A weekend of country at the Gympie Music Muster

Yeehah! We are back from the Gympie Music Muster, and what a weekend!

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The Muster is a country music festival held in the Amamoor State Forest, which provides a really beautiful setting. We stayed on site from Wednesday, with the festival officially running from Thursday to Sunday. Apparently there had been people camping, drinking and having a good old time there for at least a week already though.

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The site had been completely transformed from the first day I dropped Billy off to work – there were marquees, lights, flags, food stalls, bars, and camps galore. There were some pretty impressive camp sites, I rode my bike around for a squiz and saw big wooden house structures, and many people opting to build their own bar at camp, just for those times when you need a break but can’t bear to leave the bar.

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The actual festival was really fun. I wasn’t exactly sure what I would make of it all (not being the hugest country music fan), but I had a great time. There was certainly some music that was not really to my taste (teen girl country pop), but with about seven different stages there was always something you could find to enjoy. And no shortage of cowboy hats or boots either.

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My personal favourite was the Blues and Roots stage, with heaps of funky stuff happening there. One guy in particular who played three or four of the days was amazing – Juzzy Smith. Not only did he have a lovely manner and an infectious smile, he was an incredible talent – playing his ‘one man band’ of guitar (of which he had multiple – lap steel, cigar box, etc), harmonica (of which he had a utility belt of about ten), stomp box and juggling maraca balls. The coordination was outrageous! He even played a harmonica through his nose at the same time as he played one with his mouth.

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We worked the bar every evening, which was pretty fun. I got hit on by countless cowboys, young and old which was kind of funny. The majority were harmless and even quite charming, the odd few pushed it a bit too far (into sleazeville).

I had a few great lines, like “you broke me darlin’, I shoulda married you so I’d have an excuse”, and “there’s a Bob Dylan song called ‘what’s a sweetheart like you doing in a dump like this?’, just thought it was relevant to the situation”. Actually the song is called ‘sweetheart like you’, but I’ll forgive you cowboy because it was a pretty good one. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been called sweetheart and darlin’ as many times in my whole life as I did this weekend.

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The bar we worked at was the Muster Club, which was pretty neat. Quite a few of the bands that I wanted to see played there while I was working, so it worked out well. The layout and setup of the festival and each area was really cool – it was well thought out and you could tell a bit of effort had been put in.

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I forgot to take a picture of the actual bar, I guess I was always on the wrong side. But there were some great decorations, and we had an awesome path to walk from our camp to the festival, which was lit from above and wound through the forest and over little footbridges.

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A few disappointing factors included the lack of recycling bins (even behind the bar, where 99% of our waste was recyclable), portaloos instead of composting toilets, the price of drinks ($6 beer, $9 spirits, $10 Jack Daniels) which remained the same after 12am when we were no longer allowed to sell full strength drinks (so people were expected to pay $10 for a mid-strength Jack Daniels), which was just ludicrous…and made us very popular.  Also there was no free water available, and a bottle cost $4, which is kind of poor responsible service of alcohol, as there should always be water available for punters. But anyway, I won’t let that overshadow the good stuff.

There was a pretty big variety of food stalls – the first few days we cooked our own, but once our fridge ran out of juice we bought a few meals. Billy fell in love with these Hungarian breads called Langos, which were these puffy deep fried breads, coated in garlic oil, a tomato red onion and basil mix, sour cream, cheese and sauce. I will have to try and recreate a vegan version…for days ‘Langos!’ was the last thing he said before falling asleep and the first thing he said when he woke.

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There was a neat mexican place too that had some vegan options – I got some soft tacos with beans, coriander, hot sauce, guacamole and lime juice.

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We had them twice, but only took a picture the second time at the end of the festival, when they obviously didn’t put quite as much effort in – the first lot looked beautiful! They were still good though – fresh compared to a lot of the other fried food available.

I guess that’s about it for my weekend roundup, I’ll finish with my musical highlights: Juzzy Smith, The Perch Street Family Jug Band, The Round Mountain Girls, the songwriters session we saw at the Blues & Roots tent (not sure the names of the three on stage but they were awesome), The Bushwhackers, hearing Darryl Braithwaite sing ‘Horses’ while I was in the middle of a queue at the toilets….and this lovely lady, Tami Neilson, and her band.

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Now I can proudly say that I am no longer a Muster virgin, a title I will gladly shake. Billy is back at work, packing down the festival so we will be in Gympie for at least another week, with plans to head north after this.

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