What a fabulous event and success! For a first time event it was great to see so many people.
The crowd just kept on coming all through the day and they were ready to enter well before kickoff time of 2.00pm. The workshops created a lot of interest with Warwick Hargreaves and Daniel Champagne giving very generously of their time and talent plus playing a few select songs to display their talent and know how. Then the action moved to the front bar with Franke Stoove from Brisbane and Garry Furlong from Kiama delighting the audience with their home spun songs and covers before local musical luminaries Nick Wall and Euripi revved up the energy meter…it was just like the Roth’s Wine Bar of old [oldest continual license in NSW circa 1923] with the standing room only space rollicking along to hearty singing.
A short rest before the big bands kicked off on the main stage with Mudgee based band Honey sending everyone into passion and delight with their delicate sounds and thunder. Look out for the imminent release of their debut album at Easter.
A very special moment was when Out of Abingdon joined Honey on stage for a set including the beautiful rendition of Blue by Vince Jones sung by Elizabeth Walton and a haunting stirring version of Amazing grace with Tina from Out of Abingdons arced bass. An audience member Craig from Mudgee remarked it was the most moving part of the whole event.
Next Out of Abingdon cut swathes of cool jazz through the hot summer evening and their sassy approach had the place humming. This date is kicking off their ‘Long Hot Summer’ tour and they are ready to swing. Their takes on Kylie and Bjork, where they jazzified the song,s added to their cool and already apparent hip instincts. In anticipation for the main attraction the crowd was swelling and an audience member from Leura was quite taken by their interpretations of unlikely songs.
Daniel Champagne certainly knows how to fill a room and by now the place was full. The surprise of an artist [Sam Paine] onstage painting him live while he played only added to the drama of the evening. It definitely was a sight to see and will have people talking about it for a long time to come in this little town. His dexterity and energy were light as a feather and cutting like a knife and the crowd was stunned by his show stopping virtuosity.
Showcasing new material from his American tour this is his second stop, after Woodford, on his short Australian Tour before he heads back stateside. Mudgee was very lucky to snaffle him during his quick stopover. He was like a purring engine and fully on fire after racking up 250 shows last year alone.
The raffle was huge and festival director Richard Lawson said a quick speech while he got Warwick Hargraves from Out of Abingdon to draw the lucky winning ticket who took off the 2500 dollar prize.
Benji and the Saltwater Sound system are formerly Southerly Change and they closed out the evening. Ben Fowler, the leader, is just back from a year in the Solomon Islands and this was their first show since their sellout show in January at Tomerong Hall on the South Coast of NSW. He rounded up his South Coast cohorts in the Saltwater bus and they headed to Mudgee to be joined on drums and percussion by former Lime Spiders drummer Richard Lawson and his best student Jacob Barnes. They filled the venue with the rousing sweet sounds of dance reggae. Sometimes it became a frenetic percussive filled African vibe with a swirling wall of rhythm. By now the crowd was well and truly sweaty and dancing up a storm.
The night finished with the crowd joining in with vocal harmonies and the lines between the audience and performer were blurred and everyone became equal…but isn’t that what the best festivals are all about!!!
Out of Abingdon continue their Long Hot Summer tour at the Illawarra Folk Festival next week for the rest of January before heading back to Europe in Autumn.
Daniel Champagne is also stopping in at Illawarra before finishing his short Australian Tour and heading back to the states.
Ben from Benji and the Saltwater Sound System is boarding a plane to back to the Solomons Islands.
Mudgees own ‘Honey’ are preparing for the imminent release of their debut album at Easter