Tangent Consulting

Archives: 'Music'

February 18, 2014

A moment in time

Every now and then, something special happens … and you say to yourself, “I wish I had a camera right now!”

Well, at last year’s Aireys Inlet Open Mic Music Festival, there was a moment when Mark Seymour (yes, the 1 & only) stopped singing for 30 seconds and ‘stared-down’ someone in the front row. That someone was our youngest boy. Young Hamish (now 6 yo) has an uncanny knack of engaging with people of all ages. In his own unique and genuine way, he brings attention on himself. He doesn’t show off and he’s not loud. He simply connects with people and he draws them in.

Mark went on to comment about his little staring game with Hamish and said something like … “You know when look into someone eyes that they are going to be trouble at school!” After Mark’s sensational performance (with his current band The Undertow), we had a photo taken of the 2 of them. It’s nice but it didn’t capture “that” priceless moment during the performance.

A few night’s ago I discovered a treasure trove of images from last year’s festival over at Peter Marshall’s photography website. And there on page 5 was “that” moment – a series of images the captured the essence of engagement.


GeoffBrown | Humor & Fun, Just observations, Music | Comments Off on A moment in time

March 18, 2013

Curating a Purpose with Principles

I am sitting in the after-glow of another (the 6th) memorable Aireys Inlet Open Mic Music Festival. Like in previous years, my role was to organise logistics and an army of local volunteers to drive buses, set-up, pack-down and co-host an event that our whole town is now proud of. It’s a privilege to be involved. This year, acclaimed band Mark Seymour and the Undertow closed the 2013 festival. And as our town’s musical matriarch said in closing, “Aireys Inlet’s biggest day” provided a stunning conclusion to our weekend of music.”

What we’ve learned in 6 years of hosting this music festival

1. “Purpose is the invisible leader” – This quote by Toke Moller has been at the centre of our festival’s strategy.

7 years ago Marty came to me with an idea to start a music festival in Aireys Inlet and he had 2 things to say. First, the festival model had to put the music at the centre of everything. Our core purpose statement became, “It’s all about the music”. This simple little statement has guided our decisions and direction ever since and we have not lost sight of this core.

Second, the idea of an ‘Open Mic’ (whilst not new) is an invitation. It invites musicians from all walks of life and all ages to sign up, show up and perform ion front of a festive audience. And because we design the event to be “All About The Music”, every performer is treated with a great sound system, a sound-tech, a beautiful stage and a listening crowd. In 6 years, our little festival has achieved BIG things by providing a springboard for scores of young singer songwriters and bands. They all come back to Aireys again and again.

Even Mark Seymour recognised this and said during his act:

“Local communities need to develop and grow our young people. Aireys Inlet gives them wonderful opportunities to gain confidence and expression through Music.” Mark Seymour


2. Ownership and a Sense of Belonging is Everything! 

Aireys Inlet resembles village life. People look out for each other and many live here for this very reason. With this in mind, Marty has always invited contributions and has gone out of his way to thank people publicly. I am one of many who have been swept up by Marty’s vision and together, we have fostered a sense of ownership across the community in the festival. Initially, I used to hear people saying “it’s Marty’s festival”. But now I hear the same people saying “this is our festival”.

This sense of belonging and ownership makes volunteer recruitment easy. Our job is ensure that people don’t over commit and have fun doing it. Our operating principle is “many hands make light work”.

3. Intimacy

Today, Marty and I had lunch to capture what we learned about the weekend events. This year we experimented with some new stages and new configurations. These changes (together with a dose of cold weather) conspired to create more intimacy and a closer connection between performer and audience. Next year, we have decided to use the “intimacy” principle and redesign some other spaces. We were joined at lunch by one Aireys’ favourite performers Sarah Carnegie, who regularly travels down from Melbourne to perform here. She agreed that Intimacy is a crucial ingredient.

Each year we stub our toe a few times and get some things right. Each learn we learn something new by watching and listening to the feedback from others. Each year the festival gets better and our job get easier.

A final thank you Marty Maher

I am not sure who wrote these words of thanks on the festival home page … but they nailed it:

“A final thank to Marty Maher, who kindly thanks everyone a the festival close, without noting his own efforts. Seven years ago the festival was Marty’s vision to postively influence our young people and community. Singled-handedly he has grown the festival beyond our wildest expectations. Marty organises and schedules the entire event, and gives all 168 acts his close personal attention. His dedication, drive and enthusiasm sweeps the whole community along for the ride and gives artists and young people significant opportunity. We are proud and truly fortunate to have Marty Maher as a guiding patriarch of our community. Ask Marty what you can do to help next year, and critically with costs going up, donate or become a sponsor to secure the festival’s future.”

GeoffBrown | Community & Belonging, Music | Comments Off on Curating a Purpose with Principles

March 19, 2012

A truly extraordinary moment of community & music

Please watch the full 3 minute video below … you will be moved, as we’re the 1000 people watching! Once Sam get’s singing it really takes off!

But first, let me set the scene with a story about Community …

It’s the Monday morning after the 5th annual Aireys Open Mic Music Festival and our community has celebrated another magical festival – with the tag line “It’s All About The Music”.

This festival attracts thousands of music lovers, but it’s not the numbers that’s important … the vibe and sense of community it supports is amazing. This time last year, the Aireys Inlet Pub closed it’s doors. Our festival was on shaky ground – with it’s infrastructure and facilities we couldn’t host this many people. Everyone wondered what Marty Maher (the idea man who dreamt up this event and runs 90% of it) would do in response. As it turned out, Marty let others respond and save the festival.

Then one day, a local consortium banded together, pooled their resources and skills and bought the pub. For most in our community, it felt like the whole town had taken ownership of it’s iconic hotel. Our festival, our main meeting place, part of our history and soul was reclaimed.

Then in October last year co-publican, Tim Wood (who features in the video below) orchestrated one of the most remarkable building projects I have witnessed. Over a frantic 10 week period, he brought together scores of local tradies to completely rebuild the inside of the pub and give the shell a transformational facelift. Our community was excited, but skeptical that they could even get close to a pre Christmas opening!

We were wrong, the pub had it’s local opening night in mid December. Not everything was done, but they had rebuilt and staffed a large kitchen, rebuilt 70% of the inside, transformed the exterior and jumped countless of licensing and red tape hurdles imaginable. Opening night was abuzz with excitement and pride. This was ‘our place’.

Since Christmas, Tim and co. have continued the rebuild. The back-room is now a full band room with a capacity to seat over 250 for dinner and many more without tables and chairs. Their is a vision to make this room an iconic live music venue on the coast … I have no doubt it will be realized.

This year’s Open Mic Music Festival was (again) a huge success and staged 180 acts on 9 stages across our town – with 20 separate acts in the back room on Friday and Saturday nights. To get a feel for what it looked like you can see pics at our Facebook page and our Twitter stream

In past year’s, our mystery guest acts have been the big highlight. They have included Colin Hay and band, Dan Sultan and this year’s mystery was none other than Tim Rogers. All were generous and performed brilliantly. This year Tim managed to captivate everyone with his whimsical charm, lyrics and unique voice.


Inspired by the Gotye cover featured here on You Tube (by band Walk off the Earth), Tim Wood’s youngest son (Sam), inspired dad and older brother (Luke) to work out their own version … then perform it at our festival.

All 3 boys are humble, gracious, superbly talented and are motivated by 1 thing … an absolute love of music, family and community. The feeling in the Main Stage Marquee was joyous. Everyone was smiling (some moved to tears), beaming, shining and uplifted by a performance that drew everyone together in a single breath.

Thanks to Paul Barry who posted this recording to You Tube today!

GeoffBrown | Community & Belonging, Creative Stuff, Music, Yes!And Improv | Comments Off on A truly extraordinary moment of community & music