“All music is folk music. I ain’t ever heard a horse sing a song.” – Louis Armstrong.
It might be a simple sentiment, but it’s also a quaint reminder of one of music’s most powerful and empowering qualities. Songwriting is approached in wildly different ways by the different personalities and cultures that bring it to life. The Fremantle Folk Festival cast of 2017 celebrates the diversity of voices telling the story of our corner of the world. There is a strong focus on artists that have their stories rooted in deep in Western Australia’s sandy soil. BRAYDEN EDWARDS takes a look at just a few of the amazing acts we think you should check out at the Fremantle Folk Festival 2017 happening this Saturday, October 14 at Princess May Park and Clancy’s Fish Pub, Fremantle.
There might be some familiar faces and names on this line-up, but there is a wealth of talent on display right across the festival program. The Pigram Brothers are a national treasure, intimately portraying the colourful experiences of living in the Kimberley. Perth’s breakout artist of 2017 Stella Donnelly is a fresh and expressive voice for young women in Australia, with a gift for candidly surmising the personal and political with stunning vocals and deceptive simplicity.
Multiple WAM Award winner Timothy Nelson has been a staple on the Perth music scene for several years now, however his latest album Words Like Young saw him to rise to new heights with rich lyricism and storytelling. Whether it be the infectious grooves Soukouss Internationale, the irresistible pop smarts of Eskimo Joe’s Kav Temperley, the roots mastery of Toby or the gravelly blues of Old Blood, this is the kind of occasion where everyone can come together and celebrate not just what it means to be human, but what it means to be human in WA in 2017.
Racoo Charles with the Moke Folk: 12.40pm at Clancy’s Fish Pub
Get down to the Clancy’s stage early in the afternoon to let Racoo Charles and the Moke Folk get you up and going for the day. The group offer a very Freo flavoured mix of banjo, mandolin, slide guitar and ukulele delivered with bouncy melodies that swerve from the joyous to the bizarre. A perfect setting for that first pint.
Taste Test: Live at Beaufort St Songwriters Club (video)
Timothy Nelson: 2.00pm on the Main Stage, Princess May Park.
Timothy Nelson is one of Perth’s premier songwriters and most recognisable musicians on the local scene. Over the past decade he has been part of a number of acclaimed acts such as Timothy Nelson and the Infidels, High Horse and The Kill Devil Hills. It’s seen him score a staggering number of accolades across multiple fields, including WAM Awards for Best Male Vocalist, Best Keys/Synth Artist, Best Album, Best Folk Act and Song of The Year – just to name a few! Timothy Nelson finally released his first ever solo album Words Like Young late last year, and it’s been another profound step forward for the artist, taking straight forward power-pop, alt-country and classic rock and roll and forging it into a sound that is uniquely his own.
Taste Test: We Never Change
Stella Donnelly: 4.05pm on the Main Stage, Princess May Park.
Stella Donnelly has been Perth’s breakout artist of 2017 so far. The singer-songwriter was already riding a wave of hype as the guitarist for feminist-punk act Boat Show, who have had an outstanding year in their own right. Their energetic live shows have seen them score support slots for major touring acts like Pond, Shonen Knife and The Preatures, while their debut album Groundbreaking Masterpiece came second place in the X-Press Top 20 Albums of 2017 so far list in July.
Stella Donnelly bought her own voice to the front in April with her EP Thrush Metal, which struck a chord that seems to be resonating over the entire country. With the music stripped back to just the guitar, her exceptional vocal range and captivating lyrics are on full display. She recently took out the coveted Levi’s Music Prize at Big Sound Festival in Brisbane, and is becoming more and more sought after on the national stage with festival dates seemingly being added to her touring schedule every week. Her performance this Saturday is a great opportunity to catch an exceptional emerging local talent on the cusp of even bigger and better things.
Taste Test: Mean To Me
Salary: 5.40pm at Clancy’s Fish Pub.
Folk music is all about personality, and what could deliver that better than a nine-piece band that allows each member to shine in their own unique way. The group follows the lead of frontman Sean Gorman who provides a refreshingly honest insights with thoughtful and emotive lyricism. Even still, the greatness of this band lies in the depth and breadth of the expression, with accordion, mandolin, saxophone and synthesiser colouring the palate it’s an experience that will see you appreciate how diverse musical styles and backgrounds can be masterfully channelled into a collective vision.
Taste Test: Mini Moke.
The Pigram Brothers. 7.30pm on the Main Stage, Princess May Park.
You might not hear them a great deal on the major stations in Perth, but spend a few days in the Kimberley and you’ll be bound to get a daily dose of The Pigram Brothers on just about every local radio program. The Broome act are absolute icons of the region with stories that paint a vivid and intimate portrait of the unique lifestyle and landscape of the people there. It will be a special performance for the seven brothers on Saturday as they celebrate the 20 year anniversary of their classic debut album Saltwater Country. The group have a long-standing history of celebrating indigenous culture in Broome, with members forming the original backing band for Jimmy Chi’s acclaimed 1990 musical Bran Nue Dae.
Taste test: Johnny Walker’s Shoes
Soukouss Internationale: 9.00pm on the Main Stage, Princess May Park.
If you live in Perth and haven’t caught this act live yet, you really need to reassess your priorities in life. Soukouss Internationale are WA’s premier party-starters with larger-than-life live performances showcasing live dancers and an infectious blend of world-music grooves. The seven-piece stir up a musical pot of rhythms with soukouss, zouk, lingala, congolese rumba and more that will see you shrug off cares in life and shake it like a polaroid picture. Soukouss Internationale are perfectly placed as the closing act on the main stage promising a fun and positive end to the evening at Princess May Park.
Taste Test: Introducing the Dancers (video)
Old Blood: 10.40pm at Clancy’s Fish Pub.
While the main stage might be winding down, it doesn’t mean you have to as well. At the end of the night make sure you’re right up front at Clancy’s Fish Pub to catch Old Blood send off the night with style and a little more volume. Their husky and soulful vocals are backed by exceptionally talented musicians, with songs that tip their hat to delta blues classics as well as contemporary alternative rock translating into blistering live shows.
Taste Test: Medicine Man (Live)