Summer in Australia’s “high country” is known for it’s clean crisp air, abundant wild flowers and various outdoor activities; it is possibly less well know for its music. But, during ski season there are plenty of live acts in the various pubs and chalets, and summers bring various festivals, including an Irish Cultural Festival and a Jazz Party.
The highlight of the musical calendar is the three-day Thredbo Blues Festival every January which, according to its own publicity, is: “renowned as a boutique style event due to its very personal venues including restaurant gigs complimented by great food and wine.” Last weekend was our first experience of this festival which has been running for 18 years now, and we DID enjoy the great food and wine, as well as a terrific lineup of mostly-Australian blues performers.
“Personal venues” can be translated as small restaurants not designed for live music, making it imperative to book dinners early if you want a view of the performers unobstructed by walls, pillars or other diners. I don’t have enough of an “ear” to comment on the sound quality in these venues, but certainly found the chattering of other patrons annoying some times – and downright disruptive at others.
On the first evening, we stopped in for sets at a pub and a lounge before heading off to dinner at The Knickerbocker for what proved to be one of the highlights of our weekend in terms of food and service, and with respect to the entertainment: Hat Fitz and Cara Robinson.
I saw Hat Fitz perform many years ago at the Byron Bay Blues and Roots Festival, and thoroughly enjoyed his show. The addition of Cara Robinson, multi-instumentalist and powerhouse singer from Ireland, turns his already-good performance into magic. There were a couple of times we had goosebumps as Cara’s voice ranged freely across the scale and held notes effortlessly. (You can open the audio link below for a studio version of them performing Wiley Ways.)
We knew it would be a hard act to follow, so while the different versions of the blues continued in pubs around Thredbo Village, we toddled home to our lodgings for a fresh start at the outdoor performances the next day.
Wishing you a week full of song!