The best of the 2016 Port Fairy Folk Festival

EVERYONE you talk to at the Folkie has a different highlight, which is part of what makes the event so great.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to see everything (trust us – it can’t be done). So despite numerous recommendations, we couldn’t get to the likes of Songhoy Blues, Jaaleekaay, Three Kings, or Flamenco Fire, but we did get to some amazing things.

MATT: My highlight was probably Kate Miller-Heidke and Keir Nuttall holding court in front of a full house on Stage 3. Miller-Heidke’s vocals are phenomenal but Nuttall was just as impressive on guitar.

Watching Miller-Heidke from side of stage was Katie Noonan, another of the country’s best vocalists, who was also mesmerising. And while we’re talking great female singers, watching Mary Black sing Poison Tree alongside Marcia Howard was spectacular, only to be topped by Howard and her band playing a cover of Bob Dylan’s Forever Young – a special request from outgoing festival director Jamie McKew.

Colin Hay and his cracking band were a highlight – how good are Overkill and Waiting For My Real Life To Begin? And everyone said “you have to see Steve Poltz”, so I did and I wasn’t disappointed – he’s as a good a comedian as he is a songwriter.

CURIOUSER: Kate Miller-Heidke dazzled with her high-wire vocal skills, accompanied by her husband Keir Nuttall on guitar, and received a much-deserved standing ovation on Saturday. Picture: Matt Neal

CURIOUSER: Kate Miller-Heidke dazzled with her high-wire vocal skills, accompanied by her husband Keir Nuttall on guitar, and received a much-deserved standing ovation on Saturday. Picture: Matt Neal

But let’s not forget Steve Earle, whose set was a hugely enjoyable, dirty, bluesy stomp that culminated in a raucous cover of Hey Joe.

TOGETHER AGAIN: Folk legend Mary Black and Artist of the Year Marcia Howard on stage at the 40th Anniversary concert. Picture: Rob Gunstone

TOGETHER AGAIN: Folk legend Mary Black and Artist of the Year Marcia Howard on stage at the 40th Anniversary concert. Picture: Rob Gunstone

ANTHONY: One of the big names at the festival, Luka Bloom, lived up to the hype and showed why he is so beloved in his homeland of Ireland. It was a big year for country music fans, inspired by the great Steve Earle no doubt. Sara Storer produced some lovely moments, and Graeme Connors fit right in.

If you don’t laugh, cry and think at a Steve Poltz show then you wasted your money buying a ticket to the festival. The same can be said for Archie Roach –  what both performers say between songs is as fascinating as when the tunes begin. 

Hardcore Troubadour: American singer-songwriter Steve Earle plays a locally made Gilchrist electric mandolin during his set. Picture: Rob Gunstone

Hardcore Troubadour: American singer-songwriter Steve Earle plays a locally made Gilchrist electric mandolin during his set. Picture: Rob Gunstone

For many festival-goers, it may have been their first look at Emma Donovan & The Putbacks but chances are it won’t be there last, with their brilliant performances making them one of the finds of the festival. 

And then there’s Rick E Vengeance. At a festival that prides itself on promotion of original artists, Vengeance is an unlikely phenomenon, with his singalongs creating a crowd reaction in the Shebeen like no other. 

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