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exceptional /ɪkˈsɛpʃ(ə)n(ə)l,ɛkˈsɛpʃ(ə)n(ə)l/

Our first post COVID-19 Festival

By Shirley-Ann Rowley


From the Oxford dictionary the adjective exceptional has many meanings including uncommon, unprecedented, unusual and rare. The J’s had an opportunity to experience the exceptional on Sunday morning with a small band of strangers, an elderly gentleman with a heart full of music and the hum of expectation from patrons arriving for brekkie & coffee at the Quincan Gallery Café.

The setting is a folk festival on the Atherton Tablelands of Australia where the atmosphere is unusually charged with ions not of electricity but of gratitude. It’s as palpable as blood in a vein as lucky ticket holders emerging from underneath COVIDS suffocating cover gently re-connected with community under the summer sun. Yes the world is different, but some things never change.

Including the high calibre of music you can expect to hear at the Tablelands Folk Festival. This year The J’s were offered a performance package and whilst each gig had its memorable moments the showcase event called ‘Women In Song’ was the J’s exceptional moment.

The event is similar to an artists circle where individuals take a turn performing a song loosely garnered by a theme. This was our first invitation at something like this. We didn't know any of the performers but that didn't matter when you have an opportunity to exchange inspirational energy across a group of singer/songwriters. From the stripped back precision of Tessa Devine’s acoustic originals, Katie Who’s commanding vocal to the sweet country sounds of Aurelle Brunjes, The Js took their seat and poured into the experience. As we shared the stage, energy, moment and spirit of collective musicianship I had a rare epiphany.

The Jazzuleles Katie Who Tessa Devine Aurelle Brunjes & Shirley Lynn.

I am a musician. No longer a hobbyist or dabbler but someone who wants it all. I’m not talking about fame or fortune I mean 100% authenticity in music creation, performance and being.

Thank you to the Tablelands Folk Festival for hosting this amazing opportunity, Quincan Gallery Café for your beautiful venue, friends and festival goers for your uplifting feedback and to each brilliant Women In Song especially my bestie bandmate Alison Skardon. My connection with you all has now completely re-directed the course of my life without exception!

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