2 Harrietville’s in a Year

by | 24 Mar, 2011 | 7 comments

After receiving news of the Beechworth festival returning to the town of Harrietville last week, the question on most festival goers minds – and certainly the question raised in the bulk of our incoming emails is, what is going to happen to Harrietville. That is the new Harrietville?

For those confused, the Bluegrass and Traditional Counctry Music Society of Australia, – BTCMSA – are the organisers of the annual gathering of bluegrass and old timey pickers which was held in November, in Harrietville each year. They had planned to move the festival location to Beechworth for 2011. Some folk, quite fond of the Harrietville experience, were not too enamoured with the idea of vacating Harrietville, and so another group of people planned for and put together an alternative gathering of enthusiasts to continue to meet in Harrietville in May this year. To avoid confusion, the new group chose to call the gathering The Great Alpine Pick – GAP – because BTCMSA chose to retain the name Harrietville in their branding for the new Beechworth festival.

To add to the confusion, there is also another annual bluegrass gathering in Beechworth which is held in August each year called the Kelly Country Pick. This is the Beechworth to many, not the Harrietville Beechworth which, as it turns out, is now moving back to Harrietville. So instead of having two Beechworths, there will now be two Harrietvilles, one in May and one in November. See, not so confusing after all.

We received this missive from The Great Alpine Pick organisers today.

Harrietville is indeed moving back to Harrietville (confused? so was I). Alas the proposed venue at Beechworth (La Trobe Uni) is in the process of being closed and sold off, so Harrietville (the November one!) has been moved back to Harrietville. The Great Alpine Pick Organising Committee (the Harrietville in May) wish the Harrietville committee the best of luck and hope to enjoy another fabulous convention in November….
As for the Great Alpine Pick in May we’ve been pondering our decision on whether to go ahead or not for a little while as the reason of having this convention has sort of become invalid. But at this late stage we feel it unwise to pull out now… So keep your accommodation booked! keep your instruments tuned at the ready! We’re definitely going full steam ahead!

In the next couple of days keep your eyes peeled on our website (www.greatalpinepick.net) or join our mailing list (ma******@gr*************.net) for ticketing information and registration, as well as some more releases about the program and feature artists. If you think about it, you get the opportunity to experience bluegrass at Harrietville twice this year! That’s definitely not a bad thing at all. Hope to see you there in May – Angus.


  1. Howard Miller

    As most would know I had the task of finding a suitable venue for Ausgrass for around sixteen years. Many were the times I wished to have a perfect venue, like Harrietville and many were times I was tempted to use Harrietville. Now that someone has taken on this logical progression, I can only say, “IT IS ABOUT TIME”.
    The Great Alpine Pick was all I hoped it would be and more, it was “Harrietville, they way we used to be”? before all the razzamataz about overseas bands and elite pickers who rarely left their rooms except when on stage.

    The lineup of top acts was still there, The NZ group was friendly and great, Bluegrass Parkway was superb, I missed App Heaven but they are always good, Trev Warner made the long ride and NSW talent was a bit short on the ground. The Queensland brothers (my problem with spelling”) made the long and expensive trip and many others.
    For me, at least, I could sit and have a chat, find a friendly jam session, go to a concert ( although I am against Bluegrass pub gigs) and in fact did all those things. At the $35 pensioner rate, I got super value for money.

    Full marks to the committee and may the “Great Alpine Pick at Harrietville”, become a fixture on the calendar. Where else in this Bluegrass music forsaken country, can you find the combination offered at Harrietville, LET ME TELL YOU. No where, no how and never, let me go through what is offered, where the town wants you to be there, where the accommodation venues are great, and there are numerous places to hold workshops, concerts, jam sessions and friendly discussion. How many sleepless nights have I spent searching for this combination, TOO MANY.

    My only advise to John Taylor is forget about past experiences at Harrietville and move out of the “Fringe” join in with the real followers of Bluegrass, John. Be at The next Great Mountain Pick OR miss out on one of life’s great Bluegrass Music experiences.

    I am getting to old to put up with the politics of running events where others have a GREAT TIME at my expense, so I am hoping that Jim, Angus and Lindsay get sufficient dollars in the piggy bank to do it all again and they can sure count on my support if they do.
    So five stars for “The Great Alpine Pick at Harrietville, 20011”

    If you didn’t go you missed the best one this year. There are some lessons in this event for the “other Harrietville event”

    • Ken McMaster

      Oh, Howard. Sick of the politics ? So why contribute to them. Lessons to be learned? Tell us, please. Overseas musicians who are only seen on stage? Who? I have been in great sessions with them year after year. Admittedly this got a bit down after the loss of Feathertop, as guests were no longer staying on site, but it still happened.

      Harrietville is not the only great venue for a convention. There are dozens of music festivals all over Australia every year, and it seems that every country town wants one.

      I was not at the pick because I injured my thumb and would not have been able to play, and this would ruin the weekend for me.
      But for Bill’s sake, it’s not a frigging competition – the more the merrier, and hopefully each one will have its own personality.

      Why is it the Bluegrass folk who constantly war and niggle at each other? We old-timey folk spend our days baking cakes for each other, sending flowers and loving e-mails.

  2. Greg McGrath

    Thanks Lachlie,
    I only found out from folks in Western Australia.

    John, as for the Fringe, how can there not be with so many wonderful small venues. In fact over the years I have noticed the best fringe elements happen as the weather gets dirty.

  3. John Taylor

    But which Harrietville is real and which is the imposter????? You be the judge!

    Will there be a Fringe at the Great Alpine Pick? If not, I aint comin’

    • Angus Golding

      I’m not sure about the ‘Fringe’ John, but, you’re welcome to start one, (for the May one anyway.)

    • Ken McMaster

      No fringe at the National Folk Festival John, is there? I understand that (like Port Fairey) performers are banned from performing within 30kms the same weekend. Publicans in Port Fairey were booking bands the same weekend, and while the festival continued to sell out, it got harder to get any accommodation anywhere near Port Fairey.

  4. Lachlan Davidson

    I heard Harrietville was going to be in Harrietville this year…
    Thanks for keeping us informed Greg!