June 2014 – Article by Jazz Milburn, Photography by The Linsley Brothers
I know country music breeds great earthy lyrics but to be totally true its never really won me like this before. Introducing The 2nd running annual Gold Coast Country Music Festival.
It was Saturday on the GC, streets full of boot scooting cowboys and cowgirls amongst a sea of Akubra hats and ankle boots. With a two day festival the lineup was indeed promising. Though featuring many bands I’d never heard of before, just arriving from Melbourne myself I was ready for the initiation to Queensland talent. So as you can imagine I was happy when a mate and photographer suggested a particular band describing them as “bloody brilliant”. Taking his hot tip, I tagged along and to my pleasant surprise I set my eyes upon the act by the name of “The Hill Billy Goats”. Imagine three ladies wearing electric blue tutu’s,cowboy hats and fishnet stockings all playing stringed instruments such as guitar,violin and a rustic double bass.The ladies were also joined on stage by an eccentric fellow in electric blue tweed pants sporting a mohawk and wearing animal tooth jewellery. Cracking jokes in between songs when he wasn’t playing his drums that were embellished with worn out creepy porcelain dolls strapped down to his kit accompanied by a wash board that he played on. Done deal, lets confirm right here and right now that I like these guys already. The music was rhythmic, harmonic folk with Irish and African influences, covering songs from the 1700s through to the 1930s. Each track was introduced with the era and origin by the engaging head “goat girl” the charismatic Maheny Wearne on vocals,bass,Irish whistle and also solo tap dancer, wow! Her voice powerful and unique her “Goat boy” the cheeky charmer Bryce Wearne (Maheny’s husband) an unbelievable talent with hyperactive energy making us all laugh whilst jumping from multiple instruments.
On guitar pro yodeller Lauren Butler with a voice range bordering spine tingling also joined by Caroline Trengrove, a guest fiddler who is a storm on her instrument setting the pace.
The Hill Billy Goats are an old world carnival, fun quirky magical and authentic. The audience were swept up into the flying fiddle, tapping our feet to the addictive rhythms. I wasn’t watching them in a modern day street, I was at a night market in a barn with candlelit lanterns and a bonfire outside (well thats where they took me whilst performing) Real deal musicians and entertainers in fact “bloody brilliant” was spot on. After a high from the H.B.G’s it was time to travel on… Meet “The Lamplights” a young Duo featuring Brian Gittoes and Jason McGregor. Two well groomed hip and arty looking musicians. Normally a five piece band the lads were playing in a bar as part of the festival as I was passing bye.
I was drawn in with the refreshing smooth sound, a husky voice and presence. They mastered playing to the audience and for some reason reminded me of The Flight of the Concords (big compliment in my books) probably just because they were dam funky. I’d love to play their album on a road trip up the coast singing along to their summer vibe catchy tunes. Huge potential to a commercial market. I can easily imagine these lads playing to large crowds at future festivals. Keep an eye on the Lamplights, I see big things coming for them. Next having to move onto yet another act, choosing from the multiple stages running at the same time ,spread out over the G coast. I was so wrapped to see “The Round Mountain Girls” who I luckily met Chris Banjovi earlier in the day back stage, who was lovely. Reminding me of Neil Young who I admire. Chris the front man for Round Mountain Girls is a folk,charismatic,organic performer with presence. Long hair, wearing a white crisp cotton shirt and waste coat (a little bohemian to say the least) Mastering their brand of Celtic folk that actually really spoke to my own Irish background. I don’t know what it was, but I was home watching this band. Cool Bluegrass Roots stimulating clapping and cheering from the audience we were swaying like sailors. We all just needed a beer to raise our glasses and sing along to the fast paced, brilliant, clever lyrics and melodies all performed by a earthy voice. I lost it when the long black haired fiddle player, who’s hair moved awesomely and naturally in the breeze, gave his epic whimsical solo on the fiddle, just amazing. The standard of talent was off the hook. The band were tight and everyone of them were having the time of their life on stage. All the ingredients for greatness. There were many amazing bands, in fact too many to mention unfortunately. I chose these guys as they were the most unique and memorable that I enjoyed. In overall the whole festival was a winner and a refreshing eye opener to the excellence that is obviously here in Australia. What a great initiative, hats off to all the organizers and talent for bringing this to the people cant wait to next year. See you there!
Photographs by Grant Linsley and Brett A Linsley