Camden’s main street was transformed into a ‘Live and Local Beat Street’, or so said the publicity for the festival. And it was.
The publicity flyer promised Live and Local was a ‘unique experience’ and explored ‘new places and spaces’. And it delivered in spades.
The 2018 Live and Local Camden music festival is in its second year. The crowds were up and so were the number of gigs.
There were over 50 musos across 15 venues. This was up from 2017 with 27 artists across 14 venues.
The amount of raw talent was frightening and a little overwhelming. There must be something in the local water around the Camden area.
The crowds enjoyed the music on offer from professional and emerging artists. It is great to see local support for live gigs.
This year the festival grew to include Friday night across a range of venues. This was a good introduction to the festival.
There were also the Saturday afternoon gigs similar to 2017 between 2 and 6 with a full program of artists.
The music festival used a range of eclectic local venues from cafes, fashion outlets, galleries, local hotels, restaurants, a shoe shop, professional premises and a local arcade.
A new venue in an old space
The festival succeeded in uncovering a music local venue in an unlikely venue. It is a space with the wow factor at the Alan Baker Art Gallery.
The acoustics are to be experienced to be believed with a wooden floor, high ceiling and little echo.
What a venue with lots of atmosphere.
This is a natural music venue for a small intimate acoustic gig.
Help for lots of tastes
All the venues had lots of Local and Live helpers to smooth over any hiccups and guide and help out lost fans. They made sure that all gigs went smoothly.
There was music for all tastes from classical to blues, country, jazz as well as a rockabilly. Some good old rock and roll with a funky twist was popular with young fans.
A gig guide can be found here.
A developing arts precinct
It is great to see how Live and Local contributes to the creation of an arts precinct in Camden for a day and a half. All this live music is good for the local economy, job creation and helps build local tourism.
Importance of live music
Live music is central to the Live and Local music festival and acknowledges how live performance is an important part of our culture. Performances are authentic and artists provide a screen-time in 3-D without much assistance from tech-gadgets.
Performers at Live and Local provided a form of engagement of the imagination which is sadly lacking with recordings or tech-devices. Live performances at Live and Local are fresh. It is not canned music.
There was an awesome array of talent on display for all to see – warts and all. Performers were in the moment and provided a physical and emotional experience with their audiences.
Live performance is a shared experience between performer and audience. There is an immediacy that provides an element of surprise and risk, perhaps even the unexpected.
Place making and storytelling
All Live and Local artists are part of the creative industries. They create stories which are expressed in song and music. Musicians, poets, raconteurs, performers and writers are all storytellers. All cultures have story tellers.
Storytelling as song allows the musicians to connect with their audience. Their stories are captivating, and full of emotion and meaning. These stories are one element in the process of place making and construction of community identity.
Stories as songwriting can connect people with memories of the past in the present. Music can tell the stories of place and the history of a community. Music can create a connection with the landscape and create an attachment to place.
Songs are one form of storytelling that can take a successful part of marketing and branding for a locality and community. In this way they help the local economy and local businesses.
Support for music festival
The Live and Local project is a partnership between the Live Music Office and Camden Council. Funding was provided by Create NSW as part of the Western Sydney Live and Local Strategic initiative.
Camden mayor Lara Symkowiak stated
I encourage you to take the time and visit each venue to hear the diversity of the music and let our talented local artists entertain you for hours.
The director of the NSW government Live Music Office John Wardle stated that it
has been truly inspirational and we once again very much look forward to a day that will be a highlight of the broader cultural program in Western Sydney.
Musicians succeed in gig economy
Camden’s Live and Local festival demonstrated how musicians are part of the gig economy. All trying to make a living. These issues were explored in a recent article in The Conversation.
Musicians identified that they did meaningful work according article author Alana Blackburn, a lecturer in Music at the University of New England. She maintained that
Their intrinsic success lies not in what others expect of them, but in achieving personal freedom and being true to their beliefs. It’s about meeting personal and professional needs.
More than this a study by the Australia Council for the Arts found that
musicians undertake a wide range of arts-related and non-arts activities.
According to Blackburn
Musicians can survive under these circumstances by developing important overarching and transferable skills.
This type of career is called a ‘portfolio career’ where musicians have lots of jobs. A mix of paid and unpaid, and mostly short term work and projects. Musicians state that the prefer to be in-charge of their own career, despite the financial challenges. They feel that they can control their creative efforts and their music related activities.
Musicians, like other creative arts types, are mostly self-directed and driven by a passion for their artistic work. Musicians often work across industries and are not locked into the music industry. They consider that they are continually learning and are not afraid of failure.
Blackburn maintains that the success of musicians in the gig economy is down to a number of characteristics that they develop: life-long learning, adaptability, flexibility, social networking, entrepreneurial skills, planning, organisation, collaboration, confidence, self-directed, multi-tasking, independence, risk-taking, promotion and others.
Many of the artists at Camden 2018 Live and Local fitted into this category. Some are in the early career stage while others are more successful. The gig economy is here to stay and provides many challenges. It is not for the fainthearted. Live and Local provided a sound platform for the exposure of these artists in a tough industry.
Learn more on
‘Live and Local Music Festival in Camden town centre’ Camden History Notes (Blogger), 17 June 2017.
Alana Blackburn, ‘The gig economy is nothing new for musicians – here’s what their ‘portfolio careers’ can teach us’. The Conversation, 21 June 2018.