The Eastern (NZ)
The Eastern are a string band that roars like a punk band, that swings like a gospel band, that drinks like a country band, that works like a bar band, that hopes like folk singers. They sing love songs like union songs, write union songs like love songs, and want to slow dance and stand on tables, all at the same time.
Often described as New Zealand’s hardest working band, they have spent the last few years playing over 200 nights a year up and down NZ and beyond. They have toured with, and opened for, Fleetwood Mac, Steve Earle, Old Crow Medicine Show, The Jayhawks and Jimmy Barnes, but they’re just as happy on a street corner or in a backyard singin’ and kickin’ up their heels.
Liz Stringer’s powerful and emotive live performances and melodically rich, story based songs have earned her a place among Australia’s most respected songwriters and performers. Her latest album ‘Warm in the Darkness’ was met with wide acclaim upon its release in August 2012 and made it on the prestegous short list for the Australian Music Prize 2013.
Liz has toured nationally with the likes of Eric Bibb, Mia Dyson, Ember Swift and Ash Grunwald and has delighted audiences and festival goers around the country.
“These are some of the finest lyrics I have heard from a local artist in recent years.” - Brian Wise, Rhythms Magazine
Benny Walker & Band
Benny Walker’s sophomore album ‘Sinners and Saints’ is an effortless blend of blues, roots and acoustic folk. Walker’s intimate, eloquent song-writing is complemented by a rich, soulful voice which speaks of the trouble, strife and wonder of everyday life. It is this voice that recently earned him the Victoria n Indigenous Performing Arts Award for Best New Talent 2012, the Arts Cultural Australia Day Murray Shire Council Award and a 2011 Deadly Award nomination for Most Promising New Talent in Music.
Recorded at Yikesville with ARIA award winning producer Shane O’Mara (Tim Rogers, Lisa Miller, The Audreys), ‘Sinners and Saints’ is a 14 track long-player which was release on February 15 through Black Murphy Records via MGM.
Hailing from regional Victoria, Walker has performed alongside some of Australia’s finest, including Archie Roach and Vika & Linda Bull, as well as performing at some of the country’s finest festivals, including St Kilda Festival, Moomba Festival, Nannup Music Festival, Woodford Folk Festival, and the 2012 Australasian World Music Expo, and making his international debut with a stand-out tour of Canada in 2012.
Sal Kimber & The Rollin' Wheel
Described by Rolling Stone magazine as "Australiana-soaked alt-country at its finest", Sal Kimber and The Rollin’ Wheel have emerged as frontrunners in the new wave of Australian alt-country and roots music.
Since her debut release ‘Sounds Like Thunder’ in 2008, Sal and her band have performed at some of the country's finest festivals such as Port Fairy Folk, Whittlesea Country Music Festival, National Folk Festival and supported the likes of Kasey Chambers and Felicity Urquhart. Sal's music has been recognised with numerous awards, including 2010 Victorian Female Vocalist of the Year at the Victorian & National Country Music Awards.
Their first full-band album, 'Sal Kimber & The Rollin' Wheel' met with critical acclaim, and saw the band embark on a national tour in late 2011 and early 2012.
Ruth Moody is an Australian-born, Juno Award winning songwriter from Winnipeg, Canada. Founding member of the internationally-renowned trio The Wailin' Jennys, she has performed in sold-out venues around the world, made numerous critically-acclaimed albums, and has appeared many times on the popular American radio show A Prairie Home Companion. 2013 saw Ruth embark on a world tour in support of her sophomore solo album, These Wilder Things, which included 12 European shows opening for Mark Knopfler.
“Utterly charming and horribly irresistible. ****” Tom Jellett, Weekend Australian
Robyn Chalklen and Chris Parkinson, aka The Yearlings, first crossed paths at Tamworth Country Music Festival in 2000, and they’ve been writing and performing together ever since.
Reminiscent of alt-country Americana, but hailing from Adelaide, South Australia, The Yearlings’ sound is all their own, deftly straddling old and new, bitter and sweet, darkness and transcendence.
Quietly chipping away at their sound for the past ten years, they have produced four studio albums and one live record, and have appeared at high-profile festivals around Australia and internationally, including Port Fairy Folk Festival, Queenscliff Music Festival, Tamworth, and New York Guitar Festival.
The Stetson Family
Melbourne knockabouts The Stetson Family dig deep into the bluegrass roots of folk and country music to create a fresh twist on a timeless sound; it’s a little bit mountain, a little bit high-lonesome, and a whole lotta rhythm. Their debut EP, “Hey Sister Mary, Where’d You Get That Gun” made a big splash on the scene and was awarded Australian Independent Roots Album of the Year on BayFM’s ‘Mystery Train’. The Stetsons are quickly becoming regulars on the festival circuit, with 2010 highlights including Yackandandah Folk Festival, Kelly Country Pick, Folk in the Foothills, Harrietville Bluegrass Convention and Coast Acoustics Fest. The group’s first full-length album, 'The Devil in His Sunday Best', was released in October 2011.
Mel Parsons & The Rhythm Kings (NZ)
Armed with instant sing-along choruses, and a unique sensibility to melody and harmony, Parsons draws on the folk tradition of telling stories, and blends it with pop hooks. In her element onstage, Parsons is know for ‘pin-drop’ performances, drawing in her audiences and keeping them all night with a dynamic live show.
With home as a hotel room and a suitcase, Parsons has built up her fan base the old fashioned way, winning over audiences on the live circuit. 2013 sees another busy year for the singer, with tours in Australia, UK, Ireland, Germany, and her native New Zealand.
- The Sunday Star Times
“One of New Zealand’s finest releases”- *Waikato Times
Tracy McNeil Band
Canadian songstress Tracy McNeil first visited Australia in 2007 with just a suitcase and her highly acclaimed debut album 'Room Where She Lives'. Initially intended to be a vacation, the trip turned into a creative writing frenzy that still hasn’t stopped. McNeil won the hearts of Australians in 2008 when she co-wrote and toured with Jordie Lane under the moniker Fireside Bellows. McNeil and her stellar band released her second solo album ‘Fire From Burning’ in mid-2011. Offering an alt-country concoction of grit, grace and an honest vulnerability, this is a very different artist on the rise.
Hayward Williams (USA)
Hayward Williams (USA) grew up with a guitar in his hands, performing from an early age in cafes and bars throughout his home state of Wisconsin and around the Midwest. With two albums under his belt, he has visited Australia numerous times in the past two year to share his unique brand of alt-country Americana. Built on a foundation of folk and blues, Williams’ performances display a raw intensity tempered by his easy self-possession and wry charm. His latest album, Cotton Bell, was released in Australia last April and is a showcase of his effortless guitar playing and thoughtful, distinctive tenor. Williams has appeared at Yackandandah Folk Festival, Darebin Music Feast and Sydney Fringe Festival, among others.
Suzannah Espie & The Last Word
Abbie Cardwell & Her Leading Men
She has toured Germany in support of Dire Straits co-founder David Knopfler, opened for Steve Earle, Alex Lloyd, Shane Nicholson, The Snow Droppers, Tony Joe White, and taken her inimitable style to festivals including Womadelaide, East Coast Blues & Roots, Port Fairy Folk Festival and Woodford Folk Festival.