Photo: Joe Kapiteyn
Tom Fisher has played music around the world and, as the son of inimitable Freo performer Jim Fisher, has lived his whole life deeply connected to Fremantle through its music and people.
And it was all these things that played a part in the creation of the Fremantle Folk Festival three years ago.
“The vision firstly was to use the fantastic heritage site at Princess May Park as it’s such a great space and a real hidden gem in Freo,” he says. “Secondly to create a fun comfortable event where all walks of life from kids to hipsters to grannies could come together and enjoy a great musical and cultural event. A big extension of the Clancy’s culture really.”
Clancy’s Fish Pub Fremantle provides the backbone of the festival, being a venue that flies the flag for WA music year in-year out. Fisher is proud of the festival’s relaxed vibe and his highlights range from the Gyuto Monks chanting in 2016 (‘You could hear a pin drop in the crowd’,) to the moment the beloved and acclaimed Pigram Brothers took to the stage last year.
The line-up for this year is a nice spread of young and old, as well as a diversity of musical styles.
“Something for all,” Fisher offers. “We’re promoting young talent whilst showcasing some old faves. And a huge focus in WA acts - generally, 90 per cent represented.”
The line-up includes Blue Shaddy, Peter Bibby, Jack Davies, the Clancy’s Pub Choir and Australian folk-rock faves, Things Of Stone And Wood.
“Blue Shaddy… so much fun and energy,” Fisher enthuses. “No one dislikes the Shads! Bibbs - the folk punk poet of our generation! Jack Davies - super kid! Can sing a song about eating a packet of chips yet you find yourself sobbing at the end? What a songwriter. The Pub choir - a couple of legends in Jim and Nat leading a room full of joyous punters in song. Goosebumpy!
“I supported Things Of Stone And Wood a few years back and it was such an amazing show. They’re obviously remembered for a huge hit, but I was amazed at all the others I recognised. Iconic folk rock! I added Frank's Fish Tank after playing on a bill with them a few months back. They weren't meant to be. But I was mesmerised. Keep an eye on them.”
All this in a true family-friendly environment. It’s not an event description, it’s an ethos.
“I’ve heard so many people at Clancy’s say, ‘this is the first time my kids have seen a band’. So why not make a festival that's as fun for the kids as the parents? We have a kids’ wing with nature play. Circus WA roaming acts, fairies, animals. We want to create memories for kids and show them that music is real and achievable. Not something you just see on talent shows (laughs).”
Ultimately, while Saturday looks to be all the goods and more, the Fremantle Folk Festival is an entity that looks beyond this weekend’s good times only. There’s room for a view…
“We want to build this event with the punters,” Fisher says. “If they support, we will keep doing it and making it great. It's a hard slog. We're not a giant East Coast touring company. We are a local family business trying to make something great.”
Headlined by Bob Evans, the Fremantle Folk Festival happens on Saturday, December 1, at Princess May Park. Full details via www.facebook.com/events/487444365057550/