Redlands Bluegrass Festival @ Kindilan

I decided to have a break and noticed that the Redlands Bluegrass Festival was on and thought that would be a good turning point in my travels.

Left Thursday morning at 7:00 a.m. and drove 12 hours to reach Dubbo and just fell into bed. I travelled here via Canberra. We sure have a lovely country. This time of year there's just not enough sun in the day to do the trip in the daylight. Did the last few hours in the dark.

Friday morning I decided on an earlier start and was on the road by 5:00 a.m. Reached Brisbane around 3:00 p.m. I left the booking of my accommodation a little late and missed out on local motels. I spotted this motel which had a most reasonable price and booked it. I must check the map scale next time as I was forty kilometers from Redlands. Drove to the festival site and waited for the ticket box to be constructed. The festival is held at Kindilan Outdoor Education and Conference Centre which is owned by the Queensland Girl Guides Association and it's a ripper site. A veritable oasis in suburbia.
The main arena was marquee erected in an open area between the trees. The weather was not kind and it rained continuously from about 5:00 p.m. Until the next day. As a result the ground was completely saturated and water started to invade the marquee. As a result no one escaped the mud! Gumboots were the fashion accessory of the day.
The sound was basically single microphone except for the allowance of electric bass. Other festivals should take note.
The evening concert consisted of about six acts and was great value. The most adventurous was Bluegrass Parkway's show which was a mock old time radio show. The stage was divided up into three sections. The left most was the band. The centre comprised a large screen which was showing old black and white images of Bill Monroe and other artists of the era. The right side had an radio announcer reading out the song introductions, advertisements and listeners cards and letters. It took me until the end of the act to realise that the announcer was Bruce Packard. Very well done. There wasn't a 'warm up' area for the muso's and sometimes their efforts distracted attention away from what was happening on stage.
After the concert I joined in with several jams on the covered decking area in front of the fireplace room. Joshua Verco let me play his double bass for about half an hour. I was sorry for it the next day as i developed a blister on my index finger. Need to toughen up. Hamish Davidson was playing his new Dobro, so I passed on a few hints. On and on ending up singing David Crosby harmony lines to Crosby Stills and Nash songs until at 4:00 a.m. I figured I should get some sleep and headed back to my motel room at Kangaroo Point which is forty minutes away. Long day, I've been awake for twenty four hours!

I rose Saturday morning around 10:30 and headed back to Kindilan. The festival is unique in the sense that concurrent events are provided requiring you to make a choice on what to attend and agonise over what to miss out on. At one point in time there was a concert on at the marquee and three workshop: Decisions, decisions. Another wonderful feature of the festival is that there are a vast number of places to jam courtesy of all the separate rooms.
Two concerts, dinner and some more jamming, I pulled the pin at 2:00 a.m. I started out jamming on the decking again, but became frustrated with what I could hear. Let me explain. The muso calling the song was at the other of the deck from me and not everyone knew the song being played. The person behind the person in front of them copied what the person in front of them played. This procedure continued until it finally reached me. By this time the song I heard did not match so well with what had been originally played. A good practical demonstration of 'Chinese Whispers'. I ended up sliding along in a half hearted manner to the sound of the Davidson Brothers and Mustered Courage featuring Pete Fidler. Best off to stay out of the way of the tremendous amount of quality notes being generated.

Sunday morning I was at Kindilan round 11:00 a.m. and attended two workshops, one by Lachlan Davidson on mandolin technique and one by Garry Brown on dobro technique. The final concert was held in the Fireplace Room and finished up at 4:30 p.m. when we were told that that was it and we all now needed to leave the site. That was a bit disappointing as I'm sure more jamming would have gone on into the wee hours.

Oh well. Most friendly and enjoyable festival. I left my rocking chair Friday night and it was still there Saturday afternoon. Saturday I left my reading glasses in a shopping bag at the first jam and found it where I left it Sunday morning. Honest attendees. Mind you, cliques were alive and active, but no Bluegrass Police!

On Monday I visited Graeme Dean and his partner Joan who live in Redcliffe. They are such good company it's a pleasure to visit. I played a few tunes for them on the De Gruchy. Glad we found the time to share time together.

Tuesday I travelled from Brisbane to Dubbo and believe it or not the GPS found another way into Dubbo that I have never travelled on. I decided to travel through Tamworth for a change of scenery. Twelve hour trip today, nine to nine.

Wednesday I travelled from Dubbo t home via Canberra. Took me longer, fourteen hours, seven to nine. I did stop at Pro Audio in Canberra and had a look around. Purchased a Fender old fashioned guitar lead.

Good week away.


My stereotype definition of Bluegrass music is as follows:

Of the bands that performed at Redlands, three float to the top.

Band Name: Bluegrass Parkway Cool Grass Davidson Brothers
Musicianship: Excellent Excellent Excellent
Style: Bill Monroe/Radio Show, single mic.
No one plugs in.
Bill Monroe/Radio Show, single mic.
No one plugs in.
Their own, multiple mics.
Guitar and Bass sometimes plug in.
Extension: None, it's 1945! Use humour, sarcasm and theatre props to extend their style. Their own.
More info: BP put all of their effort into recreating the Bluegrass stereotype. The men all dress in matching suits, hats, etc except for Maria of course who wears dresses of various styles. Lots of 'dancing' around the microphone. In fact they have their own microphone and microphone stand for that 1945 radio look. While CG is capable of playing traditionally, they set about pushing the boundaries. Silly hats and clothes are the order of the day. Jim's the technical man, Bruce the arty one. The DB's haven't set about to copy anyone. The banter between Lachlan and Hamish with the audience is their unique signature.
Swap Instruments: No swapping here. Or here. Hamish plays four instruments: Fiddle, Banjo, Guitar and Dobro.
Lachlan plays three instruments: Mandolin, Fiddle and Guitar.
Original Music: Nope, it's all traditional. The source of material varies between classical to pop with the odd nonsense song all played impeccably. While the DB's play the odd traditional tune (Orange Blossom Special), they mainly write their own material.

These three bands set the standard. The other bands at the festival would be categorised as traditional (BP) with the odd one or two injecting humour every now and then.

During Garry Brown's Dobro workshop it struck me how different my approach to the instrument is. I am the only one that sings and uses the Dobro as a backing instrument. Everyone else doesn't sing and splits their time between doing chops and soloing. I didn't even take my instrument out, I just watched the others as I didn't have much to offer except for a way to play minor chords in any key. There, I did contribute!

While I was at the festival an idea came to me for a tune. This is some sort of a miracle as this is the first song I have composed on the Dobro. Just need to flesh it out as they say.