L-R: Murray Cook (The Soul Movers) and Bunny Racket play 2019 Byron Bay Guitar Festival.Image: Facebook
Now entering its third year, Byron Bay Guitar Festival is gearing up for their biggest event yet this weekend. Festival Director, Nick Sergi is excited to continue his contribution to Byron Bay's music scene.
This year's Festival is headlined by Frenzal Rhomb, Harts and The Delta Riggs, alongside a slew of Australian talent. “All the acts are very guitar driven,” Nick says, “but it's pretty diverse in terms of the line-up. We don't really stick to a style or genre, we sort of try to break it up a little bit over all the guitar styles.
“I have sort of skewed it a little bit towards the rock crowd, bit of the younger crowd, selfishly chose a few people I like in amongst there.”
The Festival isn't just about the performances; there's also a section dedicated to education and discussion of the art form. “It's a way to sit down with some of the artists and hear a little about what inspires them, some of their playing techniques,” Nick says.
“It's a little less hands on and a bit more informative. They're running on Saturday and Sunday.”
And the selection of people to learn from is as impressive as the musical acts performing at the Festival. “Sunday we've got Pete Northcote, who's probably Australia's hottest specialist musician; Nathan Cavaleri who's doing a bit of a Q&A talk about mental health within the music industry.
“We've got Chris Tamwoy who's a Torres Strait Island young ambassador, he's done a lot for the youth. . . Claude Hay, who's sort of a guitarist's guitarist; he's the kind of guy that builds his own guitar and plays his own guitar and probably wakes up in bed with his guitar for all I know, he really lives and breathes it.”
Alongside the awesome music line-up and educational seminars, Byron Bay Guitar Festival also hosts a market featuring mainstream products as well as locally crafted instruments. “Initially, [the market] was suppliers that have come and supported acts and put on displays there. But this year, we've opened it up to some Australian builders as well. We're trying to support local business, rather than just pushing the general mainstream of things.”
And where better to enjoy this festival than at the Byron Bay Brewery, which as Nick found out has hosted a number of prolific Australian acts. “I was down there doing some updates to the audio system and they had this closed room that was full of posters of all the people that used to play at the venue; the names are phenomenal, some of the people that have played there over the years.
“The grounds is called the Arts Factory; it was built by a family to encompass a lot of the town's ethics. There was a backpacker hostel and an art cinema and a brewery, and that sort of stuff. I think they wanted to maintain that a little bit.”
The Festival will also be raising money for the Be Happy Music Club, an organisation focused on enriching the lives of disabled children in Fiji through music.
“It's completely grassroots [Be Happy Music Club]; the guy that runs it and organises it, he works a full-time job and busks on the street every chance he gets, and every cent he makes goes back into the charity. They provide a really good opportunity for kids in Fiji with disabilities.”
Byron Bay Guitar Festival takes place at Byron Bay Brewery 12-13 October.