Words on a page don’t do justice in describing the joy of a festival
by Terry Carlan
I’m a lucky man.
I went to the Yass Craic recently.
Friday morning, I left Newcastle and, despite Waze and Google maps trying to re-direct me to a faster route, I managed to bypass all the tolls.
It was hot and it took longer, but I felt better for realizing that the money I saved would buy me a Guinness or two when I got there.
It’s a 5/6 hour drive, but I got a good line of music on Spotify and pretty well cruised once I beat the Sydney traffic (Trad&Now Live! would have been better!).
I reached Yass and plugged in (as a volunteer) in the admin office next to the Memorial Hall then went back out to the main street and sat down on a bench next to a lady with a walking frame.
I asked could I rest there for a few minutes.
She was just enjoying the last few minutes of the sun setting over the clock tower.
We chatted for a while.
She’d had a hard year, with the things that happen around this later part of life, and she was here at the Craic quietly stepping out again.
We said bye.
I drove up to the Australian Hotel and parked out the back.
At the bar I bought a Guinness with the money I saved in avoiding the tollway (yahoo).
It was ‘like a thousand angels kissin’ your tongue’ … you know the gen … I drank it and every cell in my body felt better.
Around 6:30pm, ‘Briar Hill’ were in a corner of the front bar knocking out a good collection of songs and tunes on flute, guitar and violin and the crowd was burbling.
I popped over to the Trader and Co to see ’Two faces in the crowd’ playing.
I only had time for one song but I did hear the voice of an angel.
Made it to the admin for the 7-10pm log-in as a ‘vollie’.
Daniel and Wendy showed me the ropes in checking people in and putting on their wristband, so it caught as many hairs as possible.
No not really.
They showed me how to do it properly.
It’s funny how a wrist band that you wear for three days can become a friend and/or a foe.
Different coloured wrist bands for different nights or a green for the weekend.
Performers came in as well to get their wristbands on and I felt quite chuffed to be helping these festival goers get to enjoy these performers … and vice versa in the office with Karen, Wendy, Daniel and Janno.
They are the centre of the festival and worked all year round to get it to here.
Janno has done it through sickness and health.
A few of the members of the ‘Austral’ band came through and later we could hear their music pushing through the walls next door.
I popped in to see them round 10pm.
They were good.
Austral are a fully charged, four-piece Australian tunes band combining didgeridoo, Irish pipes, high energy fiddling, journeying songs and energetic foot percussion.
You could feel the good vibes in the Friday night festival faces.
The spark of joy caught fire and people spontaneously moved to the front to dance.
Ahh and then the joy of Irish dancers!
So light on their feet.
Two young women skipped up the aisle and lit up the hall and the front of the stage with their graceful dancing.
Then one of them … there were a lot of people dancing by themselves … she whisked across the floor, linked arms with a person, did a spin with them, pranced on to another and did the same, and again and again, all the way across the floor and back!
Connected with them all.
Gave each the gift of her joyous spark.
Connected them all.
It brought tears to my eyes.
It does now.
To slip through the wall of individuality into connection is a wonderful thing.
The Irish do it well.
I went back up to the Australian, bought a Guinness, found a bit of wall to lean on and a fella to talk to.
He looked at my purple wrist band.
A vollie (volunteer) is perhaps the first most important job at a music festival, I said.
With a lightning sharp response that belied the fact he was three sheets to the wind, he said ’Nah, no-one ’s comin’ here to see the volunteers’ mate”.
Hmmm. I concede that he’s right.
I adjust my statement.
The ‘vollies’ are the second most important people … ‘
‘Nah, the performers don’t come here to play for the vollies’ mate”.
Hmmm. I scratched my head.
I’m used to rounding up what I say for those not used to manic hyperbole.
‘You’re right but if the vollies don’t set it up … I began.’
He said ‘Yeah I know what you’re sayin’ … (he pointed to his purple wristband).
‘What you’ve got here is the blessed trinity, the power of threes mate.
‘The vollies, the performers and the audience, and each, in their way, the most important.’
Yeah, I’ll drink to that.
Volunteers, your country needs you.
SATURDAY MORNING EARLY.
I’m blessed to be an early riser, or alternately cursed with the inability to sleep in, so I’m up early Saturday morning and out on the street looking for coffee.
It’s too early for coffee, but I meet a man walking his dog.
We talk about stuff.
About hearing aids and audio implants.
He tells me that Janno is a local legend here with her organisational ability and her work at the hospital.
He was a history teacher in Newcastle.
We part and he reminds me that shaking hands was once a way of demonstrating that your weapon hand was clear.
Yass is a wonderful place.
I walk down to the coffee shop which opens at 6:30 and get a coffee.
Lovely, and I wander down to the Festival office which doesn’t open at 6:30.
There’s a young fella there, Matthew.
He’s arrived at Yass Junction on the 1 a.m. train and slept in a change room at the sports field outside town and walked in this morning.
He’s a wordsmith.
We talk about places we know in Parramatta.
I feel our words match and speed sync.
The words ‘I hope there’s a hell for developers’ come out of our conversation and he says he’ll write a song about that.
His band will be driving down to meet him today.
I hear them play that night.
The Bottlers, they have attitude and energy.
Maybe they’re not polished but they’re playful.
One of the fellas plays an impossibly big piano accordion, with style.
They’re on the front foot and fun and the younger people rush for the dance floor.
They may be just what folk festivals need to bring the young in.
I spend some time at the festival office on the Saturday and watch Janno come and go .. and fix this and adjust that and compensate for something else.
Someone has to have the accumulated knowledge and the know how to fix the glitches.
Be the centre of the hub.
There’s a lot of people involved in this event but I see Karen and Wendy and Janno at the centre doing their jobs with such skill and precision.
The engine room.
And the festival rolls on.
So much to do and see and hear.
I pop into the Liberty Theatre.
Rick Saur is mixing sound.
It’s always comforting to see Rick at festivals because you now the sound will be good.
So many good artists and musos.
Before the Bottlers was the band, We Mavericks.
I’m a fan of the Mavericks.
Their melodies, music and singing are masterful.
I think the duo are the darlings of the east coast at the moment, rightfully so, and taking us on their musical journey.
I hear Lindsay take off on one of his violin solos and, to me, it’s like he’s flying.
A leap into the unknown and I wonder where he’ll land, and it’s a seamless re-entry.
If one of the measures of success is a rapturous crowd at the Yass Craic, the Mavericks are definitely there.
After them is Kellys Wayke.
The young woman fiddler stands up at the merch table, before they go on, and points out the pictures on their CD to me.
‘That’s me and that’s my mum .. and that’s my dad’.
Such joy, such bubbling energy, and they were great on stage too.
I see the lady I sat next to on the street bench on Friday morning.
She’s got a big smile on her face.
Music and dancing and festivals do that to you, put smiles on your face.
SATURDAY NIGHT LATE
I wander out the back of the pub and have a chat with a fella who lives in one of the rooms.
He’s an artist, Irish.
A little further on there’s a fire crackling and Irish Jimmy is strumming a guitar.
He offers me a cup of tea and we chat about the occasional need for quiet.
Jane drops by.
Dave comes over and another fella.
We pass the guitar around and sing a song each.
Jimmy sings one of the fun songs he’s writing about a fluffy dog.
I close my eyes.
He sings a couple of verses and the words flow out like wine and they rhyme and a little story emerges, a funny story and there’s a twist to it.
He sings another verse and I laugh out loud.
Dave and I look at each other in joy.
Jimmy goes on and it gets to the stage where our laughter almost drowns out his singing!
Some people have just got that magic.
I feel incredibly lucky to be here at the festival.
Every person here is a celebration of atoms and molecules and chemicals and flesh and bone that have fallen together and learned to speak and hear and communicate.
I feel blessed to be able to step into people’s lives for a while.
And I feel like a better man for having been there in Yass.
Words on a page don’t do justice in describing the joy of a festival.
If you haven’t been to The Yass Craic for a while then do put it on your calendar.
You owe it to your atoms and molecules.
Keep in mind that good things don’t always last forever and they need to be enjoyed while they are here … and you are able.
Do it now.
Are you joining the Craic in Yass in 2023?
by Janno Scanes
TN157 Aug 23
We will all be spoilt for choice when this festival lands on the stages of Yass, NSW.
On September 15 to 17, you will find something for everyone.
Be it music of several genres, sixty seven acts, trad, folk, blues, and surprises, performers of excellent quality, poetry, dance, the Junior Fleadh, workshops, lovely warm venues, good food and coffee, tasty local wines and many historical buildings.
When you are reading this article, it is only 4 weeks until you can be enjoying this years’ amazing lineup of performers. from soloists to groups of ten, for all to enjoy.
No doubt there will be the usual amazing pub sessions which were so joyful last year.
Tickets are available through Humanatix, check them out as they are Aussies doing good work!
The link is on our face book page or go to the website.
I look forward to seeing you in Yass in September.
Will you join the Craic in Yass in 2023
by Janno Scanes
TN 156 July 23
September 15th-17th will again see the Craic happening in our lovely town.
You will be able to enjoy music of several genres, trad, folk and blues no doubt.
There will be something for everyone…….workshops, singing. Poetry, youth events and competitions.
Dancing with callers plus a ceili or two, and Celtic markets on the weekend in Riverbank Park where you will be able to see exhibitions of local talent, more music and entertainment.
This will include family oriented markets with a variety of food and drink vans.
You will find an excellent variety of food and good coffee in town as well.
Historical architecture, quirky venues and beautiful parks are a feature of Yass.
For up to date information follow our face book page
Check out the website. www.irishcelticmusicfestiaval.com
For enquiries email firstname.lastname@example.org
Festival postal address. 4 Short St Yass. NSW 2582.
There will be more information in the August edition of TRAD&NOW.
Hoping to see you in September.
Join the craic in Yass
by Janno Scanes
Published in T&N150 September 2022
It’s been a loooong time…….
The Committee of the ‘Irish & Celtic Music Festival’ look forward to welcoming all to Yass again.
September 16–18, is the weekend dedicated to our ‘Irish & Celtic Music Festival’, bringing us all together again.
We will celebrate traditional Celtic & Australian Arts all weekend.
There’ll be music across the different genres, workshops in music and instruments, dancing workshops and events on Saturday and Sunday.
There will also be a Poetry Soiree and 2 poets’ breakfasts, debate and competition.
Celtic Markets will take place on Saturday and Sunday, with a variety of foods, coffee and crafts.
Free live music and exhibitions will be found in Banjo Paterson Park.
Our beautiful Heritage buildings will be some of the venues, all well worthy of celebration.
Yass will be celebrating our rich cultural history while acknowledging the stunning Ngunnawal countryside and its peoples.
We pay our respects to the elders, past, present and emerging.
The Committee realise the need for flexibility during this festival as the infectious diseases take their toll on many people and events.
All will be encouraged to take hygiene requirements seriously to keep everyone as safe as possible, especially in confined areas.
We are determined to make the festival an enjoyable event.
We are excited to see our like minded friends and supporters after such a long time.
See you all soon!