Australian country music has always had many influences starting from grassroot Celtic music through to British, Irish, Scottish and Welsh influences. From convict times, as we grew into the country we are today, Australian country music grew initially from our convict base moving rapidly forward to artists such as Slim Dusty, Buddy Williams and Keith Urban. American influences soon began to develop but eventually Australia had its own individual style of country music blended with rock and pop.
The huge popularity of country music, artists, bands and festivals and the versatility of the line ups attract enormous audiences of all ages around the country. Groundwater Country Music Festival is one of the less established festivals but is growing into a landmark event.
Groundwater 2018 was a free public access event at Broadbeach on the Gold Coast on the last weekend in July. As country music festivals go it was pretty much as good as it gets. The acts seamlessly fitted in with the beautiful esplanade parks and beachside walkways, café performance areas and even streets purposefully cut off for big stages. The crowd was happy and well behaved and the feeling in the air was a kind of palpable excitement.
On several occasions I passed fans pointing out acts and then running for good seats, for many of the events were very well attended. Sought after acts littered the large, well deployed, festival area and the Friday and Saturday night crowds, which are usually large at Broadbeach, were swelled by the country music fans though there seemed to be no friction between the two. In fact the locals appeared just as happy to be hosting what was on some occasions, a crush of excited listeners, as were the fans who had travelled far to be there.
The sites were just perfect and included the Envoy Hotel, Oracle Boulevard, Soho Place, The Beachside Pavilion, Niecon Plaza, Surf Parade Stage, the Broadbeach Mall Stage and quite a few more. Cafes and restaurants as well as pubs and food stalls “kept the stock watered and fed” so to speak and then to top it off the weather was perfect. From Friday to Sunday headline performers kept everyone happy.
The Morrisons, The Hillbilly Goats and Brad Cox shared The Surf Parade Stage with Joshua Hedley and Matt Cornell as well as many others. The Kurrawa Big Top offered up Lillie Mae and Jasmine Rae along with Hurricane Fall and four other acts and that was Saturday night alone. Crowd pleasers like Catherine Britt and the Cold Hearts, Doug Bruce and The Whiskey Mountain Boys along with heaps more acts got the action going on Friday. There are scores of other performers I should mention but then this would just have to be a huge list of talented Australian Country performers.
Music festivals are I think, are coming into their own again. Regional areas like the Gold Coast and Byron Bay are perfect sites for such events. The grounded, organic nature of the musician and fan interaction experience of these multi-act events bodes well for both the future health of the event industry and the musicians themselves.