Nick Charles (left), Jimmy Hocking, Jeff Lang, Pierre Bensusan, Daniel Champagne, John Butler, Peter Rowan and Michael Witcher.JOHN Butler has conquered some of the world’s largest events in the 11 years since his last visit to the Port Fairy Folk Festival.
Nanjing Night Net

A sign that his brand of roots rock has permeated the mainstream came on Saturday afternoon when, despite sharing the stage with some of the world’s most talented acoustic guitarists, Butler’s introduction evoked deafening cheers from the folk festival crowd.

Fans had their first sample of the Port Fairy Artist of the Year’s finger-picking prowess at The Guitar Sit-In Maton Guitar Concert.

He later performed a solo show to packed house on stage one, proving that even without the rest of the John Butler Trio his own energy and stage presence could match that of any artist.

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Butler told The Standard that joining the likes of Jimi Hocking and Jeff Lang at the Folkie was inspiring as a fellow acoustic guitarist.

“It’s educational and it’s inspiring,” he said.

“It gives me a lot of faith in what I’m doing. I love getting inspired by fantastic musicians that essentially are part of a very rich tapestry of culture.

“There’s a high calibre of songwriters and musicians at this festival.

“It’s pretty cream-of-the-crop kind of stuff.”

The Folkie faithful would have heard of the John Butler Trio’s performance in 2001, but only a few hundred actually saw the group that weekend, long before its mainstream success and ARIA awards.

“I do have memories of that,” Butler said.

“I thought we were really loud for a festival.

“I remember having lots of jams back at the accommodation, seeing Bob Brozman for the first time, and discovering Jeff Lang.”

Despite the incredible success the independent artist has experienced since 2001 releasing three number- one albums and touring the world he said it didn’t matter whether he performed to a crowd of 100 or 10,000.

“It’s all very relative.

“You know if you’re connecting or not.

“Whether that’s with one person or a thousand it’s very similar in some ways.

“Folk music is the basis for all music.

“Literally all music comes out of the folk roots traditions and it’s a beautiful tradition to be part of.”

It’s easy to believe folk roots is connected to all styles of music when Butler lists his influences, which are as diverse as Run DMC, Soundgarden and The Cure.

“The energy, songwriting, mood, rhythm, the cadence of vocals you can take something from any good music.

“All good music is soul music. I pick up on the soul whether it’s Black Sabbath or Woody Guthrie.

“It’s definitely something you can feel rather than hear.”

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