Interview: Out of the Bedroom
Industrial: Cloak and Dagger
Legal: The Fantasy of Choice
Politics: Labor Pains
Economics: Economics and the Public Purpose
Corporate: House of Horrors
History: Clash Of Cultures
International: Childs Play
Culture: Folk You Mate!
Review: Last Holeproof Hero
The Locker Room
Contract With Australia
Folk You Mate!
A vicious black storm was building over the Brindabellas as the Workers Online staff car squelched through the mud of the Exhibition Park In Canberra.
From the outside the whole thing looked like you're average country show: dodgy weather, muddy car parks, people in Drizabone's at the gate, corflute signs and fading light.
The first sign that we were moving into a different frame than what your average rock and roller or showie would be used to came at the ticket office.
Our wristbands were emblazoned Your Rights At Work - Worth Fighting For.
That was the first of many pleasant surprises inside the gate where worried faces scanned the skies towards an approaching storm. This was a gathering of people that defied convention, or description.
It was wide-eyed suburban kids, wild gap toothed men from the hills, flowing graceful dancers, exotic dispensers of victualage and Morris dancers.
It was a carnival atmosphere. A gathering of several quite discordant and environmentally friendly clans. And there was wall-to-wall families out for a look-see at the wild, the wonderful and the warm..
After we'd secured appropriately overpriced accommodation the team headed into the heart of darkness, hoping we weren't faking it in folkland.
Friday night's party atmosphere saw a massive milieu of breathtaking talent. Voices that would melt concrete, stories that seared the soul, three dollar cans of Coopers Draught, beards, ideas, old friends, strangers, music tumbling at every turn, more mandolins than a butcher has cats.
The rain fell steadily, dampening everything except the enthusiasm of everyone. Right through the evening the talent continued, until the rockabilly clock of the very talented Fuelers struck midnight.
That was Good Friday, back on the Saturday Workers Online visited the Your Rights At Work Stall, ably staffed by Athol Williams from the Shop Assistants union and Michael White from the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance.
They said they were getting about 30 enquiries an hour from people concerned about the WorkChoices laws.
The Your Rights At Work - Worth Fighting For brand was everywhere, not just on our entry passes, but on T shirts and caps.
The impressive ACT Branch of the CFMEU banner dominated the stage at one of the major auditoria, the venue for Saturday's "Union Concert".
"Around 1979 my generation seems to have lost its way," said the militant brusque voice of Dick Gaughan, describing himself as half-Irish and three-quarter Scottish, sounded remarkably like the AMWU's Doug Cameron with a guitar in his hand.
Gaughan doesn't pull punches. laments about the past were tinged with a hope for the future. < p> "There's a hate in his eyes," grinned the enthusiastic Dr Gonzo of Workers Online. It was powerful.
Later we were very entertained by Australia's Peter Hicks, who continues to be the brutal left consciousness of Australian music. Happily he is also entertaining. His lyrics speak for themselves:
Fair thee Well Old John Howard
Union Choirs, union songs, union people. Inspiring.
The ACT CFMEU has backed the whole festival enthusiastically since it decided to settle on a permanent venue years back, especially through the support of activists such as Colin McJannett.
The link they draw between working people being able to sing our own songs, and take those songs back into working class life is an important one.
There were about 50,000 people passing through the Canberra Showground over the Easter Weekend, many of them young families, concerned about the way our culture is going. Popular culture may be the "bling" of society, but folk is certainly its muscle and blood.
Visit your local folk festival; you will be surprised how much of yourself you might find there.
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