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Folk by the Sea Review

Mixing the genres of folk, world, roots, Celtic, Bluegrass and gypsy music the intimate Folk by the Sea festival in Kiama is one that will expose you to artists that will inspire and evoke feelings with bringing music back to its core. With it’s second year running Folk by the Sea had ironed-out their procedures from last year to create a festival that brought every age together.

Folk by the sea 2014

With three days of sweet sunshine and wondrous folk music for the both veteran or novice folk fan, Kiama’s Folk by The Sea festival proved to be a resounding success.

In works with the Illawarra Folk Festival, which is in its 30th year this year, the festival spanned over three days. Each day took a different form to cater for all different settings to showcase music. The Friday and Saturday events had acts in 5-6 different venues to enable as many artists to showcase their talents. Many different artists played across these two days and some with numerous appearances so that each artist was available to the public to see at least once. Thus it gave the audience a well rounded and in depth view of the acts Folk By The Sea had to offer.

Sunday however was centred on one venue. The show took place in Hindmarsh Park at the centre of the town. This, unlike the past two days, was a free event and due to its location could be attended by all. And everyone came, set up their picnic rugs and got out the nibbles. With the sun shining and the cooling ocean breeze, everyone settled in to delight their ears to the array of talent that they were about to experience.

So what kind of artists played at the festival? Whilst there were over 30 artists that played at the festival there were four that stood out for me.

The first was the Penny Hartgerink Trio, the folky side project from the lead singer of Penny and the Mystics. The three musicians, Penny, Tess and Izaac, performed a mixture of original tracks as well as covers, like The Lumineers Ho Hey. The folk and country mix that came from the use of guitar, electric guitar, ukulele, tambourine and maracas gave the audience a mesmerising experience that was enriched from their effortless harmonies.

The second act that stood out was from a group discovered by Triple J Unearthed. We Came for Dinosaurs have taken the acoustic music scene and given it a fresh outlook through their lyrical originals and rhythmically soothing sounds. The trio, Georgia, Jack and Chris, also took songs like Blink 182 Dammit and gave it an acoustic twist to put their own stamp on such an iconic song. As the trio says, “We Came for Dinosaurs and we were bitterly disappointed. Because dinosaurs are extinct. Unlike our music, which is fresh and all about living.” Definitely looking forward to see more instalments from them in the future.

Young singer/ songwriter Joe Mungovan is another Triple J Unearthed artist and is also the winner of the Telstra Road to Discovery’s Sydney heat. His roots and indie music sounded like a mix between Dallas Green and Boy & Bear with a raspy voice that showcases the lyricism and emotion. His unique style shows great promise and will also be another artist to look out for in the future.

The final act that stood out for me was from an artist who debut was back on our TV screens in 2006. Winning Australian Idol Damien Leith‘s alternative rock and pop sounds have been overtaken with a more raw and stripped back sensibility. Showing his folk, acoustic and Irish talents, the man with the angelic voice showcased originals from his new album Chapter 7. With his takes on Danny Boy, Crying and Hallelujah  his spellbinding performance left the audience breathless and simply in awe of his seamless vocal range. Mixing audience interaction and his larrikin Irish humour, Damien finished his set with a standing ovation.

So for those interested in going to Folk by the Sea next year, the question is is there accommodation available? Yes, yes there is. Camping is available in the Kiama  Showground for the duration of the festival. With hot showers available as well at the central location – camping is a great option for those who want to attend the festival with a budget that wont break the bank. For others that have a fatter piggy bank there are a variety of accommodation options from beachside cabins and caravan parks to hotels available around town.

Kiama’s Folk by the Sea was a great 3-day festival experience that showcased a great array of talent. With such musical success this year I cant wait to see what is to come next year. For those interested you definitely wont be disappointed.

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