Late summer weather and Saturday arvos, Aussie muso lineups with cold beer and wings, these are a few of my favourite things.
I was never a huge fan of the Sound of Music, but when you shamelessly rework it to describe the Ballarat Beer Festival, it suddenly doesn’t sound half bad. Should you also approve of the age-old combination of weekend + music + beer, definitely keep February 15th open in your calendars and head down to Ballarat for an all-day celebration of some of the best craft beers Australia has to offer with over 150 different brews to select from as well as several award-winning wines, G&T slushies and sangrias for those who feel like rocking up to a beer festival and being a little extra edgy.
Beverages aside, the festival boasts a solid local lineup each year with the name at the top of the list for 2020 being Beerllarat veteran Michael Meeking.
Hailing from Melbourne, Meeking has been playing music for years, refining his self-described “rock with a pinch of country” sound, taking inspiration from classic rock icons like Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and Faces while also taking a page out of Lucinda Williams’ book, incorporating a dash of her Americana country-folk songwriting into the brew.
“It’s always been an equal love of rock and a bit of the country vibe as well” however, in discussing his latest album November ’72, Meeking states “my latest stuff has gone back a little bit to the rock side of things with a tinge of country.”
A quick glimpse of the man himself may have you drawing similarities to rockabilly legends like Reverend Horton Heat and they do indeed share an affinity for the same equipment: “He’s probably got a better guitar than me but, it’s the same kind of Gretsch guitar and he has the same microphone. I remember going to see one of his shows just thinking ‘I love that look’.”
Funnily enough, this Reverend-inspired Gretsch purchase became a core part of the higher stakes, rocking pace of November ’72 as “that album was specifically written using that guitar, which is why I wanted to put it on the front cover” and is what gives a few of the album’s tracks a bit more of a revved-up, rockabilly sound when compared to his previous loungier material.
Either way, Meeking is keen to give his new album a stretch on Ballarat’s festival amps so don’t miss out! Come grab a cold one and enjoy a weekend full of Forte’s favourite things.
It all goes down on Saturday, February 15. For tickets and further information visit ballaratbeerfestival.com.au.
Written by Jess Sercombe