One of the Hunter Valley’s most cherished cultural escapes, The Gum Ball, is back in 2021 for three days of musical discovery over the school holidays, 16 to 18 April.
Staged among idyllic bushland at Belford, the family-friendly jamboree has survived many hurdles over the years.
While a pandemic is a new assault, organisers are confident that despite a reduced capacity in 2021, the festival will be a positive return to days of old.
In 2021, the festival continues to connect community and culture, with distinct homage to the traditional owners of the land, the Wonnarua, featured through a one-off artwork by local indigenous artist Debbie Becker.
The Gum Ball brings a selection of the best musical acts from around Australia and showcases them in an intimate setting one-by-one, alongside comedy, pro skateboarding, markets, workshops, camping and more.
This year’s line-up includes Harts Plays Hendrix – guitar virtuoso Harts and his band channel the Jimi Hendrix Experience; the classic roots reggae vibes of The Beautiful Girls; no-holds-barred rockers Cash Savage And The Last Drinks; powerful soul of Emma Donovan And The Putbacks; legendary rock trio Even; the beautiful return of songstress Melody Pool; psychedelic alt-country soundscapes of Lost Ragas; the innovative and atmospheric synth-pop of Cousin Tony’s Brand New Firebird; the hugely talented iOTA; indigenous surf rock vibes of King Stingray, who feature siblings of Yothu Yindi; the dreamy cinematic melodies of Coda Chroma; female pop-rock powerhouse Tori Forsyth; the smooth funk of Murray Cook’s Soul Movers; Newcastle-based psych rocker Lachlan X. Morris; pop-punk upstarts Jones The Cat; rockin’ Port Macquarie trio Palomino; Australiana folk icon Buddy Dingo; psychedelic funk rockers Eagle Eye Jones; feel good boogie tunes by Canberra-based The Barren Spinster; eclectic alt-rock gang The Stained Daisies; local singer-songwriter Dave Wells; funked up duo Burger Joint; local legends Johnston City; folk neu artist Darren ‘D.C.’ Cross and hip-hop conglomerate of Losty And Big Red Cap.
This year, Dashville organisers have introduced Young Gums – a youth mentorship program for 14-18-year-olds, who are keen to learn the ropes on putting together an event.
It also features songwriting and music industry workshops where participants get an overall view of how things work across the industry.
Artist mentors partaking are: Dave Wells, Lachlan Morris, William Crighton, The Barren Spinsters, The Stained Daisies, Code Chroma, Palomino, Tori Forsyth, Melody Poole and a stack of local musos.
Applications were open earlier in 2021, with 10 youngsters chosen to take part in the initiative.
The Gum Ball starts from 2pm on Friday 16 April and continues until noon on Sunday 18 April.
Limited tickets are on sale now through Humanitix, with booking fees going to help Nutrition for Aussie School Kids.
GUM BALL 2021 ARTISTS IN FOCUS
King Stingray are a four piece from Yirrkala, North-East Arnhem Land. Formed by Yirra Yunupiu (nephew of the late Dr M Yunupiu – Yothu Yindi frontman) and Roy Kellaway (son of Stu Kellaway – Yothu Yindi founding member and bass player), King Stingray blend ancient indigenous melodies with surf, indie and funk influences to create a genre of their own, Yolu surf-rock.
Harts’ star rose when the none other than Prince discovered him and invited him to jam. “He reminds me of how I was at that age,” Prince said at the time. Harts, real name Darren Hart, was born to athlete parents in Chennai, India. Their speciality was track and field. He moves to Australia at the age of two, and appeared on the musical landscape with his first release in August 2010. Harts is known for his Hendrix-like guitar ability and his solo work has spanned funk, soul, rock, blues, psycho-rock and post-disco.
iOTA performed the very first Gum Ball in 2005. Aside from releasing seven critically-acclaimed albums as a singer/songwriter, iOTA has also become a critically acclaimed stage and screen actor, writer, painter, composer and voice-over artist. Notable film credits include roles in The Great Gatsby and Coma the Doof Warrior in Mad Max: Fury Road. He’s recently played to packed houses in the 2019 Sydney Festival sensation, Pigalle. He wrote and starred in Slap and Tickle and The Average Joe, and his show Young, Hard & Solo. He co-created and starred in Sydney Festival’s Smoke & Mirrors and musical rock-odyssey B-Girl. Other credits include: Hedwig and the Angry Inch; Frank ‘n Furter in The Rocky Horror Show; Graeme Murphy’s Berlin; Gale Edwards’ The Turquoise Elephant, and the touring Bowie tribute David Bowie. His extraordinary talents have been recognised with an ARIA Award nomination for Best Album and four Helpmann Awards and Green Room and Sydney Theatre Critics’ Awards.
In 2021, Melody Pool will announce her awaited return with new music penning its way into her sets, exploring a new and re-birthed brilliance hinting at subjects of empowerment, resurgence and uprising. Dashville has heard some of these new recordings and they are absolutely amazing.
EMMA DONOVAN & THE PUTBACKS
The Putbacks are stone cold pros, grizzled veterans of all the tours and all the studios. As individuals, they’re the players behind so many bands it’s difficult to list, but let’s start with Hiatus Kaiyote, The Bombay Royale, D.D Dumbo, Swooping Duck and The Meltdown. When they come together, they’re one of the tightest, sharpest, slickest, most dynamic musical units ever to exist. Their collaboration with Emma elevates their music and Emma’s songs to another level. Emma Donovan & The Putbacks released Crossover in November 2020.
Even are a legendary three-piece indie pop rock band from Melbourne, fronted by acclaimed singer-songwriter-guitarist, Ashley Naylor with Matthew Cotter on drums and Wally Kempton on bass guitar and backing vocals. They formed in March 1994 and were a big part of the 90’s rock explosion, playing regularly at festivals, touring nationally and internationally many times. They have released seven studio albums, Less Is More (10 June 1996), Come Again (28 September 1998), A Different High (14 May 2001), Free Kicks (6 June 2004), Even (29 March 2008), In Another Time (9 December 2011), and Satin Returns (16 May 2018).