Thanks for the music: Artists rave about Festival of Music
GAVIN Butlin had tears streaming down his face when John Williamson sang his true blue hits at the Airlie Beach Festival of Music at the weekend.
The festival promoter wasn't the only one carried away on the emotion invoked by the 2019 headline acts.
John Butler took everyone to their own personal 'church' on the Sunday afternoon; Yothu Yindi gave the crowd goosebumps with their powerful entrance on Saturday night; and Smokie lifted the roof off the main tent with their encore reprisal of Living Next Door to Alice.
Mahalia Barnes said she'd had a ball and thought her dad, Jimmy, might even be persuaded to put the festival on his list.
"He loves it up here, so I don't think it'd be that hard to twist his arm,” she said.
"It's an incredible setting with this beautiful, blue water and great support for live, original music.”
Sarah McLeod from The Superjesus echoed those sentiments.
"Six times this has run and no-one's invited us until now, but better late than never,” she joked.
Used to sell-out crowds, Pierce Brothers, Jack and Pat Pierce, thought the atmosphere was electric.
"It's a whole new part of Australia we've never played and we want to start touring here more often,” Jack said.
John Williamson had also never played previously in Airlie Beach but said he loved the village vibe.
"I hope they don't ever lose that down-to-earth part,” he said.
It wasn't just the musicians who went away raving about the Whitsundays and its premier live music event.
Steve Popowski drove all the way from Tasmania specifically to attend the festival.
Having lived in Airlie Beach in the early '90s he'd been looking for an excuse to come back and was Googling concerts on Australia's east coast.
"When I saw the festival at Airlie Beach with 74 bands in three days, I thought to myself, 'awesome with a capital A',” he said.
"All 18 acts on the main stage were fantastic and it was so good to see such a large variety - from local bands right through to John Butler.”
Mr Popowski walked away the proud owner of one of speed painter Bob Gammage's main stage works of art and said it was a fantastic piece of memorabilia auctioned at the event.
Other items won or bid on by festival attendees included a burnt wood carving by artist Glenn Wiremu Taiapa, signed by main stage festival acts, and two pink guitars, also signed by the artists, raising money for the Pink Ribbon Charity Fair.
Mr Butlin said the seventh annual Airlie Beach Festival of Music had been nothing short of "epic” and he thanked the 5000-plus attendees.
"When John Butler was playing, I think it was the biggest crowd we've had in the main tent,” he said.
"The overall vibe of the whole weekend was absolutely amazing and just to see thousands of people from all over Australia with the biggest smiles on their faces was vindication of why we do it.”
Mr Butlin had a special "thank you” for Melbourne Ska Orchestra and Bustamento front man Nicky Bomba.
"Nicky brought his musical family here, including John Butler; he led our Sunday street parade, played our after-party at Northerlies and was the driving force behind our Airlie Beach All Stars,” he said.
Tickets to the 2020 Airlie Beach Festival of Music are already on sale via www.airliebeachfestivalofmusic.com.au at the special, early bird rate of $250 per three-day pass.
For more information follow the festival on Facebook and Instagram.