This week see’s Mullum welcome the 10th Mullum Music Festival. On such an auspicious occasion as a village-based music festival turning double digits, it’s time to pay a little attention to one of the quiet stars: the town herself. Every year this iconic northern NSW village welcomes music lovers to experience their favourite musicians in the understated comfort of one of the many venues within walking distance of each other. There are no tents. No muddy fields. Mullum Music Festival is about creating an event that perfectly fits the infrastructure the town has on offer. So many towns around Australia have dusty halls and stages, sitting sadly unused. Not Mullum. Every space boasts entertainment. It’s wonderful to see. Country towns were built for this kind of community engagement. In a world that says use it or lose it, Mullumbimby is using it. And using it well.
So let me tell you the story of the venues.
1. There’s the Civic Hall. Established in 1929, this grand old hall is the heartbeat of Mullum Music Festival. With beautiful polished wooden floors and a big stage, this is the perfect venue for seated concerts. It’s the perfect place to immerse yourself in the experience of the artists’ voice. Every year the hall fills to the brim for the opening Gala. With generous acoustics, and a capacity of around 300, this is also festival central with the bar operating in the courtyard. Ticketing and festival enquiries are in the front room of the adjacent Neighbourhood Centre. This is also munch central, with food stalls meandering around the hall and into the gardens beyond.
2. Located at the other end of town, just a 10-minute stroll or a 2-minute ride on the Magic Bus is the High School Auditorium. This is the biggest venue on the program, holding up to 800 punters and reserved for the acts where you want to move your booty. These are the big shows: Sex on Toast, Harry James Angus, Jon Cleary & The Monster Gentleman are just some of the acts you’ll be pressing the flesh to see there. The use of the hall is with the co-operation of the local high school, and the surrounding grounds include food stalls, a bar and fundraising opportunities for the high school.
3. Every year the Mullumbimby Ex-Services transforms their show room into The Village Vanguard – a sleazy underground jazz hole. Located across the road from the Civic Hall, this is dark, vibing and guaranteed to be eclectic. Holding up to 250 dancing, sweating, festivalgoers, it’s at its best after dark with the Jazz Party. Sneak upstairs at the club to the festival’s best-kept secret, the piano bar. There you will find Ollie McGill of the Cat Empire holding court on the piano. This is small: 50 people tops.
4. The Bowlo is the cherry that sits bang in the middle of the festival. It’s the halfway watering hole on your way from the Civic to the high school. Bright and breezy, there’s an alt-country and folkified feeling to the program, good company and good food.
5. Just 100 metres up the road from the Civic, The Court House Hotel pumps the best in pub music. Holding around 200 plus, there is always a lineup to get in. It’s a great place to kick back and chill with a beer while you take in William Crighton or King Tide. Acts here know how to rock a pub. They can take you to quite places, but they can also tear the room apart.
6. The Drill Hall is the quiet achiever on the program. Just a few metres short of the Bowlo, this funky hall that holds 101 people in comfortable tiered seating provides a small but glorious stage. It’s perfect for small but glorious acts such as Domini Forster and Angie Hudson or Cecilia Brandolini. You can get up close and personal here. This is the perfect quiet intimate gig. This is the venue that shows the patrons’ love of music. It’s the pin-drop venue. Its so focused you can hear it.
7. All the venues so far mentioned stretch from one end of Dalley Street to Jubilee Terrace. Basically as the crow flies, but like the programming of this festival, there’s nothing linear about Mullum. There’s also a chance to explore the town with the beautiful Poiniciana Cafe – an eclectic explosion of creativity. The Poiniciana gives patrons the taste of Mullum, with shows on the evenings Friday and Saturday.
8. St Martin’s Hall offers a smaller space but with generous acoustics. Just duck through the laneway behind the Ex-Services Club and follow the crowds to St Martin’s. It’s a great place to sit and discover what small halls have to offer.
9. And this year for the first time, Mullum Music Festival welcomes the Middle Pub, located, as the name suggests, in the middle of Mullum, with gigs rolling high above the town on their glorious wraparound verandah. Great place to hear the music, drink a beer and watch the festival from above.
10. And of course the street! On Sunday the main street of Mullum is alive with the Street Parade. With horns blaring and thousands dancing, this is the chaotic New Orleans-inspired coming together… Mullum Music Festival – get inside our town! Sold out Opening Night Thursday at the Civic Hall with limited tickets available for Friday, Saturday and Sunday programs!
Don’t miss the party!