Press Kit


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Bio 30 Words (189 characters, or 160 without spaces)

Ringing across a festival, there is no mistaking the startlingly honest voice of former Stray Hens frontwoman. Soaring over riffs on handmade guitars, she is the darling of Australian folk.

23 words (149 Characters, or 126 without spaces)

The startlingly honest, rich voice of former Stray Hens frontwoman, and Aussie folk darling,  soars over distinctive sound of her Jack Spira Guitars.

BIO 55 words (340 Characters, or 284 without spaces)

Connell has a voice of startling honesty.  Ringing out across an audience, there is no mistaking it's tortured command,  and up close, the strength of her presence. A prolific songwriter and collaborator, the former front woman for the Stray Hens plays hand-made guitars by Jack Spira, and gracefully presents to us a captivating solo show.


Connell presents a voice of startling honesty, with guitar skills and anecdotes which have her well loved around the east coast. David Francey calls her one of his "favourite trad voices anywhere" Eric Bogle called her ‘deserving’.

She weaves narrative threads – in song or patter, leaving you feeling  you know her. A strong and independent solo artist, Mandy’s show comes to life for audiences who want to listen. Inspired by travelling musicians and taught by them- Connell performs in a traditional style that thrives on travelling to diverse communities.

 Bio ( 119 words)

Connell voice has a startling honesty.  Ringing out across an audience, there is no mistaking her tortured strength & the command in her presence.  Former front woman for the Stray Hens, Connell is every inch worthy of her hand made (Jack Spira) guitars. Between tours,  she presents a web series called An Otherwise Quiet Room, featuring duets with Liz Stringer, Kylie Auldist & Gallie, among others.  AOQR highlights her love of story & melody, the folk tradition.

David Francey (CAN) calls her one of his "favourite trad voices anywhere". Eric Bogle & Judy Small commend her ability to weave songs into her own narrative. Each show comes to life for curated audiences who come to listen. Connell performs in a timeless,  captivating style.

 150 WORDS

Solo, Trio, or fronting the stunning ballad outfit Stray Hens, Mandy Connell is unmistakable.  With support and fabulous reviews from Judy Small, Paul Brady, David Francey, it is easy to see why the Aussie folk songwriter is so well recognised. Playing gorgeous Jack Spira guitars, a Graham McDonald mandolin, and using her voice in a tortured, distinctive fashion, Connell derives a sound all her own and yet… identifiably “folk”.

Winning the Declan Affley Award (National Folk Festival) in 2005 and the the Maldon Minstrel Award (Maldon Festival) in 2006, Mandy came second at Port Fairy’s Songs of Peace and Tolerance Competition in 2006 for her song ‘Riots in Redfern’.

She has 2 albums and an EP under her own name, 2 releases with Stray Hens, and one collaborative release with the Maggie Darlings called The Wishing Well. A seasoned performer, Connell is never quite the same twice. You’ll be hooked.




Connells voice has a startling honesty, ringing out across her audience. There is no mistaking its tortured strength or the command in her presence.  Former front woman for Stray Hens, and a prolific songwriter, Connell is every inch worthy of her hand made (Jack Spira) guitars. David Francey (CAN) calls her one of his "favourite trad voices anywhere". Eric Bogle & Judy Small commend her ability to weave others songs into her narrative, drawing on experience for every new show. Connell recorded her own full length album (Tall Tales, 2012) in the UK. Returning to Aus, she worked on contemporary presentation of ballads with the 5 piece band, Stray Hens. In 2016 they released an album (by Luke Plumb), and in 2017 Connell released a live EP ( The Northcote Sessions) and a stunning collaborative album with the Maggie Darlings (The Wishing Well) recorded with Colin Wynn at Thirty Mill Studios. 2018 saw her present a second season of the video series An Otherwise Quiet Room, featuring duets with respected guests including Kylie Auldist, Liz Stringer and Steve Poltz. Forged in the folk clubs of Victoria, Connells style is timeless -solo or in collaboration -  captivating both the heart and the enquiring mind.



“Saw Ms Mandy Connell sing and play at Australia’s National Folk Festival. A great talent with a passionate and compelling voice and a total command of her music! Catch her if you can”..Paul Brady


“I had the good fortune to see Mandy performing at the last night of the National Folk Festival in Canberra. Her warm personality and engaging voice captivated the audience, whom she thoroughly entertained whilst successfully managing a constantly revolving backing band. She is an asset to any festival or club line up, and a consumate professional.”

Paul Sartin


“One of my favourite trad voices –anywhere!” - David Francey

“New Melbourne folk outfit Stray Hens does much more than pay homage to the great songs from the folk revival of the sixties and seventies. Great tunes and great lyrics are re-packaged in a distinctly Melbourne style, with harmonies and time signatures as fluid as the melodies themselves. Mandy Connell has been building a well deserved reputation for her original songs, which spring from her deep love of the folk tradition, both here and in the UK. She has put together a band of young, energetic musicians who share her passion for good music and a good time”. Derek Guille, former ABC Radio presenter.

“Mandy Connell is the latest in a long and distinguished line of talented female musicians to grace the musical scene in Australia. A fine singer and songwriter in her own right, she also has the knack of taking other peoples’ songs, and by virtue of her original and unique interpretations making them her own, the mark of a truly gifted performer…” Eric Bogle


A storyteller of quiet strength, raw, startling and sometimes sweet.  



Mandy Connell




Phone: AUS +61 415978666

NZ 02108163201






 An Otherwise Quiet Room






Connell comes from a living tradition. The daughter of non-performing parents, she was first introduced to the scene with trips to folk clubs (Ballarat Folk Club in the 90’s). Her elders weren’t performers but helped organise events, rather than starring in them. A young Connell helped at the small town Clunes and Smeaton festivals very early on, and went on to stacking chairs and make sandwiches for the Folk Song and Dance Society of Victoria, which dissolved in the early 90’s.  In later years she did the door or stuffed envelopes for Across the Borders (a touring agency, famous for running the Brunswick Music Festival for 21 years.

In that time Connell met and sometimes received lessons from Tony McManus, Louis McManus, Vin Garbutt, Enda Kenny, Kristina Olsen, Alistair Hulett, The Battlefield Band, Dick Gaughan, Andy Irvine, Apodimi Compania, and many more. Watching high calibre, well-travelled bands command rooms of 15-500 people, Connell developed a love of performance and story songs that has never abated, and became the prism through which she looks at people, travel and culture. The scene she grew up in also encourages placing value in others” voices, and in sharing songs and exchanging stories.

Too timid to apply for Princes Hill or University High, Connell went to Northcote High, where she studied under flamenco guitarist Faye Pasky, with a guitar chosen by John McAuslan, then director of the seminal Brunswick Music Festival . In Year 11 & 12 VCE (1998-2000) Connell changed to Thornbury Darebin Secondary College, where she studied under Kelly Auty for vocal development.

After high school, Connell lacked confidence to play in bands or jam with others. She frequented Irish sessions and singer’s sessions in places like the Cork Man, and the Dan O’Connell, where she developed a reputation as an emerging ‘floor singer’. Fuelled by her love of music and travel, Connell became a passionate associate of the Victorian festival scene and of Andrew Pattison and his Troubadour Wine Bar in particular, working in the bar at Maldon Folk Festival, the National, Woodford, Chewton and more. Playing open mics and sessions, she was eventually encouraged on to the stage-proper by the likes of Pattison himself, guided by festival favourites such as Martin Pearson, James Fagan and Nancy Kerr. In her early 20’s Connell was encouraged to take a spot at the Troubadour Stage during the National Folk Festival, opening for James Keelaghan to a full audience of 300-400 people. While nerve wracking, the experience was what inspired her to continue performing and learning performance. It was in the open mics and sessions that Connell first met Richard Grace, double bassist, and under his patient guidance, learned to ‘jam’. Richard became a fast friend, travelling as far as Cygnet Folk Festival and to as many pub stages as Connell could book.

Known for her solo work – largely at festivals- Connell carried the spirit of the folk scene from her early years, gathering Richard Grace and then more musicians around her and beginning a tradition of appearing at the end of a festival as “Mandy and Friends”.  In 2005 she was nominated for Port Fairy Folk Festival’s Songs of Peace and Tolerance competition, and also won the Maldon Minstrel Award, and in 2006 won the National Folk Festival’s Declan Affley Memorial Award. Steadily buoyed by the support of musicians she looked up to, Connell began performing support slots and increasing her appearances.

Heading to England in 2007 with a first solo album under her belt (Recorded with Joseph O’Brien at his flat in Brunswick East) she went back and forth, eventually living there during 2008 & 2009, where she recorded an album featuring session musicians from the Folk Degree at Sage Gateshead in the North of England. Recorded) by Tom A Wright,(Sweet Visitor, the Albion Band) this album featured originals and a few traditional tracks, and sales from this album provided a solid income when she returned home to Australia in 2010.

Landing back in Melbourne after shows in Brisbane and Tasmania, Connell took a bar job at legendary Melbourne  music venue, the Lomond Hotel in Brunswick East, and it was there that she met and began playing her own songs with Frank Lees and Ian MacRae (Press Club, Madre Monte, Tully on Tully). With her love of traditional music, and Ian and Frank’s Jazz, latin and pop backgrounds, Connell developed a taste for creating modern, challenging arrangements of classic folk ballads, and they recruited Lindsey Meldrum, Fingal Capaldi (Rapskallion) and Stirling Gill-Chambers (Spooky Men, Rich Davies & The Low Road) and formed short lived group “Saffron Avenue”. Soon after they got their groove going, Frank & Ian were needed more with Tully on Tully and Madre Monte, both groups having found solid success and airplay.

The group later lost Lindsey, Stirling, and Fingal. Connell, refusing to be disheartened, recruited Rowena Wise and Sally Taylor. Without a backline and with the band having sort of dissolved, the three women laughingly called themselves ‘Stray Hens’, deciding that while they looked for backline, they could perform as a trio and play classic folk for weddings. Fill-in drummer Ryan Tews (The Morelands, and visual artist) filmed a clip of the ladies performing in a tree, landing them an honorary place at the National Folk Festival’s Flute and Fiddle, and Bohemia stages. Richard Grace was recruited for the new folk and trad outfit ‘Stray Hens’ along with Ryan Tews as a permanent member.   ‘Stray Hens’ recorded with Ryan in 2013 and Luke Plumb in 2016, eventually presenting a polished show of powerful Australian tradition and Anglo Celtic Ballads, with jazz, metal, folk, and Americana influences.

Stray Hens began with a mix of traditional and Mandy’s original pieces, but Connell retained her solo name, continuing to perform as herself, although to much smaller crowds and for smaller fees than the Hens were attracting. An attempt in 2014 to record Connell’s next originals album, the Girl Who Fell Off the Wall, was soured by a bad cold or flu that had all of the band bedridden for the duration of the recording dates. The work on the album was never released, although all band members and Damien from Circal Studios agonised over the decision. Connell was not satisfied that the album represented her abilities.

Nevertheless, she continued to perform and make friends, performing at Songwriters nights. It was at Unpaved, a session run by Les Thomas, that Connell first performed with guitarist Matt Green (Solo, Guitarist Tracey McNeil and the Good Life) and new friend Damon Smith. This show cemented a mutual respect between Les Thomas and Connell, and he later included her as Backing Vocalist on his 2013 album ‘Survivor’s Tale’ and at “These Machines Cut Razor Wire” a fundraiser for the ASRC in Melbourne, which saw her fronting the house band to sing Sam Cooke’s “Change is Gonna Come”.

Participating in three albums from 2009 to 2015 as part of Marina Hurley’s “Festival Folk Sing” tribute project, Connell gained a reputation for interpretations of contemporary writer’s songs, earning praise from Eric Bogle and Judy Small, and eventually also from David Francey, who included her on his 2016 Best Album Winning (CFMA) record Empty Train and calling her “One of my favourite trad voices Anywhere”.

In 2017 Connell released a collaborative album made with Colin Wynne at Thirty Mill Studios, with Surf Rock and Dreamy songwriter Alysia Manceau, and quiet celebrity Layla Fibbins (Sideshow Brides) which was received very well and gained airplay on 3RRR’s Twang, DJ’d by Denise Hylands. The writers took turns to feature lyrics and vocals, a la Mia Dyson, Liz Stringer and Jen Cloher. In addition to this 9 track collaborative release, Connell released 5 live tracks previously recorded by Myles Mumford on a mobile rig in the home of Enda Kenny, and Julie Boffa. The session was also filmed by Agostino Soldati (Cosmic Psycho’s: Blokes you Can Trust, Drummer, Deep Street Soul) and several songs are available on YouTube.

2017 also saw the launch of interview and duets webseries, “An Otherwise Quiet Room”, with the pilot season (The Yarra Sessions) launched at the Yarra Hotel. Filming was completed on a second season: The Moreland Sessions” with Agostino Soldati and a raft of sound engineers, designers, consultant producers, performers and venues, including Liz Stringer, Gallie, John Fox, Van Walker, and Kylie Auldist. The program was entirely self funded, and a crowdfunding campaign launched to cover extra costs and regain some expense, offering pre-orders for a book of Season 2, and a USB of the videos for those without access to streaming. The series looks at place and connection, using the sharing and recording of three songs in each episode to show the worth and magic of a social space (shop, studio, restaurant, venue). The series aims to show how small businesses and independent communities are of a greater worth than the sum of their financial transactions, and how broader involvement with community can encourage goodwill and therefore, also, business.

What is captivating about Connell is a unique, sometimes tortured voice, and an assured presence. Her sets are surprising, and combine a majority of her own original work with a peppering of unexpected interpretations of contemporary independent folk artists and the occasional traditional ballad.

Honed in Folk Clubs in the 80’s and 90’s, bent on the anvil of the Melbourne Pub scene, and sustained and educated by musicians and festivals in two countries, Connell’s stage show takes on the passion of the political, the brash honesty of the deeply personal, and the heart of the real thing. A troubadour and an inspiring woman to many, it is her ability to stand alone on stage or with friends and invoke her groundedness, and her awareness of her place in her community, that is most arresting.

“Mandy Connell is the latest in a long and distinguished line of talented female musicians to grace the musical scene in Australia. A fine singer and songwriter in her own right, she also has the knack of taking other peoples’ songs, and by virtue of her original and unique interpretations making them her own, the mark of a truly gifted performer…” Eric Bogle