AN ALL-STAR band of local musicians took to Phillip Island Winery’s courtyard stage for the launch of Ventnor singer-songwriter Rob Gray’s new CD, ‘Sun Dog’.
On a cold, clear night, with the smoke from the braziers hanging like a surreal thin blanket overhead, and with the winery packed to the rafters, the band lit up – picking one by one through Rob’s searing and beautiful songs.
With Andy Stewart on drums, guitar and vocals (and fresh from mixing Paul Kelly’s new album at his Mill Road studio), Zac Ablett on keyboards and acoustic guitar, Col Matthews playing lead guitar (and drums), Bernadette Carroll on vocals, Kevin Woods, steel guitar, Rob Wilson, double Bass and Frank Coletta on percussion, the sound and musicianship was sensational.
Our friend Rob Gray’s face told the story: too ill to play, surrounded by family and friends, and with his songs in the best of hands, he beamed.
Bern Carroll, her vocals always brilliant, brought the crowd to life with the eponymous “On The Island”, and belting out “Talkin’ Politician Blues”. And Col Matthews’ lead guitar – spare, wirey, melodic – sat absolutely perfectly with Zac Ablett’s haunting rendition of “We’re All The Same”.
But the anchor for the night was band leader, drummer, guitarist and organiser, Andy Stewart. Rob’s intense resonant lyrics and beautiful melodies were stylishly interpreted by Andy’s classy accompaniment and restrained vocal style.
More than 200 CDs were sold at the launch, which was also a fundraiser to help with Rob’s cancer treatment.
The Mayor of Ventnor, local Estate Agent and Auctioneer Greg Price (who has his own definition for the term “party faithful”, and has the party paraphernalia to prove it), raised over $600 with an auction of wine and original artwork from the CD cover (by Zac Ablett).
Our thanks and wishes to Rob and Cathie for letting us be a part of this night, and for Rob’s wonderful songs. Our thanks also to Sierra Dunton and Andy for pulling it all together, and to all in the band.
Again, our thanks to our very special staff and friends, Deb and Mike Justice, Nadia, Sue Box, Pip Cleeland (who also made bread), Emma Powles, Annette and Chris Hilton, Clive and all others who helped and donated their time. Lastly, our warm thanks to Ted and Chris from ‘Paddock to Plate’ who generously donated the pork and beef spit roasts (enough to feed 140) and sausages for the night.
We’ve got stocks of Rob’s CD ‘Sun Dog’ at the winery for anyone who wishes to pick up a copy. It’s a wonderful CD; evocative, deeply thoughful, and superbly written and performed.
MUSICFEST PHILLIP ISLAND will be back again in 2013 – put a circle around Sunday March 10. With a final tally of 830 for this year’s inaugural event, including the 113 diners in the Enviromeat big marquee, we’re pleased to declare the event a big success!
It was the perfect day. The eclectic mix of rootsy folk and acoustic music and the bush dance in the evening with Paradiddle (that absolutely went off!), plus perfect weather, combined to make a really fun event. Our huge thanks to all the performers who made the day such a success – and MC Gaeton who ran the main stage all day and kept the vibe nice and breezy.
We’ve started booking for next year and considering running a little longer into the evening – we’ll keep you posted (there was a large ’late shift’ who made the trip out to the concert at dusk this year - for Mike McClellan and the Bushdance with Paradiddle).
Our thanks also to all our friends and local business people who helped – to Jeff at Island Marquees, Phillip Island Skip and Toilet Hire, the Davies family (Richie and Sharon) and Enviromeat, Simon and the crew at OptimAV (for the brilliant sound), Trevor and Megan Ryan for the stage, also Rod (for all his help setting up and on the gate) and Jim Barnes from Tallangatta, Greg Price for his ‘second stage’, Dazzle signs, Miekle’s paella’s, Carole and Mary on the gate and our three French backpackers (Louis, Antona and Pierre), Cleeland Bus Lines for the shuttle service, and huge, huge thanks to our classy MC Gaeton and all the fabulous musicians.
Thanks also to Kim, Kathryn and the team at Destination Phillip Island, and the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.
Lastly, thanks to the cheerful staff at Phillip Island Winery for all their hard work in making the day such a success.
We’ll be back again next year, bigger and even better – you can bank on it – with another eclectic mix of brilliant ‘rootsy’ songwriters and bands.
Put a circle around Sunday March 10 2013 (Labour Day Weekend) and keep watching this site for news and for details.