Two years ago we passed through Bendigo for the first time. The historical city and the kinfolk we met then made such an impression that we couldn’t wait to get back to visit! And so, when we found out that we were booked for the Bendigo Blues and Roots festival we were ecstatic!
The festival attracts thousands of music lovers and top-notch performers from across the country and beyond. And, with over 30 venues scatters throughout the city and 40 plus sponsors, the Bendigo Blues and Roots festival has a real cohesive community vibe. As their website states, the family friendly festival is the brainchild of renowned Bendigo musician and promoter Colin Thompson. It’s inaugural kickoff was in 2011 and it’s been rolling along successfully ever since. We had a chance to meet Colin, who volunteers as a labour of love to run the festival, and we were very impressed by his kind and humble demeanor. We found his dedication to promoting local and region music inspiring and were humbled to be included in this truly global/local festival, administered by the people for the people.
We performed throughout the weekend at The Golden Vine, Goldmines Hotel, Handle Bar, and the Bendigo Art Gallery. All of our sets were about 45 min and the sound and hosts in each venue was fantastic. Each show had its own unique flow depending on the vibe of the venue, which made each performance distinct and engaging. We enjoyed every single performance but especially enjoyed the jolly atmosphere of the newly opened Handle Bar.
To top it off many of our fellow muso kinfolk were also playing the festival. And, we also found remnants of one of Craig’s mates, artist Juan Ford, when we walked into the Art Gallery for our show and saw his painting hanging front and center!
During our off time, we visited most of the venues, heard fantastic music, and explored the city and its historical gold rush roots. We spent a bit of time rummaging through Bendigo’s best in Op Shops (Thrift stores) and enjoyed dining in many of Bendigo’s local restaurants. We especially enjoyed breakfast at Percy & Percy Cafe where we met and sat across from the Thomas family from South Australia and learned of their life on a sheep farm. We also stopped in to the Dispensary Enoteca to savor an afternoon drink before crossing the little laneway to Royal Jim’s Barber shop so our son could get a much-needed haircut. We shared a cuppa with Campbell the swagman, lounged on the green grass and watched bands, we, well Graciana, stayed out late with all the cool kids, including Sal Kimber, Hailey Calvart and Miss Eileen and King Lear, we danced heartily to Cisco Caesar, and sang “I’m Traveling” with kinfolk, Sisken River.
The weekend finally was sharing a home cooked meal at the Vincent abode, swapping stories and reminiscing about all of the amazing music, community and connecting that was had over the weekend.
If a festival could feel like home, it would be The Bendigo Blues and Roots festival. And for us, that’s a rare treat, one we’ll look forward to savoring again down the line.
Thank you BB&RF2015 for Such Rich memories and a fantastic way to end our two month tour in Australia!