On Thursday afternoon Steve and I headed south for the town of Yass, to be part of the Turning Wave Festival, a festival of Irish music, dance and poetry. (You can read about the other time we attended this festival here, back in 2008 when it was held in Gundagai).
After the rush of getting ready to leave, it was wonderful to be driving in the open countryside, looking forward to a great weekend. Just seeing so much sky is enough reason for me to enjoy being out of Sydney.
We stopped briefly at Goulburn then hurried on, hoping to reach Yass before dark.
As it turned out, it was perfect timing - we were treated to the most amazing sunset.
I might have gotten a bit carried away taking photos of it every moment or two as it changed ...
We drove into Yass (pop. 5591) at twilight.
We had dinner at the club, followed by a good session with a good group of
people who had arrived early, like us.
The next morning we woke up in our cute little 1960s motel
and headed down the main street to do a little shopping
(someone forgot her toothbrush) and go to our fiddle class.
The fiddle classes were held outside on a big old verandah. The building is currently being used as an art gallery. It was a cold morning and pretty chilly up there in the shade when the wind blew. It might have been 10degC by then, it had been only 2degC when we woke up.
Our class was taught by the lovely Tricia Hastings from County Clare.
She taught us a few jigs and reels over the weekend, and a barndance, and we also learnt ways to ornament the tunes. At the end of the weekend we gave a little recital of what we had learnt in the Liberty Theatre. On Friday we also did a little looking at antiques. We loved this shop and I bought a few things here.
Everything was arranged so tastefully, I wanted it all.
But across the road we learnt that less really is more.
After 15 minutes trawling through rooms full of old stuff at this shop, I was exhausted and quite happy not to see anything vintage for another year or so. (And it's never a good look to leave cleaning things and used paper towel on display, I don't think!). These photos were of the more organised sections of this huge collection.
After a good lunch in a cafe, we spent the afternoon exploring more of Yass on foot, admiring some old homes and gardens, and meeting the friendly neighbour next to the motel.
On Friday evening the festival began.
First stop for us was a recital in the beautiful old St Augustine's Chapel.
We arrived early and a lone Uilleann piper was tuning up.
The sunshine was streaming in the western window as we heard beautiful
pipes, fiddle and concertina solos.
After the recital and a yummy Vietnamese dinner making new friends, we stayed out till midnight hearing some great bands in the old Liberty Theatre, everything from traditional to Celtic rock, including Cliodhna Ni Ruairc, Sunas, Saoirse and Night Potion. Unfortunately I didn't take any photos of those groups.
Next morning, another fiddle class,
(my fiddle on the left, Steve's on the right)
a visit to the Celtic markets, and an afternoon and night jam-packed full of bands.
Ballyhooley, Cady & Redford, Tricia Hastings, Kent Daniel and Bill Wiseman, Corinn Strating Band, Lime and Steel, Jason & Chloe Roweth, Senor Cabrales, Gallie, and Grimick. A bit of everything that could be labeled folk or acoustic. We loved almost every one of these gigs, and the ones we didn't love were still entertaining. Some of the highlights were Grimick, Senor Calabres, and Kent Daniels & Bill Wiseman.
By Saturday night the atmosphere in the town was just about 100% Irish. In every pub people were playing in sessions. People were dancing and sharing poetry at other venues, and we came
across these guys playing outside a pub, in the cold.
On Sunday morning we had our final fiddle class, followed by our class recital on the stage
where we had watched so many wonderful performers. We got through a barndance and a reel
without any dramas, and listened to what the concertina class had learned, and some more tunes by piper Pat Lyons. After a quick lunch in the park it was time for us to head home and collect our girls. We hadn't seen all the bands, but most of them. So much music, so little time.
It was a fantastic weekend, full of good times being together, getting to know like-minded people, all willing to share their music, good food (that I could eat!),enjoying being in a country town, and hearing some truly great music. A perfect break.
The girls stayed with my parents and (as well as finishing off the school term) went to a local Medieval Faire, Mum emailed this photo of them all dressed up ready to go. (Emily's outfit was one of her school textiles projects last year, and Laura's dress is the one I wore to my Jane Austen birthday party.)