“Bellingen has never experienced a festival quite like this one” – River Sounds coming to Bello

River Sounds Director Ben Lewis.


AFTER two false starts due to Covid, River Sounds festival is finally going ahead over the weekend of January 14-15 at the Bellingen Showground.

The two day contemporary music festival is the largest event to be staged on the NSW Mid North Coast since pre-Covid, and features some of the biggest names in Australian music.

Festival Director Ben Lewis describes the event as being a long held ambition of his, which has been in the pipeline since 2017.

“The idea first came about over a beer with the owner of the Federal Hotel, Michael Sutherland.

“I’ve been booking live music at the Fed for seven years now and have formed a great relationship with Michael over that time.

“Michael and I we’re keen to put on a festival in the car park behind the pub.

“I loved the idea of staging a festival in that space, right in the heart of town.

“Sadly, not everyone agreed the car park was a suitable venue for a two day music event, which ultimately ended our original plan.

“By this stage, the seed had been sown so I decided to push forward on my own to deliver a festival at the Bellingen Showgrounds.

“This was the birth of River Sounds.”

It’s been a turbulent time for River Sounds since the event was first announced in May, 2021. Only four weeks after launching, state wide Covid health restrictions were introduced leaving Mr Lewis with no choice but to postpone the event.

“It was a difficult time.

“A huge amount of effort had gone into planning, artist curation, marketing, site planning, plus we’d sold quite a few tickets.

“There was so much work done that would need to be re-done.

“It was pretty heartbreaking to be honest.”

The event originally scheduled for August was postponed to mid-October.

Then the October date was inevitably postponed as Covid continued to be a concern across NSW.

The one positive of postponing the event was gaining more time, which allowed Mr Lewis to secure a stellar line-up of artists.

Headlining the event is First Nations artist Danzal Baker aka Baker Boy, and 90s grunge-rock icons Regurgitator.

Baker Boy, a proud Yolngu man from Arnhem Land, is currently one of the biggest artists in Australia.

In 2021, he performed at the AFL Grand Final, was nominated for Triple J Album of the Year, was nominated for NIMA’s Artist of the Year, was the eighth most played artist on Triple J, and released his highly acclaimed debut LP ‘Gela’.

Brisbane natives Regurgitator rose to fame in the late 90s, renowned for powerful live performances showcasing their unique blend of punk, grunge, electro, and pop sounds which saw them grace the stage of most major festivals across the world and pick up a swag of ARIA’s including Album of the Year (1998) for their second LP ‘Unit’.

When asked about the line-up Mr Lewis explains that every artist is close to his heart.

“I spent a couple of years in my early twenties living in remote parts of Queensland and Northern Territory working as a tour guide.

“This experience gave me a deeper understanding and respect of Indigenous culture and a love for First Nations music.

“I’m still passionate about this 25 years on from my first experiences.

“I really wanted to showcase First Nations artists at River Sounds.

“This led me to securing Baker Boy and Noongar man (Wyndham, East Kimberley WA) Dallas Woods.

“I’m incredibly proud to be bringing these two amazing First Nations artists to Bellingen.

“Before heading bush, my adolescence was spent watching underground bands perform in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley in the early 90s.

“It was here, in tiny, sweaty venues where I discovered Regurgitator, Resin Dogs and later on Butterfingers.

“These bands were some of my favourites growing up.

“They all became huge, and they’re still making fantastic music and touring to this day.

“Triple J and Double J are the soundtracks to my life.

“I’ve always got these stations on in the car or at home, and learn about new music all the time through these radio stations.

“It’s where I first heard some of the other River Sounds artists like Jerome Farah, The Terrys, Adrian Eagle, Teen Jesus & The Jean Teasers and Pinch Points.

“These artists are on the cusp of blowing up. It’s really exciting to have them perform at River Sounds.

“The full line-up is incredibly diverse and features most contemporary genres including punk, psychedelic rock, hip hop, RnB, surf rock, plus an electronic stage featuring some of Australia’s best DJs.

“The lineup is a bit like a mini Splendour in the Grass.

“Bellingen has never experienced a festival quite like this one.”

River Sounds opens on Friday, January 14 at 2pm until 11.00pm, followed on Saturday, January 15 from 12pm till 11pm.

There are two stages at the event, both of which are undercover to provide shelter from the rain and sun.

Over the two days 30 acts will perform at the event, and over 120 individual artists.

Main stage: Regurgitator, Baker Boy, Butterfingers, Adrian Eagle, The Terrys, Dallas Woods, Teen Jesus & The Jean Teasers, Jerome Farah, Resin Dogs, Pinch Points, The Regime, The Pinheads, Sunfruits, Nice Biscuit, The Stained Daisies, The Good Love.

Boiler room: Phil Smart, Simon Caldwell, Katch, Biz, Pob, Jimmy D, Jamie B, Freebass, Bhakti, Jahzen, Phoenix, Dave Forward, Delusional Monk, Tropical Punch.

River Sounds is an all ages and licenced event with markets and food stalls on-site.

Camping is also available through the Bellingen Showgrounds.

For further information and tickets head to www.riversounds.com.au.


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