Woodford Folk Festival: day four reflections

Expectations rule the festival experience. Set them high, or specific, and the chances of disappointment can be high. Have an open mind, and get ready to experience whatever an event throws at you, maybe with just a simple but flexible plan, and the universe rarely disappoints.
So it was with day four. We’ll start at the end and work back.
It’s 12.30am. We just finished hearing from UK indie singer-songwriter Passenger. No, he’s not on the Woodford bill. Yes, it really was him. Well… him and Stu Larsen. It was more like a campfire singalong really. About 200 people crammed into Bill’s Bar for the unannounced special secret concert, lifting their voices to Scare Away The Dark, The Boxer and Let Her Go, amongst other faves in an hour long set. Moments like these are what makes live music awesome, sitting around feeling special and surprised with people you love. Passenger seemed genuinely pleased to be hosting the intimate affair, having played to stadiums over past months with Ed Sheeran, and spoke of longing to return to enjoying a more personal almost-busking experience.
Passenger and Larsen’s little set was in contrast (at least in style) to another surprise for Festival punters earlier in the evening, when Hanlon Brothers (pictured) lit up the Songlines tent. While relatively unknown here, the reigning “Emerging Artist of the Year” winners at the Gold Coast Music Awards have been on the rise for a while, and showed their talent around 8pm accelerating from 0-100 in quick time, just like the high performance vehicles they are. Roman MC was in strong form, his beaming smile spitting rhymes to curious festival goers beckoning them to fill the dance floor. And fill it they did. Within minutes, the floor was full and patrons were writhing to the smooth voice of Matt Saunoa and the Hanlon namesake anchors on bass and drums. I was a proud Gold Coaster. New fan Fred Baker took to Facebook to express his love;
“No joke u guys blew my mind best music i have heard ever u have have a new for life fan will see u at seven to watch u rock woodford”
As we rewind the day, there’d been plenty of giggles at the Comedy debate “That one person can change the world”, with Mal Webb, Harley Breen and Dave Callan amongst others laughing it up with crowd, and ultimately resolving nothing while entertaining everyone (which could be considered a pretty good argument for the affirmative). Cronulla boys Hot Potato band, (who play January 2 at Helensvale’s Night Quarter) funked up the Bluestown tent and the Starboard Cannons impressed again, this time in the Pineapple Lounge, with their Australiana folk from Mullumbimby the perfect addition to augment a sunny Queensland afternoon.
The Parlour had been pumping all festival and the day started with a number of acts back to back who impressed and filled the tent, possibly unexpectedly. A lovely singing lesson from Hat Fitz & Cara, the gypsy jazz of the smooth and talented Ewan Mackenzie and his Swing Dynamique, and a gauntlet throw-down featuring Circus versus HipHop. Despite the admirable efforts of Hanlon Brothers’ Roman MC stirring up a storm for the HipHop team, the oiled and muscled bodies of the circus team prevailed, to the delight of the female judges. Rigged!
With only two days left, and a big New Year’s Eve expected, the veritable goldrush of Gold Coast acts at Woodford continue to impress, and the cultural momentum of the city, leveraging the phenomenal success of 2015’s Woodford Folk Festival for mutual benefit.

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