National Folk Festival 2001
A rather mixed bag this year as I really didn't get to play as much as I did last year, in fact I only played the Friday and the Saturday. On Friday I played for about 4 hours with a gap of an hour while a street performer did his act. On Saturday I played for an hour and then was stopped for over three hours while three different street performers did their thing. I guess it's one of those unwritten rules where an act can just set up in front of another act and just do their show without even approaching the other act. There's no way I can compete with street performers that combine juggling knives, balancing in precarious situations and performing bizarre things like stripping and limb tearing gyrations. I simply just have to stop and wait for them to finish before I can continue and the patrons of the festival start moving again. This is not only a problem for me but any vendor that is unfortunate enough to be in the capture range of these street performers. Business just stops! I was rather disappointed and discouraged with this situation and decided that if I wanted to enjoy my stay in Canberra then I would have to take some positive action. I turned into a non-musical tourist and enjoyed myself by taking in the museums, hot air balloons, visiting friends and general site seeing. I did miss the music but was happier than being stopped from performing.
More fun than the National Folk Festival? You'd better believe it!
Check them out - They lifted my spirits :)
I rely on the passing people for my income. I don't charge the festival anything or use any of their resources in fact I pay my own way there, pay for my own accommodation, pay for admission, everything. I have a strong belief that there is a niche that is not being filled by the festival. The niche is acoustic music. Music performed without any amplification that is close to the people so that they can become involved with my act. If someone has questions about my instruments, the songs, anything well that's fine. I just stop playing and chat with them. Some people just stop walking and dance, others just sing along and that's great.
Festivals design venues that have large stages, large PA's and lots of seats. This does have the advantage of letting more patrons attend a single gig, but it does have the downside that the sound level is higher and there is less interaction between the performer and the fans. Because the sound level is higher and nearly always enhances the bass end of the sound, the sound travels a lot further than the edges of the venue. This is sound spill. Pollution as I see it. A new venue was added this year and that added to the sound spill making performances by truly acoustic performers that much more difficult.
The Canberra Times used the same picture of me they used last year in their Thursday edition and I have to admit that was great. I had people in Safeway and other places coming up to me saying "I'll see you at the festival". I just found it disappointing that I wasn't able to perform with the same degree of freedom I had last year.
I was very happy that the instrument lockup has moved and there is an elevator to reach the 1st floor. Last year there was just stairs and that was very difficult to negotiate with my loaded up trolley. This year was a breeze.
Phil from the National Junk Band showed me his new acoustic lap steel guitar made by Greg Beeton, a truly wonderful instrument. Phil sure is a lucky guy. Good to see Quenton Fraser playing Dobro style as well as double bass. I didn't catch up with Garry Brown's little duo playing slide and cello. I did hear good reports though.