-By Conor Graham
Fairbridge Festival indulges its revellers in quality over big names with folk, blues, roots, Celtic and world music. It takes place every April in Fairbridge, 100kms south of Perth. This year was my first and I was truly astounded by the range and quality of talent on display at WA’s most popular family camping music festival.
Here are my top 5 picks of all the acts I managed to watch at Fairbridge. Ideally this would be a top 50 but I’ll keep it simple…
Loren Kate – I caught the dread-head sweetheart on the Mandja stage on Saturday afternoon. Her shy on stage presence and beautifully constructed songs complimented by quality story-telling had the audience captivated from the second her innocent tones were cast out. She claimed she had no setlist so was just rattling off her songs as she remembered them. It was a beautiful set and one I’d love to watch again maybe in a more intimate setting.
Iris – Iris is a six piece all-female musical group who has evolved from their acapella roots to performing with guitar, piano, recorder and various percussion. Iris where one of the hardest working bands of the three day festival with a total of six gigs. I got the opportunity to watch their beautiful performance in the surroundings of the Chapel…the ideal surrounding for a collection of exquisite voices and Celtic arrangements.
Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin – The English folk duo conisist of Phillip on Dobro and Beatbox/Harmonica, and Hannah on Vocals and Violin. I watched the duo by chance in the Circus tent at Fairbridge. They entertained the crowd to rapturous applause with their versions of old English songs and heart-felt originals. I really feel Fairbridge is a festival of discovery and I’m so pleased it opened my eyes to these two masters of their craft.
Bullhorn – These guys rule. Seven Horn Players. One Drummer. One MC. Their sound is a ‘high-octane mix of funk, soul, hip hop, jazz, reggae and dance music’. I watched them play one of the headline slots on Sunday on the Mandja stage and they had that place going off! MC Roman had the audience in the palm of his charismatic, sweaty hand and we loved it. They most certainly sent everyone home with a huge smile.
Jaron Freeman Fox and the Opposite of Everything– If you are ever greeted with the opportunity to see Jaron perform live with his group. Do it. Just do it. Get on a plane, a snowmobile, a hot air balloon, a space hopper…whatever it takes, allow yourself the pure joy of seeing this eccentric master on stage. Fairbridge were the last dates on the Canadian groups tour. Jaron signified this by shaving off his ‘tour moustache’ in an on stage frenzy to their song ‘The Rabid Rabbi’ much to the elation of the crowd. The band consists of some of the finest musicians I have ever witnessed on stage coming together to present beautifully written songs in a range of fashions. Freeman Fox headed up the outfit with his virtuoso fiddle playing that had everyone talking about him all weekend. Thank you Fairbridge for this mad but wonderful gift.
Photo Credit: Matthew Picken