Live music excitement builds

The Penola Coonawarra Acoustic Music Gathering is set to bring a wealth of acoustic talent to the region in 2021.

The non-profit event will be held at Penola’s McCorquindale Park and will run from Friday, March 12 to Sunday, March 14.

Penola residents Anne Miller and Kathy Fennell are amongst a committee of five people organising the gathering and said planning the event has taken nearly a year.

The gathering is inspired by the Frances Folk Gathering which Ms Miller attended for eight years until the festival ceased two years ago.

The event is the first of its kind in the Penola region and the committee is excited to bring it to the community.

Ms Miller said the line-up included a mix of local, Adelaide and interstate musicians who would showcase a variety of acoustic styles and there would be an equal number of men and women performing.

“We want to give people a broad taste in music and show people music can take you places,” she said.

The gathering will kick off with a welcome barbecue on Friday evening, followed by a Welcome to Country representing the traditional people of the Pinejunga Clan and the official opening concert.

The weekend will be filled with concerts, open mics, jam sessions, workshops, poetry competitions, youth mentoring, gospel music and a Bendigo Bank Sunday market.

Ms Fennell said musicians were being encouraged to jump on the open mics, which would give them an opportunity to get their name out.

“Music is for everyone. You’re never without a friend if you can play music,” she said. “It’s a very accepting place to be.”

There will be masterclass mentoring workshops for people aged 14-25 where musicians will give valuable advice on topics such as presentation and nerves on stage, song writing and the highs and lows of being a musician.

There will also be workshops for primary school children.

The Sunday market will be free to attend, with $20 fee for stallholders. The event will be fully catered.

“We are doing everything we can to make this event as affordable as we can for everyone,” Ms Fennell said.

There are plenty of camping spaces, toilets and shower facilities at the venue. Attendees can book an unpowered site online for just $10 per night and camping will be available from the Tuesday before the event until Monday.

Organisers said they would be vigilant in adhering to COVID restrictions and there would be COVID marshals and security to ensure public health and safety.

They are hoping for the best outcome with the COVID situation and will make a final decision by the end of the year if the event will go ahead.

Ms Miller and Ms Fennell said they were passionate about Penola and the surrounding region and hoped the gathering would support local businesses, encourage people to visit and explore what the region has to offer.

“We really want the town to have ownership of this gathering; it’s not for us, it’s for the town,” Ms Miller said.

“Music will lift the spirits of the whole community.”

The committee is seeking volunteers to help with jobs throughout the weekend and billeting.

For further enquiries, applications for workshops and volunteering, contact pcmusicgathering@gmail.com.

Adult tickets are $65 for the weekend or $25 for a day and will be available in January.

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