by Peter Vawser
Ladies and Gentlemen, a round of applause please! Riverstock 2012!The 7th annual music festival at Moorook in SA’s beautifulRiverland on the banks of the majestic Murray River is done!
Mother Nature has given it all to us over the years with rain, wind and searing heat. But not this year. What a magic weekend November 9-11was; picture perfect blue skies, a gentle zephyr breeze and the best of SA’s spring weather temperatures.
As always, months of preparation had been carried out by the Weekend Warriors Club Events Unit in conjunction with the Moorook and District Community Club to ensure that Riverstock 2012 was bigger and better than any that had come before. And over 25 bands and ensembles responded with performances that raised the bar in professionalism,quality presentation and entertainment value.
The Riverstock theme to re-live the music, peace and love of the original Woodstock festival in 1969 was expanded this year and we saw a more diverse collection of tributes, classic rock and popular hits across the weekend. But throughout, the program remained focussed on doing what Warriors SA does best, enjoying live music and playing it live!
All week, Lance Gumm and his crew from “Stageright Solutions” toiled to erect the 2 stages for the weekend. Stage 1 was sensational as usual with full lighting rig and PA. Stage 2, smaller but amply fitted out, was set to accommodate the numerous acoustic, unplugged and semi-electricsolo and ensemble acts who would perform across the weekend. And like clockwork, all was in place with time to spare for proceedings to kick off on the dot on Friday at 7.00pm.
First up, with their Riverstock debut, was “MOSS” bringing an exciting mix of classic rock. Peter Jarvis followed with a set of 3 on the acoustic stage, then 2nd debut for the weekend was “Tusk!FM”, showcasing a half hour sample from their set of Fleetwood Mac hits.
Keeping with the tried and true format to provide non-stop live music, our attention was drawn back and forth from Stage 1 to Stage 2 with Mellow Fellows sharing with us from their easy listening Donovan collection. Next up the kids from “Fallen Angels” rocked their little socks off in the first of their 3 power sets for the weekend.
Barry Mundi and friends really entertained the crowd with their semi-electric set before 3rd Riverstock debut “Sweet Dreams” brought the Eurythmics to life before our very eyes and ears.
Festival favourites “The D’ukes” warmed up their ukuleles on Stage 2 before yet another debut act “Kaleidoscope Eyes” delighted all as they gave us their take on that rock and roll music, Beatles style!
Harrison Lowe provided a polished acoustic set on Stage 2 while “The Common Good” prepared for their Riverstock debut which morphed the festival back to ’69 with a smoking set of Hendrix hits.
Peter Jarvis returned for the final acoustic of the night in striking contrast to the fervent “Full Tilt Janis” who followed with their fully loaded Led Zeppelin tribute.
After a magic start to the weekend festival, what could be better to keep things pumping but a dose of good ol’ style blues! And over at the Moonlight Club (aka The Moorook and District Community Club) “Done and Dusted” waited with their instruments tuned but tethered til the crowd rolled in just after midnight to let it all hang out. Then the boys let rip for 40 minutes or so taking us on a journey from Kansas to Chicago to LA, with mojos working all the while.
“Kaleidoscope Eyes”, still wide open from their performance earlier kept the feeling going with more Beatles classics. So many hits, so little time!
And then with jumping room only on the dance floor, “MOSS” returned to keep on rockin’ baby no matter what you want!
2.00am, closing time and nobody wanted to go home. But all good things must end and with polite encouragement from the bar-staff the reluctant crowd did finally shuffle off and we said goodnight with a satisfied feeling and the expectation of a big day to come in just a few hours time!
What a cracker of a day! With more blues skies, the magnificentflowing river, the sounds and sights of contented water birds taking the morning air and calm serenity over the festival arena. With a few hours sleep tucked away the crew began reassembling the backline of amps and micing up the stages. The drums were re-tuned after their enjoyable Friday night and all was set for the day.
First up, an open jam session on Stage 1 with a few of the boys warming up and then enjoying some of local Jenny’s sweet acoustic originals and a couple of covers. Then, local trio “Blown Away” was up. 2 girls and a guy with magic harmony work and fine acoustic guitar accompaniment, including a touch of hip-hop, really kicked the morning session into gear. Proving again that live music is truly entrenched in the Riverland.
The formal programming began on time at 10.45 with “Moonlight Shadows” (featuring Dave Makin aka Sir Cliff) with some classic Shadows work and Cliff Richard tunes. Then we had the first appearance for the weekend from “Two’s a Crowd”, an acoustic duo(again featuring Dave Makin on guitar accompanying Sue Warman onvox and keys) with fine renditions of tunes from Crowded House and others. Return performances from the Friday night bands allowed them to show off more of their set-lists in fine fashion. Additional artists taking the stage “Tush” (acoustic duo with fine vocals from Maggie Donovan and guitar work by Peter Nicholls), “Crossfire” (popular country-rock band complete with broad brim hats and checkered shirts), “Brompton Blues Band” (classic down home blues), “Ashbury” (acoustic duo with Mark Simpkin on guitar and Suzie Craig on vox), “SideFX” (powerful and slick radio hits from the 70’s through to now).
The afternoon lingered as we enjoyed SA’s daylight saving timezoneand as the sun began to set “Fallen Angels” were joined on stage by Aus music icon Swanee! Mr Swan teased the crowd with a belting rendition of “All Right Now” with Cara Warman providing backup vox. Tyler Di Palo nailed the guitar solo as brother Dylan brought the beat to life. Kristie Dix’s agile wrist ran effortlessly up and down her bass guitar fret board while Nathan Warman kept the rhythm guitar pumping. The crowd were begging for more but the tight time frame simply didn’t allow for encores and with the end of the “Fallen Angels” set, Swanee left the stage with a promise to come back later in the evening.
Next up was the return of “Kaleidoscope Eyes”, and more Beatles favourites. And yes, Swanee fulfilled his promise and joined the boys with 5 more classics. And all the while the crowd were on their feet dancing and singing along in the true spirit of peace and love. After a short break with The Duke’s on Stage 2, “Full Tilt Janis” took to the main stage again, this time with their authentic Janis Joplin tribute set, taking us back to Woodstock once more. And taking full advantage of the night, Swanee came back on for another session with Mel and the boys taking us to the Crossroads and back with some ZZ Top’s Tush! With thunderous applause, Swanee showed just what a great showman he is and truly deserves the icon status that has been bestowed upon him.
“Ashbury” kept the live music going on Stage 2 as the guys from “The Common Good” set up on Stage 1. And then, joined on backing vox by Ms Craig, direct from her acoustic set, they rocked again with more classic Hendrix until mid-night and the close of the outdoor festivities for Saturday.
With the big PA rig subdued for the night, a capacity crowd crammed into the Club to experience once again the energy of SideFX. Front man big Steve Carlton engaged with everyone present, Greg Osborn willinghis instrument into submission and taking it just where it wanted to go, Graham Burkin mastering his stealth bass and backing vox and the sophisticated David White caressing the drums with delicate poweredfinesse.
And with the sweat still damp on their collective brows, Full Tilt Janisrolled on from the early hour until closing time at 2.00am with Mel and the boys delivering a powerhouse of hard pumping rock! If you’re into loud and tight rock’n’roll, it don’t get any better than this!
So with the amps powered down, and the axes and keys stowed in their cosy cases we left the club to enjoy a magnificent astral display. The fine Riverland clear night skies showing more stars than you could ever imagine looking up at a city vista. A night so still those stars were reflected in the millpond still river, punctuated only by the revelous banter coming from the numerous riverfront camps. Truly awe inspiring stuff from which the best songs and memories are born.
The camping ground at Moorook was filled to bursting last night and many camps just couldn’t resist the urge to party and just kept on! 5.00am ticked on to 6.00am but then around 7.30 there was a brief tranquil pause as some finally crashed and others stirred before the inevitable housekeeping prior to breaking camp.
But nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of tech crew and musos who, sustained with bacon sandwiches and fine coffee, reassembled the stage backlines once more in preparation for another magnificent day.
First event was another open jam, with locals and Weekend Warriors sharing the stage in an impromptu session of blues and country favourites.
But today is November 11, and with due respect at 11.00am Cath McArdle invited those gathered to observe a minute of silence in remembrance of our Service Men and Women who have, and continue to, serve our country in arenas of conflict. We especially think of Cath’s own partner who is currently on active service in Afghanistan.
Then “Moonlight Shadows” gave a repeat performance of Shadows magic before handing over to local favourites Jen and Kylie on the acoustic stage with more of Jen’s material.
Just before high noon “Fallen Angels” came back with their final show of the weekend fest showing that youth has no bounds to its energy and passion. But these were not the only kids ready to show off their talents and share the excitement of the big stage! Locals Mick and Roger pumped out some tunes on Stage 2 while 2 groups from Loxton and Renmark North Primary Schools started to get themselves together backstage. With Stageright Solutions main man Lance as their teacher, “Epic Heights” from Loxton had their debut on a big stage. What a great experience for these young musicians who showed us that we all belong with the classic “Black Fella, White Fella”! “Ashbury” provided more from the acoustic stage while “RN7P”, the year 7 music students from Renmark North, took over the main stage, looking resplendent in their fine school uniforms. Again under Lance’s leadership, the kids belted out favourite hits including a brilliant take on “Gimme some Lovin”.Kudos have to go to Lance and the other teachers in the Riverland schools who see the value in providing a music option for these young people and have made the program possible.
Encouraging the notion of spontaneity, a spot was left in Sunday’s timetable for a band to be created on the spot, and with about an hour’s notice “The Stragglers” came together! Terry on drums, GB on guitar, Cath on vox and sound guy Bret on bass found 30 minutes of material and had great fun making it live on Stage 1! And that’s what the Weekend Warrior Club is all about. (Just for the record, they sounded pretty good too!)
The “Mellow Fellows”, and “Crossfire” had return performances before final newey for Riverstock 2012, interstate guest Susan Lilly, gave us a great rendition of some of her own work. Susan did the Weekend Warrior program in Melbourne and is an old friend of Riverstock. “Doing the Weekend Warrior program changed my life!” Susan proudly shared. She has since played numerous festivals including Tamworth and really lives and breathes her country roots in her music.
Having played several acoustic spots over the weekend, “The Mellow Fellows” took to the main stage, accompanied by Mr Richard Tonkin on violin and accordion, with their collection of J.J. Cale classics. “I never knew J.J. Cale wrote so many songs”, said Phil, audience member on the day. But he did, and the Mellows brought them to life!
“Ashbury”, “SideFX”, “Tush”, “MOSS”, “Barry Mundy”, “Brompton Blues Band”, “The Dukes” and “Done and Dusted” all kept the festival going Sunday afternoon until the reality that all things must end came home.
And so it was. With sun kissed shoulders, broad smiles and hugs all round we said our goodbyes to friends old and new and made promises to meet again at Riverstock 2013..
And so it will be! Riverstock 2013 will happen again in November next year.