Lovingly grown, nurtured with patience and belief, this ‘little’ festival has certainly taken root and grown its own distinctive brand.
Festival director Glenn Wright is excited about the 2016 event.
‘It’s different this year. Diverse – there are a lot of new faces.’
So how do music and event organisers stay current? How and when do you pick an act that you know is going to be right for your festival?
‘This is my 30th year in the music business,’ says Glenn. ‘It’s not about knowing what’s good necessarily; it’s about identifying what has longeivity, and what hits the mark at the right time. When you book an older act you want when their profile to be on the way up again and when you want to get new acts you want to grab them just before they peak, you want to be part of people discovering new acts…’
So who is the new act we should be looking out for at Mullum Music Festival this year?
‘Tash Sultana will be one of those acts and Julien Baker (US) will be like that on an international level. A lot of people will get in on the ground floor when they see them this year – they can have boasting rights: I saw that act in a small boutique festival on the north coast!
‘That’s what I try with all the acts: to get them when they are available to a smaller festival like ours and showcase them before they go onto the bigger festivals.’
Just announced on the bill is Eilen Jewell.
‘She had just been out here with Jason Isobell. She’s definitely one of the cool acts if you listen to NPR radio – she does the Americana thing, but she’s far more interesting than just that. Her appeal is far wider.’
Then there’s The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer from Canada.
‘They do this cool blues thing – but they also have a soul backup vocalist, and that’s what I like about it. I tend to steer away from the heavy blues thing but they’ve got the soul, which makes it really cool!’ says Glenn.
‘We also have Julien Baker – she’s just going to be a massive star. She is young but she’s got this passion that I haven’t personally heard since Jessie Younan. When you run into that sort of thing you know its real. She sings sad girl songs. Really passionate, she will grab people for sure.’
Then there’re the acts that Glenn has thought about for years such as Henry Wagons & The Only Children, and Gareth LIddiard of the Drones. ‘They are finally coming,’ he says.
Innovators such as Melbourne-based Olympia are also joinging the lineup.
‘She’s really cool’ says Wright, ‘The festival has a broader demographic now and when I think back ten years ago to when we started, I don’t know that the musical appetites were as broad as they are now. Our audience is pretty musically educated now and they appreciate musicians like Olympia.’
Also from Canada is Matt Andersen.
‘Andersen is just a festival favourite all over the world. He played Woodford many years ago and was a huge hit. He is an amazing player and a really big man with a big heart.’
Suzannah Espie is on board as one of Glenn’s ‘favourite Australian female vocalists’.
William Crighton ‘was one of the huge hits of Bello Winter Music’ as was Sahara Beck and Epizo Bangoura. Well, ‘He is a dear old friend of more than 25 years and a great musician’.
New acts to Mullum also include The Meltdown, ‘a really good soul act from Melbourne who haven’t been to Mullum before’.
‘There is Bobby Alu and the Palm Royale – one of our favourite acts over the nine years and the history of the festival, and he is leaving for overseas after the festival.’
Hat Fitz & Cara Robinson are back from last year.‘They are always one of our favourite acts and they are the kind of acts that make Mullum such a great festival.’
And finally, after a few years in the States, Jordie Lane makes his festival return.
The 9th Annual Mullum Music Festival, 17–20 November.
Tickets are available now!
Go to the website mullummusicfestival.com or call the festival hotline on 6684 6195.