Bruthen Blues and Arts Festival


Voiceover (00:00): In the heart of picturesque Gippsland, lies a town that's been a meeting place for hundreds of years. But it's for the last 25 years that Bruthen has provided a source of comfort that's best described as music to people's ears.

Voiceover (00:20): This blues explosion, known today as the Bruthen Blues and Arts Festival, is all thanks to local identity Tony Grist.

Tony Grist (00:29): There was a few of us sitting around and we talked about getting some music going in the Swan Reach Hotel. We thought we would maybe get 80 there, and there was over 200 turned up and we couldn't believe how well it went off with a little bit of help of red wine.

Voiceover (00:50): And Tony was in no doubt what type of music would speak to the people at Bruthen.

Voiceover (00:56): Held over three days, the annual Blues and Arts Festival is now a highlight of Gibbsland's cultural calendar, with acts ranging from newcomers to headliners.

MC (01:06): He has played with Status Quo, the Silverchair. I think you could call that an international act.

Voiceover (01:13): And the performers list themselves as some of the biggest fans of the festival.

Artist (01:17): I love the community, the community vibe here.

Festival Goer (01:20): Blues is the best thing, it brings people together. Basically, I'm in heaven. I'm in heaven.

Festival Goer (01:25): The whole scenery combined with the music, it was beautiful.

Voiceover (01:29): Of course, the most vocal approval comes from the audience itself.

Festival Goer (01:34): I'm able to get out and enjoy good food, nice people, great music. And where else would you want to be other than here? This transcript was exported on Jan 05, 2021 - view latest version here.

Festival Goer (01:38): I think it's really good and interesting.

Festival Goer (01:38): Oh, mate, there's nothing quite like it. It's Roots music. Everything stems from it.

Voiceover (01:47): But the festival isn't just three days of world-class blues music, there's also focus on the arts, complete with a very special guest star.

MC (01:55): Bruthen is the home to one of the actual Priscilla buses. Did you know that?

Festival Goer (02:02): Yeah, how awesome is that?

Voiceover (02:06): But it hasn't all been plain sailing for Australia's biggest little blues festival.

News Presenter (02:11): The weather has changed in parts of Gippsland in the past hours. You've just heard, David Woiwod is in Bruthen.

Voiceover (02:16): In 2019, Bruthen was hit by one of the worst Bush fires in Australia's history.

Tony Grist (02:22): We had fires all around us. And of course, straight up, the festival was canceled. We evacuated here twice. The second time, I didn't expect to be coming back to a house. Yeah, it was pretty frightening.

News Presenter (02:37): David, what are conditions like there now?

David Woiwod (02:39): Conditions here in Bruthen have certainly deteriorated over the past hour or so. An incredibly nervous time ahead for this community.

Voiceover (02:47): Bruthen residents were in the fight of their lives.

Tony Grist (02:50): The morning after, it was just so traumatic. It'd bring a tear to your eye. There was 20 houses just burned to the ground. The memories back to you. Devastating. 

Voiceover (03:02): Over a year later, disaster struck again.

Tony Grist (03:06): Then the COVID hit, so they just had to bite the bullet and say it's off again. We were all devastated. It was like a family, and they all just hang on coming to Bruthen for the festival every year.

Voiceover (03:20): With COVID having all but shut the entire town down, the festival is now more imperative than ever.

Tony Grist (03:26): The town itself has actually prospered from the influx of people. It's very important. The town really needs it.

Voiceover (03:36): And Tony is convinced the festival has plenty of life left in it yet.

Tony Grist (03:40): The next festival, we're all hoping of course, will be in 2022. It'll just be bigger and better than ever.

Voiceover (03:50): And the fans are more than here for it.

Festival Goer (03:52): It's just a good vibe. There's lots of cool people. It's locals coming together, just having a really good time.

Festival Goer (03:57): As long as it's going, I'll be here.

Festival Goer (04:06): I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

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