On the weekend of 9th to 11th January I attended the Girgarre Moosic Muster to play in a concert and to host a workshop for banjo pickers. I was unsure of what to expect, having never attended the event before, and had never before visited the small township of Girgarre.
I was warned it would be hot and dry, it was. I was also told there would be over 3,000 people at the Farmer’s Market on the Sunday, there was. Girgarre is a major food processing town located near Shepparton in northern Victoria. The most significant business in the town is the Girgarre Country Foods Factory which is a division of the Heinz Company, which manufactures tomato based products.
In addition to the usual festival delights, this festival provided an opportunity for people who were curious about playing bluegrass instruments to have a go in a very relaxed and casual environment. Organisers say over 300 people attended the workshops. People came from everywhere to have a go at playing, fiddle, banjo, guitar, bass, tin whistle, harmonica, ukulele and mandolin. People not only learned the basics of the instrument they chose, all within the space of an hour, but they returned to rehearse and perform for the evening concert on Saturday night.Â It was an amazing sight, watching dozens of people crowd onto the stage and collectively play ‘Katy Daley’. The camp site was a city of vans and tents, while music drifted from every corner of the campsite across the weekend.
The other amazing part of the weekend – for me – was to see the townsfolk band together to so generously welcome, host, feed and accommodate the festival goers over the three days.
The evening concerts were a treat with performances from a range of bands including, Appalachian Heaven, Jimmy Fong, Won’t Go Quietly, Men in Black and a Lady, Fat Chance and the Bluegrass Playboys and Pot Belly.
If you are contemplating learning an instrument and want to have a pick on a banjo, strum a guitar or vamp on a mandolin the 2010 Girgarre Moosic Muster is for you. This is Australia’s most welcoming music festival. Loads of workshops, lots of music amid a great sense of community – a thoroughly enjoyable weekend. Thanks Girgarre.