Aireys Inlet Open Mic Music Festival kicks off this weekend

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Aireys Inlet Open Mic Music Festival kicks off this weekend

The beloved Aireys Inlet Open Mic Festival will be returning this month for its 10th year of free family fun and great live music – as well as being the final year directed by festival founder Marty Maher.

“I think 10 years is enough. It’s got to quite a big size so I think it’s fair that a new set of eyes come onto it. I also have my own business which has grown massively over the last 10 years so it can sometimes be a bit hard balancing between the two. I think it’s good to have a new set of eyes come on and change the format how they see fit,” Maher says. “They like the current format so I don’t expect it to change massively, but it’s good to get some fresh thoughts and ideas in.”

While his time as director has come to an end, Maher won’t be leaving until after this years event which is shaping up to be one of the most impressive years yet, featuring over 100 local musicians who will be taking to the stage over the weekend.

With plenty to keep punters occupied, the festival focuses on filling its line-up with musicians who are playing purely for the love of it, as opposed to featuring career musicians.

“The biggest demographic of people playing music around the world is actually those that aren’t getting paid for playing. These people aren’t playing for a living: they have regular lives and regular jobs, but play for the love of it. No one really caters for that demographic, and it is kind of dismissed how high quality some of these acts are. We really cater for that kind of musician, and the standard has been exceptional so far,” Maher says.

“We have tried to make local acts a big priority. One of the initial aims of the festival was to get local kids around the Surf Coast into playing music and give them an avenue and a stage at a festival to aim for. We certainly prioritise them, and we also try to make it a music festival. We have been approached by different acts like dancers or jugglers, but we have really tried to keep it as a classic music festival.”

As well as giving the younger acts an opportunity to play live on a stage, the festival works with Music Victoria in hosting a development panel on the Sunday to help provide young acts with honest feedback from industry professionals.

“Music Victoria has got on board and they bring down a development panel of established artists, editors, mangers, and people really in the know about the industry to give aspiring artists feedback and tips. We have those sessions on the Sunday, and we really encourage young kids to get involved because they are the ones that really do need the stage time. We have had some great success. Our best known success was Altitude – they played their first ever gig at the festival and then played every single one for the next nine years, they won the state Battle of the Bands, and they played at Big Day Out.

“This year we have Nick Cooper from Music Victoria, Patrick Donovan who is the CEO of Music Victoria, Amanda Sherring from Forte Magazine, Jess Carroll manager and publicist for the likes of Ainslie Wills and Rat & Co, and live music rep from Karova Lounge Shaun Adams. Last year we had Ella Hooper from Killing Heidi and Tim Henwood from Rouge Traders who were both fantastic.” (Find the details for the panel here).

However, it is the mystery guest who closes the weekend that is usually the biggest point of interest with the punters.

“We have had a lot of legendary artists in the past in terms of them being well-established: Colin Hay, Tim Rogers, Mark Seymour, The Hoodoo Gurus and Dan Sultan have all played in the past,” he says.

“Last year we had Rockwiz, which was something a bit different, and this year I have gone different again and switched it up. It’s an act that’s massively on the rise and I think they will be just fantastic – I know the crowds will love them!”

The Aireys Inlet Open Mic Festival will be held towards the end of March all over the town of Aireys Inlet. The festival adopts the ‘donate what you feel it’s worth’ approach, meaning that there is no need to pre-purchase tickets – just head on down and enjoy what local music has to offer!

When & Where: Aireys Inlet Open Mic Festival, Aireys Inlet – March 17 – 19

Written by Alex Callan