This weekend sees the return of the Kilmore Celtic Festival for another year, celebrating the influence of the settlers who travelled to Australia from Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Featuring food markets, musical instrument workshops and even live music and dance performances, of course it will all centre around Celtic culture and tradition. We managed to catch up with folkTrain, one of the bands who will be performing, to find out a little bit more about the Folk band.
What was the inspiration behind the formation of folkTrain?
Chris from the band filled us in: I wanted to be in a band because I like the synergy, when the sound of a group of people playing together is (hopefully!) so much better than the sound of each individual. And I am much more naturally suited to playing folk music. I like most other music genres, but I think it's better to play what comes naturally, rather than force yourself to play a style that doesn't really suit you. I enjoy listening to rock, opera, jazz and so on, but I'm not going to attempt performing in any of those genres!
Have you all been writing songs before you joined the band?
Yes, we all write songs and have written songs prior to forming folkTrain in 2010.
What is your favourite thing about performing at festivals?
One thing I particularly like is that you're typically at a festival for three or four days. This means when you're not performing you bump into people you know, or get chatting to strangers, in cafes over lunch, or in the pub having a few beers. Festivals become their own community, something that doesn't happen when you play a one off gig; where you turn up, play, then go home.
Do you have any interesting festival stories?
One of my favourite memories is of performing a song I wrote called An Toraidhe (there's a youtube video of the song with an explanation of what it's about) at the Kilmore Celtic Festival. The song starts with a slow tune on fiddle with a guitar accompaniment, then there's a '1, 2, 3, 4' count in and all instruments come in, with Rudy playing harmonica. We were about to start when Rudy said he'd left his harmonica in the green room, and he rushed off stage to get it. After telling a joke to pass a few seconds, I said to Saskia (fiddle player) we might as well start, as Rudy doesn't play at the beginning. Rudy heard us start up, and came tearing back in, up the steps on to the stage, and in front of his mic just as I finished the count in and started playing bang on time, much to the amusement of the audience.
What is your favourite tartan?
As my Celtic connection is with Ireland (my father was born in Cork) my favourite tartan is Clodagh Cork.
You all play such a variation of different instruments, do you take every instrument to every festival?
If it's the full band we usually take everything. If Matt, our guitar player, can't make it, I switch to guitar, so I don't take my tenor banjo or octave mandolin - the octave mandolin was handmade for me in Inverness. Other times we might not take instruments that only feature in a few songs and we don't intend playing those songs - e.g. Rudy plays didgeridoo in a couple of songs, but only takes his didge if we're going to play one or both of those songs.
If you're attending the Kilmore Celtic Fest this weekend don't forget to don your tartan, as you couldn't possibly go to a Celtic festival without a little bit of tartan! We would love to see your pictures from the festival so send them on to us. If you're going to miss folkTrain at the festival, be sure to check out their Facebook page to see where else they are performing.