Postcard from... Deniliquin
I’m standing by a stage, watching one of my teenage idols, Carlos Santana, tear up a guitar barely 10 feet away from me. Nothing unusual in that – the Mexican-American rock legend still tours frequently – what’s unusual is the setting, a dusty field in a small country town on the edge of the Australian Outback. .
The town is Deniliquin, 160 miles north of Melbourne, which – like many rural communities – is struggling to survive because of depopulation and a declining agricultural industry. But “Deni”, as locals call it, is determined to reinvent itself.
In 1999, during a record drought, it came up with the idea of hosting an annual “Ute Muster”. (Utes are pick-up trucks). And, as of a few weekends ago, it is the site of a major roots and blues festival.
Santana were just one of a clutch of international acts which descended for the inaugural festival; others included the Steve Miller Band, Status Quo, Chris Isaak and the veteran reggae star Jimmy Cliff.
Status Quo frontman Francis Rossi made a quip about performing in a field, adding that it was “bloody freezing” – not what he expected in the Australian Outback.
Festival organisers used infrastructure already in place for the Ute Muster, which tries every year to break its own record for the number of utes assembled in one place. (The 2010 figure, still unsurpassed, was 10,152.)
John Harvie, general manager of the Deni Blues and Roots Festival, says: “It’s about keeping our town going.”
Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist
Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama
Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas
- 2 Scottish independence: Learn from Quebec's mistakes and beware of promises. Vote Yes.
- 3 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 4 Revealed after 75 years of secrecy: 'Fifi' the glamorous WW2 special agent who tested British spies' resolve
- 5 Have you heard about the film Singapore has banned its people from watching? Well, you have now
Thailand beach murders: Thai PM suggests 'attractive' female tourists cannot expect to be safe wearing bikinis
Scottish independence: Final opinion polls show undecided voters could swing result either way
Scottish independence: Almost half of No voters have felt 'personally threatened' by the Yes campaign
Isis release 'Flames of War' video warning Obama of attacks troops could face in Iraq
Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...
£1036224 - £1513056 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Educatio...
£21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Are you a fully quali...