The organisers of Bobby Jack's Festival in Walcha say they have put a massive amount of time, energy and money into ensuring this year's family-friendly event is one to be remembered.
A geodesic dome 'chill out' space; additional village stalls and catering; two main stages and a bigger sound system along with more family fun within sight of the music venues are just some of the additions made to last year's successful inaugural event format.
The not-for-profit committee was inspired by the vote of confidence given to it by the State Government when it approved event seed funding of $20,000 and members have made significant incremental personal investments to stage the spectacle in the Walcha Showground next week.
Hugh Cook the curator for the 'original music only' festival said the 2019 bill was impressive and the two main stages will mean smoother transitions between sets.
"The production scale is much bigger this year," he said.
"We have managed to lock in some of the New England's most exciting up and coming bands as well as a few out of towners including our headliner, the amazing William Crighton and band. Crighton has made a name for himself as a performer in some of Australia's biggest music festivals. His passion and the intensity he brings to his live performances are truly life-changing."
The New England region is well represented on the 14 strong performance program with uniGlo, Hester Fraser (Goldheist), The Tambourine Girls, Donna Amini, Captain Tragic, The Warts, The Graceless and The Lanterns all either current or former locals. As well as headline act William Crighton, psychedelic Sydney band Syntax Error along with Dave Favour and the Roadside Ashes will play.
The range of music styles is diverse - from The Warts swamp rock and Captain Tragic's heavy metal to Dave Favours and the Roadside Ashes alternative country and Donna Amini's lulling spirituals, but perhaps the most thought-provoking performance of the day will come from newcomer uniGlo.
Musical duo Zeta Von Tack and Percival Sealevel (uniGlo) currently reside in New England and say they bonded over a mutual fascination with the huntsman spider. They describe their sound as an eclectic, experimental fusion designed to engage and challenge the audience through live performances delivered in costume.
Bobby Jack's Festival is on from 11 am Saturday, April 13 at the Walcha Showground.
Here's a sample of the main line-up.
Discussing the album and compositions of Empire, Crighton says the driving force was "just being here. My 9-year-old daughter says, 'hope is the one thing that brings us together', I agree with her and think it could go either way. There's more and more people realizing what's going on and changing things for the better but on the other hand there's a lot of greed and crazy out there holding on tight. A few years ago I asked a goodmate, a Wiradjuri bloke, if he thought a "great awakening" was coming and he said 'they're white fella words, we've been living sustainably for 100's of thousands of years' - That put me in my place and inspired me beyond measure."
The Tambourine Girls
Armidale bass player Pat Harris plays with The Tambourine Girls who were formed in 2014 by ex Deep Sea Arcade guitarist Simon Relf.
Their Debut EP "The End of Time" was released that year and followed up by their self-titled debut album in November 2016. This year the band have released their 2nd LP WAITING FOR PLEASURE, just in time for singer Simon Relf to move to Paris for a few months while his wife, acclaimed painter Clara Adolphs, has a residency at The Cité Internationale Des Arts.
Hailing from Armidale Donna Amini is perhaps an unlikely rock musician. As a child she primarily listened to traditional Persian music and classical violin pieces, later discovering a wider musical world when given a radio at age 9 for doing well at a music recital.
Her Persian heritage coupled with her eclectic listening taste; including rock, folk, blues, jazz and experimental music contributes to her original sound and unique outlook on music. Since the release of her debut album in 2016, Donna has been busy performing, writing and recording fresh material.
Donna's new songs display the range of her skill in crafting melodies around raw electric guitar sounds, generating cutting sonic spaces as well as gentle lulling spirituals; all delivered with seasoned conviction.
Syntax Error are a four piece Sydney guitar band that might strike some as post-rock, others as psychedelic and still others as the last outpost of a darker kind of Prog. This all-of-the-above comes from each member bringing their own unique sensibility to the music.
Most of their pieces are born out of improvising and letting those disparate influences create friction against each other, which leads to either harsh combustion or new and strange mutations. The music blurs spontaneity with composition, melody with noise, chaos with structure, light with shade.
Syntax Error are always an immersive experience.
Local girl Hester Fraser needs no introduction in the Armidale community. She was a as a finalist for two years running in the Toyota Busking Championships at the Tamworth Country Music Festival, and winner of the prestigious People's Choice Award in 2016. But it's not all singing in the streets for Goldheist. Her songs tell stories of love, life and adventure, painting vibrant pictures of the Australian bush, current affairs and events, not to mention a few broken hearts. She has raised money for and continues to lend her voice and her art, to contribute to the call for changes to Australia's controversial policies towards displaced peoples seeking asylum.