All Folk & Bluegrass News

Musical Happenings on The Folk and Bluegrass Scene

Dorrigo folk and Bluegrass Festival Inc. are well on the way to presenting the 16th Festival , to take place at the Dorrigo Showgrounds and various locations throughout the town.

The dates for this year’s festival are the 27th,28th and 29th of October. We are also working at holding a Folk Music workshop before the festival featuring some of our overseas guests.

In the meantime the music continues and we have something lined up for the next four months. We hope that you and some friends will get to one at least of the gigs. We have already presented The Whitetop Mountaineers from Virginia and local artists Montgomery, Church and Alesa Lejana, both evenings were wonderful and inspiring with lovely companionship and stories.

But to the present and we are very lucky to be able to host on April 5th at Food Angel Café from Denmark, Fromseier+ Hockings.

Bookings are recommended and $50.00 covers the duo and a delicious meal.fromseier hockings

Ditte Fromseier and Siegfried Hockings met in the Copenhagen Folk-session scene and have since played together in numerous constellations. Invited to play at The North Atlantic Fiddle Convention in Scotland in 2010 as a duo they realised that the duo was an outstanding way to challenge themselves and to create new original music.

Since then they have toured the world and developed an extremely rare natural intimacy in their music.

Ditte comes from the little island of Bornholm, trained as a classical and folk violinist and has a Master of Arts from The University of Limerick and from The Carl Neilsen Academy in Denmark.

Sigurd comes from Alken,Jutland and inspiration for his very individual and accomplished playing style comes from both Scandinavian and Celtic music tradition

In May there is the chance to come and have breakfast in the evening as The All Day Breakfast Stringband from Montreal visit Dorrigo.

 all day breakfast stringband

June sees Sally and George , from the U.S on Saturday 3rd of June

 sall and george

and then in July we are holding a fundraiser for the Megan Hall on the 29th featuring The Pitts Show,The Barkersvale Brothers and Watling and Bates.

More news of these other great evenings as they get closer.

We are very lucky and privileged that these performers choose to stop in to Dorrigo as part of what is quite often a hectic schedule between larger Festivals and concerts.

Please come along and share your company and friendship whilst supporting live music .

Join us in creating a sustainable future!

rubbish room

A couple of exciting developments are happening for this year’s festival.

Firstly, to divert our recycling and composting waste from landfill we are instituting a system of staffed ‘Rubbish Rooms’ where festival patrons will be asked to deposit their waste / recycling / compostables into separate bins. This system has already been used successfully at the Blue Mountains Music Festival the Winter Magic Festival

All food vendors have been asked to provide only compostable or recyclable packaging and utensils. No plastic will be allowed.
There will be no ordinary rubbish bins in the festival or camping grounds. There will be a special staffed Rubbish Room for campers.

Our second innovation is filtered water bubblers where patrons will be able to fill their own water bottles with crisp, clean, filtered Dorrigo water. We hope this will reduce the need to buy bottled water. We thank Bellingen Shire Council for this initiative.

Camping - Powered Sites

The Powered Camping Sites at this years Festival are now sold out. There are still spots avaialble in the Main Ring if you are self powered, and plenty of unpowered camping sites left. Remember camping sites are on a first in best spot basis.

The Festival Team

John Flanagan, Liz Frenchman & Robbie Melville

John Flanagan 2016 640Another one of the admirable components of Dorrigo, and other small festivals, is the way the artists collaborate together and support each other. For example this year we'll see Liz Frencham sharing her recent work with Robbie Melville, supporting John Flanagan and also Fred smith.

This component applies throughout the weekend whether its in a jam or on stage. You never quite know who's going to be lending a hand. There is always going to be something unique in the concerts; a surprise element.

Combining 60s and 70s folk singer/songwriter influences with a contemporary Americana/bluegrass sound, " John Flanagan has proven himself a songwriting force to keep an eye on” (Timber and Steel).
John recently released his latest album, ‘There’s Another Way to Where You’re Going’ which was recorded in Nashville with producer Viktor Krauss and he has been touring to packed country halls, live music venues and intimate house concerts all around Australia and Canada.
Fred Smith Portrait by Geoffrey Dunn 2016 640He currently plays alongside festival favourite Liz Frencham (double bass/vocals) and bluegrass virtuoso Dan Watkins (guitar/mandolin/vocals) in a dynamic trio characterised by warm vocal harmonies and impressive acoustic arrangements.

A small town in rural Victoria was the accidental meeting place for Liz Frencham and Robbie Melville when they crossed paths in a café in 2013 and soon were seeking every chance to play together.

From their first rehearsal it was evident that a lengthy musical relationship was on the cards. The obvious chemistry between the pair is intensified by a willingness to never play any song the same way twice.
Frencham’s warmth is met by Melville’s beautiful harmonic dissonances, and every nuance is distinct.
LIZ AND ROBBIE 2016 640Liz has a ongoing, slowly-evolving collaboration with Robbie, she says it is is a seemingly bottomless source of joy and adventure. "We have tentatively emerged onto a couple of attentive stages this year but it still feels like an embryonic form of what we are capable of".

Slim Dime & The Plough

Slim Summer 2016 640Won't be long now until the programme is complete and ready for your eyes. Here are two more great old timey influenced bands Slim Dime and The Plough.

Slim Dime are an acoustic, folk, country, americana duo from Melbourne’s Dandenong Ranges.
Their music references the simplicity and space of old time mountain music, fog soaked valleys and mountain ash forests: a blending of rural and urban.

Their debut album, recorded at Incubator Studios by candlelight "Hold Fast” is a mesmerizing country folk journey, with solid song writing and beautiful renditions of traditional songs. Stay tuned for the second album due for release 2016.
Listen close, you can hear fog soaked valleys, mountain ash forests and the grit of gravel road.

The Plough 2016 640The Plough are an Old Time String Band that play high-energy Appalachian style Old Time, Gospel and Bluegrass music.
Their debut CD, 'Reap What You Sow', has been described as “harking back to those authentic field recordings of the 1940's” (Judith Jones, Bluegrass Bulletin).

As well as playing many Australia Festivals, such as The National, Turning Wave, Hill End, Gulgong, Karuah, they have also toured Sweden and Ireland in 2015. The Plough originates out of the Sydney Old Time and Bluegrass Society and is passionate about keeping the old music alive and relevant.

Omados & The Squeezebox Trio

Omados 2016 640As preparations for the festival continue with a frenzy we are welcoming spring here on the plateau as energetically as the final winter wind is leaving.

For something completely new for the 15th this year we have Omados playing traditional Greek music. Omados is the personification of battle noise, meaning the sound of two armies colliding on the battle field.

From the northern regions such as Thrace and Macedonia, the mainland such as Epirus and Peloponnese, and the islands such as Crete and Ikaria. Utilising instruments such as violin, gaida and tulum (bagpipes), clarinet, laouto (lute), oud and various percussions, the members of the band take pride in representing the traditional music of regional Greece.

14212000 1058942217493512 3185789957073497300 nWe are very happy to welcome back one the festival favourite from last year Sydney act The Squeezebox Trio who take the driving rhythms of 1930’s Django Rienhardt and combine them with the intensity of Eastern European Balkan music to give one hell of an energetic performance.

Purveyors of Gypsy Swing, add in a few Russian drinking songs, some Disney film classics, more than enough self-deprecating humor and there you have it. The boys have just returned from a successful tour of New Zealand and now have their sights set on the Great White North for an extensive Canadian tour later this year.

Catgut not performing at Festival

We are very sorry to announce that old timey band Catgut will no longer be playing at this years festival.
Some words from the band:

"Catgut are very sad to pull out of the Dorrigo Folk and Bluegrass Festival due to unforeseen work and life commitments. We have loved playing and jamming at Dorrigo in previous years and hope we can do this again in the near future."

Appalachian Heaven String Band and the Black Mountain String Band.

Applachecian String Band 2016 640Also providing the very loved genre of Old Time music we have Appalachian Heaven String Band and the Black Mountain String Band.

Appalachian Heaven Stringband delight audiences young and young-at-heart.

They play Appalachian mountain music with gusto and authenticity, learnt directly from the masters during regular visits to the USA.
From sensitive and driving fiddle tunes, dance tunes with curly toes, to cheeky songs and disarmingly touching ballads, The band loves to be participants in community music events and share their skills and knowledge through workshops (clawhammer banjo, old time fiddle or autoharp) and open jam sessions.

Black Mountain String Band 2016 640The Black Mountain String Band is a celebration of old time string band music, where fiddles and voices harmonise with the rhythms of the banjo, guitar and double bass.

They continue a legacy left by the first Black Mountain String Band - Pablo’s father’s band from the 1970s, which pioneered string band music in the Canberra region.


Festival Poster with all Performers

2016 Poster A3 A4 v1 1



Ash and Andy - Catgut

Ash and Andy 2016 640We love our Old Timey music here in Dorrigo and these two bands are no doubt going to provide you with the warmth of Old Time music which they have grown up on.

Ash & Andy are a dynamic Old Time duo performing both traditional and original repertoire.

With powerfully uplifting vocal harmonies and driving fiddle and banjo duets, their sound evokes a simpler time when this music served as a uniting communal pastime and provided a lively atmosphere for rural house parties and dance halls throughout Appalachia.




Catgut Band 640 2016Catgut grew from the seeds of Appalachian old time traditions,they can usually be found in leafy parks, cosy bars and on front stoops around Sydney's inner west, picking away at old time dance tunes, singing in three-part harmony and venturing into the improvisatory genre of spacegrass.

In 2015 the band recorded an album of songs and tunes from the National Library's Oral History and Folklore Collection as part of Mim's Folk Fellowship project on the history of bluegrass and old time music in Australia.


The Company

The Company DSC 4512 640Whilst one of the co founders of one of Australia's greatest Bluegrass bands (The Company), George Jackson, has moved to Nashville, we are super pleased that he will be returning to release a new cd with The Company and continue to bring great Bluegrass to Australia's music scene.
The Company have a passion for high-energy original and traditional acoustic music. Boasting two Australian Champions, The Company have a passion for high-energy original and traditional acoustic music on guitar, fiddle and banjo, the playing and singing is crisp, melodic and soulful.

In concert you witness the band’s virtuosity but also a wry humour and engaging camaraderie, they are highly regarded for their originality.

The Company are releasing their third studio album titled 'Six and Five' with the offical launching taking place on the 5th of November in Brisbane.
Oct 21st/ 22nd Dorrigo Festival /// Dorrigo, NSW
Oct 28th Polish Club /// Canberra, ACT
Oct 29th Hotel Gearin /// Blue Mountains, NSW
Oct 30th Petersham Bowling Club /// Sydney, NSW
Nov 3rd 63 First Ave (Mother’s Milk Cafe) /// Sawtell, NSW
Nov 5th St Augustine’s Anglican Church /// Hamilton, Brisbane, QLD
Nov 6th Arts Worx Theatre, USQ /// Toowoomba, QLD
Nov 13th Fremantle Arts Centre /// Fremantle, WA
Nov 19th MountainGrass Festival /// Harrietville, VIC
More dates coming soon…

The Pitts Family

Pitts Family Circus 640 2016Once again we have the incredible The Pitts Family Circus providing the festival with laughter and entertainment for all ages. When The Pitts Family aren't putting on one of their amazing shows or workshops, the Little Big Top becomes an intimate music venue.

The Pitts Family will impress, surprise, and touch you (in more ways than one…) employing spectacular circus, quirky characters and more child labour than ever, come along and see a real family circus perform a spectacular, funny and heart warming show under the big top!
You’ll be entranced by the beautiful high trapeze, muscular acrobatics, the curious art of human foot juggling, lightning fast upside down banjo playing and maybe even a bit of baby juggling!

With humble beginnings fifteen years ago, The Pitts have toured the world seven times and grown into a charming family circus.Don't miss them.



Combining the ancient traditional sounds of Bluegrass and Old Time Music with laconic, provocative songwriting and dry banter, The Barkers Vale Brothers from NSW are slowly but surely developing a cult following on the Australian folk festival circuit.

the barkersvale brothers 640 2016Sharing a member with their sister act The Pitts Family Circus means Gareth and Vaughan will put on a show that you won’t forget.
Caution: Some tunes may contain partial nudity, inverted banjo playing and pyrotechnics.

Waterfall Way

Thanks to Henry for introducing us to this website. Here is a great blog written by Matt Horspool telling of all the natural hidden treasures in our picturesque town of Dorrigo and surrounds. Make sure to plan some sightseeing on the festival weekend as well as listening to and participating in music!

Festival Dances Friday Night & Saturday Night

Haywood Billygoats 2016 640Our two dances over the weekend have become favourites for many festival-goers. The weekend certainly wouldn't be what it is without the hoedown on the Friday night and the Ceilidh Saturday afternoon.

This year we have The Haywood Billy Goats (USA) providing calling and driving tunes for the hoedown.

An old time string band out of Chatham County, NC, the Haywood Billy Goats have become one of the most respected string bands in the North Carolina old time music scene.

Their tight, hard-driving sound and repertoire of traditional NC dance music has earned the band top finishes in a number of reputable string band contests throughout the region as well as numerous ribbons for twin fiddling.

Holding great appreciation for older-generation musicians in the traditional music community,the Billy Goats have spent considerable time playing with and learning from many respected old time musicians from the Round Peak and Piedmont regions of North Carolina.

The Ceilidh will be run by local group the “Fireside Celts and Friends" who are an eight piece group that interweave Scottish Smallpipes with guitar, keyboard, whistles, harmonium, banjo, harp and a variety of Celtic percussion to voice Scottish and Irish melodies. Many of these tunes found their way into Australian Bush and Appalachian Folk music.

Hear some of the best local players strut their stuff playing lofty airs, uplifting marches and the full range of Celtic dance styles, such as strathspeys, reels, jigs, hornpipes and polkas.

Both the Haywood Billy Goats and Fireside Celts have other performances and workshops during the weekend :) Keep Well!

Rowena Wise

Rowena Wise 2016 640Introducing one of our youngest singer/songwriters for this year: Rowena Wise is a Melbourne-based award-winning indie folk songstress who has grown up with music, touring nationally and internationally from a young age in the Wise Family Band.

With influences drawn from 60's folk tunes and contemporary folk singer-songwriters, Wise plays with a believability that defies her 22 years. In the vein of Feist and Rufus Wainwright, she lays pop-infused melodies and rich, quirky conversational lyrics onto a sparse folk canvas.

Check her out in this youtube clip:

Chloe & Jason Roweth

Chloe and Jason Roweth 640 2016Chloe and Jason Roweth have provided the festival with many traditional stories and poems, and will be running the Poet's Breakfast at the Dorrigo Heritage Hotel, or the Top Pub as the locals call it. Be sure to go along and listen to the stories and songs of Australia and support the musicians and locals.
Chloë & Jason Roweth bring you the songs and poems of the kitchen, the verandah, the shearer’s huts, the local pub - and the yarns that go with them.
Bill Browne and Matt Nightingale add their exceptional talents to the mix. Pieces are tied together musically and thematically, music running under poems and expanding into songs, weaving together and driving forward diverse threads of the Australian tradition.
To call Jason Roweth a well-rounded performer is just a start. He is a natural storyteller, with a warm and engaging stage presence, an ideal choice for an MC, but there’s more… Jason has spent the last twenty years as a singer and musician, researching, performing and recording Australian traditional music, and is also an accomplished reciter.
Concert audiences can expect a unique and dynamic combination of new and old Australian traditional songs, poems, yarns, stories and observations. Items are treated as pieces of a larger puzzle, and explicitly connected to make every show a themed presentation on various aspects of Australian culture and social history.
Bill Browne (kit drums, percussion), Baz Cooper (accordion) and Matt Nightingale (dog-house bass) bring a rare combination of talents, musicianship, great feel, and an extraordinary ability to use their instruments to tell a story. All three draw on their considerable experience in a variety of styles and use these influences with both care and a sense of adventure when presenting Australian traditional music.


Fred Smith

Fred Smith Portrait by Geoffrey Dunn 2016 640Fred Smith has brought the festival many years of laughter and tears with his raw and passionate stories. This year he will be playing with Liz Frencham and Carl Pannuzzo. Fred is also running the festival choir, which is bound to be packed with fun!
It is about time Australia caught up with Fred Smith.
Fred has spent the last 15 years all over the joint: working on peace keeping missions in Afghanistan and the South Pacific, touring in America and travelling the Australian festival circuit.
He has released about eight CDs, mostly solo but also collaborations with Liz Frencham and the Spooky Men's Chorale.
Fred cut his teeth performing comic and satirical ballads in bars and festivals in the late 90’s. His earlier performances were described as “Noel Coward meets Louden Wainwright".
Fred wrote a collection of powerful songs about his experiences and the realities of life for soldiers in this difficult war. These songs were released in 2011on an album called “Dust of Uruzgan”
Photo by Geoffrey Dunn


Carl Pennuzzo 2016 640

Carl Pannuzzo, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, autodidact, songwriter and educator.
Carl is in high demand nationally and internationally, performing/recording with many artists and projects.
A highly sought after workshop facilitator and choir director, Carl's unique approach to voice, harmony and intention, makes for engaging and joyous processes gleaning beautiful results.
As a creator, interpreter and improviser, Carl is recognized as a sensitive, dynamic and fearless singer, a quickfire musical mind and affable and engaging stage presence.
Carl ejoys being a messenger for the articulate truth of music and delivers it with a balance of respect and abandon.

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