Two quirky headline acts rocked out to record crowds at the Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival when it lit up southern Tasmania over the weekend.
Ticket sales were up 20 per cent on last year, with organisers expecting 18,000 people for the three day program of pagan-inspired celebration at Willie Smith’s Apple Shed.
The festival’s two headline acts, acclaimed independent artists VulgarGrad and 8Foot Felix, backed up the offbeat nature of the event which promotes singing to apple trees and banging pots and pans, amongst other things.
“You can expect a lot of dancing, drinking, yelling and you’ll end up learning a surprising amount of Russian swearing by the end of the night,” explained VulgarGrad’s contrabass balalaika player Andrew Tanner.
“Our singer, Jacek Koman, is a well-enough known actor in Australia, but he’s actually a household name in his home country of Poland, and how often can Tasmanians say they just went to a gig by a Russian criminal band fronted by a famous Polish actor? About as often as VulgarGrad come to town, I guess,” said Andrew.
“It’s a lot like you’ve stepped into a dive bar in 1960s Odessa and a Soviet Tom Waits is hammering out old Russian songs about stealing and knife fights. His backing band seems to be drunk, and you’re not quite sure how you ended up here and whether it’s safe to stay.”
Meanwhile Brendan Jones thrilled crowds with his flaming trumpet as both Blunderbuss Jones in his solo act and with band 8Foot Felix – a rambunctious, theatrical and fun act for all ages.
“We’re like a Danny Elfman soundtrack to their own spaced-out time-traveling steampunk movie. A multi-genre enigma, made for dancing, with strong roots in Balkan “oompa oompa” music and a splash of hip-hop and blues,” Brendan explained prior to the festival.
“I’ve never been to the festival and neither has the band, so we are all really looking forward to it. Mostly because we’ve heard such great things and we’ll finally meet the fabulous community involved, and also to feel the delicious warmth of all that cider and fire!”
Brendan advised patrons not to try emulating his skill set with a flaming trumpet.
“I made it myself so it’s one of a kind – although I’m a trained professional so don’t try this at home folks!”