Thursday, November 10, 2011

Diary of a Serial Attender


MMM, what can I say, I didn't even bother checking the program before I came, like in previous years I was just going to find a corner and watch the World go by.

After staying with the Badges in Melbourne, I headed off first thing to Maldon, stopping in Kyneton to dialyse and resumed my journey after lunch.

I opened up the Badges house at Maldon then went down town to register.

The weather looked eerie which was all we needed after last year's washout.

A nice breezy sunny weekend is the rarity at Maldon, it either pours or it is a heat wave.

Spits became drizzle, and drizzle became a steady rain.  The hope was that this would give way to a clear day tomorrow.

The rain was already taking the edge off the Festival
[Photo: Og Bear]
Got around venues to get the atmosphere, or lack there of, and despite the impending weather there was a good camp this year with the Blues Club already ensconced.  Maybe they had a different attitude to the weather?

Got a text, the Badges had arrived and were at the Kangaroo Hotel where I arrived to find Edward was showing off his latest acquisition, a sky blue Holden FB panel van with much prized surface rust on the roof.

Most of the atmosphere was under the verandah with a small session happening in the Bar.  I fell by the wayside and ordered one of the hard to resist exquisite Hotel's deserts.

The rain was already taking the edge off the Festival
[Photo: Og Bear]
The rain started again as we made our way to the Maldon Hotel.  A folk band, Red Cat, were setting up and were soon bursting out with renditions of originals and favourites.  Kerry, their vocalist was wearing amazing hippy stockings that her 83 year old mum had given her.

As usual the main Festival area at The Butts (Tarrangower Reserve to out of towners) had a good range of food stalls with some new entries, but unlike previous years, I found them a little disappointing.

I made my way back down to the town and found not much happening in the Maldon Hotel.  The Badges decided to call it a day, but I was not done yet, so I headed back up to The Butts to see what was happening in the Wine and Guinness Tents.

Munro O'Callaghan Titchener in Wine Tent
[Photo: Og Bear]
I found Patrick and Janette in the Wine Tent where a fantastic mens threesome, Munro O'Callaghan Titchener, were playing and were the highlight of the night.

No hustle and bustle on a wet Friday night
[Photo: Og Bear]


The weather did give us some respite for the primary school market on Saturday morning. As I said, last year's Festival was a washout and the market copped the worst of it sitting centimetres deep in water.

The school was able to sport their new outside kitchen and eating area with wood oven built with GFC recovery money.  Despite the controversy of this program, what has been done at Maldon seems to be a good outcome and so were the pizzas.

Maldons Got Talent was in progress.  This is one of the strengths of a small community based Festival.  The Maldon Folk Festival has been going for 38 years and like the music at the school, it has been built on a tradition of music that goes back to the Gold Rush days.  Many of the miners who came from the pits of Cornwall, Wales, Scotland, England and other places brought their instruments with them.  The Festival had enhanced this by bringing in another whole group of musicians to the area who contribute and create a culture where it is natural for this to be passed on to the next generation.

So, there in front of me was a large group of 6-7 years olds competently doing quite a complex performance.

Maldon Primary School Market
[Photo: Og Bear]
Bought another hat.  Have been looking a long time for a short brimmed hat that doesn't interfere with the camera flash when popping up.  Here it was at the same stall I have bought my last two brimmed hats.

On the way out the school gate I happened upon a guy sitting against the fence with a handmade one stringed instrument.  He told me that variations of this instrument occur everywhere in the World.

Even though most venues seemed to be full there was still not much movement on the street, no hustle and bustle, a real indication that numbers were down.  An organiser told me that a large number of prepaids had not yet been picked up.  It seems as in the past that if it is raining in Melbourne people there think it is raining everywhere.  No matter how much you try to convince them that it is a nice day in Maldon they simply won't believe you.  So the prospect of a washout a second year running has really hurt this year’s Festival and could even put a shadow over it's future.

Kerry finally enjoying the fruits of her labour
[Photo: Og Bear]
Kerry was finally enjoying her business now that she had sold it.  She was sitting out the front of the wine bar with the rest of the Maldon Rat Pack.

Someone said it was my turn to have a photo taken of me.  Oh my God!  I looked like I was ready for war with all my camera gear and my green fleecy vest!

Good to see the beer garden at the rear of the Kangaroo back in action again after many years even if just for a chalkboard.  Hopefully there will be a program running with it's small bar open there next year.

Instrument maker demonstrating his Hurdi Gurdi
[Photo: Og Bear]
While waiting for the next bus to The Butts I checked out the Instrument Makers Display in the Progress Hall.

The Festival bus was not all that well managed this year.  It seems that the drivers were waiting for the bus to fill right up at each end before departing which made the time between trips quite long.  Also, with a small expansion of the loop they could take in the Penny School without much loss of time or expense.  On Saturday night a second bus would also take pressure off the service as drivers are no longer allowed to have people standing in the aisle.

Festival twins, Alana & Alicia Egan, in the Wine Tent
[Photo: Og Bear]
Alan and Alicia Egan, the Festival twins, were entertaining the crowd in the Wine Tent when I arrived back up at The Butts.

Atmosphere at The Butts (Tarrangower Reserve)
[Photo: Og Bear]
At last there was a lot more activity in the Festival compound, with crowds moving between the Guiness Tent, Wine Tent and food stalls.

Skreitch orating some salty poems at the Penny School
[Photo: Og Bear]
From there I arrived at the Penny School to find Skreitch reciting poems of yesteryear describing hardship upon the sea.

He was followed on accoustic guitar by Lauren Lee Williams who had won this year's Roddy Reed Song Writing Competition.

Back on Main Street there was also a bit more activity.  A really good busking scene was happening but only a few sessions, but nothing like previous years, if anything a bit sparse overall.

Here I caught up with the Badges again with Edward as usual displaying bouts of tomfoolery.

Russell and Marilla were performing at the chalkboard in the Maldon Hotel.  There could be a little more support here as not even the PA was in action.

Neil Murray in the Guiness Tent
[Photo: Og Bear]
Back to the Butts where singer/songwriter, Neil Murray, was performing in the Guinness Tent.

Festival goers can be even more interesting than the performers
[Photo: Og Bear]
One of the few events I did checkout on the program was the Blues Concert in the Bill Woodfull Pavillion.  I didn't want to miss out on Kinga and The Croakers.  I also noticed that The Pardoners were on before hand so I set off for it.

Leonie and her friend Pam from Castlemaine were already there as were Barry and Julie from Geelong.  Herc and others from the Geelong Folk Club were at our table waiting in anticipation.

The Pardoners were a bit disappointing having been put off by sound problems when they first started.

The Croakers Kinga fronting the band at the Blues Concert
[Photo: Og Bear]
But at last the band came on that the crowd had been waiting for.  Kinga and Marni from the Croakers, the local band whose history goes back at least three decades to The Frog Brothers.  Kinga impressed us with his fine vocals and harp playing.  Marni was magic when her vocals were combined with her own lyrics.

Again the Badges piked out at this point.  But me, I headed back to The Butts where Blues Ruins (apt for the hour) were playing in the Wine Tent.

Woohoo Revue in Guinness Tent
[Photo: Og Bear]


On Sunday morning, having felt a bit over laden with gear I went back to a carry bag for the cameras.

I parked in town and as I headed for the bus the Marimba Belles and Beau were playing in the rotunda.

Brass Urn Players Waiting for the Festival bus
[Photo: Og Bear]
I arrived at the pickup point for the bus to find three young guys playing Tibetan like bowls while they waited.

Two Rose Black in the Wine Tent
[Photo: Og Bear]
In the Wine Tent folk band, Two Rose Black, were playing.  From Gippsland, I had seen them at the Penny School a few years back.

Greg Champion with Pete Denahy on the Main Stage
[Photo: Og Bear]
The Main Concert was in progress and Greg Champion was on the Main Stage supported by Pete Denahy, later joined by Jane Saunders.

Patrick and Janettes' crew had setup camp among the audience and we were all looked after by fine food including Janette's spicy home made salami with artichokes and olives reflecting her Mediterranean origins.  You lucky bugger, Patrick.  Not far away Barry and Julies' Geelong crew had setup too.  So as well as drifting between these two, I wandered over to the Wine Tent to find West Australian folk musician, Lucy Wise, and the B'Gollies entertaining the crowd.

Leonie at The Butts
[Photo: Og Bear]
Back at the Main Concert I was joined by Leonie and we reminisced over her late partner, Greg, and the photos I had taken of him before his passing.

Andy Rigby and Family were there too.  Andy is one of the ones that has come to Maldon and brought his musical skills and talents to the local community.

Festival Favourite, Jerry's Vegiburgers Food Stall at The Butts
[Photo: Og Bear]
I had the obligatory vegiburger from Mrs Jerry and returned to the Main Stage where I could not quite work out what all the fuss was about the Poachers.

Woohoo Revue on the Main Stage
[Photo: Og Bear]
Next came the dynamic gypsy band, Woohoo Revue, who I had seen bring last night’s concert to an end in the Guinness Tent.

Talking to Brian Rhule, the official photographer, and we both agreed that it had been a hard year to get good people shots.  The light was a bit dreary and people looked drab in their all weather gear.  Then, a few minutes later the clouds parted to let the sun come in and suddenly there were colourful people everywhere waiting to have their photo taken!

I love the characters and dress that this Festival attracts.  It is great to meet them and hear their stories, then to record them on camera.

Sporting a New Beanie Fest Acquisition and Enjoying the Atmosphere at The Butts
[Photo: Og Bear]
One of these was two guys reclining on a blanket, one who had an amazing grey beanie with lime toggles coming off the top.  He was from Alice Springs and told me he had got it at their Beanie Fest a few weeks earlier.

Leary was standing under a large gum tree while Kel was videoing the Woohoo Revue.

The crowd had picked up quite a bit by now, but was still down for the Main Sunday Concert.

The Badges arrived and Jan grabbed me and dragged me in front of the stage for a dance.  I am no dancer, but Edward is not prepared to do his duty so I am it.

I wanted to see Lady Bear, Russell and Marilla perform in the Gospel Concert so I went down to the Anglican Church at 3pm only to arrive and find it empty.  Lady Bear was coming out, with Rhym and Sheila who had been performing with her, and informed me that it had started at 1pm and ended at 3pm!  So much for not taking much note of the program?

So we all decided to go up to the Penny School and see Red Cat again, then local accoustic artist, Janette Geri.  We were too late for Red Cat, but I spoiled myself with a Double Baked New York Cheese Cake, that I had discovered the day before, and a pot of tea that blew my weight out even more for dialysis the next morning.

Janette Geri at the Penny School
[Photo: Og Bear]
Geri started off with "Lord Franklin's Lament", one of my favourites.  Lord Franklin was also a distant relative on my mother's side so this is part of my family’s history.

I was tempted to stay to see Munro O'Callaghan Titchener again, but I made my back up to The Butts to where Patrick and Janette were and saw Bluestone Junction again.  I had seen them in the Guinness Tent the night before.  You either love or hate a bluegrass band.  These guys had a great sound with a pretty slick presentation.

Simon, an old friend from Uni days, was here too.  Like me he is a serial attender.  I have done 30 out of the last 31 Maldon Folk Festivals myself.

Sue, Lady in Purple, at The Butts
[Photo: Og Bear]
I was also joined by Sue, a lady in purple, who I knew from previous years.

Piper From the Go Set Making His Way to the Main Stage
[Photo: Og Bear]
Pete Denahy was still playing at the Wine Tent as I arrived to see Rory Ellis.  Pete is OK, but I feel that once you have heard him twice you have heard him forever.

Rory's original songs and deep voice was accompanied by Paul Burton on bass and Tim Hackett on guitar.  It was a good performance with a good mix of new material and old.

I had missed Pugsley Buzzard when he was in Geelong several weeks earlier so it was back to the Penny School.  To my surprise Lady Bear and Sheila where still there.  No DBNYCC for me this time!

It was Sunday night and all venues were pretty packed by now.  The Penny School had opened the double doors and extended its seating into the cafe.

Pugsley was spoiled with a baby grand and was accompanied by a bass tuba and drums.  Three or so intricate drum solos were the highlight of the evening and I could not see them being repeated when they performed in the noisier Maldon Hotel the next night.

They were followed by school band, Evelyn's Secret, but after several tunes I left for the Maldon Hotel.

Madre Monte was playing there with 2 guests, but it was a bit of a jumble compared to having them on the Main Stage that afternoon.

I went back up to The Butts, but it did nothing for me.  I was trying to keep it going and wasn't letting go.  I finally caught the last bus back to town, drove my car back to the Badges and let myself in.


Og at Dialysis in Kyneton
[Photo: Og Bear]
After turning in at 1:30am I was up again at 6:30am to get to dialysis at Kyneton again. I was there to pay for my sins.  To remove the excess fluid as a result of all the liquid I had consumed; to bring back into balance my blood again after all that tasty food that I had consumed. I had a really good run; far better than on Friday.

Despite the problems, thanks to the great staff on those days, I was able to go to Maldon and really enjoy myself.

On the way back to Maldon I called in on an old friend Jill who used to frequent the Festival years ago when we all camped.

The question came up about whether the guy with the grey kilt was there.  I replied that I had not seen him in quite a few years and was not quite sure what had happened to him.  Then amazingly not long after I had got back I came across Patrick in the Maldon Hotel who asked exactly the same question!

Rory Ellis in the Maldon Hotel
[Photo: Og Bear]
Jan & Edward Badge Partaking of Julie's Birthday Cake
[Photo: Og Bear]
The Atmosphere in the Maldon Hotel
[Photo: Og Bear]
The Croakers at the Maldon Hotel
[Photo: Og Bear]
As usual I had met many old friends and made a lot of new ones, even one couple that only lived a few blocks from where I live!  But as the night wore on we realised that once again it was all over.

Sadly we left wondering whether there is a future for a small Festival like this that is community based and has not given into the pressures of the music industry machine for it's survival.  A nice sunny weekend next year without a drop of rain will be imperative.

Og With the Badges Outside the Maldon Hotel
[Photo: Og Bear]
 [Og Bear]

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