Live Review: Folkworld Fairbridge Festival

2 May 2013 | 10:23 am | Tess IngramLukas Murphy

Fairbridge remains one of the few festivals where sing-alongs are encouraged, showers are not and the juveniles are talented, not drunk. As an attendee’s t-shirt read: FOLK YEAH!

The festival is already bustling with activity by the afternoon of the Friday: While everyone set up their camps and stalls, the strange and the wonderful teemed about the village in anticipation, and they grew in number. All sorts of dreadlocked and braided hairstyles, battered top hats, tie-dyed or patch-worked clothes and jester's hats could be spotted throughout the weekend. Dilip 'n the Davs kicked off the “Hoopla” dance stage right in the middle of the village, just to get the blood flowing and the heart rates up, and the dancing didn't stop all weekend.

Other dance acts included Nicky Bomba's Bustamento, Flap!, and of course Perth's “beats-n'-brass” groove-troupe, The Brow Horn Orchestra. Bustamento put on an explosive show, each and every one of the members positively reeking of musical talent and intelligence, and not least of all the quick-witted Bomba. A particularly funny moment in their Saturday night set saw Bomba making fun of a smartphone-generation individual who was trying to take a picture. Immediately the entire band dropped what they were doing and rushed to the front of the stage to pose for the photo. Quick as a flash, they resumed their playing like nothing had happened, and the still-laughing crowd resumed their dancing accordingly.

The Brow had a hard act to follow, but the masses loved it, and were more than happy to join in on front-man Nic Owen's birthday celebrations; throwing up their hands as he surfed over the crowd in an inflatable dinghy. Those with less of an affinity for bumping and grinding were also served an earful of delights at some of the festival's more relaxed venues.

One of the biggest draw cards of Fairbridge is its diversity, with professional acts across the genres contrasted by enthusiastic buskers; most still in preschool. A definite crowd favorite was a young man with a harmonica around his neck, a ukulele across his tiny lap and a blonde mullet sparkling in the sun who earned enough pocket money for the year with a set of jaw dropping Paul Kelly covers.

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Another local, the more experienced Mama Kin, rocked the main stage on Friday night with her powerful soulful ballads, cheeky stories and a guest appearance from her husband John Butler. On the back of their debut EP launch local upandcomers China Doll lit up a crowded dining hall with a vibrant indie-folk performance. Charming frontwoman Karin Page and the talented band were a refreshing injection of youth and frivolity and are one to catch around Perth's local traps.

As revelers recovered on Sunday morning after two long days of red wine and toe tapping, Belleville Gypsy Swing set the scene for the third and final day of festivities. Channelling the 1920s gypsy jazz of Django Reinhardt this Perth quartet had the crowd enthralled and even motivated an enthusiastic few to an early morning dance.

Fairbridge remains one of the few festivals where sing-alongs are encouraged, showers are not and the juveniles are talented, not drunk. As an attendee's t-shirt read: FOLK YEAH!