Misty Mountains Cold

As per last year, Pamela and I went up to Katoomba for the Blue Mountains Music Festival, an annual shindig devoted to folk/jazz/blues. Robert went off to stay with a friend so we had the weekend to ourselves. It was, of course, wet and freezing but that’s Katoomba for you.

The standout act for us this year was Truckstop Honeymoon, a husband and wife act playing banjo, guitar (him) and acoustic bass (her) and both of them singing. The name apparently came from the fact that they ended up spending their wedding night at the Tiger Truck Stop, somewhere between Lafayette and the Atchafalya Swamp.

They have four kids, who they usually take on tour with them (!) and many of their songs resonate with anyone who has children. Songs about marriage, families and life on the road. Classic stuff.

We also caught:

ℵ a group call Mojo Juju and the Snake Oil Merchants who do a sort of 1920’s speakeasy grunge jazz which was a lot of fun.

Dougie Maclean, a Scottish singer who is married to one of Pamela’s vast collection of cousins. Good Scottish folk music.

ℵ Vince Jones, a well-known Australian jazz musician, who was disappointing. Twenty to thirty years ago he was at the vanguard of jazz in Australia; now he comes across as an old man stuck in the past. He sang a number of self-composed protest songs which, although dealing with modern problems, were stuck in the now slightly embarrassing attitudes of the sixties and seventies.

Genticorum – a trio from Quebec who played and sang in the Québécois musical folk traditions. Flute, guitar, fiddle and a rhythm provided by the fiddle player by stamping with his feet while sitting down. This is apparently traditional and was surprisingly effective. They sang everything in French and although they explained it all beforehand, I prefer my lyrics in English. They were good though.

The James Valentine Quartet. James Valentine is an ABC radio host as well as a jazz musician and Pamela knew him quite well during her stint at the ABC so we had to go along. He plays the sax and plays it well and, once he got into the jazz standards and away from the more experimental stuff, was excellent.

There were a few other acts we would have liked to catch but we were pretty exhausted – there has been a lot of unrelated stuff in our lives lately – and ended up napping on the Saturday afternoon. Good fun, albeit rather wet and cold. But what’s a music festival without a little rain?

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