Bendigo Blues & Roots Festival

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Bendigo Blues & Roots Festival

November is just around the corner and for Bendigo that means another round of blues and roots. The Bendigo Blues and Roots Music Festival visits us again in ’14, and we couldn’t be happier. So tune up those guitars and come jam with us as we chat with main man Colin Thompson.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with Forte. How are you and what are you up to at the moment?
Tired but determined is my catchcry at this time of the year. Our committee and crew are all volunteers with full-time jobs and mostly have kids of various ages so we’re generally pretty tired to begin with. But we love the results of what we’re doing through this festival and we’re passionate about making it better each year and to keep demonstrating what a bunch of music lovers can do when they combine their efforts.
For those who don’t really know about festival organisation, could you give a brief rundown of your role and what you do?
I’m the founder and director (by default) of the not-for-profit incorporated association called Bendigo Blues & Roots Music Festival Inc. which is run and contributed to by a purely volunteer committee and crew. Through the festival’s brand we get to host showcase events throughout the year at various venues and give opportunities to local and visiting acts to play in front of receptive crowds who are accepting live music back into their lives in a big way (sorry to sound a bit religious there).
What is it that makes the Bendigo Blues & Roots Music Festival stand out?
People seem to have gotten it. We’re not about putting a bunch of nationally or internationally known mainstream names in a paddock and charging you an arm and a leg to come and enjoy a massive booze-up. When the initiated see our logo on an event poster they know that, whether they’ve heard of the advertised act/s or not, they’re in for a quality show and they will make exciting musical discoveries. They know they can connect with the artists and their music in a way they can’t in a paddock, or on a footy oval, or in a massive white tent that prevents you from enjoying the scenery of the immediate area during the show.
You’ve just released the line-up. With some great artists featured throughout, are you looking forward to seeing anyone in particular?
I can honestly say I’m looking forward to seeing and hearing absolutely every act on the bill that I can get to. I’ve got a lot of logistical responsibilities over the weekend itself, so I can never get to all the shows I’d like to, but I love connecting with as many of the acts as possible and connecting with as many punters as possible over the weekend and seeing all the venue operators being supported like they should all year round.
One of the aspects I enjoy most about the festival weekend is the amount of people who say to me off the cuff, ‘This is how it should be EVERY weekend!’ I agree every time and politely remind them that it’s up to all of us to make it happen.
The festival happens across a number of different venues, but the most unusual is probably the tram. Where did you get the idea to have the tram as a venue?
I can’t take credit for the idea. It was our treasurer and co-founder of the festival, Julius Porlai, who came up with the idea, somewhat taking the lead of the very well-known Blues Train, but taking it on a different track (pardon the pun).
Our mobile music vessel is a beautifully restored vintage tram and is well-suited to the vibe of the music we host. The daytime trams we run are particularly enjoyable for myself and others who just want to sit and listen to brilliantly delivered solo performances from incredibly talented artists in an intimate space while enjoying the views of our architecturally beautiful city and immaculately kept public gardens and park spaces as they slowly move by the window.
Thanks again for having a chat with us. Is there anything you’d like to add before we finish up?
Thanks for taking an interest in our event and for supporting us on an ongoing basis. Forte has been a great supporter from day one and we appreciate the hell out of it. See you in November!
When&Where: Bendigo – November 6-9