They tell me over 132,000 visited the Woodford Folk Festival this year, which was the biggest number ever. The festival’s growth as a mecca for lovers of music, arts and culture between Christmas and New Year might be no surprise to those who have ventured two hours north into the Sunshine Coast Hinterland and enjoyed the vibrant and welcoming atmosphere of Woodford for the event. The “mega-village” of Woodfordia really does evolve out of a quiet farm property and its planned layout, separating sleeping areas from noisy areas, and encouraging a bit of physical activity between venues increases the chances of accidental rendezvous and community engagement. If you haven’t been yet, I encourage a visit.
If the lovely setting wasn’t enough, there are a bunch of Gold Coasters who make the trek each year, and this year was no exception. The 2016 lineup featured a bunch of artistic gems with close links to the Gold Coast. Bobby Alu and his Palm Royale opened my schedule this year, and at 11.00am on the opening Thursday had the Tropic stage pumping with his chilled island music and rhythmic drumming. He packed every venue and hosted a “tropical” New Years Eve party that was raved about. Karl S Williams, who resided in sleepy Austinville in the Gold Coast Hinterland before his current Melbourne stint, impressed the crowd with some new material and some familiar stuff and reminded everyone how sad they should be before they headed to the bar to drown their sorrow. Josh Lovegrove, who made his name as a vocal looping guru across the Gold Coast at various beach cafes while studying at Uni, hosted workshops with Mr Percival. This was Lovegrove’s eighth Woodford and he released his newest single to some impress merch sales and interested fans. The ladies from Swell Sculpture Festival fitted out Bill’s Bar again and profiled our unique beachside arts event held in Currumbin every year.
The Gold Coast highlight for me was a newcomer, Emily Wurramara, who identifies with her indigenous Groote Eylandt lineage and homeland and has spent significant time recently within our city limits. Woodford punters raved about Wurramara, along with Yirrmal’s energy and enthusiasm, and it was announced she would play the February 2017 Folk Alliance International event in Kansas City (USA) in the Aussie contingent. This is great news for this young artist and another example of Woodford’s capacity to shape careers for aspiring young musicians from the Gold Coast.
Images (c) Jude Kalman, Fotomedia