Hay barrels and what resembled a makeshift shed, housed an array of diverse artists at the inaugural Illuminarte Festival in good ol’ Picton town.
20-year-old Missy Lancaster showed us she’s been paying attention to what’s getting noticed: a mix of indie and pop sounds paired with the conflict of small-town gratitude and dreams of grandeur . A dark version of Lorde’s Royals the perfect track to express these feelings.
Menangle Street was rife with buskers ranging from the 12 to 60. Some fab, and some drab: but that’s what the days all about – ‘harvesting’ self-expression.
A busker who should have had a spot on the stage was recent 20-year-old Conservatorium of Music graduate Annika-j: her voice angelic over a minimal acoustic technique. A pared back version of Outkast’s Heya stopped me in my tracks as I walked to get a caffeine hit.
The question lingered as another choice of performer from the street had a shot on stage that was rather cringe-worthy; refer to the above justification of harvesting self-expression.
Alas, as the day progressed the Wollondilly area wasn’t short of delivering on music finesse. 23-year-old Country Music Academy graduate Jemma Beech fitted on that stage as if she should have had a rocking chair and a piece of wheat dangling off her lip.
Her gracious presence, with a beaming smile was infectious. She covered some classics from Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash to Slim Dusty; but it was her original called The Other side of me that really blew me away. It came from her soul, and clearly a place of pain, beautifully raw and honest… showcasing her vocal range and her ability to pair that voice with what it takes to genuinely connect with the audience.
I spoke with Jemma after her set and asked her of the inspiration behind The Other Side of Me, I’m told of a drive from Foster to Tamworth (where the school was based) an open road and some weighty life issues weighing her down – but this beautiful open road and a new beginning at the academy allowing her to get to ‘the other side of her’… it was refreshing to hear music come from a place, an honest place and a place that has allowed her to express herself the best way she knows how – as a simple country girl with a gracious attitude and what’s sure to be a bright future ahead.
Last stop was Sol Brews at Macarthur Grange Brewery to see local favourite on the gig scene Luke Koteras. I walked in as the sun was setting and he was playing a smashing cover of Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah, in what felt like an awesome ‘industrial beer vortex’, I grabbed a pale ale (winning) and thought Hallelujah to be almost an omen.
**Stay tuned to HMC Music Facebook page for next weeks gig guide