2012 (current)

Emma Nixon and Chris Stone

Emma, Chris and friends are recording some of the music they’ve uncovered in the Library’s studios and will produce a CD of tunes, much of which is previously unreleased tunes, demonstrating Australian Scottish fiddle performance repertoire in the early 20th century, and fiddle practice in the present.  The CD includes a booklet with background information to the recording project and photographs from the Library's collection.

For their National Folk Fellowship performance they will perform a mix of relatively well-known tunes from the Scottish repertoire of the early 20th century and earlier tunes from previously unknown collections. The combination of these rare and exciting pieces with the experience and skill of these two fine players promises a compelling and important performance.


Toby Martin

Toby Martin combines a scholarly interest in Australian country and folk music with writing, playing and performing.  He recently completed  a PhD in the history of Australian Country Music at the University of Sydney.  Toby has also been lead singer and songwriter for the successful indie-rock band Youth Group. Over 10 years, the band toured the world and  released four albums, attaining a number one single ‘Forever Young’ and an ARIA award for Breakthrough Artist in 2006.  Toby has also established himself as a solo performer, recently completing a new solo album. 

In his Folk Fellowship he is focusing on the Indigenous tradition of country music in western NSW. The starting point for his project was a 1960s drinking song by Dougie Young, the country singer from Wilcannia, called ‘Cut a Rug’ that sings of the Indigenous experience.  Field recordings of this song – along with many others of Indigenous people singing country and folk songs from places connected by the Darling and Lachlan rivers such as Bourke, Condobolin and Brewarinna – are in the National Library of Australia's Oral History and Folklore collection.

For his National Folk Fellowship performances, Toby Martin has created a new band The Rug Cutters, which includes Dougie Young’s grandson Jimmy James and country music legend Roger Knox. They re-imagine these songs as electrified country: the way in which the songs may have been recorded had the artists gone on to establish careers in white Australia.


Christina Mimmocchi

Christina Mimmocchi, singer, arts manager, arranger and community choir leader, is the 2010 National Folk Fellow. She has arranged for and toured with the trios Touchwood and Blindman’s Holiday, including for Musica Viva both in Australia and overseas. She is the director of the Sydney Women’s Vocal Orchestra, a choir which celebrates the music of the women of Palembang POW camp (as seen and heard in the movie “Paradise Road”) and is  the director of the Leonard Cohen devotees’ group ‘Choir on a Wire’.  She regularly organises musical events and concerts and managed the acoustic music venue in Sydney, Eastside Arts, until its demise. Mentors of major influence have been the composer-producer Greg White, who is currently Head of Composition at the Australian Institute of Music, and noted folk collector Rob Willis. Christina’s musical interests include traditional and contemporary folk music, community music, contemporary jazz and the great songwriters.

Christina’s Fellowship will enable her to explore, select and arrange Australian folk songs from diverse sources for community choirs to use and enjoy. She will lead a community choir performance at the Festival. Participants will rehearse in the three days over the Festival, and the performance will be recorded. A book containing the musical arrangements and background information on each song and practice sound files, recorded in the Oral History Studios at the Library, is available via the National Folk Festival website. 


Dr Jennifer Gall

The 2009 National Folk Fellow, Dr Jennifer Gall, has been turning the masculine version of Australian folklore on its head. Women’s work and women’s art is often so well integrated into the processes of daily life, that it is invisible to observers or those who document history. Using the vast quantity of archival sound recordings held at the National Library of Australia, “Picking up the Threads: Australian women’s folk music” examines the social networks and relations at work in the evolution and transmission of Australian folk music.


Dr Ronald McCoy

Doctor, academic and Scottish music expert, Dr Ronald McCoy, is the 2008 National Folk Fellow. Through his work on the Emily Lyle Collection in the National Library, he has explored the contribution of the Scots and Gaels to Australian folk culture. He will reinterpret those songs, stories and tunes by recreating a Scottish ceilidh with the help of a harpist, a piper and the Melbourne Scottish Fiddle Club in the Fellowship concert at the 2008 National Folk Festival.


Ian Blake

The 2007 National Folk Fellow, Ian Blake, is a performer, composer, sound engineer and sound artist. Ian will create a suite of musical and sound works combining live and electro-acoustic music drawing on children¡¯s songs and games found in the Library's folklore recordings. This new work will premiere at the 2007 National Folk Festival.


Ben Stephenson and Adrian Barker

The focus of Ben and Adrian's research was Australian dance music of Irish origin held in the National Library Folklore Collection. During their time in the Library Ben and Adrian also researched across the collections, locating recordings that have assisted them to "identify patterns of change and development of styles of playing and the means by which the tunes are learnt and passed on". One of the results of their research is a 13 track CD and booklet Undertones: Irish music from Australia.


Graham Dodsworth

Graham discovered many songs that had "slipped through the net of attention" given to other well known traditional Australian songs. From the 30-40 he identified as being "rough diamonds", Graham recorded 12 songs and performed these at the 2005 Festival Concert under the title Trawling for Rough Diamonds. His songs will eventually be made available through MusicAustralia (www.musicaustralia.org), along with his annotations of their origin and significance.

Read more about Graham's Fellowship in his article Trawling the Library for Rough Diamonds

2004 Inaugural Folk Fellows

Dave De Santi and Jane Brownlee

Jane and Dave researched across the vast number of unpublished recordings in the Folklore collection, in particular the collections of Chris Sullivan, Norm O'Connor, John Meredith, Rob Willis, Alan Scott and the Wattle Records collection. Dave and Jane found many tunes and songs that were completely new to them. They transcribed enough tunes for 18 CDs, from which they selected 51 for the double CD Australian Traditional Dance Tunes and are currently publishing an associated tune book.

Read more about Dave and Jane's Fellowship in Jane Brownlee's article Song Treasures in the National Library of Australia