Un­dara blues fest turns 11, still build­ing

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - THE GROOVE - Moya Stevens

In its eleventh year, the Un­dara Rock and Blues Fes­ti­val is a well-es­tab­lished feature on the mu­sic fes­ti­vals cal­en­dar, and this year it was a sell-out.

The fes­ti­val, held at the Un­dara Out­back Re­sort, 3½ hours from Port Dou­glas, high­lighted the best of lo­cal and in­ter­state tal­ent, with three bands and two singers per­form­ing shows on Fri­day and Satur­day nights and Sun­day.

Ben Ford-Davies, an acous­tic gui­tarist and singer, is no stranger to the Far North, hav­ing lived in Port Dou­glas for seven years from 2001 to 2008.

“I think I played ev­ery venue in Port Dou­glas,” Ben said, “and I was play­ing in the kiosk next to where the Court House Ho­tel was be­ing re­built and we called it beer with no pub.”

Now liv­ing in Ade­laide, he re­calls his time in Port Dou­glas with much af­fec­tion, hav­ing named his lat­est CD Papil­lon which fea­tures an Ulysses but­ter­fly on the cover.

“I haven’t been back to Port for a cou­ple of years, but I have a pri­vate func­tion there in Novem­ber, so I hope I will get a cou­ple more gigs so I can catch up with a lot of the crew I know,” Ben said.

Dr Ele­phant, an en­er­getic three piece band, had the dance floor packed. Their range of styles was ex­pan­sive, from ZZ Top to Kenny Rogers and prac­ti­cally ev­ery­thing in be­tween.

The blues were well rep­re­sented by Mel­bourne blues su­per group, The Three Kings, and the har­mon­ica played by Ian Col­lard gave their per­for­mance that in­di­vid­ual sound that only the blues can pro­vide.

Jayson Watkin is a Far North Queens­land na­tive, and con­tin­ued to en­gross the au­di­ence with his vo­cals and his band’s ex­cep­tional mu­si­cal tal­ent.

Anna Weatherup, orig­i­nally from Townsville, has sup­ported Colin Hay and James Reyne and toured the UK.

She en­thralled Un­dara au­di­ences with her clear, soul­ful vo­cals.

The highlight of the fes­ti­val was the Sun­day Re­cov­ery Ses­sion which started se­dately at 10am and built to a crescendo of mu­si­cians and vo­cal­ists jam­ming with songs such as The Weight, a cou­ple of great Ste­vie Won­der songs, The Joker and fin­ished with the Doo­bies’ Long Train Run­ning.

Bram Collins, spokesper­son for the Collins fam­ily who own Un­dara, said that the fes­ti­val is get­ting big­ger ev­ery year.

You know an event is a suc­cess when book­ings for next year have al­ready started rolling in – and the lunchtime gig has the dance floor packed.

Pic­ture: MOYA STEVENS

Ben Ford-Davis at the Un­dara mu­sic fes­ti­val

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