Festival Sessions to bring entertainment back

Published: 10 Jul 2020

The MECC is bringing entertainment back to the Mackay region in August.

Over four consecutive Saturday evenings, starting August 8, audiences will be able to stream the cream of the Mackay region’s live musical scene, including 2019 Queensland Album of the Year winner Tia Gostelow.

Dubbed Mackay Festival Sessions, this innovative, multiformat entertainment package will also feature a live visual artist creating an artwork from start to finish and local dancers bursting out of quarantine to showcase their moves.

Council has partnered with local radio stations HIT FM, Star FM, Triple M, 4MK and ABC Tropical North to ensure that whoever you follow on Facebook will be streaming Festival Sessions.

Mayor Greg Williamson, who will co-emcee the Sessions with Celine Joubert, said COVID-19 might have cancelled the 2020 Mackay Festival of Arts, but in its place would be entertainment like we’ve never experienced before.

“This four-part concert series broadcast live from the MECC has taken some amazing work from the Festivals team to pull off and we are really excited to announce it,” Cr Williamson said.

“And it’s a great line-up of music,” he said.  “There’s a real mix – from contemporary country music singer Jack McDougall, vocal powerhouse folk band Folk Like Us, to up-and-coming soloists like Bella Mackenzie and Will Blume,” he said.

“It’s also sensational to have Tia Gostelow home to perform at the finale on August 29.

“Tia has been taking Australia by storm and was about to embark on an American tour before COVID-19 hit.

“While it’s a real shame that the American tour had to be put off, we are really thrilled that Tia is available to play for her home town and we can’t wait to see her on the MECC stage.”

Cr Williamson said cancelling the Mackay Festival of Arts had been a huge blow to the local entertainment scene.

“Council knew we needed to do something – not just to provide some entertainment value to the community, but also to support our local musicians, dancers and artists,” he said.

“Many of these entertainers have had months without paying gigs, so this is a great way to jumpstart the local music scene again.

“On top of that, we will be livestreaming all four concerts live and recording them with the MECC’s outstanding audio/visuals team.

“This will give all the acts access to first-class footage and audio of their performances to use for promoting themselves in the future.”

Jack McDougall, who will be delivering a packed set full of “cool covers” and originals with a full live band, said the last three months had been tough.

“There’s been virtually no live music, so to have something like this to kickstart the local music scene again is fantastic,” Mr McDougall said.

“I’ve been doing a few live shows from my lounge room over Facebook, but Festival Sessions will be something else entirely,” he said.

“It’s incredible how we (musicians) have used technology to overcome the restrictions brought on by COVID-19 and I think it’s changed things.

“It’s created a real path for the future and how events are delivered.”

Program of entertainment

  • Saturday, August 8 – Clovr, Headlights and Smartys Fit Food and Fun, with artist Vynka Von from Arts and Treasures
  • Saturday, August 15 – Bella Mackenzie, Jack McDougall and Leisa Payne School of Dance, with artwork by Catherine Clark Dowden
  • Saturday, August 22– Folks Like Us and Will Blume with Lian Meaney from 12 Horses Art Studio
  • Saturday, August 29 – Tia Gostelow, The Base Coats and Dance Avenue Mackay, with Andi Wright art

Fact box - About Jack McDougall

Jack McDougall grew up on a cattle property near Koumala and now lives in Sarina.  He has notched up plenty of accolades in his burgeoning career, with the latest being a No. 1 spot on the iTunes Country Charts. At just 21, Jack has worked in jobs ranging from being the Charters Towers town crier to a McDonald’s server and is already an established singer-songwriter, releasing two singles, with the latest, Negativity, hitting No. 1 on iTunes.

His debut single, Let Me Out, hit iTunes at No. 3 on the Country Songs Chart and the top 40 of the All Genres Songs Chart. Jack has graduated from both the junior and senior courses of the CMAA Academy of Country Music where he gained firsthand experience of the music industry, being mentored by Australian country music royalty such as Lyn Bowtell, Kasey Chambers and more.