LOCKDOWNS have ended and the Mornington Peninsula is coming out of hibernation to the tunes of eclectic music at Ninchfest in March, but with a twist on previous years.
The festival, which started six years ago at St Andrews Beach and, apart from last year’s hiatus due to COVID restrictions, will for the first time be held over two days, with a twilight session on Friday 4 March and a full day on Saturday 5 March.
The event is a drawcard for music lovers and a launching pad for emerging musical talent. It also claims the “local” tag with legitimacy, being run by Drew Heyes and his wife Sal, who head a team of five directors.
A musician, Heyes founded the festival to provide a dedicated music festival for the peninsula and to showcase the talent of local musicians, as well as those from further afield.
While it started off as a festival that largely featured punk, it has morphed into an event for all the family, featuring all genres.
It is a little like Woodstock coming to the peninsula, without the camping.
Heyes is proud of how the festival has matured and evolved in the past six years and hopes this year’s event gives house-bound music enthusiasts the post lockdown escapism and live music hit they have been missing.
“It started out as just an idea to give the peninsula its own festival, and I had already been involved in several other local projects, including EcoFest and raising money for the fight against the Gunnamatta sewage outfall, so I just put the word out to friends,” he said.
“The response was great and while it is a lot of work to organise, and it’s certainly a labour of love and not a way to make money, it’s become a great festival and a key event on the peninsula.”
Heyes, who has drummed for alternative bands such as Will’s Afro, Stiff Richards, Tub’o’Vas, and Butter and now with Rennie and the Shitchair, says the festival is a rare opportunity for young bands playing alternative music to hit the stage and network with other musicians and industry people.
“One of our missions is to expose up-and-coming bands and musicians, particularly those from the peninsula, and to have a cultural mix, as well as more girls on stage, because many artists don’t get the coverage they deserve,” he said.
“We have some great African and Indigenous musicians, and Australiana rock and roll. It’s truly a mixed bag and has something for everyone, and it’s very family friendly.”
Heyes says the festival has helped launch the careers of local musicians, including The Grogans, an indie band of three mates who have a passion for 1960s surf rock.
There will be more than 25 acts at Ninchfest 5, including Bad//Dreems, Cable Ties and The Meanies, food vendors and refreshments from breweries, and plenty of room for picnics on the lawn.