John Butler performs at the Falls Music Festival in Lorne in December.FOR his contributions to the next generation of musicians and the joy he has brought countless fans, mega-selling roots artist John Butler has been named the Port Fairy Folk Festival’s artist of the year.
Nanjing Night Net

Butler began his career busking on the streets of Fremantle but now commands a world stage.

His last three studio albums reached number one on the Australian charts and he almost single-handedly spurred the formerly ignored genre — or combination of genres — known as roots music from oft-overlooked to a mainstream concern. But the Folkie organisers, in their announcement of Butler’s latest accolade on the festival website, stated that the title of artist of the year is not just about the music he and his trio create.

Butler and his wife Danielle Caruana — of the group Mama Kin — established The Seed in 2005. The Seed is a funding body that supports Australian artists through grants, mentoring programs and industry conferences.

“When Danielle and I first started the fund we always intended for it to grow into something that wasn’t just funded by ourselves but contributed to by many movers and shakers within the Australian music community,” Butler stated on his website.

Acts to have benefitted from The Seed include Husky, Jen Cloher, Jess McAvoy, Sal Kimber and hundreds more.

Rhythms Magazine journalist Samuel J. Fell said the accolade of artist of the year was a fitting way to recognise Butler’s contributions over more than a decade.

“This is a man who began at the bottom and through talent, drive and creativity, made it to the top, in the process reinvigorating music and minds alike, ideals and perceptions of roots music, of independent artists, of ways of getting your message out,” Fell wrote on the Folkie website.

Butler performed at the festival with his trio about a decade ago, just prior to his breakthrough into the mainstream. Those who saw him in action were blown away as he delivered an epic set filled with raucous, rootsy jamming that bridged rock, folk, blues and even psychedelic.

He returns to the festival as part of a rare solo tour that will see him perform just twice in the Folkie arena, as well as taking part in Saturday’s Guitar Sit-In concert alongside Pierre Bensusan, Jeff Lang, Daniel Champagne, Peter Rowan, Michael Witcher and Jimi Hocking.

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