There’s GOLD in them there Woodford Folk Festival hills

As the reputation of Gold Coast’s cultural scene breaks out of the confines of the city, a partnership between the well-established Woodford Folk Festival and the City of Gold Coast has evolved. At the 2015/16 Woodford Folk Festival, over ten acts with strong links to the Gold Coast performed, resulting in a move some described – tongue firmly in cheek – as a Gold Rush.

Hanlon Brothers, the reigning Emerging Artist of the Year at the Gold Coast Music Awards, got people moving on the Woodford dance floors over three evenings with their hip-hop and funk tunes, after picking up the gig when Woodford festival programmers attended the Burleigh Brewing hosted awards ceremony back in June and liked what they heard. Beyond the Hanlon boys, whose links to the Gold Coast span a generation or two via their father’s local and touring performances and the music teaching they still offer at the Burleigh Arcade, Gold Coaster Nadia Sunde performed 19 times in a variety of acts including the Inaugural Annual Dance Affair, children’s festival favourite “The Treasure of Captain Curlylocks” and with calypso-flavoured babes “The Bella Fontes”. Ten years a reggae performer, Claire Cottone (known as CC the Cat), lit up late nights along with the Tijuana Cartel. The Gold Coast’s Tijuana Cartel are led by Paul George, whose Middle-eastern and Spanish inspired beats are layered over guitar riffs. Late evenings also featured the Cheap Fakes, whose guitarist is none other than Currumbin’s Love Street Studio boss Scotty French.

Even the volunteers weren’t spared Gold Coast leadership with vocal-looping acoustic musician Josh Lovegrove steering a group of 30 gate volunteers, and then popping up on stage for a workshop hosted by Mr Percival, with 400 or so Woodfordians singing about not wanting to go home yet.

The diversity of Gold Coast talent was unique. Adding to the musicians were Kristy Seymour, an accomplished circus trapeze artist, whose work documenting the impact circus training is having on the lives of certain children on the autism spectrum is transforming the lives of families across the city, and further afield. Her PhD addressing the history of circus in Australia will also be quite an interesting read. Michael Aird, local indigenous historian on the Gold Coast, spoke as part of a panel discussing currency, indigenous trade and the future of economics and barter in Australia, which was quite pertinent as Woodford introduced their own currency for the first year, the Fordia (trades at about $2.50AU:1)

The Swell Sculpture girls Natasha, Ruth and Kate had a hand in the fit-out of the famous Bill’s Bar, where the secret Passenger gig was hosted by Mr Hauritz, the festival director himself. That partnership has been one of mentoring for some time and seen mutual success, and the beautiful face at night seen smiling from across the gully was quite the drawcard to Bill’s Bar. Finally, Kate McDonald’s Inaugural Annual Dance Affair, commissioned at our very own Bleach Festival 2015, made its Woodford debut and the participatory dance theatre experience met rave reviews from visitors keen to cut a rug and observe the best the ballroom has to offer our local communities.

It is hoped that as the Commonwealth Games approaches in 2018, the partnership can continue to develop for mutual benefit of both the Queensland Folk Federation, creators of the Woodford Folk Festival, and the Gold Coast cultural scene. Next year, we hope that Gold Rush can continue.

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