FAIRBRIDGE FESTIVAL Full program and picks

The line up at Fairbridge Festival this year, running Friday, April 26 to Sunday, April 28 at Fairbridge Village, is true to form for the music and arts festival, offering a colourful and diverse range of artists from right across musical genres and across the globe. There’s a bit of a focus on Americana this year, which includes a stunning Celtic-bluegrass crossover act, plus some of the UK and USA’s most searingly hot and entertaining acoustic players. BRAYDEN EDWARDS investigates.

Fairbridge is a global melting pot of talent, filtered through the lens of a folk festival. There’s a sweet Mediterranean breeze wafting through with an Italian icon of world music, a much-loved Australian-Italian folk singer and a joyous band of gentleman musicians who play gorgeous European folk music. Throw in a couple of return visits by some of the festival’s most adored acts, a Grammy nominated violinist, and some Kimberley rock stars, and you have one heck of a program under the trees and stars at Fairbridge Festival 2019. There are still camping, non camping, day and evening tickets available.  For further information, visit or download the full program grid here.

Friday, April 26

Pencil it in:

Jack Davies and the Bush Chooks

Jack Davies is a 19-year-old songwriter based in Fremantle. The young folk singer weaves suburban Australiana and intimate stories into thundering folk rock ballads. After years of busking and performing solo, he recruited a few friends to form The Bush Chooks, an electrified take on his former folk tales. Just a year after their formation, Jack Davies and the Bush Chooks were nominated for three WAM awards and won Nannup Music Festival’s prestigious Emerging Artist Award.

Salvatore Rossano and Santa Taranta present: SONU – Songs from the Homeland

SONU is a musical journey that celebrates Italian folk music in Australia. Songs that talk about migration, love and loss, hope and life in a new country, the project SONU is based on selected field recordings archived at the National Library during the past 40 years. Composer and ethnomusicologist Salvatore Rossano has researched these stories and songs, arranging them along with his own new compositions to create a vibrant experience of Italian Folk music with a fresh twist, revealing the richness of the past and the present of Italian music in Australia.

Gina Williams and Guy Ghouse

Gina Williams and Guy Ghouse will capture your hearts through songs and storytelling in Noongar language. Combining guitar brilliance and incandescent vocals, it’s an extraordinary musical journey. Gina Williams is a rare act who connects deeply with audiences through guitar brilliance and breathtaking voice. You know when it happens, that magical moment when a hush falls over the room; and it’s even more special when it’s in a rare language. There are less than 400 speakers left of Noongar language. With the blessings of elders and community, Gina and Guy will take you on an incredible, unforgettable journey you will not get anywhere else.


Variously tagged as ‘folk-rock’, ‘trad-rock’, ‘Celtic-rock’ and even ‘grown-up folk-rock’, Mànran’s music defies easy labelling due to the eclectic mix of influences on the band and the alchemy that melds them. With a central ethos built around the band’s traditional Celtic roots, fiery tunes from fiddle, accordion, flute, uilleann and Highland bagpipes bind powerfully to a rhythm section awash with elements of funk, jazz and rock, to create some of the most innovative and uplifting instrumental music around. Coupled with songs in both Gaelic and English, it’s easy to understand why Mànran are in such high demand as a live act.

Kittel & Co.

Fronted by acclaimed American violinist Jeremy Kittel (formerly of the Grammy-winning Turtle Island Quartet), Kittel & Co. inhabit the space between classical and acoustic roots, Celtic and bluegrass aesthetics, folk and jazz sensibilities. Known for his work as a fiddler, composer, and arranger with acts as varied as My Morning Jacket, Chris Thile, Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn, Kittel blazes through a Bach violin partita as easily as a Scottish reel, bringing the same intense focus and precision to both. Featuring mandolin phenom Josh Pinkham and genre-bending guitarist Quinn Bachand, Kittel & Co. captures a sonic landscape that’s equally as unpredictable as it is captivating.

Download the full Friday program grid here.

Saturday, April 27

Pencil it in:

Big Cry

Big Cry is a five-piece sad pop band from Fremantle. Drawing from folk, jangle and punk influences, they write songs about space, heartbreak and colonial landscapes. Featuring members of acts such as Calmly, Shit Narnia and Salary, the band sees longstanding Western Australian musicians trying on new instruments and new ways of writing and playing.


Winners of the BBC Folk Award for Best Duo, Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin combine hauntingly beautiful vocal harmonies and astonishing instrumental virtuosity, with genre-bending material telling tales of myth, history and legend. Phillip Henry is one of UK’s best dobro and harmonica players. His innovative harmonica style combines Country Blues with beat boxing to jaw-dropping effect. Hannah Martin is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Devon. Writing on fiddle, viola and banjo, her songs weave folklore and current events around beautiful melodies and haunting harmonies.

Flats and Sharps

A high-energy bluegrass band from England, Flats and Sharps are known for their own highly original songs, as well as their blistering renditions of bluegrass classics. These incredible young musicians honed their skills in hundreds of live performances over the past seven years, charming and wowing audiences along the way. They’ve come a long way from their humble beginning busking in Penzance as 17-year-olds, to performing at the Proms in Hyde Park London and were invited to the USA, the home of bluegrass, to represent the UK in the 2018 International Bluegrass Music Association’s “World of Bluegrass”.

Bush Gothic

Recently returned from a whirlwind year of international touring, Bush Gothic re-imagine traditional Australian folk music, until the unfashionable is transformed into rebellious beauty. Counter-culturalists who have internalised the creed of bushrangers, this daring trio will turn your expectations about trad music upside down. Favourites of the UK art-folk scene, they were given a five star review in BBC Music Magazine. Their album The Natural Selection Australian Songbook was chosen as a runner up for UK’s Roots Magazine’s Album of the Year, and they have also received the Adelaide Fringe Festival Best Music Weekly Award in 2017 and 2018.

The Maes

Award-winning The Maes (formerly The Mae Trio) are sisters Maggie (banjo/guitar/vocals) and Elsie Rigby (violin/vocals) from Melbourne. Over the last three years the pair have toured extensively, bringing their unique contemporary twist on folk music to audiences in Australia, North America, UK, Ireland, and most recently performing at the legendary Telluride Festival in Colorado.

Download the full Saturday program grid here.

Sunday, April 28

Pencil it in:

Kimber’s Men

Audiences everywhere rave over the harmonies of Kimber’s Men. They’ve appeared at festivals in Ostende, Appingedam, Portmagee, Portsoy, Fano in Denmark, and all over the UK. Featured twice on Sunday Brunch for UK Channel 4, they also starred in the BBC2 and BBC4 production of Sea Songs with Gareth Malone.

Mick Thomas and the Roving Commission

Thomas and the Roving Commission hit the road with their much anticipated Coldwater DFU album. Like its predecessor The Big Don’t Argue – the album made famous by Weddings, Parties, Anything, 30 years ago, this record will find its identity on stage. The Roving Commission 2019 is firing with the inclusion of lap steel maestro Nick O’Mara and alt-folk songbird Jac Tonks (otherwise known as Amarillo). This run of dates also sees Mick and his core band (Squeezebox Wally, Dave Folley and Ben Franz) right up for the task of showing the country the fruits of their labour in studios of Tennessee.

Viaggiatori ft. Kavisha Mazzella

An Aussie world/folk supergroup. Formed in 2006 by veteran Italian/Australian singer-songwriter Kavisha Mazzella to provide a score for the silent film documentary Dall’ Italia All’ Australia, the quartet features Greek bouzouki/mandolin player Irine Vela (Habibis), accordion virtuoso David De Santi (Zumpa) and clarinet/saxophone Mark Holder-Keeping (Cantolibre/Zumpa). With a charming combination of Italian standards, original songs by Mazzella and a touching version of Waltzing Matilda, this all acoustic album chronicles the hopes and memories of our Italian community.


JigJam is a multi-award-winning quartet from the heart of the midlands in Ireland. Blending the best of traditional Irish music with bluegrass and Americana, in a new genre which has been branded as ‘CeltGrass’. Their onstage energy along with their virtuosic musical ability, has captivated audiences throughout the world.


Smooth and tangy to the taste. Butter is a six-piece group from Perth, a concoction of genres churned with the love of soul, jazz and 90s hip-hop. With a range of influences from King Krule, MF Doom and BADBADNOTGOOD, the group have been cutting their teeth on the Perth gig circuit since mid-2018 and the Butter is spreading, with punters flocking to catch their electric live show. A dark blend of boom-bap drums, synths, subtle guitar work, and slinky bass bolstered by classically jazzy trumpet melodies and vocalist Lachy’s unique and distinct half-sung/half-rapped delivery, they released their debut beat tape I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter to a sold-out Mojos crowd.

Download the full Sunday program grid here.