Given the recent destructive and voracious fires that have ravaged the surrounding areas of Mullumbimby, it was both incredible and admirable to see the community come together and show their support of national, local and international musicians at this year’s 12th Mullumbimby Music Festival.
Although there was definitely an air of melancholy on the smoky streets, following a tough few weeks of land loss, destruction of homes and evacuations, people were generously donating to the ‘Fire Aid’ buckets at the festival venues. Then there was the announcement that firefighters and their families were able to attend the Sunday shows for free, highlighting the tightness and positive spirit of the small community and its people.
As festival punters wandered from venue to venue, checking out the plethora of music on offer, storm clouds gathered momentum. A couple of hours later, cries of ‘it’s raining’ could be heard throughout the festival and as the rain bucketed down for the first time in months, it threatened to steal the show, as people danced in the streets, elated to be soaked through. Given the immense number of bands that played over the weekend and the fact I could only attend the Sunday, a wrap up of the highlights (aside from the rain) will hopefully inspire you to buy a ticket for the next Mullumbimby Music Festival, as seriously, this town really knows how to party.
Claire Ann Taylor | Village Vanguard
With her soulful folk songs and honest storytelling, Claire had a captivating stage presence that stunned the audience into admiring silence. As her colossal vocals and powerful voice, at times reminiscent of Norah Jones, Claire took the crowd on a trip down nostalgia lane, particularly with her beautiful song, ‘Rise to Your Door’ about her grandfather. With Beau Thomas on drums and Matt Bonafide on double bass, Claire’s dreamy songs, such as ‘Hold Me Darling’ and ‘When Things Fall Apart’, made you want to lie on a feathery doona, cuddled up next to a loved one and sip whiskey by a fire.
The Wilson Pickers | Civic Hall
Wow, these guys were amazing and their on-point harmonies and melodies put the Beach Boys to shame. Featuring Andrew Morris, Danny Widdicombe, Sime Nugent, Ben Salter and John Bedggood, The Wilson Pickers had the crowd up on their feet from their first song, clapping, bush dancing and cheering to their bluegrass instrumentation and jovial on-stage attitude. Their heart-felt lyrics and toe-tapping vibes, songs such as ‘You Can’t Steal My Love’, ‘Shake it Down’, and ‘Pulled Apart By Horses’ really highlighted the talent of the band members, all of whom played multiple instruments and sang beautifully. Their rendition of Dolly Parton’s ‘Joelene’ pretty much brought the house down and as the raucous and virtuosic show kicked on, I realised that if you haven’t seen The Wilson Pickers, then you need to don your cowboy boots and get along to their next show. Now.
Lucie Thorne Presents Kitty and Frank | Village Vanguard
Tracing the wild, true stories of young frontier woman Kitty Walsh and her bushranger bandit, Frank Gardiner, Lucie’s performance, combined with her incredible songwriting and storytelling ability, took the audience on a journey back to a time when Australia truly was a harsh and brutal land. With her sexy, husky overtones and a voice that penetrated through your skin, Lucie’s music wavered between joy and melancholy. As she interspersed the songs such as ‘Darlinghurst’, ‘Barbara Coast’, ‘All the Love’ and ‘Catherine Christy’, with snippets of the intriguing tale of Kitty and Frank, the performance created a warm and charming atmosphere, one that had the audience truly captivated. Lucie Thorne is without a doubt a performer who puts everything into a show, and following her timeless and unique performance at the festival, here’s hoping she continues to treat us with her charismatic charm.
Kent Burnside | Bowling Club
The minute you entered the Bowling Club on a seemingly quiet Sunday afternoon, you were immediately hit with the heat of the dance floor, generated by a mass of sweaty bodies, all squashed in as close as possible and all vying for a piece of Kent Burnside. Literally born into the blues, hailing from Mississippi and grandson of blues legend, R.L Burnside, Kent’s playing style and stage presence was unique in the sense his music was both dark, inviting and very, very danceable. With around eight musicians crammed on the small stage, including harmonicas, drums, an accordion and a range of guitars and vocalists, Burnside’s passion for his music was contagious and his intricate, heartfelt guitar work was mesmerising. His show was an energetic experience like no other and as the audience slowly petered out into the fresh air after his explosive show, fingers were crossed that this blues legend graces Australia with his presence again.
Quivers | Mullumbimby High School
Don’t you love it when you discover a band you know is going to make it big in the coming year. Well, hot tip, it’s time to wrap your ears around Quivers, a four-piece indie group from Melbourne, who truly are musically talented. With gritty lyrics, such as ‘Nostalgia Will Kill You’ (so true – think of all those times you flick through photo albums crying over that relationship that never was) and catchy, tight-knit songs such as ‘Chinatown’, ‘Riding On the Hearses’ and ‘You’re Not Always On My Mind’, Quivers, with their Pixies and Cloud Control influences reflecting their sound, were a really enjoyable band to watch, one that drew you into the heart and soul of their music and left you wanting more. Take heed and keep an eye out for these guys the next time they tour.
Brekky Boy | Bowling Club
This Sydney trio, describing themselves as ‘jazznotjazz’, may look like they’ve just stepped out of the surf, but looks aside, these guys brought their kick-ass funky jazz (not jazz!) tunes to the festival crowd, who were lapping up every note. Armed with a piano, double bass and drum kit, Brekky Boy were like watching an instrumental weather pattern of four seasons in one day, as their music interspersed moments of lightness and darkness, speed and deliberation. Their rendition and unique interpretation of Coldplay’s ‘God Put a Smile on Your Face’ and Vanessa Carlton’s ‘A Thousand Miles’ were truly incredible and creative spins on these songs. With complex grooves and minimalist piano melodies, Brekky Boy were not only giving the hip-shaking Mullum crowd a vibrant and refreshing experience, but they were also having a great time up on stage, which made their performance even more memorable and left you humming their songs well into the night.