Cobargo Folk Festival delivers again

Sunday 24 February at the Folk Festival. Kicked off with Michael Menager and Friends in Magpie tent. Michael, from Tantawangalo, plays guitar and sings his own songs, shades of Arlo Guthrie in their simplicity. It’s all in the lyrics, which are personal, confessional, wry and honest. Michael was accompanied by friends Heath Cullen (guitar, banjo) and Ricky Henderson (guitar).

Next up at the same venue: Peter Anderson, playing Appalachian Dulcimer and piano accordion. Can you imagine Buffalo Gals on dulcimer? He did it.

Over to Mumbulla tent for Mike Martin of Candelo, delivering the usual all-original, heartfelt, leftist, green, foot-tapping social commentary. Great stuff. Accompanied by Lindsay Martin (no relation) on fiddle. Felicity, a ballad about abuse in all its guises, was beautiful. And then Mike’s son Sam arrived, with his contagious grin, to accompany him on mandolin for Paid my Dues, about surviving on the music scene.

Can I stop for a moment to mention the flies? One thing for us in the audience, with a free hand or two for the ‘aussie salute’, but how would it be, up on stage with both hands engaged, flies free-ranging all over your face? Will power, mind over matter, whatever – performers, I salute you!

Melanie Horsnell, also from Candelo, was next. Her two little girls arrived soon enough, the younger one sitting between Melanie’s feet for the duration. No problem. Melanie kept Gypsy and the audience happy with songs of love, strength and fragility, observational and melodic. She has the sweetest sound. Robyn Martin got up to accompany her on bass and Heath Cullen on guitar, Robyn’s partner Sam rounding up the troops of Candelo kids, stage right.

What is it about Candelo? It must be in the water. Profoundly musical, creative, eternally supportive of each other – one huge, friendly, smiling tribe, even the few not called Martin. It warms my heart to see them milling around each other’s acts, onstage or off.

Still in Mumbulla, Texan blues artist Frank Macias and his band Los Amigos upped the tempo and volume to get the crowd hollering and clapping in time. And there was Sam Martin again, reincarnated as an Amigo… Then Doug de Vries played Brazil-tinged guitar, some lovely bossa nova and more. Local Markus Kuchenbuch got up to accompany him on flute. Then Mal Webb arrived to add some sublime percussive scat on the last number, mesmerising the audience and making me wish I could stay for his act, but I was determined to catch Scott Cook, Canuck troubadour and last-minute entry to the Festival.

Supported by instant band Heath Cullen and Lindsay Martin (those Candeloons again!), Scott entranced the audience in Yuin venue with his black-molasses voice and whimsical lyrics. He opened with ode to the wilderness and love song Fish Jumpin (…pollywogs wogglin, insects getting it on and minds bogglin, well, smoke dragons, happy hounds waggin, flies and butterflies ziggin and zaggin …) and finished with a beautiful rendition of Kermit’s Rainbow Connection, which I hadn’t heard for much too long.

Suffice to say, went home happy.

First published in The Triangle community newspaper, April 2014

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