With the performing arts industry having been devastated by the pandemic, a new music festival is launching on the Bellarine Peninsula this week to get the community back enjoying live music.
The Bellarine Music Festival kicks off on Saturday with an impressive line-up of Australian music royalty and will continue each weekend until Christmas.
Organised by Premier Artists, the aim of the festival is to get live music happening in the regions again and give the community the chance to support the live music industry.
Premier Artists’ Brad O’Brien said the team had been working behind the scenes to release a series of shows supporting great Australian talent, with more to come.
“Teaming up with Bellarine Estate and MoonMother, where we have run successful shows in the past, was the logical place to launch the Bellarine Music Festival,” he said.
“It’s great to get back into regional Victoria where we can provide entertainment for the locals, as well as attract lots of other visitors to the region. We are aiming these as very intimate COVID-safe concerts to get people back to live outdoor music.”
The first concert in the series kicks off on December 11 with Brian Mannix and The Androids, The Chantoozies and Taxiride.
The next day, the event is headlined by Ross Wilson and The Peaceniks, The Badloves and Kings Canyon.
The series returns the following weekend on December 18 with Daryl Braithwaite and JR Reyne, and on December 19 with Forever 80s and JR Reyne.
A special New Year’s Day event is scheduled for January 1 with The Black Sorrows and Darlinghurst.
Ross Wilson said he was excited to able to get back on stage and play music after what has been a “tough 18 months to two years”.
“We haven’t really been able to perform for crowds for a long time now, except for a few small periods in between lockdowns,” he said.
“It’s been hard, so we’re thrilled we’re able to come down to the Bellarine and play.
“The performing arts – not just music, but theatre and all those performers – have been one of the most hammered industries.
“Everyone’s felt the impacts, but for a lot of us, we couldn’t work from home … and so we’ve lost a few really good people.
“But it’s great that we can now get back to doing what we love.”
Wilson said he had seen an appetite for live music and was expecting to see large crowds.
“We’ve really felt that enthusiasm and everyone is seeing shows selling out all over the place,” he said.
“We did our first show since July in the past week in Avoca and I could just see everyone smiling and having a good time. It was fantastic.
“Everyone just wants to get out and have fun, so where better than to come to a winery and listen to some music.”
No stranger to the region, having been “almost a resident at the Eureka Hotel in the 70s”, Wilson said he was looking forward to heading back to the Bellarine.
He said he and his band The Peaceniks would play a collection of Daddy Cool and Mondo Rock hits along with some new music.
“I was lucky that through the pandemic I was able to go through the songs I had written over the years that I had never done anything with,” he said.
“There was a rich vein of material there.
“So along with the hits – it’s the 50th anniversary of Eagle Rock – we’ll also be road testing some new stuff.
“I think the people always appreciate hearing a mix of the classics and the new songs.”