The Morrisons

A sometime 7-piece band forging elements of alt-country, bluegrass and folk to create a unique and contemporary Australian sound. Highly accomplished pickers, singers and multi-instrumentalists, their stories are inspired by Aussie folklore and modern Australian life.

Winners of the 2014 folk/acoustic song of the year at the Australian Song Writers Association Awards, The Morrisons fuse Australian stories and sounds with the spirit and intensity of old time American bluegrass, country and folk. With high, lonesome singing, fast picking and original songs inspired by folklore, family and their lives as young Australians. Featuring banjo, fiddle, mandolin, guitar, bass, washboard, harmonica, and 4 part harmonies, they deliver a live show full of raw energy and emotion. They released their debut single ‘Wild Eleanor’ (ASA Folk/Acoustic song of the year) in October of 2015 with a full-length album due for release in Autumn 2016. They have performed with highly acclaimed international artists Lake Street Dive (US) and Lindi Ortega (CAN), and their show, Man of constant sorrow: A tribute to the music of “Oh Brother Where Art Thou?”, has sold out 2 years in a row, with cast featuring, Ngaiire, All Our Exes Live In Texas, Tommy Dean, Luke Escombe and Brian Campeau.


The Morrisons play big band folk, like a mash up of both Inside Llewyn Davies and Oh Brother Where Art Thou’s T-Bone Burnett” – Concrete Playground


Rick E Vengeance

First appearing on the folk music scene in Australia in 1977, many fans consider Rick an institution; especially when it comes to performing at Port Fairy.

Rick E Vengeance, with his eclectic taste in clothes and flair for entertaining, first appeared on the folk music scene in Australia back in 1977 and at Port Fairy in 1978. Now 38 years later, many fans consider him an institution (some would say a relic), especially when it comes to performing at Port Fairy, where his legendary Sunday Singalongs have become an absolute festival highlight. Over the years he has been many things – dance caller, radio DJ, guitar teacher, accomplished MC, band leader and a fine guitarist. To see Rick in full flight come to the Shebeen on Sunday night for the 18th

To see Rick in full flight come to the Shebeen on Sunday night for the Sunday Singalong!

Oh Pep!

The sometimes foot-stomping, somewhat heart-breaking, multi-award-winning Melbourne act, Oh Pep!’s current EP Living has garned high praise from across the globe with NPR’s Bob Boilen saying: ‘…the Melbourne band’s music is infectious… Filled with Magic.’

The Grand Magoozi

The Grand Magoozi is the alter-ego of Melbourne singer and songwriter Susie Scurry. Occupying the stage in a dreamy world, her songs deliver tenderness and subtle wit in equal measure whilst she sings about love lost, a modern world gone awry and Paul Newman.

The Grand Magoozi is the alter-ego of Melbourne singer and songwriter Susie Scurry.
Occupying the stage in a dreamy world, her songs deliver tenderness and subtle wit in equal measure whilst she sings about love lost, a modern world gone awry and Paul Newman.

The Grand Magoozi’s self-titled EP was recorded live over three days with Australian music luminary Nick Huggins. After meticulously placing vintage microphones across his living room, Huggins managed to capture the simple and heartfelt sound of The Grand Magoozi in eight original compositions. The Grand Magoozi is the first artist to be signed to Little Lake, the label founded by Huggins and Seagull frontman Chris Bolton.

Scurry began playing classical piano at a young age, where she developed a profound love of melody and mood. Her family’s sizeable collection of world, folk, soul and country music was also a founding influence on the particular taste and style evident in Magoozi.

In her early 20s, Scurry worked behind the bar at the Lomond Hotel in East Brunswick, where she was exposed to various barflies and local legends, and developed an obsession with old-time and country, which is an evident influence in The Grand Magoozi’s style.

Scurry has also played and sung for various Melbourne artists and bands which led her to meet and work with the collective of like-minded musicians that now play with The Grand Magoozi, including bass player Glen Walton, Jonny Wilson on fiddle and acclaimed songwriter Tobias Hengeveld (The Daylight Express/All the Lines are Down).

The first single of The Grand Magoozi’s debut EP, Pinkie Blues, is out now. The Grand Magoozi will release her debut EP on 24 March at The Toff in Town in Melbourne, followed by a tour of the East Coast of Australia with a collective of talented musicians.

The Mastersons – USA

The Texas based duo brings lilting song craft and charismatic chemistry which has been heard world-wide thanks to the couple’s work as integral members of Steve Earle and The Dukes. Albums are Birds Fly South & 2014’s Good Luck Charm.

“The first thing people usually ask us is ‘What’s it like as a husband and wife playing music together?,'” says Chris Masterson. “We always say that the lows are low, but the highs are really high.”

There are plenty of highs on Good Luck Charm, the second album by The Mastersons, the collaboration that Chris shares with his marital and musical partner Eleanor Whitmore. Generously filled with infectious melodies, instinctive harmonies and vividly insightful lyrics, Good Luck Charm embodies the uncanny rapport that singer- guitarist Chris and singer-violinist-guitarist Eleanor have developed in their experiences living, touring and making music together.

The Austin, TX-based duo’s lilting songcraft and charismatic chemistry have already won over listeners around the world, thanks to the couples ongoing status as members of Steve Earle’s band The Dukes, their frequent opening sets for Earle, and their critically-lauded 2012 debut album, Birds Fly South.

Although Good Luck Charm is the Mastersons’ second album, in many ways it’s their first full-on collaboration. Whereas Birds Fly South consisted largely of songs that they’d composed individually, all of Good Luck Charm‘s material was co-written by Chris and Eleanor, giving the material added depth as well as a powerful collective lyrical identity that’s matched by their expressive harmonies.

“This is a more purpose-driven record,” Eleanor states. “The first record was kind of his/hers, but this one is entirely ours.”

“Playing a few hundred shows has really solidified us as a band and focused our vision for the new record,” Chris observes. “Every song is crafted for the two of us. When we made Birds Fly South, it just seamed like a good idea to do a record. Now we know it is.”

Good Luck Charm – recorded with noted producer/engineer Jim Scott, whose resume includes work with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Wilco and the Dixie Chicks – raises the stakes with 11 emotionally precise new songs that are firmly rooted in sometimes-harsh reality, yet which radiate with hope and optimism.

“It’s cautiously optimistic,” Eleanor says of the twosome’s new material, adding, “I think we tried to steer the songs in a direction that was a little more positive and a little more upbeat. Our last record had a lot of broken-character songs, but I think that this one reflects the place we’re in now.”

Good Luck Charm‘s title track, for example, is an uplifting ode to human connection that was originally inspired by the pairs visit to the Texas state capitol during Sen. Wendy Davis’ pro-choice filibuster in June 2013.

“It was really striking,” Chris recalls, “how many people we saw there – friends, family, all kinds of people from our community. It was so powerful to be around a bunch of people trying to speak up for what they believe in.”

“This isn’t meant to be a political album, but there are definitely some tracks that touch on that,” Eleanor asserts. “But it’s meant to be galvanizing, not polarizing. In the current political climate, people are frustrated and feel like they don’t have a voice, but I know from experience that if people organize and speak up, they can make a difference. That’s what that song’s about.”

Elsewhere on Good Luck Charm, “Uniform,” “Anywhere But Here” and “Cautionary Tale” offer a sublime blend of unflinching honesty and heartfelt positivity, while the heart-tugging “I Found You” and “Easy by Your Side” poignantly celebrate enduring romance with sensitivity and humor.

“‘Cautionary Tale’ took us a couple of years to write, and it’s one that a lot of people seem to be responding to,” Eleanor offers. “It’s a cautionary tale for the digital age, where people are trying to numb themselves from their jobs or their struggles. There’s a lot of loneliness out there, but it’s important to connect with people. That’s a theme that comes up a lot in these songs.”

Denton, TX-born Eleanor and Houston-bred Chris have both been making music for most of their lives. Eleanor, the daughter of an opera-singer mother and a folk singer/airline pilot father, began playing fiddle at the age of four and studied with legendary Texas fiddler Johnny Gimble, and she and her sister Bonnie (now a respected singer- songwriter in her own right) played in the family band. Chris, meanwhile, was a teen guitar prodigy, playing the blues in Houston clubs by the age of 13.

Both future partners had considerable success as instrumentalists-for-hire, with Eleanor backing the likes of Regina Spektor, Kelly Willis, Diana Ross and Will Hoge, and Chris playing with Son Volt, Jack Ingram, Bobby Bare Jr. and Wayne Hancock. After meeting at a festival in Colorado in 2005, each released a solo project – Eleanor’s Airplanes and Chris’ The Late Great Chris Masterson – but eventually found more satisfaction in writing, performing and recording together. After a five-year stint living in Brooklyn, they realized that there was little point paying to live in New York when they were spending most of their time on tour, and relocated to the more hospitable environs of Austin. By then, they were already touring and recording with Steve Earle, performing together on numerous Earle tours and playing on his acclaimed album The Low Highway.

“Playing with Steve has been great for us,” Eleanor says. “For one thing, he’s an amazing songwriter, so that kind of holds us to a certain standard. He’s also a great storyteller, and that’s taught us a lot about relating to an audience. One thing we’ve learned in touring with Steve is that people remember the stories that you tell as much as the songs you sing. If you make them laugh or make them cry, they take that home with them as much as they would a song.”

“You learn something different from every artist you work with,” Chris adds, “whether it’s how they handle the crowd or how they write songs or how they handle rehearsing or recording. We’ve accumulated all of this experience in our time working with other artists and I’m grateful for it.”

While Chris and Eleanor have learned a lot from Steve Earle, they themselves are an integral part of his band. “Chris is the best guitar player that’s ever been in this band and Eleanor’s a better musician than any of us,” exclaims Earle.

Chris and Eleanor wrote most of Good Luck Charm while on tour with Earle, stealing whatever time they could to work on the songs. “We spent a lot of time hiding out in dressing rooms with our guitars,” Chris notes. “On our days off, we didn’t go out or do anything fun; we were just holed up in hotel rooms writing these tunes.”

“It was a challenge,” Eleanor adds, “but having a deadline lit a fire under us, and I think that some of that urgency is reflected in the songs.”

By then, they’d found a sympathetic ear in producer Jim Scott, whose clear, unfussed production spotlights the strengths of Good Luck Charm’s songs and the honesty of the Mastersons’ performances. “Jim was high on our list of dream producers,” Eleanor states, “so when he said he was interested in working with us, we packed up the van and the dog and drove out to California, and recorded and mixed the record with Jim in 15 days. It was a tall order, but he made it easy.”

“We’ve always loved the way Jim’s records sound,” Chris adds. “They always sound organic, without a lot of trickery or bells and whistles. After working with him, I can say that his records come out sounding as good as they do as the cumulative effect of a series of good decisions. He has a real ability to get the best out of every performance, and he got it to sound good without us ever having to spend four hours playing ping-pong while he got a snare sound.”

Jim Scott stated, “Chris and Eleanor might be the hardest working husband and wife team in the business. They had a great spirit in the studio, pushing themselves and each other to greatness in every phase of the recording process. From the songwriting to the live performances, they are true professionals that bring joy to music.”

With Good Luck Charm under their belt, The Mastersons plan to promote it in the best way they know how: by getting in front of people and singing and playing together.

“At some point, we got to a place where it felt like the shows we were playing had really started to connect with people on an emotional level,” Chris observes, adding, “I think all the success we’ve had out on the road comes through on Good Luck Charm.”

“We’re really lucky,” he concludes. “We get to get out of bed every day and write a song or go play a show together, which is pretty much all that we’ve ever wanted out of life.”   (from their web site)

Emma Donovan & The Putbacks

Emma and her hot band play hard hitting and heartfelt soul with gritty songwriting – optimistic, angry and melancholic. The music is fluid, live and raw. The new album Dawn was recorded in one room, on eight channels of analogue tape.

Emma Donovan  & The Putbacks

DAWN takes some cues from the burgeoning soul revival, but it’s a far looser interpretation than many releases in the style. This is no attempt at reviving a bygone era. There’s no horn section.
There’s more rock in there. There’s more country in there. There’s more, in Emma’s words, “blackfella music” in there. The songwriting is more akin to classic Aboriginal bands like Coloured Stone than it is to Sharon Jones. The sentiment is personal, for both Emma and the band, and forward looking, rather than revivalist. Shades of every soul record you ever liked sneak through: Al Green’s Hi Records era? Check. Aretha’s Classic Atlantic recordings? Check. Stacks of Stax? Check. It’s all there, but all
different. DAWN is its own thing, indigenous Australian soul. From the ferocious opening salvo of Black Woman to the sweet and gentle comedown of Over Under Away, DAWN is above all a journey through Emma’s life written in song.

Emma grew up singing church songs with her maternal grandparents on the North coast of New South Wales. Her first secular gigs were singing in The Donovans, a band comprised of her mother and five uncles. With her mother, Emma sang country for years and in her youth was a fixture at the Tamworth Country Music Festival, but she always yearned for the bluesier tones of her Father’s record collection, full of American artists like Laverne Baker and Etta James and Indigenous Australian artists like No Fixed Address and Archie Roach. Years later, after touring and recording with many of the mainstays of Indigenous music and developing as a solo artist in her own right, Emma met members of The PutBacks, and finally she found a band with the gritty blues soaked tones she had been looking for. She also found, in PutBacks bassist Mick Meagher, a co-writer and collaborator on the soul songs she had been waiting a lifetime to write and sing. The results are well worth the wait and hopefully, only mark the beginning of this oh-so-right collaboration.

” Driven by brutally honest lyricism, irresistible percussion and a purist’s respect for the funk and soul tradition, Dawn hearkens back to the heyday of Stax and Atlantic Recordings”       Karaslamb     (Okayplayer) 4 Stars Rolling Stone

“Emma Donovan’s undeniable deep soul voice has met its match at last in The PutBacks. They sass and kiss, twist and twine like a totally-into-each-other feisty couple. Dawn is the perfect marriage of singer and band. ”  Paul Kelly

“Emma’s voice is everything you’d want in a soul singer. She’s the real deal.”    Francis Devin Rimer (Wax Poetics)

Program Director Search


Port Fairy Folk Festival Inc     Media – For Immediate Release      10 Nov 2015


The Port Fairy Folk Festival Committee has announced the retirement of Jamie McKew as the Festival Director and that the 40th festival in March 2016 will his finale.

The President of the Committee, Bruce Leishman, said it will be a massive change for the event as Jamie was a founding member of the festival and has been President, Programmer or Director for 38 of the 40 events. A stunning achievement for the local Geelong doctor. Jamie’s passion for the event will not be surpassed and, in all his years, every festival has been sold out which is testament to his skill and knowledge of the music industry. The reputation of the festival has been built upon by Jamie’s enthusiasm and creativity. Many artists have been given a chance by Jamie to perform at the festival and “I would hate to think of the number of acts, artists, performers that have graced Jamie’s laptop”. Mr Leishman said that Jamie’s decision to relinquish the role was akin to closing a book or the end of a record. Jamie’s standing within the industry is noted worldwide and many artists from overseas, let alone our national acts, are only too willing to perform on his stage. What commenced in 1977 with 400 patrons now attracts over 15,000 artists, volunteers and patrons.

In announcing the news Mr Leishman said that the Committee have reviewed the Festival Director position as Jamie had taken it upon himself to perform extra responsibilities as the Committee itself went through a restructure. The workload had become too great and the time was now ripe to review some of these responsibilities. It was likely that the Committee would assume some of the roles as well as engage contractors to assist in keeping the festival a major event, while at the same time keeping Jamie’s successful team in place.

The position of Program Director will be advertised within the coming weeks and likely to commence on 14 November and close on 11 December 2015. The Selection Committee expected to conduct interviews early in January 2016 and hoped to have an appointment made by the end of January. It would be important for the new Program Director to be involved with all the activities for the 40th Festival, with a view to taking over the reigns from 1 July 2016. Mr Leishman said that Jamie will continue his relationship with the Festival as mentor for the new Program Director

Many tributes will no doubt flow during the 40th Festival for Mr McKew as he races around the stages making sure that the performers, sound, lighting and a myriad of other items are working to make this festival a tribute to all the successes.

Bruce Leishman
President, Port Fairy Folk Festival
Ph: (03) 5568 2227            E: [email protected]

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Tell Us Your Fave Port Fairy Story

40th header

Share your favourite Port Fairy stories, yarns and pictures

Tell us your tales. Share the memories. Post your photos We invite you to jump aboard the good ship PFFF•40 and post your favorite festival stories and photographs. Over 39 festivals The Festival has come to mean a great deal to so very many – a “festival of dreams”. It has enchanted and entertained, delighted and enlightened – there are many treasured memories and favorite stories. We all love to share our good stories and so we can create our shared “Port Fairy Tales” with photos, videos, and stories that will inspire festivillagers with our special history of this “Festival of Dreams”.

Submit at our Blogsite: 40th Port Fairy Tales

Email pictures and stories: Email


Pic: Poteen on “stage” – the truck – December 1977

Next March, we will be celebrating another milestone along the happy trails of this festival when we present the 40th edition, almost 39 years along from the first in December 1977.

Is it REALLY 40 years??

To explain, in 1980 we looked up the theory of time travel and discovered we could go back in time plus change the dates, by running two festivals just 3 months apart – December 1979 and then March 1980. The 40th year will actually occur in December 2017. The good news is that we are not as old as we thought! This is a little known secret bonus for making and enjoying music. We hope things stay that way. There has been a lot of water under the Moyne River Bridge since then. Over the years of 40 festivals we will have presented around 3,500 acts including over 500 international acts and over 12,000 musicians to an audience of beyond 240,000 ticket holders and 1,000,000 attendances to the wee village of Port Fairy. As we always say, “Fifty thousand mutton birds can’t be wrong”.


Pic: Dancing in the sun at The Gardens afternoon concert – First Port Fairy – December 1977

Word count: 307 Last edited by jamie on 24/09/2015 at 22:11

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