by Peter Vawser
In the weeks leading up to November 2011 the long-range weather forecast seemed too good to be true! Temperatures in the high 20’s, clear skies and gentle breezes were suggested. How much more perfect could it be for the 4th annual Riverstock Music Festival? But then with just one week or so to go, Mother Nature reminded us all that she is the boss and deserves our ultimate respect. In a short 20 minutes one afternoon she unleashed her fury along a strip of Riverland real estate with 100km per hour winds destroying hundreds of trees, de-roofing numerous buildings and causing general havoc. Mercifully, no person sustained any serious injuries.
But then she relented and allowed us to go ahead! Gangs of willing hands had been organised to begin construction of the music arena at Moorook’s Riverfront Park, but in true Riverland Rural spirit, many eagerly responded to the call to help with the task of cleaning up the aftermath of the storm. Then after the short delay, with united effort and all bodies working tirelessly, the tech crews turned their attention back to staging and marquees, rigging lights and assembling the PA. And the weather did become as perfect as promised. Riverstock 2011 was underway!
Each year the playing and spectator areas get better and better, and this year Acoustic Stage 2 was moved under the cover of the large open sided marquee which was relocated off to the riverbank side of the park. This provided open viewing of both stages from anywhere in the venue and gave the front of house mixing desk for Stage 1 protection from the elements without the need to erect its own gazebo. Full staging and production was again skilfully managed by Lance Gumm and his team from Stageright Productions.
And as has become the preferred format for Riverstock, non-stop live entertainment was enabled by the use of the two stages, with acoustic ensembles performing on Stage 2 while the crew on Stage 1 facilitated the changing of the bands! Check out the Riverstock 2011 flyer below for details of who played when, the Riverstock Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/RIVERSTOCK/82763082757 and SA Weekend Warriors Website link to an amazing collection of hundreds of photos http://www.flickr.com/photos/sawarriors
Continuing the theme to celebrate the music of the Woodstock ’69 era, first on Stage 1 was Wayne Rich, aka Richie Wayvins with his tribute to Richie Havens who famously opened the original Woodstock festival. While the original Mr Havens played an impromptu extended set for around 3 hours (filling in time while other performers battled with congested transport conditions which delayed their arrival) our Richie Wayvins selflessly constrained himself to his allotted 20 minutes. A fitting start to our extravaganza!
But always looking to keep the theme fresh, this year the committee decided to extend the challenge and make headline spots available to bands covering artists who were invited to perform at the first Woodstock but for whatever reason did not make it! These included Bob Dylan (covered by Long Time Coming who took inspiration from electric interpretations of his material), Led Zepplin (authentically re-produced by Zed Lepplin, aka Fulltilt Janis who also performed a passionate tribute to Ms Joplin) and The Rolling Stones (a dedication from the Bluesmen in Done and Dusted, who, when assembled on Stage 1, collectively represented over 250 years in musical performance experience). These tributes became fitting partners for Undercover (fresh off the magic bus to debut their The Who set), Rock the Casbah (all aboard the Cocker Train with another cracker of a show dedicated to Mr Joe Cocker), Sultana Bunch (with some new faces complimenting the dual Gibsons of Truman and vander Hoeven in a blistering Santana set), The Brians (formerly Rat-a-tat Revival, rolling down the river with Credence), Wound Up (featuring rock’n’roll classics from Sha Na Na, the group that played at Woodstock at 7.30am just before Jimi Hendrix) Crossfire (with Country Rock fitting for a rockin’ festival in the country) and Undersold (a 10 piece outfit which brought a Soul’n’Funk dimension that really shook a tail-feather)!
Also gracing the big Stage was the ever growing Warrior Voice choir and the newly formed D’Ukes of Warriors ukulele ensemble. It was truly awesome to see the stage filling with these humming strummers and choristers.
The Friday night festivities continued after midnight as the Moorook and District Community Club was transformed into “The Moonlight Club”, with Undercover needing no substitute and leaving no doubt about who they were before the Cocker Train rolled into the station with Rock the Casbah doing it again to a packed house. Then as some weary punters found a place of sanctuary for the rest of the night, the Houseboats moored along the riverbank could not constrain the happy jamming of uke’s and guitar’s and anything else that could be strummed or plucked until the glimmer of dawn slipped through the curtain to herald the new day!
The acoustic stage was bustling from the time the first bacon and egg sandwiches were ready as an informal session warmed the morning folks prior to some local talent showcasing their stuff. Then it was on again. Crowd favourites Tush, followed by the fresh and bubbly Wildflower (and the bee!) Uncovered (familiar faces from Undercover showing us their more sensitive side) Nickelwound Karma (with their blend of Woodstock Era classics and originals) Mellow Fellows (authentically reproducing the sounds of Donovan) Threesome (some of the kids from FullTilt Janis chillin’ with their ‘coustics) Threez Company (more local guys sharing their passion for live music), Richie Wavens and The D’Ukes kept the music flowing all day and all of the night.
As the day progressed the crowd swelled and kept swelling until a capacity audience was gathered. One of the highlights of the night and the whole weekend was of course the on stage appearance of Weekend Warrior Ambassador, John (Swanee) Swan! Making guest appearances with both Undersold and Sultana Bunch Swanee left no reservations about what a great showman he is with over 40 years of rock history behind him! Duetting with Lennie Firth and with backing vocals from Georgia Lee and Beth Christensen in Undersold and Cath McArdle in Sultana Bunch, Swanee thundered our renditions of 6345 789, Midnight Hour, Hold on I’m comin, Gimme some Lovin’ , Black Magic Woman and Sunshine of your Love! He entertained everyone of the capacity crowd, and they loved it!
The balmy night was electric with excitement and not so much spilled, but gushed over into The Moonlight Club after 12 where Zed Lepplin pulled out all the stops and unleashed a session to be reckoned with before the Sultanas filled the club stage and the spirit of Carlos filled the packed room!
It had been a big night, but still the Houseboats creaked and rocked to the buzzing of Uke’s and improvised percussion until again the morning light began to beckon.
The fantastic weather continued into Sunday and the day started again with an acoustic jam session, this time under the directorship of Mr Dave Yelland who took us on a journey from Chicago to LA with all stops in between! And the good times continued to roll on through the day with both stages bustling.
During the afternoon Stage 1 hosted the necessary formalities with thanks being given to all the sponsors and those involved in the planning and running of Riverstock 2011. Special mention must go to Jarrod Loxton, who as Manager of the Moo Club, has been one of the mainstays on the organising committee, Al (the Bassman) vander Hoeven, President and Events Manager of the Weekend Warrior Club and all of the Riverstock Music festival Committee who work tirelessly all year to ensure the event runs smoothly.
Then, after a special guest acoustic performance by Kylie Loxton accompanied by Peter Nichols on guitar, we said our final goodbyes and Riverstock 2011 was done! Bring on Riverstock 2012!