The fourth annual Reservoir Stomp will feature the voice and verses of prolific Australian playwright and author Barry Dickins, performing alongside local 'supergroup' The Cheddar Road All-Stars.
Reservoir Stomp is a homespun music festival celebrating the suburb of Reservoir, it's colourful history and the bustling diverse community it's become. “My husband and I have been living in Reservoir for over ten years now and it's been interesting to see how it's changed, but then how it's retained a lot of its character too,” proud local and organiser of Reservoir Stomp Emma Peel says.
“It's managed at this point to avoid the extreme gentrification that's happened to a lot of other suburbs that are closer in to the city of Melbourne.
"It's this great melting pot at the moment of families that have been here for a long time – it started to be a place that people would move into in the '50s, so a lot of the original houses are here from the '50s, '60s and '70s, and the original families too.
“Also, in the past five years in particular, there's been a lot of younger families moving out here and we've noticed that, and that's probably one of the reasons why we decided to put on the Reservoir Stomp, was that we noticed a lot more younger families moving into the area and also a lot of creative friends too that we started seeing pop up around the place.”
Among those creative friends who call Reservoir home – and Emma calls 'neighbour' – is singer-songwriter Cat Canteri who joins Emma and her husband Danny Walsh in The Cheddar Road All-Stars along with Leo Francis, Justin Bernasconi, Adam Green and Jorge Leiva.
Together, they've teamed up with Barry Dickins – who grew up in the area – to write and record their own album as an ode to Reservoir, called 'Nowhere Else To Feel Rotten'. “Barry has a long history with Reservoir; he grew up here as a kid so he has seen it all in Reservoir, and his insights into what it was like growing up back in the '50s are really incredible,” Emma says.
“He gave us books and books of his verses, which we were blown away [by] with how prolific his writing is – but all the verses are a combination of beauty and terror.
"It was a hard place to grow up: it was beautiful in the sense that it was still mostly farmland – wide open spaces and dirt roads – but then it was also a little bit rotten because no one really liked living out here because there weren't many facilities. It had a stigma about it too; it was a very poor area and its services weren't that great. It was hard.”
For Emma, a big part of Reservoir Stomp is changing the image of the area and to showcase it as a thriving creative community.
This year, the line-up also features Cookin' On 3 Burners, Remi, Freya Josephine Hollick and more. “The stigma is that it's where people come to do burnouts, there's shopping trollies on the nature strip and there's nothing redeeming about the suburb, but actually it's really cool,” Emma says.