A bunch of significant music events took place across the past decade in our region featuring hundreds of talented Australian artists. Here’s a quick rundown on the main ones. Collectively they released many outstanding albums, so it’s possible that some of your top 5 tunes might be buried away in their offerings.
FReeZA Push Start Battle of the Bands 2012-13
Battle of the Bands is a concept that really has stood the test of time. Here in Victoria, it has government backing via FReeZA Push Start – allowing enthusiastic young musicians to take to stages around the State each year in various heats, regional finals and culminating in the State Final at St Kilda Festival. In 2013 for the first time that anyone can recall, a band from Indigo Shire – The Hounds Homebound – took out the coveted State title as Victoria’s best young band, after winning their heat at Rutherglen and Regional Final at Beechworth. This 6 piece with a love of catchy rhythmic tunes by the likes of The Cat Empire and Bluejuice had musical leanings that were more in the folk and roots genre than pop, indie or heavy rock – and that was immediately a big part of their appeal. Featuring a violinist (Lucy McKenzie-McHarg) and a mandolin / guitarist (Ben Lafoe), the Hounds were fronted by the charismatic Vinny Russell and quickly built a strong following, playing lots of regional festivals and events. They went their separate ways in 2017 with an excellent debut EP Diamond People and a few singles and EPs to their name. They also were mentors of sorts for their generation in our region, blazing a path for young bands in a folk vein to follow such as most notably The Northern Folk. These days you can catch members in country and bluegrass bands such as The Humbucking Pickups and Knott Family Band.
Yackandandah Folk Festival
The Yackandandah Folk Festival continued it’s impressive line-up of Australian talent on the folk scene with hundreds of outstanding performers across the past decade. The early part of the decade saw exciting young talents such as Daniel Champagne, Tom Richardson, Richard Perso and The Hounds Homebound gain attention. Other Australian artists to impress included Joel Havea, Frank Yamma, Jordie Lane, Laura Hill, Jenny Biddle, Darren Hanlon, Sal Kimber and the Rollin Wheel, Maja, John Flanagan Trio, Fred Smith, The Timbers, The Maes, Lily and King, Claire Anne Taylor, Fiona Boyes, The Northern Folk, Oh Pep!, Carus Thompson, Benny Walker, David Bridie, Mick Thomas, Geoff Achison to name a few. Oh and a bloke named Pete Denahy goes alright too.
Beechworth Music Festival
This boutique festival kicked off in the mud and drizzle in May 2014 and ran through til the sweltering heat of January 2019. Along the way an amazing line-up of Australian musical talent graced the stage including Big Smoke (fronted by the late great Adrian Slattery), The Harlots, Ron Peno and the Superstitions, Raised By Eagles, Sand Pebbles, Briggs, Tracy McNeil and the Good Life, Gabriella Cohen, Tumbleweed, REMI, Jade Imagine, Danny Walsh Banned, My Left Boot, Chris Russell’s Chicken Walk, Batpiss, Stonefield, The Bennies, King of the North and Beaches to name a few. Many local musicians were also featured including The Hounds Homebound, Liv Cartledge, Richard Perso, Kissin Cousins, Squid Doctors, Black Magic, Benny Williams, Pablo Pace, Marisa Quigley and Shewolf. BMF has for the past few years developed it’s school holidays off-shoot the BMF Rock School – an exciting program that seeks to uncover the next generation of rock musicians from Beechworth and the surrounding areas.
From Little Things / Beechworth Spring Music Festival
In November 2019 this promising Festival held it’s inaugural event with a fabulous line-up that included That Gold Street Sound, Ash Grunwald, Mighty Duke and The Lords, Patrick Lionel, Liv Cartledge, Joe Geia, The Inner Vision and several others.
The brainchild of members of The Northern Folk, By The Banks held at Willowbank in South Albury, kicked off in 2017. Across 3 Festivals they have delivered a super impressive line-up of Australian folk and roots artists including Merpire, The Maes, Tullara, ELK, Timberwolf, Grim Fawkner, The Montgomery Brothers, Rosie Burgess Trio, This Way North, Yirrmal, FEELDS, Tuck Shop Ladies, The Hounds Homebound and, of course, The Northern Folk.
Folk Rhythm and Life
Along with Yackandandah Folk Festival, Eldorado’s FRL has been able to achieve long-term sustainability with well over two decades of events under it’s belt – achieved largely through the efforts of a super strong band of volunteers, committed organisers, a lot of hard work and a DIY resourcefulness to build stages and shade structures from scratch using donated and available materials. A bi-annual event, FRL ran in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018 across the past decade. The mouth-watering line-up of artists over that time included Mia Dyson, Liz Stringer, Rosie Burgess Trio, Archie Roach, the late Chris Wilson, Nigel Wearne, Benny Walker, Carus Thompson, The Harlots, Dallas Frasca, Sal Kimber and the Rollin Wheel, King of the North, Matt Chapman solo, My Left Boot, Cyclo Timik, Lee Rosser, Rick Steward, The Vibraphonic Orkestra, Melody Moon, Rapskallion, Mal Webb & Kylie Morrigan and many many more.
Mount Beauty Music Festival
Mount Beauty Music Festival ran pretty regularly until the mid part of the past decade when it took a break for a couple of years before kicking into gear again. Some wonderful acts took to the stages at various MBMF’s including Jed Rowe, Liz Stringer, Jack The Fox, Benny Walker, Alana Wilkinson, Matt Joe Gow, Fred Smith, The Stetson Family, Tracy McNeil, Jordie Lane, Little Wise, Georgia Knight, Nigel Wearne, Tim Guy and many others.
Swagger Music Festival
Held in beautiful Wandiligong, Swagger ran annually from 2012-2017 and featured some of the most exciting, emerging Australian talent on the folk and roots scene. Tash Sultana played a couple of Swaggers before she conquered the world. Other fabuolous talent witnessed included Kyle Lionhart, Josh Rennie-Hynes, Jenny Biddle, Jamie Pye, The Pierce Brothers, Matt Katsis, Kerryn Fields, Jack The Fox, Little Georgia, Benny Walker, Mitch King and many others.
A Hitch To The Sticks
The brainchild of blues rocker, Dallas Frasca who decided to inject a rock n roll shot in the arm to her hometown Wangaratta. Frasca curated this event around various Wangaratta venues from 2017-19. Artists to appear included Tim Rogers, Jebediah, Kate Ceberano, Monique Brumby, Killing Heidi, William Crighton, Rambunctious, Liv Cartledge, Emilee South, The Northern Folk and of course Dallas Frasca and her band – among many others.
This very popular Bluegrass festival was held annually in Harrietville, before relocating to Beechworth late in the decade. Among some of the fabulous Australian talent to appear included Freya Josephine Hollick, Pete Denahy, The Davidson Brothers, The Stetson Family, Mustered Courage, Kissin’ Cousins, Bluegrass Parkway, The Company and many others.
Ales On The Ovens
Wangaratta hosted a few of these events in the middle of the twenty-teens, combining two unlikely bedfellows – craft beer and live music – who would have thought??? The super line-up across those few events – try on The Harlots, Mitch King, Benny Walker, The Northern Folk, Mustered Courage, Tom Richardson, The Little Stevies, The Pierce Brothers, Mighty Duke And The Lords, Tash Sultana, Liv Cartledge and many more.