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NSW Meet & Greet #1: Live Review

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Friday 22 October 2010 saw the very first Meet & Greet night held in New South Wales at the St Marys Leagues Club. Similar events have been conducted in Queensland with the aim of the event for the fans and the artists to be able to mingle easier than at a regular performance.  With several artists scheduled to play a 20 minute acoustic set,  it also gave the artists a chance to see other performers as well. Being an acoustic set meant that all someone needed to do was to bring a guitar and plug it in and then play. For some performers used to playing with a full band behind them, being the only person on stage was an interesting challenge. Even though all of the performers classify themselves as country, it is fair to say that they are not traditional country and could be enjoyed by anyone who likes guitar based music.

The first act on stage was Armstrong Brown. Opening at a new event in front of a small crowd was always going to be an interesting experience for the 2 piece band made of up of Greg (2nd from left in photo) and Simon. With only a short set available, there was no time to “warm up” but the crowd and the other artists were appreciative of their efforts. The acoustic atmosphere suited the duo well.

Next on stage was Col Finley (far right in photo).  Col had the dual role of Meet & Greet Ambassador, MC & performer. During his performance, Col was joined on stage (quite unexpectedly) by his young son and later his wife Nellie who is also a singer. The informal and relaxed atmosphere at the event meant that it could have been planned or completely ad-lib but it would not have mattered one little bit. Everyone enjoyed the set which was the main idea.

The biggest crowd reaction in my opinion for the evening went to the next artist, Jason Lee (second from right). I had heard a lot about him in the past but this was the first time that I had seen him in person. Out of all of the artists, Jason was a person who seemed to be missing the big band behind him the most but to the crowd, they did not care. Their man was on stage and that is all that mattered. Even though he was basically unplugged, it was easy to see why the fans love his music.

Next on stage was the sole female headliner, Fiona Fields (centre of photo). Her songs reminded me of my situation in relation to being brought up around country music as a child and not really appreciating it until later in life. The acoustic feel really suited her as well. And when she sang a song about not wanting to get out of bed until noon, it was as if she was singing to me only.

Finally but by no means least was Craig Morrison. Out of all of the artists present, Craig was the only one that I had seen live before so I knew what to expect to a degree. Interestingly, Craig was the only artist to leave the stage during the performance. Then again, that is nothing unusual for him.

After Craig finished his set, all of the artists (with the exception of one half of Armstrong Brown) returned to the stage to combine for a couple of songs which was a nice touch. The evening ended with the artists meeting and greeting the fans, signing autographs, posing for photos and having a chat. Because there was not a break between brackets in the traditional sense, this allowed more time at the end for the greetings to take place. This was also helped by the lack of musical equipment that was required on the night. The amount of artists on the bill matched the size of the audience in terms of not having to wait long to be able to talk to the artist of your choice. I predict that with word of mouth and more promotion (the night was only promoted online), the numbers can only go up from here.

All of the artists have given permission to have their music featured on IR: Australia & Channel Erk as well as interviews to be conducted in the future. In addition to Craig Morrison’s recent appearances, Fiona Fields & Jason Lee were featured on Insomnia Radio: Australia episode 8. It was a ground breaking night that would not have happened except for the artists who donated their time and the volunteer Meet & Greet committee who put in a lot of work to make it happen. Further events are planned for NSW in addition to the events currently being held in Queensland. A good night was had by performer and audience member alike and it was a good way to showcase a selection of (mostly) local talent. While the acoustic feel might not give you an accurate insight to what each performer is like at their own show, it is a good introduction.

Above – Armstrong Brown. Greg (left) & Simon (right)

Above – Col & Nellie Finley

Above – Jason Lee

Above – Fiona Fields

Above – Craig Morrison