With Bluesfest marking its 30th anniversary in 2019 it’s a special year and significantly, there was a solid Gold Coast presence on the bill.
Katie Who delivered an impassioned performance in the busking comp, including a stellar cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rhiannon’, but it’s Katie’s Gold Coast compatriots Electrik Lemonade who stole the show with a turbo-charged delivery of funk and slamming soul that saw them crowned the competition winners.
As ever there’s no shortage of support for the hometown heroes (Byron Bay is part of the GC these days, right?) and it’s not just the punters cheering them on. Julz and Leesa of Hussy Hicks were among the fans certainly, pushing back an interview so they can cheer on Katie Who as she hit the stage.
This shared sense of camaraderie is part of the wonderfully supportive culture within the Gold Coast music scene, it doesn’t matter who the artist is or the musical genre, our local musicians are often each other’s biggest fans.
When we eventually catch up back stage for a chat I asked Julz and Leesa about the reciprocal nature of our music scene, noting that only a couple of weeks back I watched the Electrik Lemonade guys cheering Hussy Hicks on at a Gold Coast gig.
Julz: “I spent a fair bit of time in London’s music scene and it’s so cutthroat. If someone gets a break there they could be set up for life, so it’s a real dog eat dog mentality. On the Gold Coast it’s a much smaller scene and if you see your mates doing well then we all benefit from their success.”
Leesa: “When you see someone like Amy Shark killing it her success not only enhances her own reputation, but all of us working in the industry on the Gold Coast. Her keyboard player Brad is a mate of ours who produces a lot of local music and that then becomes a great opportunity for our up and coming artists to work with someone who’s had success at that level.”
Long before Amy Shark found her massive success Hussy Hicks had cut their own successful path across the globe. In that time the local scene has grown remarkably.
Julz: “I feel like the Gold Coast has always had a fantastic underground scene. As a teenager I remember going to the Rose & Crown on a Wednesday, or an underage gig at the Playroom and it was basically the same crew who went to all the same events, that’s how small the scene was then.”
These days there are more music festivals than ever on the Gold Coast. Next month Hussy Hicks will be one of the many local acts featured at Blues on Broadbeach. It’s an important event for the local economy, but even more so for local artists.
Leesa: “It costs a ridiculous amount of money to stage an event like that so being able to play on a big stage is a dream come true for an emerging artist. Sometimes people see you playing in the corner of a bar and they don’t really get it, but when you’ve got the full production behind you and you’re winning over a big crowd the penny drops and they get it.”
But even experienced campaigners like Leesa and Julz can find a big occasion like Bluesfest overwhelming.
Leesa: “Last night I was standing side stage pinching myself as I danced with Hozier while watching Iggy Pop perform. I texted Jules and said what are you doing? She said ‘I’m hanging out backstage with Marcus King and Lukas Nelson’ and I thought ‘this is so cool!’
“You spend hours and hours and hours trying to make good music and then you have the privilege of coming to a festival like this and being surrounded by it and just drowning in it.”
Julz: “It’s very inspirational company for us. It’s one of those rare occasions where you not only get to play the event but you can also hang out and just be a fan.”
IMAGE (c) Grant Trammell