Majors Creek - Music @ the Creek

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Molonglo Mayhem Border Morris gets ready for the last time

This is the one to do to see the best of Australian Folk Music in a small and intimate bush setting.  No showers but plenty of toilets.  Limited water as there has been a drought for many years.  The settlement of Majors Creek is about one and a half hours drive from Canberra very small with about 20 houses, a pub, a church and a recreation ground with an old wooden hall.  The settlement had infamous characters passing through it's midst during the gold rush days when the likes of bushrangers the Clarke Brothers and Ben Hall would set up ambushes to hold up the gold coaches and the Cobb & Co coaches.  There are beautiful walks to be taken from the festival site leading to waterfalls.

On the Thursday night we arrived in Canberra and met up with some of our children, my hairdresser ( who promptly put several pink streaks in my hair) and former work collegues.

Faces are painted
  We deposited our bags at Andrew's eldest daughter's place and headed in to meet up with my Morris side at a Turkish Pide hut for our Last Supper.  With many of the group moving interstate over the last 2 years and some injuries antagonised by the type of high impact dance we do, the side had sadly decided to go into remission.  A group of 30-40 turned up for the evening and as usual, despite the tiny room we were in, after the banquet the dancing with sticks began.

I began attending the Majors Creek festival in 1998 as a member of the group who began dancing here at the very first festival in 1992?, the inaugural festival.  Now, I too had attended this inauguaral festival but only as an accompanying parent of a child who sang with a school choir and never did see the strange dancers that I eventually joined!  Comparisons with English festivals of 2006 that we attended will no doubt follow.

Dancing begins

The weather was fine with some minor flourishing clouds which sadly didn't bring any significant rain.   There were the usual food favourite vans from hot potatoes, Thai and Indian, Aussie Tucker, the local committee's bbq, home made icecreams and most importantly a coffee van.   Clothing stalls, jewelry and musical instruments also were present to provide distractions and add to the fun.  There are four venues for music and dance plus a childrens festival tent and a session bar for musicians and singers to gather and enjoy.

This year as usual the artists were an interesting mix.  Jason & Chloe Roweth are regulars and one of my favourites with songs inspired by the people, history and landscapes of Australia with the pure voice of Chloe as she effortlessly weaves stories in song.

Dancing gets faster
  Damien Coen and Damon Davies with a blues inspired partnership.  Dev'lish Mary a new combination of four women including Liz Frencham (Jigzag), Ruth Hazelton (Kate & Ruth) with two newcomers to me, gave a cheeky, up beat, old timey set using twin fiddles, double bass, 5 string banjo and guitar with great voice harmonies.  Franklin B Paverty have been around since th 1970's and are a great Canberra  based folk band who didn't dissappoint.  Great harmonies.  Keith Preston's Historic Punch & Judy  provided a traditional P&J show that delighted the children as well as the adults.  Children had to be rehearsed somewhat as they were told that this was not TV or Videos and that they were supposed to call out things like "He's behind you!"

Martin Pearson was there with his MP3 and always presents great humour put into song.

Andrew and I at the Last Supper on Thursday in Canberra
  We had spotted him at Sidmouth, Devon in August this year at the festival there and we were so pleased to see someone from home then and even happier to be home and to see him again!  His 10pm set in the church wove stories of magic, myths and mystery and to any latecomer must have presented and extraordinary sight of shadowy people sitting in pews doing the bopping chorus from the Nasghoul Song.  The Wheeze and Suck band were in top form and a play a lot of Morris tunes with great energy, sing bawdy English songs and in some cases are old Morris Dancers themselves, means that I have been watching them for about 9 years at festivals.  Ian (the Pump) did drag out his old navy blue frock for one of the sets and I heard an audience member saying at the end that he had only just noticed that one of the guys was wearing a dress.  They are so outrageous that things like the dress and fish net stockings go un-noticed perhaps?

Of course there was a final performance by Molonglo Mayhem Border Morris over the weekend and we came from Queensland, Melbourne, Canberra, Strathbogie and the South Coast to have a last supper together on Thursday night before heading out to the Festival on Friday night.  A walk through our dances in the tennis courts gave us a feel for which dance we were in and what position we would take.  I last danced with them at the previous Majors Creek festival a year ago but some things you just don't forget.  The music is so contagious and happy that one just can't resist and the wearing of the rag jackets, tights and oddballed hats along with brightly painted faces allows for plenty of silliness and fascinates the children in particular.  We have had so many years of socialising, fun and fitness together that it is really hard to let them go but as we are one of those who have left Canberra, there is no alternative.

So, after a great weekend of music and catching up with old faces we packed down the camper trailer and headed into nearby Captains Flat to stay with some dear friends.  Their offers of a cup of tea or a drink were brushed aside for the offer of a shower first then a great evening was had when another couple who had also been at the festival came around for dinner.  Dinner was a wonderful bbq of kangaroo meat, salads and vegetables and great company and plenty of wine! 

 

nonna says:
Great writing - thanks for telling us about the festival.
Posted on: Nov 16, 2006
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Molonglo Mayhem Border Morris gets…
Molonglo Mayhem Border Morris get…
Faces are painted
Faces are painted
Dancing begins
Dancing begins
Dancing gets faster
Dancing gets faster
Andrew and I at the Last Supper on…
Andrew and I at the Last Supper o…
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