Queensland Music Festival changes name, launches new statewide festival format
Set up in 1999, the Queensland Music Festival was a biennial event that told a myriad of stories through music and performance, and engaged over 1 million people in more than 100 places around the state. This year it’s filling up with gas and hitting the road with the Queensland Music Trails initiative.
With the new project comes a brand refresh, complete with a shortened name QMF, no more artistic directors and new team members including Matt Langler, who used to head up marketing for Splendour In the Grass, and Mel Tickle, previously from Brisbane Festival and GOMA.
Kate Miller Heidke, Jeremy Marou and Jonothan Welch are ambassadors, and top-end ad agency Bigfish has been brought in to drive the marketing.
The idea behind Queensland Music Trails is that festival patrons can plot out and drive to a series of music events in memorable out-of-the-way locations, one after the other.
Joel Edmondson, who became QMF CEO in 2019, said the festival has always been about getting people together, to collaborate and inspire.
“That’s been in the DNA of QMF in the 20 years of its existence,” he notes.
“The difference is that we wanted to evolve the extent it makes a difference to the community. The biennial festival had been very focussed on going into Queensland communities and doing things inside individual communities for them.
“The evolution in the Music Trails concept is to create an exciting experience through music but add another level, making it something that visitors would be interested in.”
QMF CEO Joel Edmondson. Credit: Joseph Byford.
This would mean an economic return to regional communities – an important aspect. By 2025, there will be seven Music Trails a year, projected to generate $295 million and create over 3,000 jobs.
On paper, Queensland Music Trails seems like a post-COVID festival format: music fans focussing on domestic tourism with no international travel, communities wanting to reach out to others they have little knowledge about, and city slickers learning to re-evaluate their priorities. In fact, Edmondson and his crew were working on it nine months before the first wave.
“But COVID has certainly created a situation which made the idea more relevant,” he accepts.
“Not only because income in communities was impacted and needed to be diversified, but it also takes that sense of music-connectedness to another level.”
The Queensland Music Trail concept debuts in winter with The Outback Trail. It begins on June 25 with a two-and-a-half-day stop at the historic Jimbour House, which has an amphitheatre that holds 12,000 for opera and chamber music performances.
After wine, cheese and opera within the grounds (and in the house, the state’s first stately manor built in the 1870s), the travellers move on for photo-ops at the Bunya Mountains and The World’s Biggest Watermelon Slice.
At the Cosmos Centre in Charleville, where 3,000 US troops stayed hidden during World War II, Kate Miller-Heidke and Kalkadunga artist William Barton deliver Music For Stargazing, an under-the-stars concert inspired by astrological arrangements, Aboriginal navigation and traditional stories of the town.
It will feature the world premiere of a commission by Barton, with performances from Miller-Heidke, violinist Veronique Serret, Sydney First Nations singer-songwriter Jessica Hitchcock, guitarist Keir Nuttall, bassist Samuel Pankhurst and Dreamtime Opera singer Delmae Barton.
After a small jaunt west through the red sandy plains of Mariala National Park, the remote town of Quilpie will host Echoes In The Dust, featuring music from Topology and large-scale prehistoric puppets from Dead Puppet Society, all with a backdrop of the magnificent boulders of the Baldy Top lookout.
Sets from Karl S Williams, Emily Wurramara and Hussy Hicks in Windorah Park allow patrons to chill out before the first QMT ends with Paul Kelly, Ian Moss, Tim Finn, Shannon Noll and others at Big Red Bash in Birdsville.
In its new rebooted role as a strategic music agency, QMF has other initiatives to roll out. One, ‘Generations’, uses music to bring together young people and their elders.
But the Music Trails are its flagship activities, bringing together arts and tourism agencies to activate them.
“The Palaszczuk government is proud to support QMF, including with $250,000 in funding through our Arts and Cultural Recovery Package for the Outback Music Trail,” said Queensland arts minister Leeanne Enoch.
“The arts are key to delivering our government’s plan for economic recovery, each year contributing $8.5 billion into the state’s economy and supporting more than 92,000 jobs for Queenslanders.
“That is why events like this are so important.”