Home' Rhythms Magazine : 2018 Mar-Apr Contents 56 Rhythms
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since
The Waifs spent their formative years crisscrossing
Australia in their infamous VW Kombi. The musical tide
that has since ensued has not only yielded eight albums
(one of which topped the charts) and a bevy of ARIA
awards, but also 25 years of musical adventures for the
members of the Australian trio.
For Vikki Thorn one of those adventures has included
relocating to the United States. Since 2007 the Western
Australian musician has resided near a small town in
central Utah, returning to Australia to record or tour with
While the nomadic expeditions of a youth shared with sister
Donna Simpson and their longtime friend and colleague
Josh Cunningham were the perfect catalysts for numerous
songs by The Waifs, Thorn felt her later day adventures in
the United States were a little more aesthetically removed
from The Waifs.
Just like she has always done, Thorn has channeled those
experiences into song. But this time around they are Vikki
Thorn songs and this month the singer-songwriter will
embark on her first solo tour of Australia. Along with taking
to the road with Ben Franz and Heath Cullen, Thorn is also
bringing a selection of her new songs along for the ride as
“My experiences in Utah are very different from my
experiences in Australia,” Thorn told Rhythms. “The people
in Utah are different too so these songs don’t really fit the
narrative of The Waifs. These songs have grown outside of
that and aren’t tied to that history.
“This is me stepping outside of that and saying ‘this is who
I am.’ For a long time when I’ve written songs, I’ve written
them with The Waifs in mind. This has pushed me to do
something different and that has been very liberating.”
With the past couple of years yielding several milestones
for The Waifs, including the band’s 25th anniversary tour
and a double-album recorded live and acoustically, it hasn’t
left much time for Thorn to think about much else.
“The Waifs has been working continually for the last few
years,” Thorn said. “But I’ve also been writing more than
I ever have. I have never written so much as I have in the
last three years. A solo project has been brewing inside me
for a couple of years now, but finding time to actually do
something about it has been hard. So I’m glad we’ve been
able to put this tour together.
“It’s definitely going to be very strange for me though. The
Waifs has been a big part of my life and Donna and Josh
have always been there. Even on stage Donna and I play off
each other so that will be missing too. I’m not sure how that
is going to feel.”
With Thorn sharing the writing and vocals duties within
The Waifs with both Simpson and Cunningham, she feels
that finally having the opportunity to venture out into the
solo arena will not only be a liberating experience, but also
an opportunity for her to exert her own musical identity and
show people a little of where her own musical heart lays.
When is BlenheimFest?
The festival is held on the Easter long weekend, running
from Thursday March 29 to Saturday March 31.
Where is BlenheimFest?
The festival located on the Blenheim property, just outside
of Leasingham. Leasingham is in the heart of the Clare
Valley, about an hour and a half north of Adelaide in South
What type of festival is BlenheimFest?
We are a music and camping festival. Showcasing
predominately blues and roots, with a touch of reggae, funk
and soul. We also have live performance art and workshops.
BlenheimFest is also run as a charity event with proceeds
going to New Hope Cambodia, as well as local charities,
with the event being volunteer organised and run.
How many people come to BlenheimFest?
2018 will see us with 2,000 people in attendance.
How long has BlenheimFest been running?
2018 will be our 9th incarnation.
What’s the story behind how BlenheimFest started?
BlenheimFest itself began in 2010 with three bands, three
DJ’s, a small PA run off a generator and 150 enthusiastic
friends/legends. It started as pre-party for the Clare Races
and has grown to something much bigger. For its first two
years, BlenheimFest was a private event. Our third year was
when we realised we had something we wanted to share
with everyone and we went public.
What makes your BlenheimFest special?
Blenheim is special because of its intimate numbers,
with two professional stages holding up the best South
Australian and Australian artists our country has to offer.
We have an exclusively Clare Valley wine and beer list that
can rival the drinks lists at any 5-star restaurant, but...if you
still can’t find anything you like then it’s BYO so you can
bring your favourite drinks along anyway.
BlenheimFest provides a stunningly idyllic setting where
you can watch world class acts while surrounded by the
vine covered rolling hills of the Clare Valley.
“I really love R&B,” Thorn exclaimed when asked about
her own musical inspirations. “I’m so glad you asked me
about that because I haven’t talked about this very much. I
love people like Nina Simone and Etta James and Aretha
Franklin. I just love their singing. I’m really moved by
women who belt it out. I love singing that’s raw, but what I
love to sing is not what I write.
“I don’t write that type of songs, but I do think there’s
a soulful element to what I do even if it does come out
sounding more folk.”
Throughout March the trio will be taking Thorn’s new
songs, along with one or two dusted off Waifs rarities,
across the country.
“What I consider to be my home in the States is this very
small parameter surrounding my house and family. Being
back in Australia is more like being home in the deeper
Vikki Thorn tours nationally through March, details in
the Gig Guide.
BRETT LEIGH DICKS
Tell us about a favourite festival moment?
Watching the Pierce Brothers backstage as they psyched
themselves up for one of the most energetic sets ever to
take place. When you see someone drumming on your
stage supports and the crowd going wild, you know you
have started something that will be around for a long time.
Most excited for which performer at BlenheimFest this
This year, I can’t wait to see The Black Seeds. These guys
are legends and I’ve been listening to them for so long. To
finally have them on our stage will be the most exciting
Tell us the top 5 best things to see and do @
1. Check out any of the quality musicians taking to the
stage and dance yourself right into the morning.
2. Go and watch some weird and wacky live art
performances taking place all over the festival. The
BlenheimFest Cinema will be in full swing with all sorts of
performances happening in there all day.
3. Wander through the Trumpet Lane marketplace and
grab some food from one of our delicious but sustainable
catering options, or pick up some neat knickknacks in our
4. Taste the best the Clare Valley has to offer with our
fully curated wine and beer list.
5. Go and talk to people in the campsite! Everyone at
BlenheimFest is an absolute legend and up for a chat or just
a quick “Hello”.
What people are missing out on and why they should go
EVERYTHING! BlenheimFest is the only multi-day
camping festival in South Australia and there is nothing
quite like it anywhere in Australia.
You get to have a great time and know that ALL profits will
be donated to charity, with no cut taken by the management
board. HAVE FUN WHILE HELPING OTHERS!!
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