The Redlands Bluegrass Festival is over for another year. It is one of Australia’s leading bluegrass festivals and the word from festival goers is it is without doubt Australia’s friendliest festival. I was introduced to Redlands Bluegrass Convention some 8 years ago by Allen Shaw from Mount Isa, who incidentally is also responsible for introducing me to bluegrass music. He has much to answer for…
Organisers have advised that attendance was somewhat higher than expected and up from last year. This was evident on Saturday with car parking being a a bit of a challenge for some. Nevertheless, Redlands this year saw a mix of talent from all ages, along with the opportunity to partake in a host of activities from impromptu performances, formal concerts in the big marquee,Â jamming for all levels of experience and workshops for every instrument and skill level. A very well developed bluegrass festival that continues to grow in popularity and content.
Guest artists this year featured the delightful and very talented songwriters, musicians and performers Barry and Holly Tashian from the USA who delivered some very informative and rewarding workshops and a highly entertaining concert performance.Â Also on the program was our own award winning Davidson Brothers with their usual form of high energy music and tongue-in-cheek – almost irreverent – humour. New on the scene, for me, was The Nayhusans, a great sounding family band. I did not see a great deal of other concert presentations due to my overwhelming dependance (Â described by some as a pathetic addiction) to jam sessions. I got to meet and renew acquaintances and to play with a great many wonderfully talented musicians.
In my visits to this festival, I have never failed to leave completely satisfied – The Redlands formula is a winner, in my view. Organisers have developed the right mix of activities and opportunities to cater to both performers and the all important audience. Redlands offers a good blend of activities for the non-performing musician as well as the performers. Additionally, workshops are structured with skill level in mind to cater from the rank beginner to intermediate player, utilising the skills and abilities of the more experienced musicians.
While we are on the subject of catering, we must not over look the quality coffee shop – an essential ingredient for any festival – set up next to the registration desk and the popular jamming room. The team from the Lions Club performed an amazing task preparing and serving three meals a day.
The Registration Desk – now who among us has ever encountered a problem at the Redlands registration desk? Non existent in my view.Â I have never failed to be impressed with the calm, proficiency and sheer enthusiasm offered by the volunteer staff at this, the point of festival entry. Even when attempting to buy a tee shirt 30 minutes after the EFTPOS counter had shut up shop late Sunday afternoon, I was accommodated with humourous understanding and respect for my predicament.Â I had spent the entire three days jamming and not considered buying a memento of my visit, until I was about to leave late Sunday afternoon – mea culpa.
The work undertaken by the folk responsible for the Redlands Bluegrass Convention are to be commended. For my money, this is the benchmark bluegrass festival in Australia, I hope it continues to provide a place for musicians to meet, share, learn and entertain for many years to come.
Thank you Redlands.
Go to the Festival Page to see some photos