Festival's fresh new face

TO SAY she's brought live music back to Hervey Bay might be stretching it. Might.

But 24-year-old Amanda French can justifiably lap up the credit after the success of the inaugural Live Whale Aid Concert.

The Facebook sites of some of the bands on stage last Saturday night testify to the triumph.

When a family illness and the chance to work as a council events officer brought her back to the Fraser Coast from the Sunshine Coast six months ago, she threw herself into the task of reinvigorating one of the region's most talked-about festivals.

“Over the last 15 years it had lost a lot of its focus,” she said.

Making the Hervey Bay Whale Festival relevant again meant doing the hard yards at a series of festivals around the state including Eumundi Live, Nambour Live and the Nimbin Mardi Grass.

“A lot of the bands came recommended but I wanted to hand select the right acts for the event.

“I needed to see them first-hand because I wanted to gather a genre.

“I was looking for a coast vibe to coincide with the whale message and thought reggae and roots was the way to go.”

Refreshing performances from acts like A French Butler Called Smith, Kooii, Kingfisha, Asa Broomhall, The Green Room, The Flumes, The Brett Orr Band, Adam Scriven, The Emily Wenham Band and The Twine at Hervey Bay's Seafront Oval had 5000 dedicated concert-goers rocking on Saturday night.

“We don't have the venues in town to support these acts but through the festival we can bring that calibre of performer here.”

The line-up also had some muso noses out of joint because of the absence of any local acts.

“It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be,” Ms French said of the negative reaction.

“I had a lot more people saying ‘Finally, something here that we can enjoy'.”

One Fraser Coast outfit known for their heavy rock covers got in touch. She wrote back to explain their sound didn't fit the reggae and roots flavour on this occasion.

“We're also hoping to inspire bands locally.”

The concert also signalled a part return towards the Yag'ubi Music Festival vibe which had been a fixture on the Hervey Bay events calendar until 2006.

In the wake of the concert Fraser Coast locals quickly jumped on the Facebook sites of the performing bands to register their delight that they had performed in the Bay.

Many of the bands bought into the whale conservation theme pushed by organisers this year and supported the concert and festival by discounting their fees.

The various fan bases provided new visitors from the south-east corner of the state for the concert and festival.

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