New Scottish favourite: Mànran - I now have their two albums and I am playing them almost all the time. It's a great modern, high energy interpretation of traditional music - a lot of the songs are in Gaelic - sometimes really fast Gaelic.
Their late Saturday night set at the festival was such a great time that when I came back on the Monday and saw that they were on again, I convinced my family to come with me and they loved it too. Their sound was was loud, full and very rich, especially when the the highland pipes join in with the Irish ones. My niece even came down the front with me for a song or two.
I could already pretty much call myself a fan of Steve Poltz - I had only seen him once before, at the Polish Club last year, and didn't really know of him before then, but he completely won me over. He does that. He's known for his songwriting but perhaps even more for his storytelling. And without being a stand-up comedian, he is very very funny. (He's actually currently performing in the Melbourne Comedy Festival so there you go.)
I saw him twice during the festival. The first time he told a story I had already heard at that gig last year - about the time he had a stroke on stage. And I can tell you it felt very wrong, but somehow ok, to laugh almost until I cried while hearing him tell this story! He makes it so funny but in a warm and life-affirming way, without any schmaltz....leading perfectly into the song "I want all my friends to be happy".
On the Monday morning we were sitting right at the front in the Budawang Pavilion, on the floor. My niece was eating raw carrots. Steve started talking to her from the stage, riffing about how great carrots are and how he loves carrots and when he flies he always takes a carrot for a snack....carrots carrots carrots, I'm sure I wasn't the only one thinking here was her cue to hop up and offer him a carrot...finally out of the corner of my eye I saw a woman emerge from the audience with a carrot wrapped in glad wrap and hand it to him. And the show went on. (My niece wasn't shy - she just really wanted to eat all her pieces of carrot. She had a long day ahead of her)
The East Pointers from Prince Edward Island, Canada. Fast and furious and exciting.
Spiro, English folk group - I saw them at Womadelaide too. I had waited too long there and missed out on a CD there, then was disappointed to hear that there had been some sort of mix-up and they didn't have any CDs at the folk festival. I will be tracking them down though. Apparently they have been playing together for over 20 years! Yet their sound is very fresh.
The Wheeze and Suck Band - one of those names I've seen on the program each year and finally managed to see - well worth it.
Women in Docs was another festival stalwart I had never actually seen, and I'm glad I did. They were lovely, really funny together, and yes, both wearing docs.
And Canberra's own Black Mountain String Band - this band is a relatively recent combination I think, but they are all excellent musicians who have been around the festival and the Canberra music scene for years.