Roma music festival reaches audiences in Europe, USA
Bec Lavelle never would have guessed 12 weeks ago that organising a music festival in Roma would be one of her proudest achievements.
The renowned country singer, famous for her soundtrack for McLeod’s Daughters incredibly managed to invite 14 artists to come along to the event at The Club Hotel on Saturday and Sunday, March 6 and 7 which included Darlinghurst, Jayne Denham, Melody Moko, Pete Denahy, Teak, and more.
Ms Lavelle, 40, said even though not everyone in Roma had heard of all the artists, the festival gave the community something new to listen to.
“It’s just the first year of the festival,” she said.
“It’s trying to integrate ourselves into Roma and just let them know that we’re here, we’re hardworking and we’re just sort of ready to put on an annual event.”
The Kirstin Albeck Memorial 9s match on Saturday and the wet weather on Sunday may have impacted the turnout, but they were still able to sell hundreds of tickets and allow free entry on Sunday night for the indoor event.
But she says it was a really great foundation and is very keen on getting the ball rolling for next year.
There’s even interest from 30 or 40 new artists for the 2022 event.
“I think there’ll be an amazing step up next year,” she said.
“There’s some amazing feedback and even just meeting the locals that came and bought a ticket, they were very thankful we brought it to Roma.”
Ms Lavelle and her partner and event director Mathew Reynolds travelled over 20,000km to surrounding towns to promote the event to locals and businesses in Emerald, Charleville, St George, Goondiwindi, and other towns.
Mr Reynolds said the event has been livestreamed across the world with viewers tuning in from the Netherlands, Germany and the United States.
“Like the birth of any new event, there’s always hurdles,” he said.
“Every problem has a solution - just a matter of finding it.”
He said the best thing about the festival is being able to give more attention to Roma.
But driving the last leg in from Toowoomba, he said his favourite parts of the road to Roma are the Miles Historical Village and Calico Cottage in Wallumbilla.
“Barry and Felicity (Waldron, Club Hotel Owners) have been absolutely amazing. They’ve gone above and beyond to help us bring all this together.”
Headline act Darlinghurst flew from Melbourne and drove in from Brisbane on March 7 to perform at the event.
Band members Pagan Newman, Cassie Leopold, Matt Darvidis, and Jason Resch were all excited to be able to play.
“The country music scene is like family so we’re pretty happy to be among it,” Cassie said.
“It’s nice to be on tour again, we spent a lot of time locked in our houses so being out and about is awesome,” Matt said.
They said they’ve had to have a lot of Zoom calls to practice and write songs during the Victorian lockdowns last year.
Their favourite part of the road to Roma were the corn fields along the Warrego Highway.
“We flew into Brisbane, then all I know is we took a highway starting with W,” Pagan said.
They said the countryside is beautiful and they can realise that after taking the drive.
Central Queensland musician Teak has always been exposed to music through her grandfather.
The Emerald woman usually only goes to Roma to stop at McDonalds on the way to Brisbane, but she’s now make the four hour trek to be able to play for an audience on the other side of the Carnarvons.
“This is actually the first time I’ve played my songs with a band,” she said, usually releasing songs online.
“It was an amazing experience for me to have everyone from Roma here but being able to do that as well is a bonus.”
She’s usually ‘flat out’ playing at pubs and cafes in Central Queensland and enjoys being able to play for the locals.
Andrew Swift drove from Melbourne to Roma via Surat, saying he gets excited to see the wild emus.
“I love driving through the little towns and I love being on the road,” he said.
“Being from Melbourne, it’s been a long 12 months stuck at home.”
Andrew was very fascinated by the bottle trees in town and never knew anything about it before coming to Roma.
He said he started off in a pop/punk band with his mates from school, but he started doing his own music and people said it’s got a country vibe.
“My immediate, defensive response is always ‘don’t use that C word with me’.”
He then embraced it in 2015 and worked his way up to being a grand finalist in Tamworth in 2017.
He said the highlight of his career was winning the Golden Guitar award.
Ingrid Mae said the best part of being a musician is being able to play in the little outback pubs.
She said it’s good to see Ms Lavelle trying to bring back to the community because it gives Ingrid and other artists an opportunity to come to the outback.