The stage presence of Melbourne three-piece Bush Gothic is unlike most bands associated with the folk genre.
Combining elements of jazz, classical and Indian music composition, band members Jenny M. Thomas (fiddle-singer), Dan Witton (bassist) and Chris Lewis (drummer) began creating their sound a decade ago.
Touring the country to showcase their third album, Beyond The Pale, Bush Gothic is locked in for the National Celtic Festival in Portarlington next month.
Kicking off their tour in Fremantle and Adelaide, leading lady Jenny says the album has received a positive response from audience members so far.
“It’s been really great, we’ve really enjoyed playing the new songs,” she says.
“Every state we go to I tell stories at the show, either about bushrangers or explorers, but very much the history of white colonials and how that affects us all and Indigenous people. I try to tell amazingly colourful stories from all over the land.
“It’s (storytelling) important because I think as a human thing we really crave it and I think because it takes us into a world of imagination and timelessness, particularly at a time when people feel quite hurried or stretched, and in a very rational world that we live nowadays, to be given a portal into the world of imagination and story, our audiences become physically relaxed. It’s very powerful.”
The album – which was inspired by Jenny’s Irish roots – pays homage to the families, including her own, who were forced to flee the persecution of the English.
Jenny says while the songs don’t delve into the nefarious details of the atrocities committed by the Irish against Indigenous people, themes of heartbreak, loneliness and isolation are explicitly explored.
“These people were separated from their country. The songs are all the things we feel, and folk music is of the people, of the folk, and we all share,” she says.
“The idea of the album is looking at the pale, white skin, but beyond that we’re human in what we share.”
This year will mark Jenny’s third appearance at the National Celtic Festival, having played previously with Bush Gothic as well as taking the stage as a solo artist about 15 years ago.
Jenny says the festival scene is an incredible opportunity to interact with audiences and meet other talented artists.
“Festival crowds are really fun. Mostly because of how it’s curated and who plays before or after you do, so it’s really fascinating to be a part of that,” she says.
“Two weeks before any concert I start warming up my voice because we all take really seriously our instruments and our performance. It’s enjoyable for us and the audience are intelligent and really sensitive, and I feel like we owe it to them, the people who have showed up, to give completely the best we can and we enjoy that whole process.”
Bush Gothic’s third album, Beyond The Pale, is available now at bushgothic.com.
The band will be at the National Celtic Festival from June 7-10. For tickets, the program and more information, go to nationalcelticfestival.com.