’s Hoot Band from the US.

Popular Melbourne based Irishman Enda Kenny will also be performing.

Among the Australian performers, acclaimed Indigenous songwriter and storyteller, Jessie Lloyd, best known for leading The Mission Songs Project, will return from performing overseas to perform at Bulli for the first time since 2016.

This time she is promising very different material from the Mission Songs show.

National Living Treasure, Ted “The Drover’s Boy” Egan, now 91-years-old, is returning to the Illawarra Folk Festival where he has performed numerous times, the most recent in 2015, when he launched his THE ANZACS: 100 YEARS ON, which combined stories and songs about Australian forces in World War 1.

Emerging Northern Rivers’ singer-songwriter Alana Wilkinson, who is part of the Festival of Small Halls tour with Ryan Young, Jordan Ireland from Queensland Indie band, The Middle East, and Indigenous performers, the Stiff Gins and Pirritu, head a diverse line-up of national performers, while the festival will again feature the best of Illawarra folk performers, including festival Co-director, Kay Proudlove, and Kiama based band, The Water Runners.

Proudlove has been touring her one-woman show: Dear Diary: A Play With Songs, while The Water Runners have performed across the country, from the National Folk Festival in Canberra to the Tamworth Country Music Festival.


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 until December 23.




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