Five days in a virtually perfect world: How I recreated the National Folk Festival at home this Easter
Greetings Globetrotters and welcome to a special Easter edition of your GTG. Quite a different one this year when many of us would be meeting with family and friends and travelling to all sorts of events. I would normally spend Easter in Canberra at the National Folk Festival catching up with people I only see once a year and hearing a unique and diverse range of music and performance from around the world. The festival theme is ‘five days in a perfect world’. This special edition, as creator of the GTG, I describe how I managed to stay sane and recreate what I could at home in the midst of the current health epidemic gripping the world.
Volunteers and festival community
The volunteers and festival regulars always make the festival. Great music is of course essential but that can get a little dull without people to appreciate it. This year I have joined a number of others in a festival volunteers group page where people have been sharing what they have been up to. The more creative among these have also continued their communication with their volunteer teams carrying on as if uninterrupted, asking volunteers to report for duty or reporting back on their shifts.
A folk festival wouldn’t really be one without music. Fortunately, one long-term festival goer in particular has put together a fantastic playlist called five days in a perfect playlist which features a back catalogue of most artists who have come through the festival dating back to the early 1990s when the festival first settled in Canberra. I have had this going all Easter and there is still enough to keep me going for weeks!
Eat, drink and be merry
Food and drink are usually a highlight of any festival and the National Folk Festival is no exception. It’s Easter after all so I saw no reason to break from the traditional hot cross buns and Easter eggs. We’re folkies, not savages. I did however order in some of the Hills Apple and Ginger cider which is a festival favourite beverage. Of course the proper way to enjoy a festival cider is in the specially-made festival mugs. While I didn’t think of it myself, kudos to the festival friend who set herself up with Kranskis and Sauerkraut in honour of the German kitchen huts that have been feeding festival goers at all hours since the early 90s. 🌭
Folk festivals are not a place for freeloaders. There are usually any number of workshops including instrument-making, different styles of singing and dancing, playing instruments and songwriting. This Easter I up-skilled by learning how to record multi-track vocals on my phone, then how to use Sound Cloud to share said recordings as a link online. Pretty productive if you ask me. Probably due to the extra sleep I’ve had this year.
Practice and performance
Folk festivals are places where musicians and dancers gather. Many choose to contribute and participate by filling a blackboard spot which is essentially an open mic where those not on the program can have a go. With no black boards in action this year. I decided to add making videos to my new list of skills and have shared a video of a song each day that I would have turned into a spot including an attempt to recreate a singing session. Festivals also give us some down time to practice in a welcome and encouraging environment , this year I even dragged out my guitar and gave it a good run which I haven’t done much since I started playing mandolin.
This one may sound obvious but a number of artists and organisations have chipped in with streaming gigs allowing us at home to view some past favourites and acts who were scheduled to perform this year including a range streamed out of the festival’s Facebook page.
All in all it’s been a very different Easter but the music, merriment and creation have continued not just in my home but in many. Your GTG hopes you remain safe and well and is as always keen to hear the creative ways you have been keeping yourself amused while in lockdown. Until next time.