KALGOORLIE is out to prove that has a cultural soul despite its diesel and dust image and, hopefully, raise $40,000 for the Royal Flying Doctor Service into the bargain.
The third annual Rhythms in the Outback Festival, to be held from April 13 to 18, is showcasing a variety of musical and visual arts talent along with a series of workshops.
The festival has enjoyed the likes of James Morrison, the John Butler Trio and Ernie Dingo appearing on the bill.
This year the headline attraction is one-time Kalgoorlie boy Kevin Bloody Wilson, who joins forces with Australian Idol finalist Cosima DeVito, Nathan Guant and Joe Dolce – music lovers in the 1970s and 1980s may remember him for Shaddap You Face which still hold the record for the most successful song in Australian music history.
There is also the Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines-sponsored Blast Off, a talent competition for unsigned artists that offers recording and production time for the winners.
Rumour has it, however, that Mr Dolce – who is an accomplished blues musician and has written music for classical groups and also for the US film The Terminator – is not so keen to reprise his cult favourite.
He will be taking part in one of the workshops, teaching blues harp.
One of Kalgoorlie’s own medical practitioners, who started his time in the town with the RFDS, will be conducting a photo exhibition.
That exhibition has been travelling to central Australia with the RFDS for several years and will be on display in the Goldfields Art Centre during the festival.
There will also be a youth art display.
Internationally renowned textile artist Paula Hart will be part of the artist in residence program.
Festival director Barb Howard, who is also fund raising manager for the Kalgoorlie Base of the RFDS, said its goal was to offer all sorts of cultural experiences for locals and tourists.
“We have a mixture of ticketed and free events. The festival is very much about community participation,” she said.
“However, we’ve tried to keep the cost of the ticketed events down to encourage as much community participation as possible.”
Ms Howard said the first festival in 2001 had not managed to raise as much money for the RFDS as she would have lliked.
She admitted the first attempt had probably been too ambitious.
“We had to bring up a lot of equipment from Perth for an outdoor concert and that proved to be quite expensive,” Ms Howard said.
“Now we’re using the facilities that already exist in Kalgoorlie.”
Even though the first event was not a fund raising success, last year’s effort raised $30,000 for the RFDS’s coffers.
Ms Howard said this year the organisers hoped to get at least $40,000.
The festival has also maintained the support of the Diageo Corporation – owners of the well known Guinness brand.
While Kevin Bloody Wilson may seem an unusual artist to headline a “cultural” event nobody could really fault his business credentials.
He saw value in his music that none of the record companies saw and slowly built his record sales by selling copies of his music after live shows.
Given the possibility that some of the Dallhold creditors could be in attendance and former financial high flyer Alan Bond is reportedly building a mansion in Cottesloe, a rendition of Kevin’s hit Living Next Door to Alan will have to be somewhere in the play list.
The Kalgoorlie base of the RFDS services one third of WA, covering one million square kilometres, with eight medical personnel and two aircraft at the base.
Ms Howard said corporates and individuals within Australia were very supportive of the RFDS financially but ongoing fund raising activities were always required.
“Without the help of fund raising activities such as this the RFDS would not be able to maintain its life saving fleet and personnel,” she said.
Information on the festival is available at www.riofestival.com or can be had by phoning the Goldfields Art Centre on 9088 6900.
Travel and accommodation packages are also available through the Kalgoorlie Goldfields Visitor Centre on 1800 004 653.