After Melbourne had brought out the slightly crappy winter preview for a few days, I was feeling a bit wary of the likelihood of an open air concert at CERES. Mother Nature was on the side of the Brunswick Music Festival though, and the sun came out in lovely force to add the finishing touch to what was probably the best Sunday afternoon gig I’ve seen this year. TPO’s co-founder Rukmal and I arrived with picnic blanket and cheese in tow, as had many others, and we lay down as the sun and beautiful voice of Yirrmal washed over us. Shane Howard has been mentoring young Yirrmal and the beautiful song they wrote together, ‘Spirit of Place’ (with the name borrowed from Goanna’s iconic album) had me feeling completely appreciative of all the beautiful parts of Australia. With the combination of such a beautiful voice and a natural skill for lyricism, Yirrmal is definitely one to keep an eye on.
A small cheese break and Emma Donovan and the Putbacks took to the stage. Wow. Emma’s voice is warmth and soul and calming and energetic all in one, and I lay back and picked shapes from the clouds and tried to do an awkward lying down dance – I can’t wait to see Emma again in a different venue and do some proper dancing along to her amazing music. It may have been an outdoor event, but she completely filled the space. Every person was swaying along and absorbing her beautiful lyrics and interactions with the audience in between songs, telling stories of her experiences and personal connection to them (especially one written by her friend Ruby Hunter, a tale of being taken as part of the Stolen Generation and returning home again). The combination of powerful lyrics and Emma’s equally powerful voice had me weeping a few tears.
Shane Howard is one of those Aussie icons that most people don’t realise they love. Member of the awesome Goanna of Solid Rock legend, Shane’s one of Australia’s most seasoned songwriters and he seemed to have so much familiarity with the audience, joking about the horror of Donald Trump. As well as mentoring up and coming artists, he’s still developing his own craft and songs, conveying political messages and the importance of working towards climate change – it was beautiful seeing so many songs with so much meaning, and getting to see them all performed live near the banks of the Merri Creek was a little bit of a magical experience.
Jasmin Ashton is a PR whiz and freelance writer/designer from Melbourne who has a lot of feelings about pretty much everything. Find her at @Jasmanna.
The Brunswick Music Festival runs 15-20 March 2016. Read our guide to the best of the festival.
Some venues are accessible.