OUT ON THE WEEKEND OASIS AT THE STEAM WORKS
I have been travelling down these streets alone/ like a river flowing to the sea/ like a child scorned though duly loved/ or a gypsy born of no belief/ every town that I lay my head/ before I sleep there's a moment's peace/ when she comes to me singing low and sweet I shall be released/ take me home sweet Georgia Rose, take me home let me live again. - Georgia Rose - Matt Joe Gow.
It may have been more the birth of Jesus season but the seventh Out On The Weekend festival was equally evocative as a resurrection.
Long suffering Love Police promoter Brian Taranto, sidekick Dave Laing and his Steamworks stars boomeranged with a vengeance after a 2020 covid hiatus.
The weather Gods shone for the entire festival and fertile young new talents on the all-Australian bill arose from the ashes.
Bendigo born belle Georgia Delves and her Georgia State Line sextet found a captive audience on the outdoor stage.
Georgia regaled new and old fans with her tales from the lost highway.
I slept in a van when I first toured, she revealed as she showcased 11 original songs on her debut Cheating Hearts label album In Colour.
She credited her grandparents for her love of Americana roots music when she sang in Catholic school choirs by day and local pubs at night.
Her evocative entrée Every Time , accompanied by video filmed in the Wimmera, sets the mood for a disc recorded in Macedon after her 2017 EP Heaven Knows.
Delves song titles Dry My Tears, From Down Here, The Ones We Love and The Losing Game paint poignant pictures of her sources that veer with vivacity from melancholia to mirth.
Georgia's long and open road travels with drummer-partner Patrick Wilson fuel upbeat tunes Best Is Yet To Come, Bluebird, the joyous One Of The Boys, Jackson and the rollicking title track finale.
She explained Jackson was not about the legendary Jackson Browne but revived some of his imagery.
Expat Kiwi Matt Joe Gow and his Dead Leaves featuring co-producer and writer Andrew Pollock performed an inspired set featuring songs from their first three albums and others including Go Ahead, Celebrate and Till My Whole Heart Busts from his fourth album Between Tonight And Tomorrow due in the new year.
He regaled his audience with his real-life anecdote and song At The Bar about his time behind the bar at Melbourne night mayor Jim Bob Young's Cherry Bar in the city.
They also included a duet with Katya Harrop on Flowers In Your Hair, Down River, Steady Life, Come To Mama and finale Take Me Home Georgia Rose.
Equally refreshing was fellow Victorian Brooke Russell and her Mean Reds who delved into her original material including Goddamn Gone.
It that followed her time with Gippsland raised Weddings Parties Anything co-founder Michael Thomas's Roving Commission - one of the festival headliners.
The resilient prolific ARIA-winning Northcote publican, now 62, and his band released two albums during lockdown - See You On The Other Side and City's Calling Me.
Roving Commission featured Squeezebox Wally , The Waifs Ben Franz and a diverse floating cast.
Another highlight was Melbourne singer-songwriters Suzannah Espie, Helen Ryder, Sarah Carroll, Liam Gerner, and Lachlan Bryan who performed The Girl from Chickasaw County tribute celebration of legendary Mississippi singer-songwriter Bobbie Gentry.
Thrice wed Bobbie, now 79 and born Roberta Lee Streeter, was honoured with an eight-disc box set titled The Girl from Chickasaw County: The Complete Capitol Masters featuring all her Capitol recordings in September 2018.
The Steamworks quintet's tribute on the main stage included favourite Gentry songs dating back to Only In My Dreams, Fancy, Mississippi Delta, Gentle On My Mind and her 1967 hit Ode To Billie Joe.
They were backed by the Okolona Four featuring Bruce Haymes on keyboards, guitarist Mitch Power, bassist Stephen Hadley and drummer Roger Bergodaz.
Outside Sherry Rich and her Grievous Angels showcased songs from previous albums and new tunes including Walking In The Sun.
I wrote this song about trying to get through the day, she explained.
I wrote this while driving down the Great Ocean Road. I wanted to go swimming and get my toes in the sand.
She also performed a new song about a car crash - too fast to live, way too young to die.
Lake Bolac export Neil Murray, accompanied by fellow vocalist Rachel Taylor, revisited staples My Island Home and Blackfella Whitefella and songs from recent albums, Blood & Longing and Tjungu with Sammy Butcher.
He performed latest single Keep Rolling On that celebrates continuance of First Nations people and their culture in Australia.
Murray revived Whispering Casuarina and recalled his time on famed Cable Beach at Broome and quipped his bassist Craig Kelly was not related to any politician.
Steve Hoy and eclectic band The Lost Millions featuring Garrett Costigan on pedal steel and pianist Bruce Haymes performed his entire 1990 album Life Next Door.
Singer-songwriters Dan Warner and James Stewart also reformed The Warner Brothers who were once forced to change their name to Overnight Jones.
They impressed with their originals Brunswick St Girl, Leave Me and Stuck In Melbourne.
Raised By Eagles co-founder and former country footballer Luke Sinclair boomeranged with his Luke Sinclair Set and performed songs from his debut solo album.
Wagons, Lost Ragas , Liz Stringer, Ben Mastwyk and his Millions, Cartwheels , Dave Wright & The Midnight Ramblers , Kerryn Fields, Katie Bates, Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes and Alex Hamilton were among the other performers.
The show was a true Taranto triumph with a vast cast catering for a live music starved audience.
And, of course, honouring legendary late radio host David Heard for his 40-year 3PBS-FM reign by renaming the Pirate's Tavern live music lounge as the David Heard Acid Country tavern.
David died at 65 on Sunday September 12 after a protracted battle with throat cancer.
It was fittingly opposite the Justin Townes Earle bar named after former festival guest and singer-songwriter son of Steve Earle.
Justin died at 38 on August 20, 2020 - a year after his ninth Australian tour and several Out On The Weekend festivals.
Taranto is promoting tours by Australian and international artists on his Love Police record label and other indie acts in 2022 when the borders open.
A welcome boost to live alt country and roots artists. - DAVID DAWSON