Out on the Weekend is a boutique festival focussed on Country/Americana music set Seaworks in Williamstown. It’s been going for a couple of years now and has expanded into Sydney and Brisbane with varying degrees of success. It’s a fabulous setting. The festival utilises the boat sheds and the onsite Pirate bar for 3 stages of continuous music throughout the day. In the vein of other small festivals it rotates the acts through each stage, ensuring that a band is always playing, but you never have to miss an act.
The beauty of the day was that you it was never so busy that you couldn’t get to where you wanted to be. If you wanted a seat at one of the outdoor tables you could find one, if you wanted to go to the front of the stage to dance there was room, and there was never a long wait for food or drinks. It was a refreshing change from larger festivals where everyone is packed in like sardines, there’s a half hour wait for a filthy toilet, and you’re afraid to go to another stage for fear of losing your place.
Ruby Boots was on the main stage when we arrived, with the majority of the crowd watching her. All the usual suspects from the Melbourne scene were in attendance, including James, from Cherry Bar, in a spectacular peacock suit. Greville Records had a great stall setup with vinyl for sale. An exhibition of Nudie suits in one corner of the shed lead me to wish that Mikelangelo or Tim Rogers were on hand to model them for us. Nudie was the legendary tailor who suited everyone from Elvis to Gram Parsons, Burt Reynolds to Dolly Parton.
The pier we were on is also the one that the Sea Shepherd docks at, so we had a quick stroll down to check out the Steve Irwin between acts.
Nashville songwriter, Jonny Fritz, was an absolute standout. His band, complete with “space cowboy” bass player, were outstanding. And his dancing was inspired. After Fritz was Sam Outlaw, who used much of the same band.
Mustered Courage is a band that I’ve been meaning to check out for a few years now, but never got around to. Their combination of country/bluegrass and standards was excellent. Susannah Espie, on stage 2 after them, was gorgeous, as always.
Tex, Don and Charlie don’t get together too often. This isn’t surprising, considering how busy each individual member is with their own projects, but they really should because it’s an ispired lineup. It’s always a joy to see a band really relax and have fun on stage and this was no exception. They were backed by two of Don’s solo band – the Suave Fucks – Garrett Costigan on pedal steel and Steve Hadley on double bass, along with Divynls/Cold Chisel drummer Charlie Drayton.
The boys did songs from both of their albums. The majority of the crowd very familiar with each one, despite the most recent one being released 10 years ago. “Harry was a Bad Bugger”, one of Don Walker’s finest songs, was great to hear live, complete with Tex’s heckling.
I’ve been to quite a few festivals and I have to put this one up there as the most relaxed, enjoyable one I’ve been to so far this year. I hope I don’t see you there next year. I want it to stay as Melbourne’s best kept secret!