Happy folk, keep play­ing happy folk

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music -

IT’S that time of year again when the fancy of many a young south­erner ( and not a few older ones as well) turns to trav­el­ling north, not just for the beaches but for one of our most suc­cess­ful hu­man con­gre­ga­tions, the an­nual Wood­ford Folk Fes­ti­val. Like Wood­stock with­out the ex­cess, like Al­ta­mont with­out the vi­o­lence, Wood­ford is a safe place where a seven- year- old, as one fes­ti­val- goer in this in­spired DVD tells us, can wan­der hap­pily for three days and come to no harm. Held for six days and six nights ( De­cem­ber 27 to Jan­uary 1), Wood­ford show­cases 2000 to 3000 per­form­ers in 400 events. Ob­vi­ously, any amount of writ­ten de­scrip­tion can only fall short of the Wood­ford ex­pe­ri­ence. Next to be­ing there, this DVD comes as close as you can get. Based in the tiny vil­lage of Wood­ford, be­tween the Bris­bane Val­ley and Queens­land’s Sun­shine Coast hin­ter­land, the set­ting is ap­pro­pri­ately idyllic, and the fes­ti­val or­gan­is­ers rec­om­mend full im­mer­sion for the to­tal ex­pe­ri­ence, which means camp­ing on site, sur­rounded by nat­u­ral bush­land framed by the Glass House Moun­tains. This is the third DVD of record made by Justin Brown of Browndog and he has done a mag­nif­i­cent job this year of cap­tur­ing the soul of the fes­ti­val, the won­ders of the street, the joy of the chil­dren, the un­be­liev­able en­ergy and bril­liance of the per­form­ers and, in rain and blis­ter­ing sun, of the ap­pre­cia­tive crowds. While the names ( the John But­ler Trio hardly need play as the crowd seems to know ev­ery note) are there, it’s Brown’s habit of wan­der­ing into a tent to find an ac­cor­dion band in full sway or a white- suited harpist belt­ing out Span­ish folk songs that makes this DVD so en­gag­ing. Peo­ple ev­ery­where look in­cred­i­bly re­laxed and ( can it be so?) happy.

Ian Cuth­bert­son

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