Hillbilly Goats are the ambassadors for the 2018 Airlie Beach Festival of Music.
Hillbilly Goats are the ambassadors for the 2018 Airlie Beach Festival of Music. Andrew Pattinson / Vampp Photogr

Hillbilly Goats the face of Airlie Beach Festival of Music

FROM the Appalachian Mountains of America to Australia's Whitsunday coast - The Hillbilly Goats are the ambassadors for the Airlie Beach Festival of Music 2018.

The three-piece band, who formed in the Port Douglas hinterland seven years ago, are now legendary on Australia's festival circuit and haven't missed an Airlie Beach Festival of Music.

"This will be our sixth year,” frontwoman Mahney Wearne, otherwise known as Goat Girl, said.

Mahney, who plays bass, "bones'' and tin whistle, along with tap dancing and lead vocals, is accompanied on stage by her Goat Boy husband Bryce on banjo, harmonica, foot drums, lead vocals and more. They are joined by Goat Buster Jacinta Simons on vocals, fiddle, melodica and more.

Together The Hillbilly Goats bring the mountain music of America's first immigrants to life with their own uniquely modern twist.

"We're not just a band, we're a show,” Mahney said.

"And we've created that show around a passion for old-time music, but we play it with a bit of a punk edge so it's got that high energy to it. We like to be ourselves and we're passionate about the fast-paced 'happy' music we play.”

It was all of this that first attracted Airlie Beach Festival of Music founder Gavin Butlin to the Hillbilly Goats, and after booking them six years ago he hasn't looked back. "They're different to other bands and they've become one of our favourite acts,” he said.

For Mr Butlin, asking the Goats to be ambassadors for the 2018 festival was a logical next step.

"We like to have one of our acts on the road promoting the festival and the Hillbilly Goats are one of the hardest working bands in the industry,” he said.

"They're always travelling and everywhere they go they tell people about the festival and Airlie Beach.”

Taking the baton from last year's ambassador Shannon Noll, the Goats' first official duties involved playing alongside 26 other acts at an Airlie Beach Festival of Music showcase in Tamworth last week.

Mr Butlin said the promotional event, timed to coincide with the Tamworth Country Music Festival and the launch of the Hillbilly Goats' new album, Old Jack's Bones, couldn't have been a greater success.

"It was packed - they were turning people away because they couldn't fit any more in the beer garden of the Tamworth Hotel. It was just a great promotion for Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays,” he said.

Next the Hillbilly Goats will be spreading the Airlie Beach message on a five-week tour to South Australia, with a tour to New Zealand also on the cards.

Who they will play alongside at this year's festival from November 9-11 is yet to be revealed. "All I will say for now is we're talking to international acts and some of Australia's top country and rock bands,” Mr Butlin said.

Early bird tickets for the 2018 festival are already available through the Airlie Beach Festival of Music's website, with a three-day pass costing $225.