Laid-back Down Under festival appeals to artists

Karen HuntManjimup-Bridgetown Times
The Frenches, who have just released a new album together, will perform in Bridgetown for a third year running, with their 10-year-old Sonny.
Camera IconThe Frenches, who have just released a new album together, will perform in Bridgetown for a third year running, with their 10-year-old Sonny.

The Down Under Country festival returns to Bridgetown next week with a line-up including Camille and Stuie French.

The Frenches, who have just released a new album together, will perform in Bridgetown for a third year running, with their 10-year-old son Sonny.

Stuie French won a Golden Guitar for best instrumental at the Tamworth Country Music Festival this year while Camille French has backed country stars such as Kasey Chambers.

“They love it because it’s different,” organiser David Higginson said.

He said the laid-back format allowed the couple to perform in a more spontaneous way, joining Steve Hill’s seasoned backing band or jamming on favourite songs.

“They don’t do that at other festivals,” Mr Higginson said.

Also travelling to Bridgetown are South Australian Graeme Hugo, Queenslanders Kevin and Dehlia Brown, Victoria’s Bill Rowley and former Collie singer Kate Hindle, now of Tamworth.

Perth artists include newcomers Jeannie Kay and Di Harris and Terry Bennetts, who won the Male Artist of the Year award at the recent Boyup Brook Country Music Festival.

Representing Bridgetown will be Boyup Brook emerging artist award nominee Mary Evans and Erica Gale.

Mr Higginson said 600 to 700 people were expected to attend the festival, now in its seventh year.

“Its growing popularity has been a boon for the Agricultural Society, which hosts the event at the showgrounds, and for local businesses,” Mr Higginson said.

“While the numbers are pleasing, organisers don’t want it to get too big.

“It’s gone up every year but last year it flattened out and we don’t want it to go much bigger,” he said.

“We can handle more but it depends on the weather.”

The festival runs from March 17-19.

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