Distilled in the clean altitude of NSW’s Blue Mountains, Lime and Steel’s original roots-banjo fiddle grooves, folk-noir ballads, and dust kickin’ hoedowns back lyrics that brush just the right amount of paint on the broad canvas of Australian identity: From tales of murder in the old-time afghan camel trains, to songs of outer suburban longing or ditties about drinking on public transport. The show rolls in like a tent boxing call-up on the culture wars crossed with a fast-pickin’ wine-soaked family singalong.
Stray Hens have made a huge impact on the scene with their upcycled folk revival ballads. Their dynamic mix of rhythm and harmony, led by troubadour Mandy Connell, showcases an acclaimed group of musicians including Sally Taylor and and Carmen O’Brien on fiddle/vocals, Richard Grace on double bass/vocals and Ryan Tews on drums and percussion. Twin fiddles and shared lead vocals head this group from spellbound hush to fever pitch.
While most of the set focuses strongly on the women in the group, each performer leads a song and adds a story to the band. Many on the festival circuit have been delighted to discover that Richard, renowned bass player also sings. The Hens create a new space for the tradition and an intergenerational audience.
With backgrounds in acoustic originals, metal, funk, rock,celtic, swamp, old-time and middle eastern music, the Hens formed to represent British ballads in the Australian folk scene, with a view to taking the old songs – and their fans – beyond the trad, beyond folk, beyond the session bar and beyond the festival enclave.