Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Festival Frolics

Aah, the National Folk Festival. Four days of cider, music and mayhem. Well, less mayhem than usual, because it seemed to have less street entertainment this year, apart from all the daggy buskers. I am having trouble with my ISP at the moment, so I'll keep this brief in case I get cut off, but I also have the spare time and if I don't write now this will never be recorded, so here goes:

Highlights were

Kristina Olsen. I'm in love with her. She is funny as hell and just as dark when she wants to be. A very earthy, sexy singer. I bought her latest cd, In Your Darkened Room, which she calls 'the one I made for me', a much more sombre production than her usual efforts. She might as well have made it for me as well, because it struck so many chords (sorry) and I've been playing it non-stop for days. The title track is one of those songs that sticks in your head. I ran into her in the NFF streets and told her as much, which was a nice moment (for me, anyway). She did seem chuffed, as she seems a bit uncertain of the album's reception.

Fred Smith's movie Bougainville Sky. It is about to be released. Do yourself a favour. It is excellent. Best Beloved thinks it has too much Fred Smith in it, but I say that is the whole point. The filmmaker wanted to make a film about Fred and his work in Bougainville. Therefore, lots of Fred. And since Fred is not ugly, it doesn't hurt. And it is a very good documentary about the peace process. I came away feeling like stuff CAN happen. People CAN negotiate. Things CAN get done. And I don't feel like that very often.

The ABBA covers competition. Every year they have a competition around some band or song. One year it was Stairway to Heaven, highly unoriginal but lots of fun. Last year it was any song from Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks. This year it was any ABBA song. My main complaint is that when you choose a cult band to have fun with, you shouldn't provide eensie-weensie venues for the heats. Each heat was well overflowing, with many turning away in disappointment. I like the heats because they're a sort of sampler for the festival talent, but I had no hope of seeing anything without being there an hour in advance, and life's too short. So I contented myself with the finals, which were held in a nice big venue (still standing room only though). Of the finalists, the Spooky Men's Choir did an excellent job of Dancing Queen, and Sophie Raymond turned Mamma Mia into a grouse country & western number; I thought the Spooky Men won on the audience meter, but Sophie apparently had the X factor and won. She said (and I agree) that the prize, a bag of ABBA stuff bought over time on E-bay, was easier to give to one person than sixteen people.

Balloon-moulding. Best Beloved has a friend who has recently retired from the Public Service who is a Master balloon-thingy-maker. I use the term advisedly because he makes incredible things. I happened upon him last night in mid-making and watched him generate an adjustable hat of gold teddybear 'headlights' (his term) with silver embellishments. I do have a photo which I'll mount later on (can't get to the camera at this moment, have cat on lap).

The Festival Western Swing Band. Lucky Oceans went nuts with some mates to produce some excellent music which blurred the boundaries between blues, C&W and jazz. One of the best things about it was watching the couple who could really dance go nuts to the music, over in the corner of the Budawang.

The odd people. This is always the best thing about any public occasion, but especially one involving folkies. The fashions (hem hem)! The hairstyles! The bloke who was a spitting image of the ex-junkie counsellor on Little Britain! The excess of rainbow colours! The overdose of felt! I spent a lot of time on the streets, sitting at my brother-in-law's stall (Never Give Up) and sitting at the back of concerts looking around rather than forward. No end of things and people to see. Totally worth the entry price.


Anonymous said...

Hi, I was interested to hear your comments on Bougainville Sky. I went and was surprised at how packed the cinema was--couldn't work out if they were all Fred Smith fans or people with a Bougainville connection/etc. I also thought there was too much Fred but, as you said, too much Fred is often not enough anyway, so it wasn't such a disappointment. My partner, however, hated it and thought it pretentious. Cynic!

Ampersand Duck said...

Good on you, Sarah. Maybe it's a bit of a girl/boy dichotomy! I'll be interested in reading what the reviews are like. OK, yes there was a LOT of Fred, but no worse than any other male musician with a camera within cooee. At least he was doing something a bit worthwhile, eh?