Bobby Jack’s Festival

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To be held at the Walcha Showground on April 13, Bobby Jack’s Festival is a community-oriented arts and music event aimed at the whole family! One of the hardworking organisers behind the event, Lisa Kirton, explains how the festival showcases original music and helps provide a platform for young and upcoming performers …  

Tell us a bit about Bobby Jack’s Festival (BJF) …

Bobby Jack’s Festival is an all ages music and arts festival with a strong community focus. We are a not for profit organisation, run by a team of volunteers. The event is being held at the Showgrounds in beautiful Walcha.

Artists playing at BJF only perform their original material and songs. Ticket prices are amongst the lowest in the country, to enable all demographics to access great entertainment. 

What was the inspiration for the festival?

The idea behind the festival was to create an event that we ourselves would like to go to. We were hungry for “original” music, rather than covers. It needed to be kid friendly, affordable and showcase a range of musical genres. We also wanted to be able to provide performance space for musicians who haven’t had much performance experience, through “Get Out Of Your Garage” (GOOYG).  

The name “Bobby Jack’s” attached itself quite organically to this project. Bobby Jack Waugh is a late friend of ours who opened up new horizons to us, after we moved to Walcha from Sydney. He was a lover of many things different and creative, and sure knew how to throw a good party! We kept referencing shenanigans at his property while in the planning stage of the inaugural event. So, we ended up naming it after him; hopefully he’s getting a kick out of it, wherever he may be now.

This will be the second year for BJF; what can people expect?

The pressure is on to deliver, and again exceed expectations, following on from the great first event last year. We have put a lot of thought into production and staging, as well as sideshow factors, such as market stalls and non-musical entertainment. Securing a grant through the NSW Government’s 2019 Incubator Event Fund is helping us achieve these goals. 

The Get Out Of Your Garage event will be held on Friday, April 12th, the evening before the festival. This will give the emerging talent better exposure. On Saturday, we will have two “main stages” next to each other, to simplify setup and changeover. We’ve got camping available on The Village Green, for those who want to stay over. 

Tell us about some of the artists you have secured for this year’s event.

BJF will start with a Welcome to Country, followed by a performance by the Dunghutti Dancers.

This year’s lineup is an eclectic mix of styles and genres.

Our headliner, William Crighton is a seasoned performer. He has become very well known on the Australian festival circuit, and his performances are nothing short of epic.  

The Tambourine Girls includes Armidale native Pat Harris. They have been making waves on the Australian music scene with their brooding, melodic song writing and a live show to impress. 

Donna Amini grew up in Armidale, where she cut her song writing teeth. She’s now living, writing and performing in Sydney. The power she delivers with her dynamic duo is truly inspiring. 

Sydney band Syntax Error are bringing a set full of soaring psychedelic rock anthems and are hot players when it comes to Australian music.

Goldheist needs no introduction in these realms; the beautiful Hester Fraser is renowned for her haunting melodies and angelic voice, and we’re glad to be welcoming her back.

Local to Uralla, Post-Punk repeat offenders “The Warts” joined our 2018 lineup quite last minute and are back by popular demand.

Captain Tragic is a Nu-Metal Band from Armidale, who put everything into their performances. They will be set to blow minds with their Halloween on stage get up.

Dave Favours and the Roadside Ashes, hailing from Sydney, will bring their alt. country vibe to our stages this year.

Masked anti-heroes, UniGlo are bringing the mysterious new genre of psych space, alt. techno to the masses. Nobody quite knows where this duo hails from (they might currently be living in Kentucky?) but be prepared for the unexpected!

Besides the great music, what else can people enjoy on the day?

We’ll have a smorgasbord of great New England Food vendors, as well as market stalls and interactive workshops. Come and learn to Bellydance with Bellydance Earth and Sky, or learn about puppetry and make your own marionette with the Squeaking Tribe Marionettes. Everyone will love the free entertainment “Lily’s Kids Explosion” has to offer from 11am – dusk. There’s a jumping castle, big blowup slide, giant lawn games and kids’ craft activities, along with some other surprises. The bar will be in full swing, serving local beer and other drinks, so enjoy a band and beverage knowing that your kids are having a ball too. 

If you want to stay over, the Village Green has unpowered sites available, with plenty of toilets and hot shower facilities. We hope to see many happy campers. So, turn up on Friday to join us for GOOYG, which will set the mood for the main event on Saturday.

The Get Out of Your Garage (GOOYG) event is for emerging artists to perform their own music, tell us about this concept.

Getting into live performance can be daunting. Most musos will remember times of playing to three of their mates in a pub. To get bigger gigs, a certain gig track record is expected. That is hard to achieve if there is nowhere to play. Dave Carr & Co are doing a great job with “Black Gully Festival” at NERAM; we wanted to complement what is available and create a stage for young/inexperienced performers to “get out of their garage/bedroom/rehearsal space” and in front of an audience! 

Last year’s event brought some great acts to our attention; we want to keep working with these artists to help keep growing the New England live music scene. We’ve had “GOOYG” themed showcases after last year’s BJF, one at The New England Brewing Co (The Lanterns and The Briny Sea) and one at Top Pub (Lionel Solomon, The Graceless and Shaun Davies). There is some amazing talent out there, which deserves to be honed and nurtured. 

How do you see the festival growing?

BJF will grow by keeping the enthusiasm and joy alive, while developing new ideas and concepts. It’s a lot of work and the committee works for free, so it is important that we make sure people don’t burn out. We’re trying to keep an open mind about what works and what doesn’t. Recent government regulations make it difficult for organisers to put on successful, financially viable events. However, we’re viewing BJF as an intimate community festival with a maximum attendance of 2,000; as such, we are classed as “low risk”. We will continue to listen to festival goers’ input on what they would like to see and experience. We have our ears to the ground in terms of who is out there in the vast, colourful landscape of music and will continue to deliver new, fresh lineups year by year. 

Thanks Lisa.

More info and tickets at

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