The regal festival setting of Floriade was the backdrop for the ninth heat of Telstra’s Road to Discovery competition. Blessed with some warm Spring weather, the nation’s capital hosted bite-sized setlists from six competitors along with cameos from a few established country acts.
Guest MC Catherine Britt introduced us to Golden Guitar winner Kirsty Akers, who took out the competition in 2004. Akers’ three songs displayed her impressive vocal control and strong understanding of songwriting with subject matter that moved from shotgun weddings to promiscuous celebrities.
The first of many two-minute changeovers (props to the production team) came and went and the crowd was suddenly watching the first competitor, Genevieve Chadwick. Chadwick’s growling guitar was complemented by her powerful, husky voice that belted out a note in her second track ‘Wanted’ that commanded the attention of many of the floral photography enthusiasts wandering about the festival.
After travelling down from Otford for the competition, Rebecca Moore shared a set of old, earthy folk that painted a picture through some strong environmental imagery and honest vocals. Joel Harrison’s smooth voice cruised through optimistic numbers ‘To Get Back Up’ and ‘Lucky Man’, which were perfectly suited to the springtime festival. The positivity kept flowing as New Zealand Horizon award winner Jody Direen delivered an energetic set of both covers and originals that had the crowd clapping along.
Sixteen-year-old Lucy Neville delivered an intimate version of Bob Dylan’s ‘You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go’ and quickly captured the full attention of crowd, who were then treated to an emotionally charged setlist of Australiana folk from Jane Sage. Kiama’s Kane Dennelly’s bluesy approach to ‘House of the Rising Sun’ was a highlight performance, including some inspiring guitar flourishes and dynamic variation.
Special guests Jetty Road headlined the event with a thirty-minute set rich in soaring vocal harmonies and on-stage playfulness. The four regular band members and two additional guest musicians created a full sound richened with banjos, mandolins and tin whistles in a live show that demonstrated the talent of the dual Golden Guitar winners.
Adjudicator Bill Page, Creative Director at Mushroom Music, adjudged the winner to be Genevieve Chadwick and the announcement prompted the talent artist to do a bit of a jig. A young performer who already has experience on the festival circuit, Genevieve didn’t let the absence of her signature stomp-box stop her from delivering a set of high energy blues n’ roots tunes that will see her progress to the boot camp stage of the competition.
By Benjamin Szota