Caloundra Music Festival director Richie Eyles before the 2014 event.
Caloundra Music Festival director Richie Eyles before the 2014 event. Patrick Woods

Caloundra Music Festival: A decade of highs, lows and great music

WITH setting up for the 10th Caloundra Music Festival in full swing, director Richie Eyles has marvelled at how far what was once an intimate beachside festival has come.

The past decade has been full of highs and lows, but the combination of the picturesque Kings Beach stage and a musical line-up that draws fans from all age groups and genres, there is no doubt the CMF is a success story.

The inaugural festival featured 22 bands on two stages, while this year a massive 80 bands will perform on five stages.

The festival has seen some dramatic times, including when New Orleans headliner Jon Cleary almost drowned in 2007 after he struck difficulty in the Kings Beach surf while going for a swim.

He was taken to the hospital just hours before he was due to perform on stage, but recovered swiftly and performed for a VIP function to mark the end of the festival the following night.

In a coup that saw 19,800 attend the festival in 2010, Powderfinger performed as part of their farewell tour in near cyclonic conditions.

Mr Eyles said he had been conscious from the outset to ensure they stayed away from the latest chart-toppers to avoid "the vagaries of the pop industry" instead focused on artists that had staying power and had in some cases amassed fans spanning generations.

"I suppose it's hard to say what it was like in that first year because everything was untried and you do see a lot of festivals start up and fall over, but we seem to have found a niche by being by the beach and the family-friendly demographic has worked for us," he said.

"To be here 10 years later and still growing, we must be doing something right."

The festival, which has featured some of Australia's biggest and best acts including John Butler Trio, Wolfmother, Empire of the Sun, Xavier Rudd, Boy and Bear, Angus and Julia Stone, The Cat Empire, The Living End, Eskimo Joe, Missy Higgins, Paul Kelly and Jimmy Barnes, has built a reputation attracting a good crowd with a good vibe and that is reflected in the increasing number of international acts that want a slice of the action.

"John Butler brings his whole family and comes out on a regular basis and Pete Murray comes down even when he's not playing," he said.

"They love coming here and they want to keep coming back."

With other festivals, like the Big Pineapple Music Festival and the Maroochy Music and Visual Arts Festival popping up in the last few years, Mr Eyles said the CMF had found a place in people's hearts and would be in it for the long haul.

"We are all music lovers in the end and the more music that comes to the Coast, the luckier we are," he said.

"There was a time where we had to travel to Brisbane to enjoy great live music, but now there are three of four bigger festivals that have sprung up here and Woodford is not that far away, so we have a lot of choice and a lot of Brisbane people are coming up here now to our festivals to escape."

This year's headline acts include Michael Franti and Spearhead, Guy Sebastian, The Cat Empire, Icehouse and Kate Miller-Heidke.

Tickets for the festival, which kicks off on Friday, September 30, are available at www.caloundramusicfestival.com.au.

READ: Volunteers prepare for the 2016 Caloundra Music Festival

By the numbers

2007 - 5500 attended, 22 bands

2008 - 9639 attended, 21 bands

2009 - 18,000 attended, 21 bands

2010 - 19,800 attended, 42 bands

2011 - 13,919 attended, 70 bands

2012 - 20,008 attended, 59 bands

2013 - 25,197 attended, 67 bands

2014 - 36,022 attended, 77 bands

2015 - 31,119 attended, 81 bands.



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