When: Sunday 1st November, 2020
Where: Simon Hackett Winery
(Reviewed by John Glennie)
It was so exhilarating to be able to get out and listen to live music again. After dodgy weather the previous day, Sunday 1st November was absolutely perfect – delightful warm, sunny day and an outstanding, picture-perfect venue at Simon Hackett Winery in McLaren Vale. This was the first of what is expected to be an annual event and I am positive the 900-strong crowd will be looking forward to future concerts!
It was an excellent afternoon / evening of folk, blues and R&B music from local performers – about half of which I have seen many times and they didn’t disappoint. A couple have done better gigs and could have upped the tempo a bit – especially later in the evening – but it was still great music.
The first performance of the afternoon, piano-player/singer Thoma Henbest, was one of my favourites for the day. This was the first time I had seen him play and will certainly be watching out for him again. He performed original songs (except for the last) and was joined half-way through his set by a sax player, which complemented his songs perfectly.
Courtney Robb and Snooks La Vie graced the stage next and also delighted the crowd with their talent. I have seen them before and was not disappointed this time by their great harmonies. Same applies to the next duo who hit the stage, The Yearlings. This was the first time I have seen them and was quite impressed.
Next, we were treated to a more laid-back solo acoustic folky set from Alana Jagt. Lovely voice and a great selection of songs. AP D’Antonio was also new to me but an equally good talent. The volume picked up a bit too which raised the atmosphere – thankfully not too loud so we could still enjoy the music. The previous acts were just a smidge too quiet so the crowd spent more time talking instead of listening to the music.
Ollie English was next and was one of the crowd favourites of the day. He was on stage with Katie (sorry, couldn’t read my writing for her last name!) and lifted the tempo to just the right level. Given that COVID prevented dancing it was quite amusing to see people “dancing” in their low-profile chairs!
Folk/blues singer/songwriter Timberwolf (alias Chris Panousakis) with his two support musicians was another hightlight of the day. Timberwolf have been highlighted on Triple J’s Like A Version and have also appeared at festivals including WOMADelaide. Chris has an amazing voice and is a very talented musician. The crowd absolutely loved them.
An Adelaide favourite pub-performer, Cal Williams Jr, is a virtuoso guitarist and blues traditionalist. As usual he enthralled the crowd with his voice and amazing riffs. By this stage a fair portion of the crowd were making their way back home after an exceptional day of live music, great wine and gin and enjoying a glorious day with friends after a torrid 6+ months! But there was still more to come…
Cal was followed by B.S. (Ben) Roberts of Ukelele Death Squad fame who started with a few quieter slow numbers. When he was joined by a couple of vocalists (one being another member of the Ukelele Death Squad) the tempo became more appropriate for this later time slot.
Tom West has been touring for most of the past few years but was forced to return home in March due to the pandemic. Great news for Adelaide (performing on Triple J Unearthed in September) and for Folkloria! A polished folk-blues singer he started off a little quiet but hit his straps in the latter half of his set.
Overall it was an awesome day – the weather being exceptionally kind – and so nice to be able to get out and enjoy live music again. The event was very well organised and I look forward to Folkloria 2021. One recommendation for future events is to have an MC to introduce each performance. There were many people (including us!) asking “who’s that?”. Knowing who they are and a little bit about their background would have made it so much more enjoyable.