Celtapalooza is back!

Online Folk Festival’s freeform salute to all things Celtic is back on the air.

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Festival Radio’s New Home

Everything old is new again. Festival Radio is once again Online Folk Festival. With the closing of Live365, the station has moved to Radionomy.com. To listen, click the player to the right, or visit http://www.radionomy.com/en/radio/onlinefolkfestival/

Festival Radio Playlist 11-27-2015

Full playlist after the break

Continue reading Festival Radio Playlist 11-27-2015

Festival Christmas is back on the air

For your holiday pleasure, Festival Christmas is back on the air with freeform holiday goodness.

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Connections – Musicians and their Instruments

Editor’s Note – The following article is presented courtesy of its author, Sue Barrett. All publishing rights remain solely hers.

Connections – Musicians and Their Instruments

By Sue Barrett

What exactly is an orchestra? A famous conductor was once asked that question. After a great deal of thought, he replied, “It’s a collection of people scraping, blowing and banging things all at once.” Oddly enough, the conductor was quite right.

(Introduction to The Instruments of the Orchestra (45 rpm), narrated by Joseph Cooper, with the Sinfonia of London)

Growing up in Australia, generations of children learnt about music through the Australian Broadcasting Commission, including ABC radio’s school broadcasts.

In 1969, for example, the Singing and Listening program (for senior primary grades) included ‘Maranoa Lullaby’ (Australian Aboriginal song), ‘Ma Bella Bimba’ (Italian folk song), ‘Little David’ (African American spiritual) and Mozart’s ‘The Birdcatcher’. Whilst the Let’s Have Music program (for grades three and four) included the Yiddish song ‘A Fiddler’, Paul Yarrow and Leonard Lipton’s ‘Puff (The Magic Dragon)’, ‘Tingalayo’ (a calypso song from the West Indies), Tom Paxton’s ‘The Marvellous Toy’ (“It went ‘zip’ when it moved, and ‘bop’ when it stopped, And whirr when it stood still”) and the ‘Skye Boat Song’ (by Annie MacLeod and Sir Harold Boulton).

In 1972, Singing and Listening included ‘Tortillas’ (Chilean folksong), Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘With Catlike Tread’ (from The Pirates of Penzance), the Canadian song ‘Land of the Silver Birch’ and Henry Lawson’s ‘The Drover’ (set to an Irish tune). And Let’s Have Music included Woodie Guthrie’s ‘So Long, It’s Been Good to Know You’, the Arabic folk song ‘Tafta Hindi’, Lennon and McCartney’s ‘Yellow Submarine’ and the Kentucky mountain song, ‘The Old Maid’.

Now FolkBlog explores musical instruments, music making and introducing children to music with Ruth Hazleton (an Australian singer, guitarist, clawhammer banjo player and folklorist), Kara Square (an American singer/songwriter, videographer, composer and ukulele player), Liz Frencham (an Australian double bass player, singer and songwriter) and Rachel Hair (a Scottish harpist, composer and music teacher).

Continue reading Connections – Musicians and their Instruments

Festival Radio Playlist – September 12, 2015

It’s been a long time since a Festival Radio playlist was posted here. We’re still on the air and playing a wide variety of music. The following playlist has 617 tracks from 573 different artists. Full playlist  in alphabetical order by artist after the jump.

Continue reading Festival Radio Playlist – September 12, 2015

Ronnie Gilbert Tribute

Ronnie Gilbert (1926-2015)

American performer Ronnie Gilbert passed away in early June 2015, aged 88.

FolkBlog now pays tribute to Ronnie Gilbert, with a previously unpublished article from The Recorded Songwriter series.

THE RECORDED SONGWRITER…Judy Small & Ronnie Gilbert (2003)

When somebody else does your stuff, then there’s a chance that you might actually be a songwriter.” – Cris Williamson, 2001

Judy Small lives in Australia; Ronnie Gilbert lives [lived] in the USA. Judy’s father was a journalist; Ronnie’s mother was a unionist and socialist. Judy’s song ‘Never Rock ’N’ Rollers’ includes the line, “Our songs’ll never make it to the charts we know and we’ll never have a number one”; Ronnie’s group, The Weavers, topped the US music charts with the million-selling hit, ‘Goodnight Irene’. Judy’s song, ‘Mothers, Daughters, Wives’, appears on Ronnie’s album, The Spirit Is Free (1985). Here are some reflections [from 2003] from Judy and Ronnie on the song.

Continue reading Ronnie Gilbert Tribute

World Environment Day 2015 – Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.

Editor’s Note: Sue Barrett submitted this article in plenty of time for this to run before World Environment Day. All responsibility for its tardiness belongs to the editor. All rights and credit otherwise belong to Sue Barrett and this article appears with her permission.

by Sue Barrett

Rachel saw the changes in the coastline/

In the fish, in the wildlife, the forests and the trees/

She knew these were canaries in the coalmine/

She felt it in her body, in the air and in the seas/

Silent Spring, Silent Spring

(Pat Humphries/Sandy O, ‘Silent Spring’)

It’s almost thirty-five years to the day since American biologist and nature writer Rachel Carson was posthumously awarded the USA’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

According to the citation read out by President Jimmy Carter in early June 1980:

Never silent herself in the face of destructive trends, Rachel Carson fed a spring of awareness across America and beyond. A biologist with a gentle, clear voice, she welcomed her audiences to her love of the sea, while with an equally clear determined voice she warned Americans of the dangers human beings themselves pose for their own environment. Always concerned, always eloquent, she created a tide of environmental consciousness that has not ebbed.

The theme for World Environment Day that year was: A New Challenge for the New Decade: Development Without Destruction.

With World Environment Day coming up on Friday 5 June 2015, FolkBlog explored environmental matters with musicians ELENA HIGGINS and TASH TERRY (of Indigie Femme) (New Zealand/USA), CRAIG MINOWA (of Cloud Cult) (USA), JENNY BIDDLE (Australia), BERNIE KRAUSE (USA) and JODI MARTIN (Australia)…

Continue reading World Environment Day 2015 – Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.

A Lot to Say – Into the World of Hip-Hop

Editor’s Note: Sue Barrett contributes articles to this blog and retains all rights to this and all articles that appear here.

By Sue Barrett


Miss Kinnie Starr’s the name

I was born to bear the flame

that excites you to the game of contemplation

now just enjoy this here collision

rock ‘n roll folk hip hop fusion

(Kinnie Starr, ‘Sex in the Prairies’)


A somewhat bemused owner of a record store in Australia led the way to his small collection of hip-hop CDs. Then he made the collection even smaller by removing several miscategorised CDs (including the only one by a female artist).

With the release of the nominations for the 57th Grammy Awards, and Iggy Azalea’s four nominations (including Best Rap Album), the record store’s hip-hop collection might now be growing.

It was at the 31st Grammy Awards, in February 1989, that a Rap category appeared in the Awards for the first time (albeit with the award apparently presented prior to the telecast) – DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince won Best Rap Performance, with ‘Parents Just Don’t Understand’.

Other winners at the 31st Grammy Awards included George Michael (Album of the Year, with Faith), Bobby McFerrin (Record of the Year and Song of the Year, with ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’), Tracy Chapman (Best New Artist), KT Oslin (Best Country Song, with ‘Hold Me’) and Ziggy Marly and the Melody Makers (Best Reggae Recording, with Conscious Party).

Later in 1989, Elaine Meitzler wrote, as part of a review of Neneh Cherry’s record ‘Buffalo Stance’, in the 25th (and final) issue of Bitch: The Women’s Rock Newsletter With Bite (p. 35):

“Looks like Rap is a genre that is here to stay…Some rap groups are funny, like Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, or have a hardcore political stance, like Public Enemy. But Neneh is sassy, cool, and tough.”

Neneh Cherry has certainly been in the spotlight this past year, with the release of her first solo album in over sixteen years, Blank Project (which appeared in a number of Best of 2014 lists) and a string of performances and other projects.

As 2014 closed and 2015 opened, and with the 57th Grammy Awards upon us, NASTAIJ (Australia), KINNIE STARR (Canada) and BE STEADWELL (USA) talked hip-hop with FolkBlog.

Continue reading A Lot to Say – Into the World of Hip-Hop

Celtapalooza 2015

St. Patrick’s Day is coming early. I’ve taken Festival Christmas off the air and replaced it with 40 hours of the best Celtic music. Everything from Afro Celt Sound System to Zeptepi.

Listen here.