BRINGING COUNTRY – AND RAIN
– TO THE COAST
Country music fans proved they’re prepared to go through hell and
high water – literally – to see their favourite performers, braving the
elements to turn out in droves for the Port Stephens Blue Water Country
Music Festival over the long weekend.
Undeterred by the worst storms in 30 years, they defied the rain, wind,
flooded roads and power cuts to enjoy the 200 performances at more than
30 venues on the four-day programme.
Rising young stars and emerging talent joined headline acts including
Gina Jeffreys, Sara Storer, James Blundell, Bill Chambers, Pixie
Jenkins, The Bushwackers, The Wolverines, Anne Kirkpatrick, Pat Drummond
and Karen Lynne.
From Nelson Bay to Raymond Terrace, Karuah, Tea Gardens and all places
in between, country music was on the agenda.
The festival catered for every taste, from traditional to modern
country, country rock, bluegrass, country gospel and bush poetry. There
was even country karaoke and of course the boot scooters were out in
force right across the weekend.
Some scheduled outdoor events had to be cancelled or moved indoors, but
despite the weather conditions venues reported good crowds with many
shows selling out in advance. Nelson Bay RSL, already packed to
capacity, was forced to close its doors early on Saturday evening.
The festival was launched in a party atmosphere on Thursday night, with
performances by Newcastle’s John Wilson, the ever popular Leslie Avril
and Victoria McGee, among others.
Friday night’s Young Talent Showcase featured nine young performers –
the youngest of them just 10 years old – who demonstrated that the
future of country music is in good hands. Interestingly, it was a ‘girls
only’ show, with no young male up-and-comers in the line-up.
A number of the girls went on to compete in the inaugural Blue Dolphin
Talent Quest the next day, with 16 year old singer-songwriter Kaylah
Anne taking out the major award against some pretty stiff opposition.
The bush poetry breakfasts, featuring the likes of Bob Skelton – aka
‘The Minmi Magster’ – and Vic Jefferies were major drawcards.
There were also rave reviews around the Port for Melbourne-based band
‘Ruckus’, which had made a big impression at Tamworth in January.
To sum up, since it was introduced in 2006, the Port Stephens Blue Water
Country Music Festival has grown dramatically and has shown it has the
potential to be a major event on the country music calendar. It might
just pay to get in early and book your accommodation now for next year!
• Don’t forget the name Kaylah Anne – we predict this young lady
is a star of the future.
• Look out for another emerging but major talent, Lou Bradley. Lou
charmed audiences over the weekend with her refreshing style and
beautifully crafted songs. Her album, ‘Love Someone’, was released at
Tamworth in January.
• And keep your eye on the beautiful and talented Aleyce Simmonds, no
doubt also destined for big things. Aleyce was in Port Stephens over the
weekend as support for Gina Jeffreys.
Summary courtesy of Wendy and Jim McCormack
from Port Stephens FM
Notes from Helen
mention goes to Leslie Avril. Whilst having a night off at the
Country Club Hotel when the blackout struck, sang a few songs without
any backing musicians just to entertain the crowd .
**Later on that night, Kerry Kennedy and
Double Barrel (from Queensland) having set up for their gig when the
blackout arrived, had to set it all again in another part of the Hotel
that did have power.
**When the lights went out at the
Salamander Tavern, two of the musicians picked up their acoustic guitars
and went around serenading the crowd
This festival will be
on again next year on the Long Weekend in June. Lets hope we stop
breaking droughts and good weather comes our way.
Phone 024984 4751
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