The 2012 National Folk Festival in Canberra was a tonic for the soul. With around 200 international and local acts, the biggest challenge was making sure not to miss that special favourite.
Seeing Bernard Carney sailing effortlessly through his first set reminded me why this multi-award-winning singer-songwriter is held in such high esteem. He has that unique ability to maintain a satirical twinkle in his eye at the same time as presenting a poignant song about some environmental or social justice outrage. His song Green Weapons is a great example; well worth listening to.
“They’re making green missiles emission free missiles
Cos they’re keen to protect our atmosphere
So as the rockets land and you say your last prayer
Thank God it’s done no damage to the ozone layer
If they go and drop the big one it’s a comfort to all
To know it came within the guidelines of Kyoto protocol
They’re making green weapons clean green weapons.”
At the 2012 Festival an important new award was made for the first time. The Alistair Hulett Memorial Award was presented to honour the memory of the Scottish singer-songwriter and political activist who died in 2010. The Award is presented for the best song that promotes equality and social justice. There aren’t too many award opportunities for activist song-writing, so now’s a good time to dust off the guitar so you’re ready to submit your masterpiece to the 2013 Award judges.
But I have my own award to make, and that’s a bravery award to David Ross Macdonald. He’s probably best known to many people as the fine drummer for The Waifs, but to me he’s a legendary song-writer, poignant singer and intricate finger-style guitarist. The bravery award goes to him because only seven months prior to the Canberra Festival he did some serious damage to his chord-playing hand whilst fooling around with his favourite pocket knife. The accident has left him somewhat disabled in the bar-chords department, but despite that his performance at the Festival was outstanding. Critics liken him to Nick Drake and Bruce Cockburn, but I’m thinking that one day he’ll be recognised as Australia’s Leonard Cohen. Have a listen to Draw Me In and see what you think.