The three-day 2013 Mullum Music Festival lived up to its fast-growing reputation and had everything going for it. It was another huge success, with thousands lapping up the smorgasbord of talent, good vibes, cheer and broad smiles. As well as all the various venues, the streets were also alive with the sound of music, performed by buskers and admirers alike.
Video Sharon Shostak
Story Mandy Nolan
The sixth Mullum Music Festival took to the streets, halls, clubs and pubs of Mullumbimby this weekend in an event that festival director Glenn Wright admits ‘went off without a hitch’.
Although things could have been quite different. Saturday night saw wild storms hit the coast and for half an hour there was a tornado warning, not something to relish when you are the director of an event that involves thousands of people, tents and a need for continuous power supply.
The storm circled and somehow managed to miss Mullumbimby, hammering nearby Byron Bay and leaving parts of that town without power.
‘We were lucky,’ says Glenn Wright, ‘but then we seem to be lucky most years’.
And true to form, Mullumbimby turned on searing hot days and balmy nights for the 6,000 plus festival goers to enjoy over 120 performances by almost 80 acts over the four days of the event.
Opening with a sold out Gala on Thursday night, featuring a spine-tingling song dedication to the Dave Ades by Jo Jo Smith, the festival set a cracking pace and continued to deliver.
Festival hits were definitely Barefoot Divas, a show which could have sat as easily at the Opera House as it did at the Mullum High School hall.
Greg Sheehan led the street parade on Sunday to the Civic Hall, the day’s programming at the venue organised by Sheehan to whom this year’s festival was dedicated.
‘Greg told the story of his life and it was definitely one of the event highlights,’ said Glenn Wright, ‘he then went on to guest with artists in the day he had programmed.
‘It was magnificent, and all credit to the incredible musicianship and collaborative genius of Greg Sheehan.’
Festival patron Mama Kin delivered a unique concert with the support of 15 Cape Byron Steiner School students who sang and played as she presented a selection of her songs from previous albums.
Kin was delighted not just because of the students’ excellent musicianship, but because ‘my kids are in the audience and they get to see me with a bunch of teenagers who think I’m cool!’
In what was certainly one of the most touching moments of the festival, Kin told the back story to Bitter Tears, and when recounting the story of her own family sadness, found herself in tears.
Fortunately her brother Michael Caruana was there on keys and managed to console her by offering her a giant table cloth to wipe her tears.
Like many shows at Mullum Music Festival, the audience was left feeling that they were witness to something very special.
Sketch the Rhyme enjoyed capacity crowds each evening with their interactive freestyling hip hop and drawing performance and for this writer one of the true highlights was the Songbirds of the 70s show curated by Tin Pan Orange’s Emily Lubitz.
Featuring festival singers such as Mama Kin (the two did a cracking Abba medley), Elana Stone, Loren Kate, Miles and Simone and a breathtaking performance of Natural Woman by Lubitz’s husband, Harry Angus (Cat Empire) who put down the trumpet and sang in perfect falsetto.
It was bizarre to be so moved by a man singing Natural Woman as well if not better than any woman I’d previously heard!
Perhaps one of the true measures of the charm of Mullum Music Festival is the complete absence of police.
As Schoolies hit Byron with riot police in force, giant booze buses and mounted police, this writer did not see one police car in Mullumbimby over the entire weekend.
With a successful Keys Please program encouraging drivers to hand over car keys and offering a breathalyser to check alcohol levels before you hit the road and the Love Bus pumping music and transporting patrons from venue to venue, Mullum Music Festival proved itself not just a great festival for music lovers, but also a successful and well managed event for the whole town.