All signs point east for Celtic torchbearers

Named Ensemble of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards, The East Pointers are about to embark on an Australian Tour to delight festival-goers and small venue crowds alike. And they’re no stranger to Australian audiences. Their debut album Secret Victory was penned mostly while touring here. Gold Coast fans are in for a treat too, with the band announcing a set at Mudgeeraba for Bleach* Festival. We chatted to Koady Chaisson (banjo) ahead of the band’s visit.

Welcome back to Australia. You’ve spent quite a bit of time here recently. Tell me about the connection you have with Australian audiences?

I think the thing we love most about Australian audiences is your willingness to dance. You all seem to understand that this music is meant for dancing and you’re not afraid to let loose and get a bit crazy!

You’ve been dubbed ‘torchbearers’ for a new wave of traditional Celtic music. Is that a difficult path to tread?

We try not to think too much about it, to be honest. When we started this band it was with the dream of making eltic music more accessible to people who may not have had the exposure to it that we did growing up. So far it seems to be going pretty good! 

I have a friend who’s a big fan and he warned me to bring dancing shows for your show. Sounds like a rollicking experience. How do you know when you’ve performed a killer set? Is dancing the only yardstick? Are there others? What audience reactions make you the happiest after a show?

Dancing is definitely a great way to gauge a set. If people are up on the dance floor it certainly makes us feel like they’re into what we are doing. There’s really nothing quite like it. Having someone come up after a show and tell us that we brightened up their day is probably one of the things that makes us happiest after a show, after all, that’s the #1 goal!

On this current tour you play a mix of festivals, regional towns and capital cities and you play some beautiful community halls and arts centres. What are some of the more unusual places you’ve played gigs in?

We played an abandoned town outside of Queenstown in Tasmania while on tour with The Festival of Small Halls last year. It was an eerie experience to be playing in a hall that used to be the hub of a booming little town. We also played the Shetland Folk Festival in Scotland last year. It takes place on several small islands that are a 12 hour ferry ride north of Aberdeen through the North Sea. They send you out on buses and ferries to the various island venues, and the bands end up jamming along the road. It’s extremely beautiful up there, you should look it up!

Your debut album Secret Victory was penned mostly while touring Australia. What impact did our country have on your music?

Australia is a beautiful place and we tried to capture a bit of it in the tunes we wrote here. There’s no better place to be while trying to write a record than on a hilltop overlooking Gardiners Bay in Tasmania. Inspiration comes easy there.

There will be lots of people reading this who’ve never heard of The East Pointers before. What do you have to say to them about coming to see you while you’re here?

What rock have you been living under? Just kidding. Please come out to our show!

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The East Pointers play Mudgeeraba Hall for Bleach* Festival on 9 April.

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