Victor Harbour Folk Festival

Issue 

By Stan Lee The small, usually sedate coastal town of Victor Harbor on the Fleurieu Peninsula 80 kms south of Adelaide was this year's venue for South Australia's annual Folk and Music Festival between September 29 and October 2. Despite the wind and rain, "regulars" and "newbies" from all walks of life revelled in the vast diversity of performances over the long weekend. Few musical tastes would not have been satisfied. From the infectious African rhythms of performer Jean Paul Wobatai to the haunting 12th century tunes of Cantigas and many more in between, the festival offered a veritable smorgasbord of musical talent. Only at a folk festival would you find world music, blues, country & bluegrass, Celtic, bush and many more styles happily performing side by side with nothing between them and the rain but a stretch of canvas and ravenous seagulls. The 70-plus acts included international performers from Northern Ireland, Jamaica and India to name but a few. Judy Small, one-time National Folk Performer of the Year performed at the SA festival for the first time. In addition to the wealth of interstate talent were many well known South Australian artists including John Schumann, Sabor Latino, The Borderers, Weird of Mouth, Dya Singh and Greg Baker's Blues Party. There were, however, some gaps. The most notable was the absence of Aboriginal performers. If they were present, their presence was not highlighted in any of the official programs. I certainly hope that the close proximity of Victor Harbor to a particular "bridge-inspired" inquiry was not the reason for the absence of aboriginal performers. The usual dilemma at any large folk festival is who to see and who to miss out. The find of the festival for me was the extremely talented all-women's group, Fruit. Performing after Judy Small is no easy task yet this group of six women exploded on stage, forcing many in the audience onto their feet to dance to their diverse repertoire of original songs. The six women in Fruit all hail from different bands. Yet together they make a dynamic combination. They have developed a great live act which generates such an atmosphere that it is extremely difficult to stay still in your seat. Fruit have not been together all that long yet they display a cohesiveness usually reserved for groups of long standing. Without doubt this is one group that have the potential to go a long way.

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