I attended my first official folk festival (The 10th Kangaroo Valley Folk Festival) last weekend as part of The Button Collective (which is why I haven't posted in a number of days). Kangaroo Valley was such a lovely introduction to the folk festival community, and I can honestly say, as a musician, it's one of the few places I've truly felt musically at home.
We played as a 6 piece over the festival (with the button's usual festival musicians), which was a completely new experience for me. There were two button's I'd never met - Bobby (fiddle) and Ben (Banjo/harmonica) (they're the lovely chap's you hear on all the button's recordings). It was an absolute pleasure performing/hanging with the full band. Performing with them (as a 6 piece) felt natural (especially with Bobby. We had our own little melody party section going up on stage - twas fun yo)
Apart from performing with the Button's, I joined in as many sessions as I could. For those of you who've not heard this term before, a session is basically when a bunch of musicians get together and play a bunch of music (often from memory). I love playing folk music, but have not memorised many tunes, meaning if I wanted to play the melody I had to work it out either by listening, watching how/where the other musicians fingers moved, or a combination of both.
I'm not used to learning that quickly by using my ear, but by the end of the festival, I found my fingers co-operating to the pitches played by other musicians (which, for someone who is used to learning music visually, completely bizarre in the best possible way)
I fell deeply in love with an instrument. There was one instrument maker selling transverse flutes. I tried all of his flutes, and connected with one (which I brought home - I'm currently mapping out the fingering so I can eventually play it properly as a part of Vanishing Shapes) It's made of Osage Orange, has a base tuning scale of E Phrygian Dominant, and speaks unlike any flute I've ever played (It's got a very round mellow tone, but doesn't cross into fuzzy sounding)
One of my favourite things about the festival was that pretty much everyone played an instrument, and that everyone who could play was peachy keen to play with everyone else. The music was the most important thing at the event, and it showed.
Hopefully Kangaroo Valley will be the first of many folk festivals to come for me, as both part of the Button Collective and as Vanishing Shapes. (The Dream would be to play a festival as part of both bands!)
Finally, I'd love to say a big thankyou to all of the organisers of the event. Because of people like you I get to play the music I love with the people that I love, and that's the best thing ever. <3