Entertainment

Council pulls pin on Agnes blues and roots festival

8 Ball Aitken performs at the 2013 festival.
8 Ball Aitken performs at the 2013 festival. Christopher Chan GLADV230213ESSA

THOUSANDS of blues and roots fans will be left disappointed after the six-year long annual event at Agnes Water was scrapped.

A favourite on the Gladstone region calendar, more than 3000 people attended this year's Agnes Water Blues and Roots Festival in February, and local artists had been encouraged to make their mark at the event.

It grew dramatically since starting in 2009, with a second music stage introduced in 2013 and Richard Clapton headlining this year.

But the Gladstone Entertainment Convention Centre wiped the festival from its annual calendar of events saying it was no longer needed.

Blues and Roots catered to a relaxed atmosphere and appreciative crowd with artists along the lines of The Black Sorrows and Phil Emmanuel.

However, an independent organiser will try to fill the shoes of the popular blues weekend in November next year, with plans for a 1770 Music Festival, catering for all genres of music such as rock, punk, indie, country, reggae, blues and metal.

It will be an all-ages initiative that coincides with Schoolies Week, giving parents another option to send their teenagers to instead of Airlie Beach and the Gold Coast.

8 Ball Aitken performs at the 2013 festival.
8 Ball Aitken performs at the 2013 festival. Mike Richards

Gladstone Entertainment Convention Centre acting manager performing arts Michael Bloyce said he was aware the "Agnes folk were looking at doing it themselves", but said it was not the council's sole responsibility to run music events.

"We had done it six years in a row and council made a decision not to deliver it a seventh time," he said.

"It's not council responsibility to run festivals in perpetuity. Normally you put it on if there is a need in the community. So that was done many years ago."

Mr Bloyce said the council was not against major events, with a panel dedicated to planning entertainment for the region.

"It was an event that attracted some support, some years more than others," he said.

"We might in later years see a need for a festival."

8 Ball Aitken performs at the 2013 festival.
8 Ball Aitken performs at the 2013 festival. Christopher Chan GLADV230213ESSA

1770 Music Festival organiser and founder Maurice Nicholson said although he was disappointed the blues and roots festival was finished, the region needed to look forward to the benefits of the new festival - a plus for central Queensland businesses as well as music lovers.

"I knew there was going to be a lull there and I wanted to create something for all demographics," he said.

"Opportunity knocked and now I am trying to get the whole town on board.

>> What bands would you like to see at the 1770 Music Festival? Have your say in comments

"We want to create a relationship (with local store owners) to increase their revenue. They might be a small business in Gladstone or Bundaberg and they can set up their stall there.

"If you bring anyone to the town, they are future people to buy and it does a big circle."

Mr Nicholson, a musician himself, said he was looking for sponsors and would hold meetings this week to discuss camping options for the public.

The Discovery Coast Sport and Recreation Grounds donated its venue for the event.

Some hot, up-and-coming Australian bands will also be attracted to the event.

Should Gladstone council keep the Agnes blues and roots festival going?

This poll ended on 06 September 2014.

Yes. It's an important event for the towns in that area - 57%

No. It's not up to the council to keep it running - 28%

As long as the 1770 Music Festival kicks off, I guess we'll be okay - 14%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

AGNES WATER BLUES AND ROOTS HISTORY

  • Festival started in 2009
  • 800 people attended in 2012
  • The "Full House" sign was hung up in 2013 and $400,000 was injected into the region
  • Over 3000 people attended in 2014 with 35 bands

Main acts

  • Richard Clapton, Hipshooters, L'il Fi & The Dirty Rascals, 8 Ball Aitken, Benny Walker, Jack and the Bom, Busby Marou, Jon Stevens, Shaun Kirk, Kate Leahy, Joe Camilleri, Phil Emmanuel, Mason Rack, The Black Sorrows

Topics:  agnes water blues and roots festival festival gladstone entertainment music



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