Woodford Folk Festival 2017/18

Having just completed an extensive tour, I was desperate just to be home. Alas, another assignment awaited. I had to find a way to rally. I did, for this bloke (who had already headed north in his jam-packed van - with my gear as part of the jam-packings). Thanks, Mic, you bloody big legend!

The man in the middle, Mic Conway. I'm right there, stage left, ready to prompt from Prompt Side.

Something different for hurried and harried times, my first-ever purpling. With every second glance my hair looked blue. Was it a bluish purple, or a purplish blue? The jury cannot waste time deliberating, I'll just ask Mic - he's colour-blind.

The festival site is full of surprises. New impermanent structures provide interest, fragments of shade, and more. Lights and lanterns charm after dusk, and the various new landmarks aid the navigationally challenged (me) eventually. I seem to get the hang of things just enough not to be stressed by the time the festival is one day from finishing. That is my tradition.

At times this structure would spritz and drip moisture in amounts (and at intervals) that would be regarded as refreshing. The edges of other marquees and canopies also spritzed and sprayed lightly. The heavens themselves were not to be upstaged with a modicum of stormy downpours.

If my hair is deemed too blue, I could always moonlight as a butterfly.

'The other 11 moths, erm, I mean months'.

More opportunities to be spritzed. Butterfly volunteers tote spray bottles...

...as we slow down to Woodford O'Clock.

The commercial team-up infrastructure is impressive. This bar featured scheduled sessions with titles like 'Slow Irish' and had enviable storage shelves for all the instruments that exceeded the Irish speed limit.

Come Armageddon, trundling will be back in vogue... but until then, it's just a Woodfordian trend.

Speaking of trundling... my work under the Musicians' Witness Protection Scheme has taken me to some interesting parts of the country.

The Weather Cycle, another spritzy-drippy device, was drippy enough that you had better take care with your camera or iThing. Saxophones must be less sensitive to moisture than I would have thought. The human-powered (or alien-powered) vehicle would mosey, then park. It appeared that the storm cloud upper might be made out of a substance that would take a thousand years to break down in landfill, but I could be wrong. Be sure to get out before the Menstrual Cycle comes along (quipped a mate).

The wonders of the festival site notwithstanding, I never stay onsite. My usual line is that I did enough camping as a kid and have absolutely no interest in doing it as a performer. I want to be able to get cool, clean and quiet. It's a trade-off (with the complexities of booking transport to and from the site) but offsite still wins, for me.  

This year I was billeted with a family in Woodford township. I had to conclude that the phrase 'loyal dog' (in the meet-your-billet-family blurb) meant 'loves-the-family-but-hates-everyone-else'. I know all you doggy-types will be melting at the sight of Sasha the Bitey. Hearing a yarn about a tradie being bitten '...on blood-thinners, he bled-bled-bled', I determined I would not enter the back yard, regardless of the courtesy muzzle. The 'lazy cat' was more my style.

The key unlocks the loch. I dunno.

Something fishy.

Most of our performances were in the Parlour. The level of design detail that has gone into making venues special, de-emphasising their veritable white-marquee-iness (while still honouring it) was wonderful.

Parlour eyes.

Green room greening. It's an initiative that works (at Woodford)...

...well, I reused my cup.

The personal Woodford digs of our 23rd Prime Minister. Hawkie has become a regular on the Woodford speaking circuit. At 88 years of age, with his knees having walked out the door, he can't roam the festival. So his minders bring the festival to him, inside the hallowed bunker affectionately known as 'The Kremlin'.

Hand-picked artists form a variety night. A cheeky snap from the 'stage' as we ready ourselves. What an honour to be hand-picked.

I've been away on tour for way too long, desperately fretting for my garden (and worrying about its welfare). The plantings around the site, although temporary, were inspiring. I wanted to race home and incorporate even more tropical leafiness into my own 'jungle' area. Large piles of soil and mulch, planted up, brilliant.

The nightly lantern parade delights.

So much fun.

'Thankyou for the wonderful entertainment - magic, and magic music. Especially thanks to Mic, and to the wonderfully energetic sousaphone player!  Long term fan!'

Woodford Folk Festival encourages folk to write actual letters. The mode of delivery is via moustachioed postpersons on bicycles. Yes, in my mind even the women have handlebar moustaches. To tee up delivery you must (I think) know the phone number of your intended recipient. Well, couldn't you just text them? Yes, I suppose. The initiative slows folk down, encourages reflection and thought - and you can be anonymous without encryption software. 

Cigar box juggling win. 

Cigar box epic chin-balance fail. I'm good at scooping up the trip-hazards with my feet as I strut the stage (for my own safety as much as anything). Go Mic!

Thanks to the lovely Andrew (whose stage snaps I have liberated from Facebook).

For our New Year's Eve (into the actual New Year) gig I borrowed these shoes from Janet in the Artists' Transport department. They charge via USB and had a variety of light colours and patterns that rippled an pulsed from the edges of the soles. I did a few extra high-kicks to attempt to get them clear of the foldback wedges so they'd be able to have their moment in the sun. A perfect fit, I had no idea I was Size 37. I usually just try shoes on (which I still believe is a good method).

Perhaps we're not the best band to be assigned the task of leading the countdown to midnight (in our venue) - we nearly forgot! We were halfway through a song when the 'crowd' (a smattering of loyal had-to-be-somewheres) surged toward the stage to interrupt us. Five seconds to go. I played Auld Lang Syne. Two band wives kissed their hubbies. Then we all looked around at each other and said, 'Now, where were we?'


...on the jug.

Purple pause.

Quiet contemplation. Applying a healthy amount of talc to my left hand fingers is the only way I know to make these crazy polyurethane bass ukulele strings remotely playable. It's like playing an instrument strung with al dente spaghetti. The Mid-Winter Festival in Tasmania (surrounded by snow-capped mountains) has been the only time the talc could be deemed non-essential. 

...well, she might be reading this.