The grand final of the Vacy Blues & Roots Festival acoustic sessions was held at the Farmer’s Hotel in Vacy on Sunday. Our very own, Dan Beazley was asked to sit on the judging panel for the event that would see the winner take a spot on the main stage of the festival, on October 17. Here’s his report…
What a great afternoon in Vacy. It’s the first time I’ve traveled out this way and the first thing that struck me was how pleasant the drive was. About an hour from Newcastle, Vacy is an oasis of country life. Beautiful little farms, hills, cows and and plenty of landscape photo opportunities.
On arriving at The Farmer’s Hotel I was surprised at the amount of people who had traveled here for the event. The place was packed, with standing room only and everyone was enjoying the live music coming from the stage as part of the ‘people’s choice’ contest a head of the main competition.
I had been invited by the organisers to sit on the judging panel for the main contest that would see the winner take a spot on the headline stage at the Vacy Blues & Roots Festival on October 17. Winners would also be awarded some recording time at 90 Degree Studios in Newcastle and a host of other prizes.
Four acts battled it out for the top spot.
Lily & Jordan
The first cab off the rank were acoustic duo, Lily & Jordan. These guys had a strong fan base behind them, going on stage to loud applause and whistling. While sometimes falling flat on a few notes, I really enjoyed the delicate nature of Lily’s voice and the tone and fragility of Jordan’s guitar. With a set made up of folky pop covers, these guys delivered what their fans wanted and left the stage to another round of thunderous applause.
What stuck me about Garth from the moment he jumped up on stage was how at ease he was. He candidly spoke to the audience and introduced each of his original songs with a story and a laugh. His playing was solid and his voice had a great soul to it, hitting all the notes and sharing his emotion.
A shy performer with a confident offering. Ben’s voice was right in the pocket for me as he worked his way through a set of covers and originals. The highlight of the set was Ben’s last song that included getting the crowd to sing along to the chorus of his original competition. This guy is the complete pop soul package and I really look forward to seeing him again.
A dirty americana style blues duo with plenty of talent and swagger. It was easy to see this act was a real cut above the rest. Their playful interaction with each other on stage seeped out into the crowd and with the help of some looped beats and bass lines the duo had many in the crowd up and dancing from their opening number. Songs about Woy Woy, classic blues covers and a dark humour. I can’t wait to see them again.
At the end of the event scores were tallied, and Johnny Devilseed were crowned the winners. Part of their prize will be a spot on the main stage at the Vacy Blues & Roots Festival on October 17 and to be honest I’m really looking forward to seeing their set. For me they would have been a perfect addition to the line up whether they took out the contest or not. Runner’s up Lily & Jordan also received a prize that will see them head into the studio to produce a recorded product.
Photos by Craig from Swamp House Photography.
Tickets for the Vacy Blues & Roots Festival on October 17 are now on sale. You can find out more about the event and purchase your tickets here.