Music Festival Top 5

I love music festivals and I love taking photos. Last weekend I got to do both. How lucky am I!
How did I end up doing that you might ask? I’m not exactly a professional photographer and fairly new in the game of using a DSLR camera.

The trick is volunteering till you get there. Which is what I did a few months back when I saw the call out on one of the photographer groups I belong to. It was a spur of the moment decision, so I really had no time to consider it too much and talk myself out of it because of nerves. I said yes on a Monday for that weekend. My first was Kiama Folk Festival and I Loved every minute of it even though it was pretty nerve-racking and exhausting. My first time being part of a media team, so felt daunting. With the team being really supportive I soon enjoyed it and forgot about my nerves. Plus it’s​ not every​ day​ you have an excuse/permit to make your way up front to allow you to take some great shots.

I loved it and they obviously loved my work. I just loved being able to get the exposure and get into the music festival for free. So when I was asked for the bigger festival, The 33rd annual Illawarra Folk Festival, I had no hesitation. Once again I had the best time and the performers were top shelf. I love how you always get to listen to bands you may never have seen if it wasn’t for the festivals. So much talent but also so much competition so it’s not an easy industry. Like many creative industries, it is very hard to get to a level of success where you can live on your passion.

So I would like to give some praise the ​performers and let you know about my Top five acts. I know it will be hard to narrow it down to just five as I loved so many of them. But here goes, and in no particular​ order:

Handsome Young Strangers


The blurb​ notes:
“The undisputed kings​ of Aussie Bush Punk, Handsome Young Strangers have been touring for years with their high octane take on Australian Folk Rock”

I loved their upbeat Aussie flavour, they made you smile and it was hard to not tap your feet. They have obviously played together for a long time evident by the fun banter and tight musical collaboration​. I would normally not sit through a whole performance if taking photos but this time it was too good to leave. A feast for the ears. Plus the stage was in an old Chapel up in the hills of Bulli making it an easy place to chill and listen to good music.

The Button Collective


The blurb​ notes:
“Exciting high energy Irish band. Their guitar-driven sound borrows from traditional Irish​ folk songs and tunes, with the spirit of fast-paced American old-timey music”

Great music mixed with the charm only the Irish seem to be so expert at. Performing on a Sunday morning proved sometimes a struggle for the vocals of the main singer, but didn’t​ phase him one bit. His charm carried him across any ill-placed​ note. A few blunders could not take away from​ the​ quality singing and music this band produced as a team. Every band member contributed with their individual high-quality​ music skills. I will be looking out for them around Sydney.

The Northern Folk

The blurb​ notes:
“The Northern folk are a collective of eleven musical ambitionists spreading their unique brand of folk​/pop/stomp/funk from intimate ballads to bigband boot stompers”

This huge band from Melbourne is relatively new to the festival scene but are definitely going places. I only saw them perform on Saturday​ evening​ but many festival goers had seen them on Friday night​ and came​​back forv2nd and 3rd performances. Their repertoir would take you from quiet ballads to high energy songs. So much talent is rare to see in such a large band. Everyone with their own set of musical skills making this band a must see.Do yourself a favour and check them out when next in your area.

Nick Charles

The blurb​ notes:
“Known as Australia’s virtuoso​ acoustic​ roots and blues, Nick has released albums worldwide, toured the USA and received awards including Port FAiry folk Festival Artist of the year 2014”

This guy has been around for a while and he knows his stuff. Being a lover of blues and roots I instantly loved his performance. He has a real ease about him and makes playing the ​guitar look a breeze. But trust me I know from my own experience it is​ not easy. I never tire of good guitar music and his voice is smooth and easy to listen to. If you like acoustic guitar then check Nick out.

Dan Walsh


The blurb​ notes:
“At the heart of Dan’s music is British Irish and American folk​ music delivered with a healthy dose of funky grooves​ in his unique​ style on clawhammer banjo. Add poignant songs- wow audiences across the world”

This young man can certainly dazzle you with his banjo playing skills.I knew as soon as I walked into his performance he would be a treat. I had planned to just pop in to get a couple of photos ​but ended up sitting down and doing a live stream. Really just an excuse to linger as I enjoyed his performance too much. Only in Australia for a month so be quick and check him out while you can. Or maybe some of my UK readers already know him already?

So that is my​ Top 5. But seriously I could have listed​ so many more. Keven Welsh, Josefine Poulson, The Protestors​, Lizzie​ Flynn & The Reckoning to name a few. But then I would never finish this blog and sometimes you just have to make a line in the sand.

What is your favourite band or style of music?

Photos by Sal Gallaher
Blurb notes from The Illawarra​ Folk Festival booklet


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