If “bums on seats” are a judge of success, then Goulburn’s Blues Festival organiser Geoff Bell says he’s more than pleased.
Mr Bell was speaking on Saturday night about the 22nd annual Australian Blues Music Festival, held over the weekend.
“I’m very pleased,” he said.
“It’s hard to judge exact numbers because it’s a free event but all the venues were pretty well packed and restaurants and cafes did a great trade,” he said.
The performances across some 10 venues added a personable note, something which Mr Bell felt some music festivals lacked.
“We have some regular groups coming here, some of them from interstate, and they love it,” he said.
“One of them said to me that they knew they’d always find something exciting every year and that’s what I’m trying to do. To me, a big part of the festival is discovery.”
Mr Bell said a highlight was the young talent exposed at the Youth in the Blues night for schools at the Goulburn Club on Thursday; it “blew him away.” He praised Mulwaree High School teacher Russell Lieschke for his nurturing role.
Other performances from up and comers Bill Barber and Jarod Shaw also impressed.
Lloyd Spiegel, as always, proved a hit. The singer has been performing at the festival since he was 13 years old. On Saturday night he took out Artist of the Year and Album of the Year for ‘This Time Tomorrow’ as part of the Australian Blues Music Awards held at the Goulburn Club.
A mix of established and emerging talent is part of the event’s success, says Mr Bell. But he told The Post he wouldn’t be resting on his laurels.
“The festival is on the right track but I just want to give it something else,” he said.
“We need to set it up so it’s sustainable because my wife and I can’t do this forever. If we could do achieve that it would be something great for Goulburn.”
Mr Bell last year asked the council to consider contributing more than the $50,000 budget to the event annually to maximise its economic potential. He says it’s questionable whether this is the council’s role at all but it’s difficult to attract corporate sponsorship.
More finance would also enable employment of a publicist and additional acts, such as roving performers.
“But I do see a bright future for the event because more and more, people are finding it harder to make ends meet. This is all for free,” he said.
Performer Geoff Achison said Goulburn’s festival was different to many others in that it was staged at multiple venues, rather than an outdoor area. Crowd numbers for him were mixed as a result.
“The more that local business gets behind these events, the better, because it’s not just about the Blues. These things can have far ranging economic benefits,” he said.