What is perhaps the capital region’s best known Easter weekend event will be back for 2021, albeit in a wildly different form as Good Folk – a folk experience in Queanbeyan.
As tents housing stages and audiences alike would normally pop up across EPIC as part of the National Folk Festival (NFF), this year’s event will instead shift across the border to bring Queanbeyan alive with a vibrant program of indoor concerts and outdoor entertainment.
With the NFF’s 2021 iteration cancelled in October 2020, Good Folk has been planned as a two-day concert series that will look and feel very different to the usual offering.
The event will run over a small footprint in the Queanbeyan CBD, featuring 22 concerts across three local venues all within easy walking distance: the Q, Bicentennial Hall, and the Royal Hotel.
A dedicated session venue, yet to be announced, will also feature.
Activities along Crawford Street will be revealed too, but plans are to have folk dancing, busking and local businesses trading out on the street.
A proud Queanbeyanite, performer Omar Musa described his hometown as a “land of story and song” and said he’s chuffed to be a part of a folk event of this ilk in his backyard.
“Growing up, there weren’t really opportunities to perform here in Queanbeyan,” Musa said.
“Although I try to build in universal themes into my poetry … there is that touch of Queanbeyan in it, so it feels really special to be performing poetry about this place in this place.”
Another mainstay of the local music scene, singer-songwriter Kim Yang said Good Folk will present a golden opportunity for her to reconnect with her audience, having been starved of performance opportunities since March last year, like so many other musicians.
“I haven’t been able to interact with my audience for quite a while, and I’m a really talkative person on stage.
“For me being able to process their reactions, I love being able to observe people when I perform as well.”
A Taiwanese-Australian, Queanbeyan was the first Australian city Yang lived in after moving here eight years ago.
Coming directly from the bustling metropolis of Taipei, Yang described the shift as a dramatic change of pace.
“When I first came here it took me some time to adjust … I guess I was finding my ground over here in Quenabeyan,” she said. “But the people are lovely, very nice, and very helpful.
“They were all very sweet to me, and I just love the history of the town.”
Having attended the NFF twice, once as a performer, Yang said she felt she belonged immediately upon entering “because the community sense of the festival is so distinct”.
“I had such a great performer’s experience at the festival two years ago, and I’ll love to perform again now for the general public.”
Alongside the impressive list of local performers, national acts including 2021 Golden Guitar Awards Female Artist of the Year, Fanny Lumsden, Central Coast trio Little Quirks, and one of Australia’s most enduring musical ensembles, Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen, will all be on the bill.
NFF managing director Helen Roben described Queanbeyan as an “ideal location” for a “vibrant, innovative folk event”.
Roben expressed satisfaction in being able to offer opportunities not just to performers, but to all the support crew across lighting, sound and the other broader industries who help get an event like this together.
With the Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council (QPRC) having partnered with the event and helped the NFF’s three-person team get Good Folk to where it is now, Roben thanked the council for their efforts and support.
QPRC mayor Tim Overall said councillors unanimously supported the initiative to bring Good Folk to Queanbeyan over Easter.
“The last two years have been so difficult for the wider region,” he said. “Queanbeyan has a long history of traditions and cultural heritage.”
To find out more, visit folkfestival.org.au