Expectations were high. From strength to strength and with the bar raised each year the Committee had its work cut out. But by early November all was sorted. The 6th annual Riverstock Music Festival would be one of the best yet!
With supreme professionalism, the crew from Stageright Solutions, led by Lance Gumm, began assembling the stages and sound systems on Thursday. But clearly much planning and preparation had already occurred. This year, as usual, 3 stages were created. The main performance space, being the big stage in the outdoor arena on Riverfront Park, again boasted over 8000 watts of front-of-house power and fully mixed stage fold back sends. The outdoor acoustic stage proudly mounted on the deck of half a B-Double semi pantech trailer with full sound and lighting rigs provided ample coverage for the numerous ensembles, some of which included more than 6 persons. And as has become legendary, the Moorook and District Community Clubrooms became home to stage 3 for the late night “Moonight” Sessions from midnight till the wee hours on Friday and Saturday nights. All was ready.
Friday! By mid-day campers had already begun to take their places, some even having spent the previous night on location to take advantage of the best spots. The ground was filled to capacity. And the numerous houseboats at their moorings added to the spectacle with their reflections on the river ripples glistening like champagne flutes awaiting the next refill.
With stages set, back line in place and drum kit tuned, like clockwork the festival began right on time with duo “Ashbury” warming the growing crowd from the acoustic stage. The tried and perfected formulae for non-stop live music with bands and acoustic ensembles playing back-to-back on the two outdoor stages again showed what a unique festival “Riverstock” has become.
From its roots as a festival paying tribute the performances at the original “Woodstock Music and Art Fair” in 1969, “Riverstock” has expanded to celebrate not only the music of the Woodstock ’69 era, but to now include other popular genres as well. And so on the big stage we reveled with “Sweet Dreams” (The Eurythmics), “Common Good” (Neil Young & Jimi Hendrix), “SOULed UP” (Janis Joplin, Tina Turner and Amie Winehouse), “Cocker Train” (Joe Cocker), “MOSS” (Woodstock ’69 era hits), and “Tusk!FM” (Fleetwood Mac). While on the acoustic stage we were delighted by local Harrison Lowe, the infamous ukulele ensemble “The D’Ukes”, original music from “Strange Brew”, solo Peter Jarvis and much appreciated Nathan Bruhn from Eudunda.
Then at midnight attention turned to the “Moonight Club” with Dave Yelland fronting “Bluesed UP” for some Chicago style blues and “MOSS” with an up-tempo dancing set taking us through to closing time.
And some time after 2.00am a degree of tranquility descended and some folks found the time and place for some peaceful slumber and await the new day.
Saturday! Day 2 kicked off at the relatively early time of 10.30am with local band “Krome Plated Yabbies” performing with an abridged version of their line-up under the name of “Rusty Crayfish” followed on the big stage by “The Mellows” (J.J Cale (R.I.P.) tribute), SideFX (with a collection of 80’s classic rock hits), “Crossfire” (Country Rock), “Brompton Blues Band” (Classic Blues), “Stonehenge” (John Mellencamp), “Anything Goes” (young Warrior band), “Sweet Dreams”, “The Cocker Train”, “MOSS” (Rolling Stones “Golden Years” tribute), “Tusk!FM”, “Sweet Anarchy” (young Warriors band playing hard rock in the mould of Deep Purple), “Common Good” (Led Zeppelin and Free) and “SOULed UP”. Filling the card on the acoustic stage were “The D’Ukes”, “Strange Brew”, Nathan Bruhn, “Cameo”, “Ashbury”, Harrison Lowe, Brompton Blues Band (unlugged), Teal Hart and Roberto and Peter Jarvis.
Following the outdoor mid-night curfew, things kicked on in the “Moonight Club” with return sets from “SideFX” and “Common Good”. And then with the satisfaction of a good day and night’s work done we rested, embracing the remaining hours of darkness in slumber knowing that another full day of frenetic live music and fun were to follow.
Sunday! Day 3. Daylight again! Another feature of the Riverstock Music Festival is that of local involvement and this year several young bands from schools in the district shared their passion and love for live music with us. Under the mentorship of Lance Gumm, students from Loxton Primary School “Super Bass”, and Renmark North Primary School “Mental Blank” showed us how important music is as part of a young person’s education. We were then privileged to hear new original music from “Embrace”. These students from Loxton High School, again with Lance as guide, write their own material and were clearly ecstatic at the opportunity to perform live on the big Riverstock stage. The live music carried on during the change-overs with stage 2 hosting local guitar/vocalist “Cookie”, “Copper Plated Yabbies”, “Cameo” and Teal Hart.
Some formalities were of course required and specific thankyous were made to the numerous sponsors and organizing committee. Then at 3.15 the raffles were drawn and the stages released again for the final session of the weekend. Return performances by “Bluesed UP”, “Crossfire”, “The D’Ukes” (this time on the big stage), and “Krome Plated Yabbies” (both plugged and unplugged!) interspersed with acoustic sets from “Strange Brew”, Nathan Bruhn and “Ashbury” saw us through to the inevitable end of the Riverstock 2013 program.
The weather had been suburb, the crowd magnificent, the atmosphere fantastic and the music totally awesome. Bring on Riverstock2014! Work has already begun.
Peter Vawser, November 2013