WHEN faced with a program that includes 636 acts with more than 3000 artists performing at 25 venues across six days and nights, what are you going to do and which way are you going to turn?
Every year the Woodford Folk Festival uncovers a fresh world of music and mayhem to which many of its patrons have never been exposed.
And each year the festival buzzes with word of those latest discoveries that can as easily emerge from one of the smaller venues as from an amphitheatre packed with 15,000 music lovers.
Festival programmer Mandi McIntyre has lifted the lid on this year's program nominating the bands and performers she believes will have the whole festival talking by day three of the six-day event that opens on December 27.
Run end to end the 2013 Woodford Folk Festival would fill 80 24-hour days of entertainment. Nobody can see everything that's happening at Woodford.
However Mandi has watched or heard all 3000 performers and performances that entered expressions of interest to be included in the 2013 festival program.
Here's her pick of acts you that even if you miss them, she guarantees you will be hearing about constantly by mid-festival.
This Melbourne duo playing drums and violin was an instant favourite last year.
The raspy-voiced folk singer from Halifax in Canada is big, bearded and charismatic and said to be to folklore what smoke is to bourbon. He has been likened to Tom Waits and even a bearded Freddie Mercury. What is certain is he commands a stage with his presence and his voice will have the entire festival talking
This Melbourne combination, billed Bollywood's first rock band, is more than a novelty act. These are seriously classy musicians who generate lots of fun.
Continuing the Indian sub-theme is the electronic folk band Vidwan. Only Woodford could unearth an outfit like this that performs in Malayalam, the language of southern modern India, and in the process opens a door to the youth culture of the world's most populous nation.
He was Klipspringer in Baz Luhmann's Great Gatsby and is now carving out a career as a pop singer backed by what Mandi describes as "an amazing cabaret repertoire".
Twenty three-year-old singer-songwriter Mo Kenney from Nova Scotia is this year's Canadian Folk Music Awards emerging artist winner. Her early influences were Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Ozzy Osbourne. Grounded by her parents for two months when 15 she discovered Elliott Smith and began writing songs. Her manner belies the stage fright from early in her career.
The granddaughter of Italian migrants to Scotland has vivid dreams that slowly transform into songs. The performer of traditional Scottish music completed 150 gigs from June 2011 to June 2012 and has backed artists like Elvis Costello and Rumer. After seeing Mumford and Sons at the Loopallu Festival in 2009 she found them in a pub and lured them on to the beach for a jam session.
SAM AMIDON and BETH ORTON
The first act booked for this year's festival features traditional Appalachian-style music with banjo. Born of folk artist parents and with a younger brother playing drums for The Sweetback Sisters, Sam's life has been music. His wife Beth Orton is a BRIT Award-winning folk electronica singer-musician of haunting talent.
These three Afro-Americans from Canada are into deep US gospel harmony and are an act everyone who sees them will love.
Last year's festival's favourite discovery, the then 17-year-old indigenous singer has been a Triple J favourite in the past 12 months. She grew up on her grandparents' farm in northern NSW where her guitar- and harmonica-playing grandfather introduced her to great musical storytellers.
YIRRMAL and the YOLNGU BOYS
Don't miss this indigenous band from East Arnhem Land inspired by heroes Yothu Yindi but fusing its own brand of tradition and contemporary music with youthful passion.
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