Alistair, which artists are you particularly looking forward to seeing share a mic at Bella Union?
I am so pumped about the April/May program. Marlon Williams (pictured), Jordie Lane, a round with Mick Thomas and Suzannah Espie! Most of all though, I cannot wait for Grand Salvo. His album, Soil Creature, is one of my all-time favourite records, and I only recently found out he was Australian and lived in Melbourne. I will be front row for that show. In fact, I may sit on the stage.
The Melbourne Folk Club will have multiple artists ‘in the round’, which is a nice traditional format. Did you have in mind any folk scenes or clubs of yore?
The first ‘in the round’ performance I saw was at the New Edinburgh Folk Club in Dunedin, New Zealand. I gravitated towards it straight away both as a performer and audience member, because it throws an act out of their routine. When I watch my own artists play a round, they tell stories I’ve never heard, pull out obscure songs choices and if it's a really special show, you watch musicians go from relative strangers to best buddies, sharing stories and inspiring each other to sing the perfect follow-up song. It creates potential for magic, and I think some of the combinations we've chosen for April/May will produce something pretty special.
Who are your own folk legends?
If we can get Paul Kelly to play at the Melbourne Folk Club I will die a happy man. Neil Finn and Don McGlashan are heroes of mine being a Kiwi, and my dream line-up would also include early Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell playing Blue, Elliott Smith, Iron & Wine, Josh Ritter, John Fullbright.
When you moved to Melbourne, how did you come to set up Heartstop Music?
I had been promoting events and running an independent label while studying in New Zealand, so Heartstop Music is an extension of those early endeavours. Now it includes management, booking, publicity and our community productions – BalconyTV Melbourne and the Melbourne Folk Club. The Melbourne Folk Club is looking to provide a high quality and well attended performance platform for up-and-coming artists, and will foster the community of local, national and international musicians. We also make a statement about the value of music by setting a minimum $20 ticket price. Most of all we want to represent folk music as an eclectic and popular genre that draws crowds.
How long will you run this night for?
We will definitely be here for the rest of 2014, every Wednesday night at Bella Union. Beyond that, the vision is long term but we'll have to get the ball rolling and see how it all goes.
Wed Apr 23
Set 1: Special International Guest
Set 2: Jordie Lane
Wed Apr 30
Set 1: The Little Stevies & The Davidson Brothers
Set 2: Melody Pool
Wed May 7
Set 1: The Mae Trio & James Kenyon
Set 2: Liz Stringer
Wed May 14
Set 1: Mick Thomas & Suzannah Espie
Set 2: Marlon Williams
Wed May 21
Set 1: Sal Kimber & Brendan Welch
Set 2: Grand Salvo
Wed May 28
Set 1: Davey Lane & Sara Retallick (Jimmy Tait)
Set 2: Sweet Jean