Milling about the street, chilling to the beats, trying to impossibly pack into the chockas Lior show, Mullum Music Festival was an absolute gem (15-18 November).
The event featured folk, blues and a solid dose of jazz and gothic Australiana virile in its own right, but also the origin of Woodford Folk Festival’s Festival of Small Halls tour
featuring Old Man Leudecke (Canada) and Lucy Wise (Aus) that weaves its way through NSW and QLD to Woodford by the end of December.
The vibe was a gentle caress of human creativity – more soothing than Nimbin’s frenetically sedated, sardine-tin pavements during Mardi Grass, but with a similar glorious native hum, of Northern Rivers magnificence.
Acts came from as far away as Ghana (Rocky Dawuni), Guyana (Mad Professor), the UK (Ben Ottewell) and the US (Mike Love, Turner Brown Band) mingling on stages with local performers Moreton, Bethanie Jolly and the unplaceable Button Collective.
William Crighton - image © Alex Clarke
Opening and closing nights featured the essence of Australia manifested in the form of William Crighton, just back from his international tour, joined by his wife Julieanne and band. “Would I change anything? I don’t know, water in the river runs where the river goes.”
Hat Fitz & Cara rocked with their blues explosion, This Way North purveyed their uplifting, driving songs and Cecilia Brandolini’s voice was exquisite. Parades, party vibes shuttle buses, comedy, a drumming workshop, nature walk and and free side shows puffed out the programme, and ABC North Coast broadcast live from the weekly Mullum Growers Market on Friday, which is a weekly event.
In the reggae groove Rocky Dawuni, Cheap Fakes and Mike Love baked musical cakes about how to be happy, and jazz was well represented by Ladyslug and a super smooth set from the guitar-less Brekky Boy.
Of Rocky Dawuni’s Sunday night show, one punter was overheard saying it’s “like I just walked into a church”. Alex Lahey made a cameo appearance in Gordi and Barbara’s set (Barbara is the harmonium, which gets a lot of attention at airports).
Cheap Fakes - image © Alex Clarke
Soul/ R&B queen Caiti Baker displayed why she won NT Song Of The Year, in both the Pop and Blues & Roots categories, and Best Live Voice of the NT at the 2017 National Live Music Awards. This year’s NLMAs are held in capital cities around Australia 6 December.
The powerhouse of soul that is Thando (a southern African name that means ‘love’) blew the roof off the Civic Hall as its final act. Civic Hall was packed out onto the street for Lior’s exquisite Sunday night set with strings, which included a cover of Radiohead’s ‘No Surprises’, while Gabriella Cohen played to a well-populated Village Vanguard (RSL) crowd in full-band mode.
Low Down Riders, with their brass banjo and beats, peppered the festival with their sets all over the place closing off the St Martin’s Hall festivities, which had begun with a Festival of Small Halls show.
We can’t wait for the 12th instalment of Mullum Music Festival next year.