You’d better believe it – there’s a heap of music and song, dancing and clapping (oh yes, a heap of loud, enthusiastic clapping), and workshops to encourage and expand thinking about song-writing and poetry writing and enhancing musical talents, and performing in general. Yesterday (Saturday 22nd February 2014) was the 15th annual Frances Folk Gathering and all that we witnessed and participated in was a wonderful success – AGAIN – as always for the past decade and a half.
So much sharing and caring – and so far, despite the odds, it still remains a free event. We won’t mention that funding has seen severe cutbacks and the loss of sponsors, demanding heroic fund-raising efforts by the organisers, Councils involved and townspeople alike. I guess it’s of little importance that this tiny town is so far out of the mainstream of everything today’s world judges as important that it becomes simply unbelievable they have been able to stage this event for 15 years. And of course, we won’t acknowledge that just a few days ago, water flooded the streets of this tiny town, just before their annual happening, demanding Herculean efforts to make it ‘all be right on the day’.
Everyone only asks that it be perfect on the day – weather, facilities, creature comforts. Well yes, that’s the human condition, isn’t it? Always demanding just that bit more.
Well, good news people. The 15th Frances Folk Gathering 2014 delivered… BIG TIME! No excuses, no shortfalls – just its usual Frances style friendliest possible welcome and follow through of a great weekend for all who gave of themselves to make it a success.
The Frances folk looked after the facilities, someone upstairs provided perfect weather, Andrew looked after the sound systems and provided entertainment on a large variety of instruments as a sole act and backing also, plus countless humorous asides – and the audience were most appreciative of all they shared.
Wonder how many of us also registered that there were no police crowd or criminal activity controls, no visible security of any kind (or if a presence was there, it was well hidden from the public eye). No, you see this was country – this was folk – ALL were sharing the ultimate happiness and love of freedom to just ‘be’… and to believe completely in their fellow man. The greatest news was that this amazing belief and trust was fully justified. Top marks, Frances!
It didn’t hurt at all that the evergreen talents of Keith Potger (from the famous ‘Seekers’) was a headline act, who also happened to open the Art Show, and run a song-writing workshop and generally spread his charming spell over all who shared any time with him. His enthusiasm and skill found a double marquee of people singing the words of the never-forgotten words to ‘The Seekers’ most popular songs with such exuberance and joy, Keith suggested there could be a new world-famous choir on the block – The Frances Tabernacle Choir, who could tour Australia (for starters) in a rather large group of mobile homes. Resounding applause to this suggestion. What a delight this man is, even today when he slots in between Kanute and I in age. Silver threads or not, this one is still pure gold to all who loved that special group of people – legends of Australian entertainment.
And the group ‘Junior’ – who have given SO much to make this event a reality – with a fund-raising concert previously and several guest appearances throughout the event. With rollicking humour, tales and song, they entertained all onlookers with great finesse. Without talent like this, plus all the other performers, and especially the ‘wannabes’ in the Competition tents – amongst them maybe tomorrow’s stars? – this is a wonderful celebration of all that has been, is now, and is yet to be. How wonderful to be in the audience, witnessing so much our country can produce in these particular genres.
And I did a workshop with a real poet – David Harris, and other real poets in various stages of development. One other participant was also a writer like I am, another a songwriter – all had much to learn and have been left with a stack of information to digest. David generously shared his and other’s poems so we could all learn by means of discussion and analysis. Serious stuff for a storyteller like me who writes kiddies’ rhymes and parodies of some of Australia’s great bush ballads… but SO challenging and insightful. Recently I read advice to ‘choose your words like pearls’ – carefully and with precision, to get the ultimate best possible feeling and outcome. I like that a lot. I try so hard, but I see where I can do even better.
Thank you Frances and congratulations… you did it again.
See you next year.