Dorrigo is about to erupt with the sweet sounds of music, as the 17th Dorrigo Folk and Bluegrass Festival promises to bring the very best of the folk, bluegrass and old-timey worlds to the plateau over the weekend of October 26th, 27th and 28th. (Image of last year’s Hoe Down thanks to Clare Colins).
The festival is recognised on the world stage as a “testament to authentic blue grass” says festival organiser Bridget Rees.
“We draw exceptional national and international talent to Dorrigo each October because we honour the traditions of the genre. Plus its a family friendly, intimate environment with an absolute focus on sound quality.”
Bridget’s son Jack Sommers of ‘The Sommers Family Band’ was only 17 years old in 2002, when he conceived the idea of a music festival in Dorrigo. With the enormous help of a small dedicated team, Jack’s vision emerged as ‘The Dorrigo Folk & Bluegrass Festival’. And as they say- the rest is history.
The Dorrigo Folk and Bluegrass Festival has managed to evolve over the past 17 years into a self-sustaining success. The small but extremely dedicated committee and team of volunteers “aim to present the finest traditional, contemporary and acoustic music. We find joy in seeing festival audiences and musicians connecting, jamming and enjoying what we can so happily and humbly provide. To us, the festival is all about that connection and the celebration of it,” says Bridget.
“But our true passion and focus is to inspire young performers. The emerging artists get a chance to witness the polished acts of the masters, who are fully immersed in the genre,” says Bridget. To this end, the 2017 Festival saw the inception of the ‘Dorrigo Old-Time Music School’, which will be a major feature of this year’s festival too. For 3 days prior to the Festival, musicians of all ages and backgrounds have the opportunity to learn, jam and perform with both national and international tutors who have the knowledge, heritage and respect of Old-Time music. The school is not just for musicians focusing on the Old-Time genre, there are many skills taught at the camp that are applicable across a wide range of musical genres.
The Dorrigo Folk and Bluegrass Festival is also fully dedicated to producing a ‘green’ festival. “We have banned the sale of single use plastic and cans,” says Bridget. There will be three manned waste stations and all stall holders will have compostable bins. “I compost all the food scraps after the festival. I’m a keen gardener,” says Bridget. If you want something done, ask a busy person!!
Other green initiatives include ‘keep-cup’ walls with volunteer dish washing stations, compostable utensils at all stalls and extra council water stations. “The council waste management team have been a great support. They are also supplying extra large bins for the festival,” says Bridget.
The Festival is now the biggest annual event on the Dorrigo calendar and draws crowds from all over Australia, many of whom haven’t missed a festival since 2002. The calibre of performers is extraordinary and there is something for everyone and all ages. For valley and seaside folk, this is well worth a drive up the mountain.