Harrietville 2009

The Yarram Festival was slap bang in the middle of the Harrietville Festival which was just a bit inconvenient.

I left Yarram at 3:00 and drove home, collected my gear and set off at 4:15. Stopped for a pizza dinner at Sale.

Now I had to make a decision: Do I travel through Dargo or Omeo? The Dargo route is 100 km shorter, but I was a little hesitant as there had been high winds earlier in the week with rain and I'll be traveling through the High Country at night instead of a rather predictable trip through Omeo. I decided on Dargo.
Things went rather well until I reached the last 50 km to Mount Hotham. The rain started, the mud started and worse of all the fog (clouds) started. I didn't get stuck even though there were a few slippery patches, but the fog reduced my speed to a maximum of thirty kph! I was really glad to see that Stop sign where I reached The Great Alpine Highway. My speed did not increase one bit as I had all those corners to negotiate and the fog was still there. I finally arrived at 9:30. Long trip.

I had a quick check of the Marquee Concert and opted to head up to the pub for a jam. I found a group of people jamming with Laurie Grundy revving things up on his banjo. I joined in and we played on until 2:00 when I was just about to nod off, it had been a long day.

Next morning of the last day I sat in on the guitar workshop and took the De Grouchy out. Shock/Horror: No strap. I must have left it at the pub last night. Walked to the Pub and asked the Manager, nope, no idea. I was standing just outside the front door when a lady who was having a cigarette break overheard me telling my sad story. She worked there and said "I know where it will be!" In a few minutes I was reunited with my 'lost' strap'. Happy man.

This year marks the Twenty First Harrietville Festival and there were an enormous number of acts performing.

For me the festival was a one day event, but it was still good.

For some reason the Chalkboard Concerts weren't held in the Marquee and I had formed the opinion that they had been dropped from this years festival. I mentioned this to Jon Werner who quickly informed me that yes the Chalkboard Concerts were still happening, but in a tent near the food vendors, named 'The Hub'. I think I was still tired and just didn't notice. There were three concerts that day and I managed to get in the first two.
I had brought along my band (A Pocket PC) to help me out as it's just too hard to play solo and I certainly didn't have time to arrange real musicians.
In the first concert I played 'The Suit', 'Papa Played The Dobro' and finished off with 'Changing Channels' to polite applause.
In the second concert I had to change my plans a little as there was a theme! Yes, a theme: Depressing, gruesome songs. By the time my slot arrived the organisers were running out of time and I was restricted to two songs, so I performed 'Money For Nothing' and 'You are My Sunshine'. Pretty light weight content compared to the other acts. The winner was Rob McNulin who played guitar in the West Virginia String Band. He played three rather twisted, dark songs and deserved to win.

Had dinner at the pub and played for an hour in the dinning room at a jam with Laurie Grundy again.

The 'find' of the weekend would have to be a young man named Archer. He looks like someone out of the mountains of Tennessee from the 1920's. His clothing, looks, boots, even the cotton ribbon he used as a guitar strap. I first heard him at the first Chalkboard Concert. He had a most distinctive voice, a deep tenor of some strength which really set him apart from most of the other singers.
He had a CD for sale at the CD tent. Nothing flash, just a white CD wrapped in newspaper and selling for five dollars. Apparently he signed the first couple and did little drawings on them, but must have given up later on.

I'm really disappointed that I missed out on Garry Brown's Dobro Workshop and Jam. Let me explain. I originally came to Harrietville to learn Dobro, and have continued ever since, as this is the only place you see Dobro players. I did catch up with Garry in the Marquee, but didn't have much of a chance to talk or play.

I'm still glad I made the effort to be there even if it was for only one day.

I chose the Omeo route to travel home. No rain, no fog and much more relaxing.