Performers and venues alike are lining up to be a part of Tenterfield’s Live and Local mini music festival next January, and organiser Peter Harris needs to hear from all those interested in order to create a database of available talent.
He is aiming to put together a schedule by the end of November of who will be filling each 40-minute acoustic bracket at designated spots throughout the CBD and beyond on festival day, January 13. He would love to see the festival extended to outlying villages like Drake and Liston.
Popular performers like Josh Moylan and Jess Lockwood have already put up their hand, so fans will be able to schedule their morning tea or lunch (or both) at a venue where their favourite is performing, and/or check out some new talent. Mr Harris said businesses are coming on board as they can see that live music will encourage patrons to stay a little longer.
The mid-January weekend was chosen as it’s traditionally a slow time for the local economy, after the excitement of Christmas and before the children return to school. It’s also the weekend before Tamworth’s Country Music Festival, so Mr Harris is hoping to attract some of the grey nomads heading south.
The Live and Local grant that is funding the festival aims to foster and embed live performances in the local culture, not only giving talented performers an outlet but also adding to the quality of life in small towns like Tenterfield.
“We have to anchor it well into businesses if we’re going to continue to grow,” Mr Harris said.
“We want to bring the festival into businesses, and encourage them to make it an ongoing feature.”
He already has eight cafes in the main street ‘keen as mustard’ to be involved in the Saturday morning gigs. There will also be a public celebration in Bruxner Park with a variety of performers and a visit from the Stanthorpe concert band. The Folk and Celtic Music Festival will be on at the Tenterfield Cinema that night, again with live music interludes.
The festival extends into Sunday, January 14 with restaurants such as the Commercial Boutique Hotel and Arrayjay Downs planning events around live music.
Talent-wise, ‘local’ includes performers from within around an hour of Tenterfield, incorporating those from north to Stanthorpe and south to Glen Innes.
The grant is also funding as series of workshops, not only to develop young talent but to help more seasoned performers create a professional presence online. This could included recording a performance and then mixing the result to produce a professional music video, with the help of a recording engineer. The video can then be uploaded to Youtube to raise the performer’s profile and attract gigs.
Even those more suited to road crew than stage front can do a workshop on getting the best out of a sound system for a live performance.
With limited spots in the festival, Mr Harris needs to hear from performers by the end of October so the schedule can be finalised and preparations got underway. He would like to receive an email to firstname.lastname@example.org including information about the performer, their experience, style of music, instrumentation and fee. Attach an MP3 file demonstrating a couple of performance items.
“We are looking for acoustic unplugged performers for cafes, and amplified acoustic and electric performers for other venues; soloists, duos and small ensembles.”
The resulting database of talent will then be ready to leverage more opportunities into the future, Mr Harris said.
He feels the third prong of successfully cultivating an appreciation of live performance is to educate the public of the contribution of live music to the community. While grant money is paying performers for their participation in the festival, each table at a scheduled gig will have a busker’s tin with patrons invited to contribute if they enjoy the performance.
“If you value it, you need to support it,” Mr Harris said, noting that it’s beyond the means of many small venues to be paying performers.
“Hopefully people will see how music and social skills are important for the kids growing up here, or they just appreciate the music itself. Currently there isn’t a culture of valuing music contributions to the social life of a community.
“People may think the artist performs because they enjoy it, but they still need to eat.”