TOM FISHER [FREMANTLE FOLK FEST] The X-Press Interview


The Fremantle Folk Festival returns for the second time this Saturday, October 14 at Princess May Park and Clancy’s Fish Pub. The 2017 event is promising to be even bigger and better than the original, with local, regional, and interstate acts offering a rich and diverse musical experience for the whole family. It’s all part of the vision of local promoter Tom Fisher from Clancy’s Fish Pub, who sees the festival as a great way to foster and showcase local talent in a relaxed and family-friendly environment. He spoke to BRAYDEN EDWARDS about the what it meant to have the Pigram Brothers headlining the event, the acts he is looking forward to and why he felt the local talent that characterises the occasion is its most important and defining asset.

There’s a diverse range of acts this year across a number of different styles and genres. What in your opinion typifies ‘folk music’ and why do you feel the artists on this line-up exemplify that?

I think ‘folk’ lends itself to the atmosphere and punters attending, offering a casual relaxed vibe that everyone can enjoy – from hipsters to grannies. We have a band that plays traditional folk like The Fling, but then there’s a blues band like Old Blood playing some dirtier stuff. But we think those traditional folk values extend beyond the stage performances to the roaming acts and circus stuff too.

What does it mean to you to have Kimberley legends The Pigram Brothers headlining this year? For people who haven’t heard them what can they look forward to?

I’m extremely chuffed with this as I feel they are possibly one of the country’s most iconic indigenous acts. It’s particularly special because it’s the 20 year anniversary of their famous Salt Water Country album. The minute I hear Steve Pigram’s voice I imagine myself at Cable Beach drinking a beer watching the sunset. There is an amazing romanticism with this act which is why people love them so much.

There is still definitely a real focus on local acts in this festival. Was that a deliberate approach to choosing the line-up and if so why?

Our vision is to keep the event as WA focused as we can – at least 80% of the bill. As a promoter, flying over east coast acts with a bit of buzz is cool, but to build this concept with the support of our great local acts and in turn give them support is where we’d like to go. It stems from the same driving concept we have at Clancy’s Fish Pub which has been supporting WA music for 30 years, and we always will.

What acts are you most looking forward to catching this year and why?

I do love a bit of Old Blood, Stella Donnelly is blowing people’s minds, plus I look forward to dropping some cheesy dad dance moves to Soukouss Internationale. Local folk-punk dead beats King of the Travellers are also a good time.

And who do you think people will be most surprised by? An act that maybe people haven’t been lucky enough to encounter yet?

Jack Davies and the Bush Chooks are definitely one to look out for. They’re all of 18 years old and already writing Dylan-esque type tunes. Stella Donnelly will take off big time soon, so this is a great chance to catch her on the main stage while you can.

It’s an all day family event… why would encourage people to get down early?

We have an entire kids section including performances from Circus WA, Nature Play, Animal farm and more. We have pass outs too so essentially bring the kids down early for some fun in the sun, then palm them off to the baby sitters and come back down for the headliners later on.

And what is it about the Fremantle Folk Festival that makes it a different experience from the others?

We like to think this is a festival for everyone. As I mentioned last year was amazing with uber cool hipsters dancing with kids and grannies and all sorts. It’s such an all inclusive yet very cool atmosphere. This is what we are after. The main arena is more family friendly but the pub stage is a little more rowdy – and ‘pub’ like of course.

What other than the music can people look forward to catching on the day?

I mentioned the Circus WA performances,  but there are also workshops, roaming entertainers, samba dancers, great craft beer, cider and wine available, food trucks, all the usual Clancy’s offerings, market stalls, an animal farm, a loose part nature play, fairies and a heap more things. As I said – something for everyone!

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