Neck of the Woods is Townsville’s homegrown, family-friendly Festival fusing a carefully curated mix of up-and-coming musicians with plenty of fresh air, sweeping views and the chance to dirty your hands in art and music workshops.
The Festival is run by local musicians Nicole Cross and Sam Wright, who remain guided by their original vision to provide a place where emerging artists can build a fan base and music lovers of all ages can discover new talent.
“I know it might sound silly to say ‘our target audience is everyone’, but we want to be as inclusive as possible,” said Nicole.
“I think it’s important for the audience and the artists: the artists want a range of people listening, and for some of our artists their fans are young teens; they’re young bands themselves and that’s their captive audience.”
Nicole and Sam understand that building a loyal following can be one of the biggest challenges for emerging musicians. That crucial insight has given them some fantastic leveraging power in attracting their favourite artists from down South.
“It’s tricky getting interstate artists up to Townsville for a reasonable fee, simply because of flight costs,” said Sam. “We have acts from WA and Victoria, and it is expensive just to get them here.
“These guys might be selling out venues in Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane; but because they haven’t come up to Townsville before, they don’t have that fan base here. There’s a little bit of negotiating [over fees] that goes on just to try to make it happen.”
While being ‘unestablished’ can block a lot of doors for emerging musicians, Nicole and Sam believe it’s one of the most exciting things about piecing together the line-up for Neck of the Woods each year.
“Scouting starts for us each September,” Nicole explains.
“We go down to BIGSOUND, which is a big music conference in Brisbane showcasing all of the up and coming artists around Queensland. We see as many showcases as we can, discover new artists and the ones we absolutely fall in love with, we’ll invite to Neck of the Woods.
“We also try to get around to as many gigs as we can locally. If there’s a new band that pops up that we haven’t seen, we make sure we go and see them.
“It’s a really hard process because we try to book acts that we love personally, but we try to make the offering diverse as well.”
However, Nicole and Sam’s choices always come back to family-friendly.
“We’re quite careful to make sure the music and the environment is suitable for all ages,” said Nicole.
“If kids aren’t exposed to music and the arts, then they may not find that love for it until later in life and that’s sad.
“From our very first Neighbourhood Sessions event, it’s been about seeing families come along with their babies and little kids sitting on a picnic rug and taking it all in.”
Neck of the Woods will return on 29 & 30 June among the Pinnacles Mountain Range. For information and tickets, click here.