JUSTIN ‘Hap’ Hayward has vivid memories of performing at the very first Meredith Music Festival.
His duo, The Dead Salesmen, performed to a crowd of about 250 punters at the inaugural 1991 event.
“It was a very small festival. There were hay bales everywhere and there was a very low-key vibe to it. I got to play on the Saturday night with my band The Nulty Grips and then the next day was more acoustic and The Dead Salesmen Duo played,” he remembered.
“We ended up singing more songs off the stage and meeting all these new people.
“My favourite memory would have to be having so much fun that I decided not to go home on the Sunday. I got to stay in the Nolans’ (organisers) spare room and then Mrs Nolan drove me home the next day to Ballarat.
“That shows you how family-based and low-key it was.”
The very first Meredith Music Festival saw a small group of die-hard culturalists gather for a weekend of pure musical indulgence away from the civilised world.
Pitching their tents at what is now the famous Supernatural Amphitheatre, they revelled in the atmosphere of free living and no curfews.
The line-up included acts such as The Boxing Tostados, Kill Sarah, Flamenco Sketches, The Celts, Picko and more.
Nobody expected the event to turn into one of Australia’s most-loved and renowned music festivals, drawing acts from across Australia and abroad.
“We were starting out really and had been playing for about three years. That was another part of what made (Meredith) great. They were not getting established acts they were giving people who were doing their own thing a leg-up,” Hayward said.
“It organically kept reaching out to people and getting bigger and drawing people to it by word of mouth. Soon it had some of the best acts in Australia and elsewhere signing up.”
The Meredith Music Festival Silver Jubilee is set to be held at The Sup’ this weekend.
The sold-out event will this year feature headline acts Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Ratatat, Neon Indian, Tkay Maidza, Shellac, Fatback Band, The Thurston Moore Band, Jessica Pratt, Briggs, Big Daddy Kane, Bully and Father John Misty.
The City of Ballarat Municipal Brass Band will also take to the stage once again, having been a prominent act on the line-up for almost 10 years.
Band music director Mark Witham said it was no surprise the festival had been going strong for 25 years.
He said the performers, the environment and the location all made for a unique music event.
“We play music from all eras and genres and styles but to play it in a professional location on a stage that is fitted out for rock bands is really quite hilarious.
“They love us because we’re their alarm clock and wake them up on Saturday morning after a fairly arduous night. They come out of their tents and enjoy something different.”
As is always the case, the 25th Meredith is BYO, runs without commercial sponsors and is known for its One-Stage-Fits-All.
“It makes for such a relaxed vibe. Everyone is looking out for each other and it’s always been the way. There’s something about the Meredith way and that is a really lovely way,” Hayward said.
For more information, visit www.mmf.com.au