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STRINGFEST COMES ALIVE IN TASSIE IN APRIL

Harry Edwards Trio

Stringfest 2020, 17-19 April. Deloraine Tasmania
On the near horizon Quamby Bluff stands aloof at 1227 metres some 19 kilometres from Deloraine, the region’s totem according to the locals, its sublime permanence providing an apt backdrop to a festival celebrating the finest in Tasmanian timbers, some of the extraordinary makers of finest musical instruments who use those timbers and a few of the musicians who have chosen to play those instruments. That festival is Stringfest, returning to Deloraine, which hugs the aptly-named Meander River, after an absence of five years and you’re invited to spend a few days meeting those instrument makers, seeing their work up close, strumming or plucking some of them if you like, or just kicking back and enjoying hearing them played by some of Australia’s finest musicians Friday 17 through Sunday 19 April.

“When I came to Deloraine,” explains StringFest founder Nick Weare, a proud Tasmanian with family roots deep in the area, “I discovered there were all these really talented people doing really artistic things. They lived up in the hills and out at Jackie’s Marsh and in all these places around Deloraine and they weren’t even making things specifically for Tasmania, they were producing stuff for the international market! I soon realised there’s an extraordinary amount of artistic talent Deloraine has attracted over the years, so much talent it can sustain a very successful international Craft Fair here.

“Then I discovered all these guitar makers and luthiers and people who make other instruments as well – woodwind instruments and so on. I had no idea there were so many people making guitars here in Tasmania. I thought there might be one or two but there are dozens of them, and so many of them too who have moved here from somewhere else to live for the lifestyle. When I started StringFest, people would say, ‘Ah, well check out Billy Tarrant, check out Ian Ward – he’s just up the road, check out Kevin Lincoln – he makes ukuleles – and they just kept coming out of the woodwork – and this was only in the this area. Then Bruce Trappes of Devil Guitars came along – he and Stuart Phillips, who runs StringWorx Custom Guitars, just live up the road at Exeter – and it just built and built and people were just saying ‘I make guitars’ and when I saw the things they were coming out with, out of Tasmanian timbers, just blew me away – it really did. I don’t play guitar. I just love looking at these things and seeing what they’re doing. I’ve always loved Tasmanian timbers.”

He might not be a musician but Nick has been passionate about music from his earliest years, becoming a panel operator at 7HO Hobart when he was just 14 and moving on in 1969 to work at ABC Radio in Hobart. Along the way he also got involved in promoting tours by local and interstate artists and even produced a few records for the local Hobart label Candle Records. Then there was ABC Canberra and finally ABC mid-North Coast NSW as presenter, producer and manager, working with the national broadcaster for some 29 years before joining the National Film & Sound Archive in Canberra for a decade from 2000 as their music and radio specialist, where he interviewed hundreds of artists for the oral history Archive. He and his artist wife Robyn returned to Tasmania in 2011.

Tommy Emmanuel opened the StringFest office back in 2014, though he was unable to perform at the festival itself, his place more than amply filled by American roots artist Justin Johnson, who included StringFest in his international tour promoting his debut album, Smoke & Mirrors, something of a coup in itself. The following year saw celebrated Australian guitarist Michael Fix headlining the event.

Headlining StringFest 2020 is Jeff Lang, along with The Alaskan String Band and award-winning violinist Pixie Jenkins. All manner of Tasmanian and local artists, groups and buskers will also be performing across multiple venues around the festival site. Attendees will also see a painted Ukulele art exhibition, displays and workshops presented by local and mainland luthiers, ukulele makers, cigar box makers and timber suppliers, showcasing the extraordinary Tasmanian timbers they utilise.

Exhibitors include the 2019 Australian Craft Fair Premier’s Prize winner, guitarist and guitar maker Billy Tarrant and feisty Tasmanian tone-woods supplier Bob Mac Millan, who has just been signed by Australian company Maton Guitars and American Fender Custom Guitars to supply Tasmanian timber for their guitar range.

StringFest is a registered not-for-profit community organisation, with all profits going back into the Meander Valley community

Deloraine StringFest will begin with concerts on Friday 17th April until Sunday afternoon the 19th. Tickets are available for selected shows on Eventbrite Ticketing.

For information Phone : Nick Weare – 0437 195 026

Email: delorainestringfesttasmania@gmail.com

Website: www.stringfest.com.au

Facebook : Deloraine Stringfest Tasmania