Wed 31 Dec 2008
Travelling to the much esteemed Woodford Folk Festival from Airlie Beach by car can seem a chore, but in theory the rewards should far out way the distance. The once a year post Christmas mayhem of a hillside carnival of music, carrying on over many days has quite the reputation.
Mate Jo and I had purchased our tickets online during the drive, to supposedly save money. Once the online fees were factored, there may have been a single dollar saved.... but that required brain power - which is simply not the Woodford way.
Upon arrival at the festival you had to be immediately impressed with the scale and organisation of the event. The quickly filling morning car park was teaming with vollies, keen to point you to a car park and the entry "pavilion" had multiple queues to deal with the various types of entering folk.
Inside we meandered up the small valley consumed by he event and happened one of the 8, or so performance tent to joined the packed house and witness a nice Scottish fellow , who's one man act was definitely folk with sing-a-long songs about the sea and harvesting the fields. The man was a great entertainer, who would re-tune his guitar while saying something funny in a deeply accented Scottish voice, that would always get a laugh in a similar way that Billy Connolly is constantly funny.
From there, we wandered for food and both found our way to an interesting stage and bar called the "Bazaar". Here Mr Percival was doing this thing, recording his own sound to be replayed in 5 second loops while he sang over the top. The assembled seated crowd were impressed, and the less interested chilled on the busted old lounges and various platform seating of the beer tent, who's tent was made from old vinyl billboard signs for an interesting scenic effect. This was a great place to enjoy a beer and people watch. One thing that seemed obvious was the effort some went to for the hippie/folk appearance to match the festival theme. While Jo and I bummed in our normal NQ beach front shorts, shirts and pink hat (Jo, not me), quite a few in the crowd were obvious city workers dying to "folk out" in hemp, hippie bikini tops, hair to match and some elaborate but basic footwear. Quite a feast for the eyes really.
As the morning ebbed into afternoon, we ended up at "The Grande" where a Brisbane / Valley rock outfit of minor years punched out some rock & ballads that sounded like someone, but were none the less entertaining. It was worth a dance, and quite a few including the writer made the effort.
The hillside beckoned for a beer and a nap as the coming New Year's night approached. Having already received your money's worth, one had to ponder how to make the best of the entire week and camp on site. This immediately earned you the right to a blue wristband, which, apparently, made you friends instantly in the "your worth it" stakes of being around for the duration. Our daily coloured band felt almost lead weighted in the social stakes, or perhaps seemingly smelt of 3 week old dead rabbit... but who cares.
A further tour of the site in the afternoon revealed more music, more folk, and more venues. the massive program variously displayed through out the site showed that we had missed the likes of Ash Grinwald, and other name acts that must be elsewhere now prepared for a money spinning new years gig.
Making the most of the musical also-rans was an absolute pleasure though. Under a slight beer haze, there was Pungra / Indian dance music, Ska, Reggae, and more along with the mystical 11.30, 3 minute silence. Viewed at the amphitheater, the many thousand crowd shushed for the duration with candles glowing. The effect was impressive the life of the nearby forest and farm embraced the crowd, with the sounds of crickets and a moo-ing cow.
The night continued until it was time to find digs for the night. The trusty picnic blanket carried for the day became a sausage roll crust on the hillside as this sausage endevoured to keep warm. Some sleep was barely possible but the hours escaped until dawn approached.
In what seemed a finale for the festival, near everyone makes way to the top of a hill otherside (which I had bedded down here to start with, note for next year) to watch the sun come up adj to the glass house mountains. As if the first sunrise was being observed the oo-ah of the 1000+ assembled was set to the rhythm of Himalayan music. The mystic value of the event was displaced by further fun supplied by crowd antics.
First up were the trio made of a young lad and two girls. The hippiness of the event was celebrated by them with a nude prance up the road and through the crowd, much to the mirth of those assembled. Complete with gold waist jewelry flowers in hair, they celebrated their hippiness in fine style. Next up were a small group that encircled themselves in a hulla-hoop and announced themselves loadly to the crowd that they had formed a band. In the hilarity, they proclaimed their measure of headline Woodword 09', loosing their virginity in the band and being all over YouTube. For instant humour, they were funny.
Only to top these acts was the final performer, nude except for a beard and pubic hair a fire stick twirler matched down the access road doing his thing. Soon confronted by a departing 4 x 4, he stood in its way, fire stick imposing, and took the plunge. Seconds later he was over the bonnet and onto the roof. From his elevated platform he announced his new years resolutions. Clothes was not one of them. The fire spinning continued as you could sense the car driver was paralysed by fear or moving and toppling his performer. Unrelenting the nude fire performance continued, until the driver took the initiative and rolled off down the hill.
Complete by this, the hillside crowd dispersed for chi tea, and other hippie breakfast faire. Jo was no where to be found, having headed out and slept by the car. Reunited and sausage feed, the hung over quiet of Woodford new years morning collapsed into a departure for a sunshine coast beach swim and catch up with friends... but that's another story