Mullum Music Festival | Thursday–Sunday
This year Australia’s largest regionally dedicated music tour, Festival of Small Halls, presents British touring artist Blair Dunlop for the Summer Tour 2019 Mullum to Woodford. The tour is all about getting off the beaten track and taking musicians to unexpected places. Chosen artists are not just there for their incredible musicianship, that’s a given, but for their ability to connect with audiences through storytelling, jokes, and warmth.
Blair is an award-winning singer, songwriter and guitarist who has released three albums and toured the globe. He has cemented his place as one of Britain’s most exciting talents to come from the folk scene. He plays Mullum Music Festival this weekend. You can also catch him when he plays with Hat Fitz and Cara at Eureka Public Hall on 23 November.
As the son of two musicians, did you ever feel a desire to rebel against the influence of your parents and become an accountant or something like that?
It was never something I consciously considered, in truth. I can’t deny the influence that growing up in a musical household had on me, serving as encouragement to write songs and explore my creative side through music. I certainly don’t have the kind of brain needed for accountancy! As soon as I realised I wasn’t going to be a footballer (aged about 10) it was only ever going to be one thing.
What does it mean to you to be a folk musician following your parents in that pursuit?
I don’t really see myself as a ‘folk singer’ in our terms, as someone who grew up around a lot of traditional English music; but the ‘folk’ umbrella is far wider here and in the States and that definitely suits me. I think it’s a looser and better definition. It doesn’t mean anything to me with regards to maintaining a legacy or anything like that, but I guess it’s nice to share the same artistic values as my folks. It’s always been about quality over productivity and I guess that’s owed, in large part, to my upbringing. We all write and make music for the same reasons.
Your acting career began with an appearance in a remake of Willy Wonka staring Jonny Depp; how was that? Do you enjoy acting as much as your music career?
Haha! What acting career? I was only a kid! It was an amazing experience to work alongside some of the greats on that film but it was never something that interested me as much as music. Cool bit of trivia though – until someone pulls up a picture of the head brace I had to wear in the film! Tim Burton is insane.
You’ll be here playing at The Festival of Small Halls – From Mullum To Woodford, in November and December. Have you played in a festival of this sort before? What are your thoughts on the format?
I’ve toured rurally in the UK for years, alongside city gigs, and it’s something I’ve always enjoyed. I’ve also done co-headline tours and think they can work really well! What I’ve never done before is bookend a tour with two festivals and embark on a pilgrimage from one to the other, which is essentially what we’re doing! That’s very cool, and I can’t wait to get going with Hat Fitz & Cara (whom I’ll be sharing the stage and van with) and the rest of the crew.
Where else are you headed on your tour here in Australia?
I think I’m right in saying just Queensland this time. The last couple of tours have been based around Sydney and Melbourne, and it’s a shame I’m not going to be able to catch my friends from NSW and Victoria, but I’m buzzing to check out a bit farther north.
What else is on the cards for you, in what’s left of this year, and next year? Is there any other news you’d like to tell our readers about?
I’ll be working on a brand-new record as soon as I land back in the UK. Keep your eyes open for that, and I look forward to coming back this way again soon! It’s probably my favourite place to come and play. Thanks for having me.
You can catch Blair Dunlop at Mullum Music Festival, this Thursday till Sunday, with program and ticket info on mullummusicfestival.com