Semaphore Music Festival, Hart's Mill stage

Hart’s Mill and hay bales


Semaphore Music Festival 2018

Semaphore Music Festival, Hart's Mill stage
Over the Labour Day (first Monday in October) long weekend Adelaide’s quirkiest suburb Semaphore hosts its annual music festival. The seaside suburb is situated towards the northern end of Adelaide’s 30 km of  beaches and is a popular destination with a vibrant local culture. With its working class roots, Semaphore has long been a hotbed of social activism, gender politics, diversity, and the folk arts, making it the ideal location for a roots-based festival of local music. Real musicians with a tangible connection to the place are given the opportunity to play real music to real people in real venues, without a hint of commercialisation or corporatism.

Local music at its best.

Exeter Blues, Semaphore Music Festival
Exeter Blues at the Exeter Hotel

Saturday saw a combination of live music with the Aussie Rules Football Grand Final. The Exeter Hotel, with its elegant oval central bar, entertained a rowdy mix of footy fans, blues aficionados, gamblers, regular locals, without a hint of hipsterdom or irony- just a proper old fashioned pub. The aptly named Exeter Blues provided the music, a rhythmic driving acoustic punk-blues with the momentum of a freight train and the lyrics of lives lived blues style.

This year saw the departure of the main arena from the Semaphore waterfront, across the Port River to the Hart’s Mill site, the home of  Laneway Festival, in addition to the many pubs and clubs hosting events.

Sunday saw temperatures soar and the outdoor BSide Community Stage- sponsored by the Adelaide music magazine run by legendary music journalist Rob Dunstan- was the place to be. As we lounged on hay bales sipping white wine in the sun, my mate nicknamed the stage the ‘Music Mondays‘ stage as all of the artists that day had performed at that now sadly defunct evening- itself a victim of corporatism and real estate capitalism.

Bride Community Stage, Semaphore Music Festival
Ben Searcy Trio, Fergus Maximus, Courtney Robb and Snooks La Vie on the BSide Community Stage

A typically energetic performance from the Ben Searcy Trio was followed by an emotionally eloquent set of blues-tinged country songs from Courtney Robb featuring Snooks La Vie on harmonica. Multi-instrumentalist Fergus Maximus treated us to nuanced everyday story-telling from his recent recording Restless Soles, whilst a physically robust solo set from Rapscallion made for compulsive viewing and compulsory participation.

Inside the cavernous former flour warehouse alternative and indie bands, including Angelik (featured image above), strutted their stuff underneath the massive mural from the Wonderwall street art exhibition.

Sunday’s programme included an APRA (Australasian Performing Rights Association)  seminar plus a strong line-up of female singer songwriters, whilst the BSide stage hosted two more Music Mondays stalwarts, Paula Standing and David Robinson.

Semaphore Music Festival is local music at its best, providing original artists a bigger than usual platform in a genuine community setting. Long may it continue.

Artist links:

Exeter BluesBen Searcy, Courtney Robb, Fergus MaximusRapscallionAngelikDavid RobinsonPaula Standing

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