Last Sunday Folk Up

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Top Half Folk Festival

June 7-10, 2024
Tickets now on sale

Top Half Folk Festival returns to Alice Springs

Alice Springs/Mparntwe has always been a creative centre for music, art, culture and folk lore, and these elements will form the backbone of the Top Half Folk Festival at Ross River Resort on the June long weekend. This festival will carry on the high standard and traditions of the Top Half Folk Festival previously staged biannually at Glen Helen Resort since the 1980s. This year’s festival patron is none other than former NT Administrator, long term Territory folk/country singing legend Ted Egan AO, who will sing at the opening ceremony with much admired local folk stalwarts Bloodwood.

“Contrary to popular belief, I’m not dead yet,” Ted Egan said. “It’s great to be patron of a festival I have enjoyed for so many years.”

Running from Friday night through to Monday midday, the festival will present over 30 artists, workshops, instrument themed workshops, children’s activities, a bush dance, jam sessions, Folkie-oke (folk karaoke), Folk Quiz and even a Queer as Folk Cabaret on the Saturday night! In the tradition of folk festivals, people are encouraged to camp for the whole weekend and bring an instrument or two!

Headline artists and triple Golden Guitar winners Felicity Urquhart and Josh Cunningham (The Waifs) are sure to attract a broad audience with their upbeat folk/country music and gorgeous harmonies. Baby boomers who remember the days of Countdown will be excited to see Mic Conway from The Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band, now performing as a vaudeville duo with the talented guitar hero Robbie Long (Newcastle).

Other interstate acts include Broken Creek, a fresh husband/wife duo who specialise in reinterpreting Australian folks songs in a contemporary format. Brodie Buttons from the hinterland of Northern NSW is another artist steeped in the Australian folk traditions but with a wry smile, dirty dungarees, wicked wit and a rollie on his lip. Another life partner duo appearing at the festival is Newcastle based The Doctor’s Wife, featuring exquisite finger picking guitar of Peter Allsop and sonorous emotive vocals from Nicky.

The cornucopia of local talent is a strong feature of this inclusive folk festival, creating diverse sounds within the folk genre. NT country doyenne Katie Harder will perform with her band the Artful Dodgers, and emerging female focused ensembles include Siren Song, Anchor and Kite, Moongaze and the pop-folk twin sensation The Wanted Gems. The strong choral traditions of Alice Springs will shine through with performances by The Splinter Sisters and The Shavings, who were tremendously received at last year’s Top Half Folk Festival at Mary River.

A special feature of this year’s program is a collaboration between outstanding folk baritone singer Archer and the Alice Springs World Chamber Orchestra. Archer possesses a voice which tremors and slides like the flooding water of the Todd River, and a stage presence to leave you breathless and confused.

Archer will present songs from his forthcoming album, with string parts arranged by Australian composer Errki Veltheim (string arrangements for Gurrumul’s Djarimirri album). This performance will be a world premier of this distinctive collaboration.
Run by members of the Alice Springs Folk Club (ASFC), the festival aims to provide entertainment, education, inclusion and engagement, not to mention plenty of good food and drinks courtesy of the Watertank Café and a well stocked bar. ASFC president Glenyss Rae believes this will be the biggest folk festival hosted in Central Australia to date. “The last Top Half Folk Festival in the centre was 2019, so we are determined to have big celebration to make up for those lost COVID years!”

“Ross River is the perfect location for a festival; the scenery is spectacular, the campground is all about soft grass, shady trees and new amenities, and there will be a communal fire to gather round at night,” said Rae. “It’s a proven festival hub, having staged The Big Sing, Wide Open Space Festival and Blacken over many years.”

Early bird weekend passes are now available for just $100, discounts for Top End and Alice Springs Folk Club members and youths (6-17). Kids 5 and under free. Day tickets will be available, but there is also the opportunity to volunteer in exchange for a weekend pass.

More information can be found on the Alice Springs Folk Club website and facebook page.

For interviews
Ted Egan festival patron – 0427 849 555
Gleny Rae ASFC President – 0416 196 525