Caloundra Music Festival 2013 – Bustin’ out
Music, in all genres and styles was busting out at Caloundra’s Kings Beach, for the 2013 Caloundra Music Festival, (October 4-7th.) There was sun, there was surf and there was soul in bucket-loads. At the grand finale on the Monday night, a handful of Aussie 70’s Rock legends burst onto the Soul Stage, including the iconic and highly entertaining Joe Camilleri. In true rocking spirit he literally busted out his “ass.”
The four day festival was blessed with incredible sunshine coast weather, not a day of clouds or rain to dampen this music feast as it had done in previous years. Crowds were consistent over the long week-end, with headlining acts Eskimo Joe closing Saturday and the Screaming Jets on Sunday drawing larger numbers to the main Soul Stage. Maybe it was the coastal atmosphere, but this festival felt laid back and it was nice to see so many kids participating and enjoying the music. Kids of all ages were seen bopping and getting into the spirit with their musically appreciative parents.
Kudos to the organisers of the event, the three stages were easily accessible and it was a seamlessly easy walk from one stage to the next. Each act was timed to take in as much music as you desired and they never felt overly crowded. Even at the larger Soul Stage patrons respected each other’s space. With the relaxed coastal vibe, everyone was chilled and despite the bars selling alcohol in cordoned off sections at all of the Stages, I didn’t see anyone overly drunk or obnoxious. This was a mellow festival, but not in a Woodford kind of way – it was a unqiue Caloundra style.
As a novice to the festival and not familiar with many of the performers, I was open to what was on offer. The quality and diversity of music I heard was an unexpected surprise. I listened to and saw so many amazing acts, but with out wanting to dribble on, I will share a few of my favourites.
Missing the opening day, on Saturday I was introduced to the happy reggae vibe of Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars at the Surf Stage.
The crowd were dancing and swaying to the rhythmic beat lead by Reuben Koroma. There is something infectious about reggae music which naturally places you in party mode. As refugees fleeing the atrocities of their war-torn country, then having to live in refugee camps, these guys are all too familiar with suffering and hardship. They now use their music to spread happiness and bring about peace. With their smiles and gentle banter with the crowd, these guys were sharing the joy.
Speaking of sharing the joy, on the Soul Stage I watched a dazzling performance by Melbourne Ska Orchestra, lead by the highly talented and hyper-active Nicky Bomba.
Supported by 20 plus musicians, they were all about spontaneous fun. Under the watchful eye of the dynamic Mr Bomba, the musicians effortlessly took front stage for a moment, then disappeared as quickly as they came. This was my first taste of highly infectious ska music with the crazy and undeniably talented Nicky Bomba as chief Maestro. The crowd weren’t sure of what to expect next and I’m sure some of the musicians weren’t either. Occasionally it felt like mayhem, but under his genius hands, the Maestro entertained a delighted, dancing audience with carefully controlled splashes of musical genius. Whether you have experienced ska before – or if this was your first taste, it is addictive. Nicky and his team are on a winning combination as evidenced by their recent ARIA nomination for the Best Blues and Roots Album for 2013.
The Baseballs – three lads from Germany rocked the small surf stage with their unique version of Rockabilly, Elvis Presley style. Not sure why the name “Baseballs” unless it was their acknowledgement of American influences in their music. But whatever possessed these three young, good looking fellas from Germany to slick back their hair and gyrate to their unique cover versions, including Roxette’s The Look; Hot n Cold by Katy Perry and Lady Gaga’s Born this way – they are on a winning formula. Their swagger and style is quirky and fun. Its 50’s/60’s rock n roll but with a twist. These guys set a pace and you can’t help but jive and sing along. These lads know how to work an audience, even if their German accent is so strong the banter was regularly lost on the crowd.
Sunday had us transported to a dark, backstreet bar in downtown New York City when the Holmes Brothers – hit the soul stage with a fabulous blues, gospel, soulsy set. These guys have clocked up serious reputable time in the music industry and festival houses, but still find a joy in sharing their harmonies. Brothers Sherman and Wendell, with Popsy Dixon on drums, had swagger and soul, but it was the blues that shone through. I hope to hear them again (one day) back in their homeland – these guys were a sweet highlight and it was a real privilege to be in the audience, entertained by such world class musicians.
Monday morning I watched a young girl dance an impressive Irish jig in the midst of the grassed area in front of the Soul Stage. She was dancing solo though, as it was way too hot to be in front. Shame, as Irish band Sasta cut the place up with their infectiously happy Irish music. Had the venue not been in full heat of the morning sun, there would have been more fans attempting the Aussie version of an Irish jig. Sitting down to Sasta’s sounds would be a crime.
Casey Barnes cut a fine solo performance in the intimate songwriter’s area – where he showcased his country/pop style and sweet guitar playing skills. He had the small crowd eager to hear more. Casey has a unique Aussie flavour, but as he sings, its the intensity of emotion that immediately draws you in. His lyrics tell a story and his powerful, fluid voice take you on a journey. Maybe it was the small lounge-like setting, but it was enough to convince our group to watch Casey and his band perform later on the larger Soul Stage. http://youtu.be/obDx1r_SPW8 (live from the Caloundra Music Festival.) I am sorry to have been in the dark about Casey Barnes (a fellow Queenslander and all) but not anymore thanks to the Festival. Now a big fan.
So from one younger independent Australian artist to some more “mature” Aussie Rock Legends who closed the festival on Monday night. Daryl Braithwaite, Joe Camilleri and Ross Wilson all performed individually and then as a collective – rocking the soul stage for the close of the Caloundra Music Festival 2013.
A couple of Gen Yers on something more than soft-drink, gate crashed our space early into Daryl Braithwaite’s set. They just had to tell us these guys are from their mum’s era. Ahhhh yeah, these guys were rocking the Aussie pubs and music venues long before they were even thought of. As I was about to mention to the lads to invest in some deodorant, they thankfully disappeared as Daryl belted out Howzat better than any 70’s version.
Joe Camilleri shook his 65 year old ass, so much in Chained to the Wheel, we witnessed it bustin out. But he didn’t care, with sweat flying, Joe gave it all he had. And the crowd, young and old in unison showed appreciation for musicians, who despite being in their 60’s, can still hold a note and rock the joint.
The three musical egos, shared the Soul Stage for the finale – a fine rendition of Spectrum’s Someday I’ll Have Money letting the crowd know, no matter what age, once a Rocker always a Rocker.
Caloundra Music Festival – I’ll be there next year, waiting to check on who will bust his ass out in the name of musical entertainment.