Fairbridge Festival Patron, Andrew Winton, attended his first Fairbridge Festival in 2000; this year will be his seventeenth. Andrew remembers saying “looks a bit weird” in response to the festival… he hasn’t missed one since.
Andrew has become one of the most well-known performers at Fairbridge Festival for his unique music and lap-slide guitar skills. Andrew also facilitates some of the song-writing workshops for youth interested in participating in the annual Act-Belong-Commit Fairbridge Festival Quest for young West Australians.
Every year, Andrew brings his family along to Fairbridge Festival with him. His children are convinced that it is their annual holiday. To Andrew, the festival is one of the moments in the year of inspiration, connection, learning and relaxing. The festival has always defined a creative, professional and social direction in Andrew’s life.
Andrew has many fond memories of Fairbridge Festival: “wrapped up in music, conversation, family, fun, friends and career defining moments and encounters.” One of Andrew’s favourite memories is when he had a five-or-six-hour conversation running into the early hours of the morning with his new friend and luthier, David Worthy, from Victoria. This was the first time he connected with crafts-people, which would go on to define which stage instruments Andrew would use over the next fifteen years.
“Just having unplanned, almost chance meeting with a highly creative, open and generous character actually propelled me into a direction of experimenting with unusual and experimental lap slide guitar instruments. This experience linked me to a whole range of Australian instrument makers of all styles. It also got the attention of the maker of my current Lucky 13 tree root lap-slide guitar. Jack Dudley (Don’t Fret Instruments/Sipsey River Steels) from Alabama US, was somehow on the internet watching me play unusual instruments in Australia. This inspired him to contact me and create a relationship and endorsement that has lasted 6 or 7 years and several trips to the US. So that campfire moment became a defining moment of how I would make music and interact with other artists around Australia and the world. It also broadened my experience and knowledge of people, place and story, which has been amalgamated into my music.”
A second memory that stands out for Andrew is when the power went out during the year of the floods. It was while he was performing with Tindog, they continued to play acoustically when the power went out and eventually pulled in the crowds from outside to enjoy their music.
Andrew says that Fairbridge Festival has inspired most what he has created over the last fifteen years, and looks forward to gaining further inspiration at this year’s 25th-anniversary.