Piano key to Dungog music, art festival

The famed film festival might be off the agenda this year, but a new music-based event will still ensure plenty of tourists visit Dungog for their dose of arts and culture.

The inaugural Planet Dungog Musical Festival will bring a host of venues to life from October 11 to 13 with three days of music, spoken word, dance and film.

The event is the brainchild of former Sydneysiders Jackie Luke and Greg Wilson, who moved to the shire a few years ago.

Ms Luke plays an unusual instrument called a hammered dulcimer, while Mr Wilson plays a Celtic harp, and together they have been performing as a duo under then name of Springtide for the past 20 years.

They have been on the bill at folk ­festivals throughout Australia, the United Kingdom, America and China and after becoming entrenched in the Dungog community, they saw potential to harness the shire’s bustling cultural scene to create their own event.

With the help of Dianne Pope and Pauline Cambourne the couple has been planning the boutique three-day ­festival, which will feature a fusion of musical styles from folk and jazz to country tunes and popular music ­alongside spoken word artists and comedians.

Ms Luke said the festival acts would be spread through a range of venues including the historic James Theatre, RSL and church halls.

“People will be wrist-banded for the whole weekend so they can drift between venues as they choose,” she said. “Piano is the feature instrument, so quite a lot of the acts have a piano featured in them.

“We’ll also have an outdoor bush dance and we’re running workshops so people can get involved.

“It will be a small boutique festival where the venues are spread about town, there are just some great venues and beautiful old halls – we think it’s a great place for a festival.”

Acclaimed New Zealand-born pianist Jan Preston – known as Australia’s “queen of boogie piano” will headline the festival on the Friday night, while other confirmed acts include Gleny Rae Virus and her Playboys, Wollongong-based Irish band Riogh, world music performers Chaika and spoken word artist Peter Mace.

More acts will be announced on the festival’s website planetdungog.com with ­tickets on sale soon.

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