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Kaurna Cronin: Growing up folk

Emily Allen

Growing up for the better part of his younger years attending folk festivals with his artist parents, Kaurna Cronin is no stranger to the scene.

Originally wanting to follow in this father’s footsteps as a circus entertainer, Cronin quickly developed an instinctive love of the arts, landing on his feet with song writing, melody and rhythm at the forefront of his practice. His earliest musical memories were that of travelling to the Port Fairy Folk Festival annually with his parents, who were heavily involved in festivals around Australia, resulting in growing up listening to a lot of Australian folk singer-songwriters

Back once again for its annual celebration of folk culture, the National Folk Festival feels a little special this year in particular; it’s their 50th. The much loved and anticipated Easter event grew its roots in 1967 where the grand sum of $100 was put forward as starting capital. Each year, the National would feature a different state to reflect a touring tradition until it found its home here in Canberra in 1992.

With over 18 venues showcasing blues, roots, world, folk, country and the arts, the 2016 National sees a mammoth line-up of over 200 national and international acts.

Cronin, a wandering storyteller, is also no stranger to travel. The Adelaide-based musician clocked up an impressive 70+ shows in U.K, Germany, Belgium, France and Scandinavia in 2015, plus 50+ shows in 2014. Recently presented with the Folk Alliance Australia Youth Award, the APRA-AMCOS Emily Burrows Award and Best Acoustic Act at the Fowlers Live Music Awards, this young singer is making a big impact on the industry.

Back for his second time as a performer at the National, Cronin is bringing his band with him this time after recent work on a new album with the group.

“Just after I played last year I released an album too. Two new albums and the band – it’s going to be quite a different experience! I’m really looking forward to putting forward the songs in the way they’re intended on the album. I’ve always enjoyed solos and duos, but it’s a completely different feel when you have the whole band with you”, Cronin says.

Cronin performed as a soloist during his first visit, and despite not being from Canberra, believes this time of year, as the seasons change in the Capital, and what the Festival brings is a truly wonderful thing.

“I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into, it’s such an amazing festival. It was a really great opportunity for a folk artist to get such great exposure. For me, the most beautiful part is the collaboration, you get to play music into the wee hours of the morning and to me that’s what folk music has always been about”, said Cronin.

Heavily rooted in song writing, it’s always been about different interpretations on that one song that has Cronin keeping listeners interested. Speaking of a ‘journey aspect’, Cronin loves the solitary process, but also what collaborative aspects, across all mediums, have brought to his art form. Each album he has created has never had the same musicians involved; something unique and exciting, Cronin has also worked with photographers and videographers in telling their side to his story.

“It’s like any other art form, you get your inspiration from the people you surround yourself with whether that’s before you create the art, or while you’re creating the art. For me, I write the songs and they come from actual experiences or stories of people I’ve met, then you have other people’s understandings of what that means. I like getting their interpretation of the music and the songs.

I just like art, maybe that’s all it is. I don’t see it as a one-dimensional project, depending on whatever art medium you use, you can always bring something to the table”, Cronin says.

Need any more reason to attend the 2016 National Folk Festival for their 50th year? Check out the stats below:

  • 2013, 2014, 2015 Winner Festivals & Events (Canberra Region Tourism Awards)
  • 2015 Best Cultural, Arts and Music Event in the ACT (Australian Event Awards)
  • 2014 & 2015 Bronze Award – Festivals and Events (Australian Tourism Awards)
  • 46,000+ total attendance annually
  • 8,000-13,000 people per day at the Festival
  • Over 1200 performers
  • Over 900 hours of entertainment
  • 1,300 volunteers
  • Injects over 5 MILL into economy every year
  • Vibrant marketplace of 116 stalls

the essentials

What: 2016 National Folk Festival
When: 24 – 28 March (Easter Long Weekend)
Where: Exhibition Park in Canberra
Tickets: Various options for all here


Emily Allen

Emily is an arts administrator with a background in writing and music. By day, she works at the ANU School of Music, and by night she moonlights as a contributing writer, the Communications Coordinator and Secretary for MusicACT, and dabbles in freelance marketing, social media and communications for the arts. More about the Author