A Day on the Green

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On Australia Day, 26 January 2001 Melbourne music promoters Michael and Anthea Newton of Roundhouse Entertainment decided to try a brand new concert experience – contemporary music in a beautiful winery environment.

James Morrison, Renee Geyer and Stephen Cummings performed at Morning Star Estate, Mt Eliza, Victoria in an event the Newtons called “A Day On The Green”.
As Michael Newton remembers: “At that show, it was all hands on deck and we had our friends helping us out, but from that very first concert we thought, ‘this is such good fun’. The idea of enjoying good food and wine with your friends, while listening to some great music in spectacular environments, just seemed like a great way to spend a day.”

Nearly 12 years, more than two million happy patrons and countless unforgettable concerts later, A Day On The Green will celebrate its milestone 300th show – in the most amazing coincidence – on Australia Day, Saturday 26 January 2013 in a show headlined by UK singer/songwriter Elvis Costello at Rochford Wines in Victoria’s Yarra Valley.

By the time of the concert at Petersons Winery, Armidale, on Saturday, March 9, the popular event will be at show number 308 – an amazing achievement.

Celebrated singer/songwriters Paul Kelly and Neil Finn will share the stage at this year’s concert, ably supported by Mark Seymour (former frontman of Hunters and Collectors) and Lisa Mitchell.

Mr Newton says one of the keys to the brand’s success has been that unlike other music promoters, the A Day On The Green shows are the company’s only business, enabling it to specialise in all aspects of presenting concerts in its wineries around Australia.

“We don’t do tours through the Entertainment Centres or theatres; we solely concentrate on the wineries, and that’s an expertise that nobody else has,” he says. “Also for the first four or five years we grew very slowly and carefully. We were only doing about six or eight shows each summer in the early days, and so we could make sure we did everything thoroughly and really thought it through.

“Another important factor is that we truly do feel like one of the crowd at our shows. We want to ensure everyone has the best day possible, so we try to make it an ‘experience’, rather than just a concert.

“We do a prize for the best picnic of the day, patrons can meet the artists at the signing tent in our merchandise area, we interact with the crowd as much as possible, and all those little things hopefully give everyone a really memorable day.

“After nearly 12 years, we know our audiences in all the different regions of Australia and we interact with the local communities, whether it be Mudgee in NSW or the Clare Valley in SA. And that’s true of Armidale now as well.”

Mr Newton said they had been looking for a suitable home in the New England Tablelands, and Petersons Winery was the perfect choice.

“In terms of the annual A Day On The Green calendar, Armidale is a well-located beautiful environment, which has a burgeoning wine and food industry producing quality product. As an Evocity, it is home to a thriving economy, many fine educational institutions and a sophisticated and cosmopolitan culture.

“Petersons offers a natural amphitheatre with picturesque views over the surrounding countryside, so it is an ideal concert location. We certainly plan to be presenting concerts for many years to come.”

After working closely with the Petersons and the Armidale Dumaresq Council, Mr Newton said it was very satisfying to see the overwhelming success of the first concert held in March last year featuring Noiseworks, Ian Moss, Ross Wilson and Dragon with about 6,000 music fans attending.

The concert also provided a boon for local tourism, with all accommodation and camping grounds completely booked out in Armidale, as well as in nearby towns Guyra and Uralla and restaurants, cafés and local businesses all experiencing bumper trade.

Another huge crowd is expected on March 9 for Paul Kelly and Neil Finn, who will share the stage throughout the entire two hour concert as members of the one band, singing and playing together a selection from their rich and varied songbooks.

The concerts will be a family affair, with Neil’s son, Elroy Finn, on drums and Paul’s nephew, Dan Kelly, on guitars.

Mr Newton said all music lovers were interested to hear how Paul Kelly would interpret Split Enz and Crowded House songs, and similarly, how Neil Finn would sing the classic Paul Kelly hits and which songs they would perform as duets.

“To see these two incredible artists playing together for the first time and in such a unique collaborative way is something not to be missed,” he said. “Neil and Paul’s national tour is all capital city venues, so it’s a testament to A Day On The Green to have the only two regional shows, one of those being in Armidale. As such, I’m sure the show will attract music lovers from right across the state and once again make Armidale a fantastic place to be that weekend.”

The two artists won’t begin rehearsals until early next year, so at this stage admit they’re not sure themselves how the collaborative concert will be structured.

In another family twist, Mark Seymour, brother of Neil Finn’s Crowded House band mate Nick Seymour, will be the special support artist. Seymour is popular with A Day On The Green crowds all around Australia and is looking forward to visiting Armidale for the first time in many years, while fledgling singer/songwriter Lisa Mitchell will open all the show on Kelly and Finn’s national tour.

Both reserved seats and general admission tickets are available from www.ticketmaster.com.au or 136 100.

Promoters recommend that for a totally relaxing day, it’s a great idea to leave the car at home and travel by coach to the winery. Edwards Coaches will be providing transport from around the region including from Inverell, Moree, Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Tamworth and Glen Innes. There will also be a shuttle service operating from various pickups around Armidale CBD. For enquiries, phone (02) 6772 3116.

For full event information, visit

www.adayonthegreen.com.au 

This interview was found in issue 68 of New England Focus

 

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