Songs By The Sea

The Semaphore Music Festival is ready to launch into its ninth year. The beachside event spans four days over the October long weekend and the program is crammed with local acts

The Semaphore Music Festival is ready to launch into its ninth year. The beachside event spans four days over the October long weekend and the program is crammed with local acts. Creative Producer Debra Thorsen explains the origins of the festival, and says that it is a great way to support Adelaide’s live music scene. “The Semaphore Music Festival began as an original alternative country, roots and blues music festival,” she begins. “It has always been eclectic, inclusive, hybrid and diverse, reflecting the state of the SA contemporary live music sector. The nu-folk, acoustic direction developed through community consultation with artists and music lovers.” Doing their best to showcase as many alternative country, folk, blues and roots musicians from the state, Semaphore Music Festival has ended up with an impressive 60 performers from right here in SA. Some acts, like The Satellites and Glenn Skuthorpe, played at the inaugural event and have come back for more. Old favourites the Milky Bar Kids and The Saucermen will make a one-night appearance, with new talents (Max Savage & The False Idols, The Timbers, Sam Brittain and Lily & The Drum) adding youthful flair to the weekend. If your weekend is already booked out, there are special events that give a taste of the festival. At midday on Sunday, Wheatsheaf regulars the Adelaide Ukulele Society will kickstart the free concert on the Foreshore Reserve. Rockabilly Mayhem on Monday afternoon, featuring The Lincolns, The Villenettes and more, promises to be a party. The four-day event does more than just offer stages to local acoustic acts though: workshops help artists meet and work with each other too. A ukulele workshop (from 2.30pm on Sunday, October 6 at The Fed) will be directed by the Adelaide Ukulele Appreciation Society. If their midday performance impresses, then this is a good way to get some handson instruction. There’s also the Semaphore Songwriters Session, which last year resulted in a compilation CD. “Acoustic singer-songwriters and folk artists tend to embrace this type of project even though it can be a challenge,” Thorsen says. “Working to a deadline, then performing the original composition and – on top of that – talking about the song to a live audience, can be daunting to some. None the less, amazing songs have come out of the project and the performances are emotive and cathartic. Audiences really appreciate the up close and personal factor.” Community radio has also taken the chance to touch base with their loyal audience; 3D Radio 93.7FM will close out the event with a live broadcast of their Monday night open-mic show, the Hillbilly Hoot. The west end of town has really embraced the event, with venues spanning the Foreshore Reserve, the Palais Hotel, the Semaphore Workers Club and even the local RSL. “Many of the venues hosting events over the weekend say it’s the biggest revenue raiser of the year,” Thorsen says. “Many visitors return because they have enjoyed the atmosphere and event.” Thorsen leaves us with a message to not forget the western suburbs when we think about the live music scene. Semaphore, ‘the St Kilda of Adelaide’, is encouragement to head outside the CBD when seeking live entertainment. “I believe the live music talent and scene here is potentially as good as anywhere,” Thorsen says. “It’s the cultural cringe factor and inferiority complex that needs to shift. Some people in high places seem to think music from the eastern states and elsewhere must be better than homegrown. It ain’t necessarily so.” Semaphore Music Festival Friday, October 4 to Monday, October 7

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