19 May 2023

Plant Vibes Music Festival hosts songwriter showcase to help animal sanctuaries

| James Day
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A goat being pet through the fence by an onlooker at the sanctuary

The Plant Vibes Music Festival is dedicated to funding local animal sanctuaries. Photo: Peanuts Wellbeing Sanctuary.

Since 2019, the organisers of Plant Vibes Music Festival have been hit with delay after delay in their efforts to create an event that supports independently funded animal sanctuaries in NSW and the ACT.

Despite the obstacles, its director Mem Davis has not given up.

Instead, she has arranged a series of acoustic songwriter showcases throughout the region to help get enough funding together for the festival’s debut in September.

This Saturday (20 May) from 4 pm to 8 pm, the Front Café in Lyneham will host one of these showcases, along with a vegan sausage sizzle. Performing at the event are some of the region’s best country and indie musicians, including Dale Huddleston, Amber Kenny and Lily Begbie.

Mem says she’s dedicated to fulfilling the promise she made all those years ago to Lucky Stars Sanctuary, which is 10 minutes north of Canberra, the Deep Peace Farm Animal Sanctuary in Braidwood and Peanuts Wellbeing Sanctuary in Goulburn.

“Caring for injured, surrendered and neglected animals has been increasingly difficult during the last few years,” says founder of Lucky Stars Sanctuary Kerrie Carroll.

“First bushfires and drought, then COVID and never-ending rain have decimated our ability to fundraise effectively and have volunteers attend working bees and contribute to the care of the animals.”

READ MORE Animals find sanctuary as owners tell of losses

The struggles the sanctuaries faced were similar to those confronting the festival. Their first two attempts in March 2020 and 2021 were shut down due to COVID, but last year were hit by La Niña.

“We’d set up the venue and were in the middle of selling tickets but were advised by many to shut it down as they expected it to get rained out like other festivals had at the time. It would have been really nice to split the proceeds between them, but it ended up just setting us back,” says Mem.

A group of four wet horses standing in a flooded paddock

The erratic weather brought about by La Niña in 2022 put immense strain on sanctuaries. Photo: Billie Dean Deep Peace Trust.

While the weather may not have held up last year, music has brought back hope that the event will finally go forth this year. On the line-up for this Saturday is a range of singer-songwriters, who Mem says are keen to perform their original music instead of the usual pub covers.

For those inclined to country music, the afternoon will host Dale Huddleston, a well-known singer-songwriter and artist who performs music with his guitar and digeridoo on Aboriginal culture, connection to land, people and family.

Mem says, “I feel very lucky to have him on board as he’s very experienced and has opened for a fair few big names like Troy Cassar-Daley, Archie Roach, and Jessica Mauboy”.

Amber Kenny, a musician from Robertson in the Southern Highlands, will perform alternative country, while Owen Smith will playfully dip between old ballads and energetic rockabilly.

READ ALSO Riotact Gig Guide (17 – 23 May)

If country doesn’t suit, two indie artists based in the territory will also hit the stage: Stella Eve, a recent entrant into the music scene who embraces the audience with her vulnerability and has already released her third single called ‘Soy Latte’; and Lily Begbie, who has already made a big splash as the lead singer of the award-winning band Muesli, but is now taking the time to showcase her own more intimate side.

Mem urges all those coming this weekend to buy their $5 tickets before Saturday, as well as keep their appetite available for the vegan sausage sizzle and dessert, which will be served throughout the afternoon.

To learn more about the Plant Vibes Music Festival, visit Facebook, Instagram, and its own website.

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