Ease into the weekend and enjoy everything Sydney has to offer at the Courtyard Sessions 2018 – long days, warm weather, good food, cold drinks and great live music.
Courtyard Sessions’ free gigs at dusk have become a staple in the city’s live music scene, known for the diversity and energy of programming.
This year we’re celebrating Mardi Gras’ 40th Anniversary Festival with a series of free outdoor concerts from up-and-coming local musicians representing the LGBTQI community. Click here to view the Mardi Gras Courtyard Sessions line up.
Courtyard Sessions at sunset feature a bar, vintage games and more. Family and pooch friendly.
Proudly supported by City of Sydney.
Fri 19 Jan - Timothy James Bowen
Timothy James Bowen
6pm – 9pm
The last 18 months have brought Bowen commissioned works with Virgin Mobile Australia, two brand new EP’s, multiple national Australian tours with internationally renowned recording artists; The Milk Carton Kids & Clare Bowen, multiple cameo performances at the world renowned Grand Ole Opry stage in Nashville, TN. and a song he co-wrote, From Here On Out, being chosen for the U.S. TV show, Nashville and their subsequent series 4 soundtrack.
With much more music planned for release in the coming months, Timothy has proven himself as one to watch in 2018.
Fri 26 Jan - Anna Smyrk + Ethan Conway
Anna Smyrk (Victoria) + Ethan Conway
6pm – 9pm
Anna Smyrk is an alt-folk singer-songwriter from Central Victoria. With a voice as pure as mountain water, haunting songwriting and bare-bones arrangements, Anna delves deep into the art of storytelling. Her music takes you on a journey around the world, presenting rich folk tunes inspired by years of living in Cambodia and the Solomon Islands.
Anna’s original folk tunes sit in somewhere between Gillian Welch and Laura Marling. Her latest EP was described as “a slow-burning gem” by Rhythms Magazine, while ABC Radio National called it “exquisite.”
Anna currently splits her time between Australia and the Solomon Islands, juggling her music with her work in international development. These experiences of living and working in different places have enriched her song writing and provided opportunities to work with other musicians from various backgrounds. From forming a duo with a traditional instrumentalist in Cambodia to running song-writing workshops for young people in the Solomon Islands, she sees music as a way to connect with people in diverse places.
Anna has toured widely around Australia, including shows at Port Fairy Folk, Queenscliff Music and Nimbin Roots Festivals.
Fri 2 Feb - SUIIX + Nothing Rhymes with David
SUIIX + Nothing Rhymes with David
6pm – 9pm
Sydney electronic dreampop artist Suiix has been described as ‘a blend of Julia Holter’s gauzy swirl with the clarion sharpness of St Vincent from which they forge deep psychedelic ooze.’ Following on from the release of Hi and the warped electronic pop single Alright, the past year has seen Suiix play Big Sound for the second consecutive year, become FBi Radio’s Artist of the Week, #1 on the AMRAP charts and win the triple j Unearthed/NIDA competition for the latest single Pacific Dreamer.
Live you can expect everything from cathartic dreamscapes to “…..instrumental freak-outs that teeter towards total collapse, but in a way that encourages dance, rather than despair” The Brag
“SUIIX’s take on modern electronica knows no boundaries….with a never-ending arsenal of sounds, diverse instrumental interplay and a mesmerising voice to match” Aphra Magazine
Fri 9 Feb - Lady Lyon
6pm – 9pm
Based in Sydney, Lady Lyon has been making a name for herself on the local folk scene for the last six years, watching, waiting, writing and whittling away her memories and experiences into songs that truly express who she is and what she has to say.
Her debut EP Champion Blues delves into the last 10 years of her life with songs like The Captains Wife derived from living in near isolation for three months in rural France working for a family with incredibly complex dynamics, Champion Blues a song about learning to live and forgive yourself of your mistakes and most recent A Little More, to find enough courage to change, despite fear.
After recording in 2017 with strategically placed accompaniments, Lady Lyon is taking 2018 with a running start and full band in tow.
Fri 16 Feb - Kid Heron
6pm – 9pm
Cairns born, Sydney based singer/songwriter, Kid Heron has some wild new soul for the world. Working for years on the stage and behind the scenes under the moniker Alby as a singer/songwriter, session singer and backing vocalist with the likes of Airling, Tuka, Spit Syndicate and Joseph Liddy & The Skeleton Horse. During this time he also supported some of Australia’s finest (Bree Tranter, Emma Louise, Jess Harlen, Boilermakers) before dropping the mononym and hiding away to focus on writing and recording what would eventually emerge as his debut single Ornaments.
Sat 17 Feb - Mardi Gras Event
Harley Mavis and Lady Lyon
5:30pm – 8pm
Harley Mavis is the new girl-fronted indie rock band hailing from Sydney’s inner-west, steeped in rich vocals and lush, growing ballads.
After making waves in the Sydney music scene with her band Phantastic Ferniture, Elizabeth Hughes has built a reputation as one of Sydney’s most intriguing songwriters and guitarists. Hughes’ solo work is hallmarked by intricate melodies and stunning guitar work, with Brag Magazine describing her powerful songs as anchored by truly impressive musicianship. After releasing her debut EP in 2017, Elizabeth scored supports with Julien Baker, Oh Pep!, Holly Throsby and Julia Jacklin. She has received Triple J and FBi radio airplay, in addition to critical digital reception, being play listed on both Spotify and Apple Music’s Best Of playlists. Happy Magazine has named her as one of Australia’s 20 guitarists to watch alongside Stu Mackenzie and Gareth Liddiard. She is currently recording her debut album in Lyttelton, New Zealand with producer Ben Edwards (Aldous Harding, Julia Jacklin, Marlon Williams), which is due for release in 2018.
One of Australia’s finest young guitarists – Brag Magazine
Beautifully languid and wistful – Triple J
Sun 18 Feb - Fair Day Highlight - Mardi Gras Event
Rachel Maria Cox (solo) and Hollow States
5pm – 7pm
Rachel Maria Cox is a non-binary singer songwriter who grew up in Western Sydney and is now based in Newcastle, NSW.
In 2017, they were dubbed by Newcastle Live as one of the top 5 local acts to watch in 2017 as well as successfully crowdfunding their debut LP release. Their debut single Emotionally Untidy gained consistent airplay on Triple J, and their follow up single Stronger Lines saw them win a Triple J Unearthed competition to have a music video made by NIDA graduates and premiered on Rage on October 7th 2017. They were also nominated for the 2017 National Live Music Award for Pop Live Act Of The Year, and in 2018 will be playing Mountain Sounds Festival.
When enigmatic Sydney three-piece Hollow States released their first single, Damage I’ve Done, they were met with unexpected praise for their elegant simplicity and strange melancholy.
It’s a nice dichotomy they create. The band – comprised of singer Huck Hastings, guitarist Joel Woolf and keyboardist Hayden Woolf – craft songs that are both heartfelt and intelligent; equal parts haunting and jangly. Unmistakable within this sound is the emotive voice of Huck Hastings.
Fri 23 Feb - Mardi Gras Event
Chicks With Picks
Featuring – Lola Sola, Colleen Fricker (ex. Two Girls Will) and Cassy Judychair
6pm – 9pm
Chicks With Picks put on events for female fronted acts – the goal is to encourage more woman performers to get up on stage and to provide a network in which they can flourish. With a monthly open mic and various special events throughout the year, the aim is to provide a leg up to local artists and a community where people can gather to relax and enjoy live music.
Lola is a New Zealand singer-songwriter with a dynamic vocal range and emotive lyrics. Based in Sydney, she has released her first studio album Walking Back from Hell, a stripped-back collection of originals recorded at A Sharp Recording Studios with producers Richard Lake & Joe Sharratt. Since its release in mid-2016, she has toured the East Coast of Australia and New Zealand nationwide. Earlier this year she successfully crowdfunded her first independent music video for single Swim filmed in New Zealand and due to be released later this year. Walking Back from Hell is a collection of honest songwriting. Pairing haunting lyrics with delicate harmonies, it showcases an artist who has a powerful connection to her experiences and a lot more stories to tell. Lola is currently working on new material and is looking forward to hitting the road again at the start of next year.
With comparisons to Melissa Etheridge, Janis Joplin and Robert Plant it should come as no surprise that Colleen’s vocals are big, loud and emotionally raw. Couple that with addictive roots dance riffs under which runs a driving, foot stomping beat and you’ve got the perfect catchy combination of blues and roots. With two albums under her belt and a slew of impressive support slots this singer songwriter is generating a big name for herself in the Sydney music scene.
Cassy is a performer like no other. From brooding love ballads to pun-filled ditties about girls, Cassy’s songs showcase a range of musical styles (country, comedy and folk) in a clever and original way. A former criminal lawyer and union official, she decided that sleeping at night was really important to her and threw in her lot as a musical reprobate!
Fri 2 Mar - Letters to Lions
Letters to Lions + Oly Sherman Support
6pm – 9pm
Letters to Lions
A true to life rock and roll band, sprawling guitar melodies and aggressive, ambitious vocals, described as a concoction of swooning aggression and dance pop sensibility with comparisons to Kings of Leon, WU LYF, last Dinosaurs and Foals; the boys may just become your new favorite indie band.
After releasing two independent singles, followed by his EP Embrace, Oly has gained an immense amount of traction coming off the back of that. Not only has he had national airplay on stations such as Triple J and FBI, but has also gained international radio play in the UK and US. Oly’s strength as a live performer is to mesmerise the audience with his experimental vocals, which can be done with just simply his voice and a guitar. With many relating his music to that of Matt Corby, Angus Stone and Boy and Bear, Oly will definitely bring a touch to an evening which otherwise would not be there.
Oly has been regularly performing around Sydney, including local festivals such as Surry Hills festival, and more recently, he has supported artists such as Alex the Astronaut, Rya Park, Handkerchief Thief and Bridge.
Fri 9 Mar - Nicole Brophy
6pm – 9pm
If you’re looking for a hefty injection of guts and soul, Brophy’s your woman. She’s a woman’s woman and a man’s woman in one. Sassy, sexy and with (quite a lot) to say. She’ll keep up with the best of them, both musically and with her characteristic ability to make herself heard.
Nicole Brophy has a voice and style compared to the likes of PJ Harvey, Lucinda Williams & La Roux. Stylistically it fits somewhere between gritty rock, hoedowns and moody, bluesy numbers, all brought together by a raw charismatic rockin’ earthy voice and boundless energy.
Empty Tin is the much anticipated first single release from Nicole Brophy’s latest album. With natural onstage charisma, bangin’ guitar skills and come-hither-smokey vocals it’s not hard to understand why she was kidnapped by Kate Miller Heidke’s band for a few years. Lucky for us Nicole is now bottling that “whiskey soaked” voice into some darn tasty brew that deserves to be heard and shared.
The first single Empty Tin from Nicole’s forthcoming album has received consistent airplay through Australian Community Radio & reached Number 5 on the AMRAP AirIt Regional Charts. Recent festival performances include Splendour in The Grass, Byron Bay, Meatstock Festival (Sydney), BBQ & Blues Festival Port Macquarie, Bendigo Blues & Roots Festival & Mitchell Creek Rock & Blues Festival.
Nicole is currently completing the finishing touches on her latest album recorded in a farmhouse in the Southern Highlands of NSW co-produced by Syd Green due for release in 2017.
Fri 16 Mar - Leah Flanagan
6pm – 9pm
Emotion and allure are at the heart of Leah Flanagan’s songwriting. The Sydney-based singer/songwriter uses space in an enchanting way – the listener has the sense they can settle amongst the lyrics and become part of the music. And when you settle you get carried away. It’s Leah’s voice that holds you, makes you feel, never in your face, instead making you an offer you can’t refuse.
With Venetian, Aboriginal and Irish heritage, Leah has a fascinating historical, geographical and cultural mix to draw from. As a result, she possesses a versatility and stylistic range that has seen her work with a long list of diverse musicians and projects from the world premiere performances with Sinead O’Conner and John Cale, Clinton Walkers Buried Country Roadshow to duetting with Paul Kelly, Marlon Williams and Ursula Yovich.
Fri 23 Mar - Naomi Keyte
Naomi Keyte (Adelaide) + Night Kite Support
6pm – 9pm
Naomi Keyte gives a voice to voiceless things: trees, colours, water, the very air we breathe. Musically there is a delicate meeting of electronic pulses and rhythms, and physical vibration: nylon guitars, violins and pianos. Keyte and her band write and perform minimalist alt-folk pop music that sings to the heart and human experience. Their music resounds with the restraint and warmth of artists like Joni Mitchell, Julia Holter, Sharon Van Etten and Sufjan Stevens. Keyte’s words are ‘beautifully simplistic and are drawn together to tell fascinating stories which she accompanies with vividly painted images’ (June Murtagh, The AU Review). Thoughtfully produced, the group’s music has a narrative in every string plucked and bowed, and a message conveyed in every beat struck and muted.
Keyte has supported some incredible artists such as Olympia, Ainslie Wills, Laura Jean, Aldous Harding, Paul Kelly, Darren Hanlon, and Luluc. She has also made appearances at a handful of festivals including Here’s to Now, Bus to the Big Trees, Moving Music and Latitude (UK.). Keyte has also been played extensively on Double J, Triple J Unearthed and Radio Adelaide. Most recently Naomi has been programmed to play at WOMADelaide 2018.
Forming in mid 2016, the girls from Night Kite came together from four different walks of musical life to create a unique and exciting sound.
Harnessing the power of four incredible vocalists: Susie Hurley, Amy Price, Vanessa Moussa and Sarasi Liyanage weave intricate harmonies over rhythmic percussion, creating seductive and dynamic arrangements.
Their vast experience covers folk, gospel, country, opera, pop and soul, with each vocalist throwing their own distinct style into the songwriting melting pot.
Night Kite’s upwards trajectory has been swift, with the girls already collecting an impressive array of achievements. Quick to become regulars on the Sydney scene, they have held residencies at the Robin Hood Hotel, become favourites at The Rhythm Hut in Gosford, and support original live music by playing at local and underground events.
The girls wowed audiences in a coveted spot at the 2017 Tamworth Country Music Festival, playing multiple shows in the bustling hub of The Tamworth Hotel. They were also recently selected to play in the Bluesfest Busking Competition at the iconic Beach Hotel in Byron, where they earned a slot playing on the Busking Stage at Bluesfest. Other festivals include the sold out Wollombi Music Festival and Hervey Bay Seafood Festival.
In January 2017 Night Kite released their first single, Already Come Into My Heart, kicking off a busy year that will see the girls headline The Rhythm Hut, continue on the festival circuit and work on recording their first album.