A bluegrass festival is a different animal to the commercially driven rock blockbusters and this is particularly true in say, Dorrigo. This hamlet up in the Range is now more of a grey nomad stopover than the roaring timber town of yore, but you can still see a good old-fashioned brawl outside the pub at peak hour on a Friday afternoon.
The festival itself is blissfully tranquil. A ban on booze means no excitable chest-beaters or mega systems erupting with the latest pop sensations. All you can hear is the pleasant trickle of mandolins, banjos and violins extolling thousand year old folksongs.
This was the scene for the launch of the Lonely Horse Band’s latest album, written, recorded and released in the town last weekend. We previewed our latest tunes about the contemporary histories of one-horse towns alongside the likes of Scarlett Affection and country music history incarnate in the forms of Anne Kirkpatrick, daughter of Slim Dusty, and Ami Williamson, daughter of John.
After our show on Saturday night we were just in time to miss a 40-person brawl outside the pub, and next morning I motored off to play the Coaching Station in Nymboida, a much less sedate affair – fire-fighting choppers coming and going made us feel like the Doors playing live at an Apocalypse Now re-enactment. Now that’s ancient history.