There is something joyous and unworldly about 1,200 people singing ‘Eagle Rock’ in unison – without fault and without self-consciousness.
Big events and culture do that. Band Together 2 and Ross Wilson did that last night (November 30). But only after a stellar line up of local and national acts had primed the audience of young and old.
The day started under grey skies, a stark contrast to the bushfires that inspired the first Band Together concert in 2018. On that day those who lost their home in the Reedy Swamp, Vimy Ridge and Tathra Bushfire were the focus, this time round a broader idea pulled the crowd – the establishment of the Bega Valley Disaster Relief Fund.
To be overseen by the Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast and Bega Valley Shire Council, Mayor Kristy McBain launched the fundraising effort with $50,000 from council; profits from Band Together 2 will add to the tally.
“So that when we are affected by a disaster, we have funding ready to help people in our community,” Cr McBain says.
Darren Jones, from Jam Event Management, suggests that Band Together will become a regular fixture on the local calendar to continue to build the fund.
“The Valley, one day every year can ‘band together’ and be one community. Everyone that comes through the gate could be someone that puts their hand up one day and says – hey I need help,” Mr Jones says.
“That initial, immediate assistance is so crucial for families to move on [things like] backpacks and an iPad so the kids and continue to go to school.”
It’s an idea that was backed by some of Australia’s best known musical acts – Imogen Clark, Bachelor Girl, Mental As Anything, Ross Wilson and the ARC (Australian Rock Collective) Supergroup, who all sung their support from the Band Together stage at Wolumla Recreation Ground.
Rain mid-afternoon added a touch of ‘Woodstock’ but failed to dampen the local talent that took to the stage ahead of the headliners.
Matt Glass and The Loose Cannons, featuring Bega Valley talent Lief Helland were the first out and set a cracking pace for the likes of Erin McMahon, Ricky Bloomfield, Chelsy Atkins, and the Wyndham School of Dancing. The Fitmentz were again a tipping point in the program followed by young Eden Marine High band ‘Bournda Rock’ who left even the most experienced musos waiting in the wings impressed.
With her last five singles reaching number 1 on the CMC Top 50 chart, Imogen Clark pulled a crowd and made new fans with her tight country-rock sound, “It’s important for me to be here and support this community,” she told the crowd.
Bachelor Girl transported the building late afternoon audience to a time when they ruled the radio. Their 1998 song ‘Buses And Trains’ was the Song Of The Year that year and is the most performed Australian composition on radio in the last 25 years.
Singer Tania Doko drawing the crowd into her vocals, “and it felt so good I wanna to do it again,” she sung.
Mental As Anything, old friends of the Bega Valley after three decades of performances at the Tathra Hotel, were delighted to be back, “we know this place, we want to help,” lead singer Greedy Smith remarked.
Ross Wilson and the ARC Supergroup brought the night home in a big way at which point this reporter forget he had a job to do.
Money for the launch of the Bega Valley Disaster Relief Fund was the driver for the day, but time together sharing in the joy of music and a common bond like ‘Eagle Rock’ is equally as valuable for any community.