Day 1,Friday 13th…
An ominous date but no black cats or broken mirrors at Moorook for this the 7th annual Riverstock Music Festival, and the 9th year that we’ve been coming to Moorook for music and mayhem!
Planning for Riverstock 2015 began almost as soon as we wound up last year, with thinking caps on and brainstorming sessions a’plenty to ensure that this year would be bigger and better than anything before. A great coup for the Committee was obtaining a mentoring day session with Christine Schloithe from Country Arts SA to workshop through ways to make Riverstock even more successful and enjoyable for both audience and artists alike. Christine has an impressive history in organising and running large music festivals including serving as Stage Manager of the main stage at Womad and in the position of artistic director for the Adelaide International Guitar Festival for many years.
And how fantastic it is to see ideas from that mentoring session come to fruition, with a new look site plan and impressive array of Weekend Warrior Music Club bands and guest artists engaged for the whole weekend.
As usual, Lance Gum from Stageright Solutions has built 2 magnificent stages. Stage One for the larger bands and guests and the second at the other end of the site for smaller semi acoustic ensembles. But in addition, and as a new feature, a third space has been created in the “CC Lounge” – a chill out area for impromptu acoustic performances and a place folks who may want to take a moment or two to absorb the excitement of the day in relative calm.
And with the site entrance at the rose garden end of Riverfront Park, patrons begin their experience of Riverstock 2015 with a wander though an arcade of food and beverage facilities punctuated with stylish table and chair settings embellished with potted plants adding living colour to the scene.
Preparations had begun days before with Lance and his team working tirelessly to construct the stages, set up the PA and lighting systems and erect the security fencing. And it was all done with time to spare before first band of the weekend “Racket Science” had the honour of sound checking and then launching into a great opening set of classic boppy rock and pop right on schedule at 6.00pm. We were away!
And the program ran like clockwork, with main stage bands enjoying slightly extended 1 hour sets interspersed with stage 2 acoustics playing 30 minute slots. Craig Smart, “Off the Rails”, “The Mellows”, “The Common Good” all gave exceptional performances leading up to first guest act for the weekend, “Lazy Eye”. A blues trio, who recently won the honour of representing Australia in the Memphis Blues competition in January next year, “Lazy Eye” play all over Australia with Evan’s classic 1965 Hammond organ and twin Lesley speaker units. An awesome sight and sensational sound. They’ll be back again Saturday afternoon. But the night was no-where near done with “Matuezi” and “Brompton Blues Band” making it a truly great first night!
It’s 1.00am, and while we’ve said goodnight to the outdoor venue, the Club is still open for business and the weekend promises to be one of the best ever so far… Time for bed for some…
Day 2 – Saturday 14th
How sweet it is… What a perfect day. Blue skies, a zephyr breeze, the sun shining, the river rolling and Riverfront park looking resplendent!
By 11.00am, the stage crew had the back line reinstated on the main stage ready for the day’s events. First up, with their debut performance at Riverstock was “Shades of Black”. A relatively new band, these guys and gals got together just earlier this year following their participation in the Weekend Warrior program and have gone from strength to strength. With powerful twin lead vocals from Ineka and Mary-Ellen backed up with grooving guitars and a rocking rhythm section, their blend of blues, rock and contemporary soul was a fine way to launch Riverstock 2015 day 2.
Terrill (the squirrel) came next followed by “Strange Brew” in full band mode with their original retro-rock’n’roll repertoire, then a return from “The Mellows” before second debut for the festival with “Trax”. Seuzi and Matt exude enthusiasm for their music and with support from Bob and Rob on bass and drums have taken their polished duo to a new level allowing their honey rich harmonies to flourish!
“Trilogy” and “Crossfire” up next followed by well known local Eric Cooke lead us to a return performance from guests “Lazy Eye”. Great and authentic blues musos and lovely people as well! And as the afternoon advanced, “Strange Brew” took the acoustic stage as a trio, then “Moss” on the main stage before “Squirrel and Bucky” on Stage 2 proving that sound technicians can play as well!
The evening session opened with “Tusk!FM” and their tribute to the music of Fleetwood Mac and a chance to reminisce over the real FM’s recent visit to SA. Matt and Seuzi, this time in duo mode as “Mateuzi”, took their spot on Stage 2 whilst second special guests for the weekend “The Timbers” prepared for the onslaught on Stage 1. With energy a’plenty, these guys unleashed their offering of Celtic Folk Rock to the accompaniment of amplified banjo, acoustic guitar, keyboard, trumpet, separated kick drum, tom-tom, cymbal and snare and, of course, wonderfully raucous vocals! Dance, dance, dance!
Allowing everyone to take a slight breather, “The Casuals” shuffled onto Stage 2 with some smooth acoustic blues. But the respite was short-lived as “SideFX”, back from last year’s retirement announcement, seared Stage 1 with a blistering tribute to the sounds of “Seattle Grunge”. Then Craig Smart kept the energy high on Stage 2 while “The Common Good” set up to close the outdoor night with some smoking hot Zeppelin, Hendrix, psychedelic Beatles and more…
And right on time at 12.15am, we said good night outside but the revelry continued in the Club into the wee small hours with rocking second sets from “Moss” and “SideFX”.
And then there were the after parties… but what goes on at the after parties stays at the after parties. You had to be there…
Bring on day 3!
Day 3 – Sunday 15th
Who could have wished for more? If Saturday’s weather was perfect, then Sunday’s was unadulteratedly sublime! Even the zephyr breeze took its thongs off and kicked back in the shade!
Volunteers began arriving just after the crack of dawn to do a final tidy up and make sure the arena was looking its absolute best again after the revelry of the night before… evidence that much fun was had by all! Stages were re-set, pizza oven fire lit, coffee machine fired up, drinks put on ice, chips, wedges, snacks and souvlaki prepared and all was ready!
10.00am – musos start gathering for the now infamous Sunday morning open jam. A chance for new friends and old to get together on the big stage and get down to what we love the most – just playing music live for fun! With classics and standards, country and blues, and some originals for good measure, this session is always popular and very much appreciated!
And then at High Noon, we welcomed the BBB boys (Brompton Blues Band that is) back to set the pace for the day. Young people David ‘n Chloe followed on stage 2 with their acoustic guitars and sweet harmonies, including a tender tribute to their friend and well loved fellow musician Nathaniel O’Brien who was tragically killed in a car accident just over a week ago. RIP Nathaniel.
Stage 1 was reset for the final guests of the weekend, “The Rustlers” who cooked up a feast of classic country-pop’n’rock for the next hour or so. Riverland stalwarts “Krome Plated Yabbies” did a half hour spot on stage 2 to the delight of their adoring fans and then under the directorship of Mr Gum, students from Loxton Primary School had a ball on Stage 1 as “The Rockers of the River”, belting out a succession of uplifting rock anthems including the one adopted by the school, Tina Turner’s, “Simply the Best”. Way to go LPS!
Acoustic trio “Trilogy” were a great choice to follow on before the check shirts, cowboy hats and girls in boots aka “Crossfire” hit stage one with some cruisey country hoots! The raffle was drawn, and 3 lucky winners took away a wine pack, an acoustic guitar donated by Holden Hill Music, and a sensational Sitar Guitar – an amazing hybrid with a regular 6 string guitar neck plus a whole bunch of resonant strings that give it a sound George Harrison would have been proud of! Congratulations to the winners.
Another bonus at Riverstock 2015 was the random wrist band draws… At entry, everyone received a numbered wrist band and at random times over the weekend numbers were drawn from a hat. The lucky winners received a surprise pack from the Moorook Club drinks tent!
But the music played on with Moss in duo guise on stage 2 paving the way for “Off the Rails”, led by SA Music Hall of Fame Recognition Recipient, blues music aficionado and heck of a nice guy, Dave Yelland! A quick mental tally arrived at a total of over 200 years playing experience on stage for their set! Keep on rockin’ boys!
Penultimate act for the festival was a return to Stage 2 by “The Casuals”, before a lucky last second set by “The Rustlers”. Incorporating some original material from their various albums and plenty of good time rock’n’roll, Gary and the boys pumped along with more of their repertoire until we had to finally call it a day!
So, Riverstock 2015 is done. And we all had a great time! As always, immeasurable thanks go to the organising Committee and all the volunteers from the Moorook and District Community Club and the Weekend Warriors Music Club (SA), all the bands and ensembles that donated their time, to the special guest artists and all the generous sponsors, without whom the event simply could not be held. A special shout has to go out to the security guys who worked tirelessly throughout and, of course, special thanks to all the crew from Stageright Solutions for staging, lighting, audio and production.
Finally, thanks to all the beautiful people who came along to share in the experience of Riverstock and make it all the more worthwhile for us! Be sure to keep a lookout for all the bands that played over the weekend and especially watch out for details of R16 coming soon!
Peace and love – take care!