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This Is Northern New South Wales


Seven years ago, the Biggest Little Town in Australia decided to have a party. It reached out its collective arms, wrapped them around a bunch of country, roots and folk musicians and drew them lovingly into its township. Since then, Mullumbimby has annually thrown its halls, bars, streets and parks wide open for one long November weekend of revelry, smiles and the kind of extraordinarily talented music you would never witness on the way up to David Jones’ fourth floor – Homewares and Manchester.

Musicians from around the world who grace the alternative circuits now place a push pin firmly in the Northern Rivers, drawn to the festival for its uniqueness and celebration of music that never so much as dabbles its toes in the mainstream but is guaranteed to find its way into your heart.

Roots, jazz, folk, blues and country – the Mullum Music Festival embraces anything that can live without the electrified, amped-up pop-rock-electro world.

Picking grains from a beach-full of equally talented diversity, we’ve come up with six artists worth craning your neck over crowds and through doorways for:

We Two Thieves
Cast up on the shores of a deserted Polynesian island like a waterlogged Pomeranian, Dolly Parton is helped to her feet by the equally-well quaffed Art Garfunkel. Crafting fishing nets from their locks and guitars from coconut husks and palm fronds, the two get all Robinson Crusoe and live out their days teaching their two daughters their musical ways. We Two Thieves bring harmonies deeper than the Marianas Trench with lilting narratives and acoustic rhythm for something not quite country, not quite folk – let’s just call it folktry and be done with this silly story.

Cornerstone Roots
Take two scoops of chilled funk, add some smooth, sweet New Zealand honey, one diced pineapple and the water and flesh of one coconut, fresh from the islands, throw in a very healthy handful of hemp seeds, blend with some deep dub beats and enough reggae vibes to get Bob Marley’s grave-borne metatarsals tapping and you’ll come up with the perfect summertime cooler: The Cornerstone Frappé – the ideal accompaniment to blue-sky days on the Northern Rivers.

Jessica Cerro picked her stage name well. French for ‘mountain’, Montaigne is the only name that could embody the peaks and troughs of the Sydney-based artist’s musical adventures. Her Vaudevillian vocalisations are little bit Sarah Blasko and from the school of Regina Spektor, yet very distinctly her own. Her deeply empassioned, poetic lyrics will evoke goosebumped journeys into lost loves and yesterday’s could-have-beens, painting echoing, expansive galleries of imagery through the corridors of your heart.

Hein Cooper
Hailing from South Coast New South Wales, Hein Cooper has infused his singer-songwriter riffs and haunting vocals with the melancholic and capricious climate of his home. Steeped in the rains of Jeff Buckley, bathed in the rainbow sunsets of Elliott Smith, crested with the fluffy clouds of Rufus Wainwright, Hein Cooper has crammed far more experience and depth into his sound than his minimal years and boyish good looks would suggest; an old soul born into a young spirit with a plectrum in his hand and a song in his heart.

There is a far-reaching hypothesis that suggests one day there will be no music left to write, every note having been scored in every myriad of combination. While it may be a distant possibility, it still takes a great deal these days to stand out from the crowd. German composer/songwriter/pianist, Hauschka didn’t even realise there was a box to think outside of and his haunting, ethereal music is a genre unto itself. Utilising tea light tins, tambourines, ping pong balls and even a vibrator, he creates orchestral melodies single-handedly from the cavernous body of his grand piano.

California Honeydrops
Albert Hammond once crooned, It Never Rains in Southern California. That would explain how the California Honeydrops somehow and through some crazy feat of scientific molecular encapsulation have managed to bottle that glorious, golden, smog-filtered sunlight. These cheeky puppeteer troubadors will make a marionette of you, drawing your lips into a smile you didn’t see coming and making your legs do things you didn’t even know they could. Sunshine through the rain, California Honeydrops are a guaranteed crowd-pleaser and smile-teaser.

Whether you take our suggestions or throw kismet to the wind, as you wander Mullum’s criss-crossed streets and surf gracefully from one musical wave to the next, you’re sure to find more than a few gigs to your liking.

Artists you have never heard of will lure you in with Siren songs, stealing time that you will later wish you could relive.

But it’s not just the music. Street parades, a conglomeration of delicious, international foods, theatre workshops, youth mentorship programs and a host of other activities are all interspersed with the continued plethora of artists.

This is the magical and inimitable joy of the Mullum Music Festival. While schedules are made and venues booked, it isn’t about chasing the clock from one stage to the next or running your day by timeframes. It’s about enjoying the music for what it is, not who is playing it, about immersing yourself in the experience and allowing the musical melodies to carry you away into uncharted waters to find new destinations you didn’t even know existed.

The Mullum Music Festival runs from 19-22 November. For more info on artists, schedules and booking, visit their website at: