INSIDE SCOOP: Gleny Rae on the Karuah Bluegrass Festival

With so much happening over the Karuah Bluegrass Festival weekend (May 1 -3), we thought we’d share some inside knowledge with you from one of the event’s organisers, Gleny Rae.

One of the main things she wanted us to tell you about was the open mic session to be held on the Friday afternoon of the festival from 1-5pm at the BP service station. The winner will be voted by the audience, and will get an opportunity to perform at the Pickers Paradise on Sunday at 11am. 

Below you’ll find the rest of the hot festival gossip from our chat with Gleny…

Which acts should people keep an eye out for?

Bluegrass Parkway from Perth are as traditional as you can get, with tight 5 part harmonies, banjo, guitar, mandolin, fiddle and double bass all playing around a single condenser microphone. This is bluegrass just as it was done back when Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys invented the genre and performed regularly at radio shows, hay drives and country halls. But for a more modern approach, you can’t go past The Stetson Family from Melbourne, who pursue all those bluegrass traditions with a modern slant. This self proclaimed “family” have independently released an album in the USA with huge success, hitting the charts and getting loads of radio airplay which is quite a feat given the number of high quality bands getting around in the states. We are also really excited about the high energy punk folk New Zealand band The Eastern (pictured above) and sister act Siskin River who bring a whole new angle to sibling folk. Of course there are plenty of local favourites too, with Golden Guitar nominee Bob Corbett and band, The Travelling Teardrops from Buledelah, Newcastle troubadour James Thomson and me… Gleny Rae Virus, with my wonderful bluegrass Playboys Robbie Long, Pete Fidler and Dougie Bull.

Why do you think it’s important to keep tickets prices so reasonable?

Bluegrass is experiencing a big lift in popularity in Sydney and Melbourne, but it’s still catching on in other parts. Also we are very much a family friendly festival and understand that taking the kids out for the weekend can be an expensive exercise. It’s a wonderful opportunity for kids to learn about this genre of music and the acoustic instruments used, plus hopefully inspire them to get involved! Kids 16 and under are free, and there will be a circus workshop teaching hula hoops, junggling and balancing on Sunday at the Pickers Paradise. 

Tell us a little more about the bamboo yurt stage…

Unfortunately there will be no bamboo yurt this year, as the Longworth Park is still very soggy after the horrendous weather event of last week. With another big storm forecast, we have decided to consolidate and move the event indoors to the RSL club. The program will proceed as advertised, and the Pickers Paradise will host workshops by day and a traditional single mic showcase both Friday and Saturday night. There will also be an instrument display shop featuring dobros, guitars, ukuleles and mandolins from Jacks Music, and hand made violins from a Port Macquarie based luthier. We have had to limit tickets, so we advise people to get in early and pre-purchase on line to avoid disappointment.

What can people expect to see at the “Pickers’ Paradise” venue?

 Kind of answered this above, but there will also be homestyle hot meals, tea coffee and cake available Friday and Saturday night. Saturday afternoon from 4-6pm there will be a bluegrass jam session for punters to try out the skills and tunes they learnt at the workshops that day, and this will continue at 11pm after the programmed events. It’s a very communal intimate venue,  which people absolutely loved when we launched the Pickers Paradise last year. You can learn a tune, try out a new instrument, listen to some quality music and enjoy a home style meal, all with a glass of wine (its’ a BYO venue). 

Also the Sunday program features some real variety, starting with bluegrass gospel hosted by Gleny Rae from 10-11am, then the Showcase concert from 12.15 featuring bluegrass renditions of the songs of legendary Aussie glam rock band The Skyhooks! Last year we heard some amazing versions of Cold Chisel songs, including a solo banjo version of Khe Sahn, so it’s sure to be mindblowing fun again this year!

WHAT: Karuah Bluegrass Festival
WHEN: May 1 – 3
WHERE: Karuah

Written by Newcastle Live

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  1. What A Hoot, Just Great To See So Much Wonderful Talent.
    Loved The Skyhooks Special – Fabulous.
    Also Rendition Of Stand By Me ,Was Such A Joy -Thanks The Eastern.

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