Sessions gain traction

Tahni James performing at last Saturday's Neighbourhood Sessions.

It’s a concept that caught on in Adelaide, and then Brisbane, before local songbird Nicole Cross flew North with big dreams of bringing it to Townsville: the Session phenomenon.

These events welcome an intimate number of people to a secret location in suburbia for a night sprawled out on picnic rugs under the stars, BYO drinks and food in-hand, with the focus squarely on local and visiting musicians’ original songs.

Nope. No typo. Original.

Gone are the days that musicians are expected to only sit in the back corner of pubs with a repertoire of nothing but covers. Neighbourhood Sessions, much like other Townsville events, is shining the spotlight back on the artists and their original music – and the packed-out backyard for their event last Saturday is a clear indication that there is a demand for it.

Those in attendance were treated to two and a half hours of aural astonishment: from the moment opening artist Tyla plucked her first guitar note, we knew we were in for a wondrous night. Her lyrics were dreamy and music was mesmerising. Rob Howe, a UK import, was up next: after seeing success with bandmates the Polarsets back home (check them out on Spotify – you won’t regret it), we were sure to be treated to some incredible tunes by Rob. His music was electric – and I’m not just talking about the guitar he played with. I still can’t get Adelaide out of my head.

Finally, after arriving from Cairns midway through Rob’s set, Tahni James wrapped up the night with his eclectic song weaving. Everything from his originals to covers had unique Tahni twists – finishing up with a great, soulful version of Rick Springfield’s Jessie’s Girl. Everything from the stage setup to the delicious treats on offer from Morgan & Meg was incredible, and there was nothing to fault (apart from the decibel battle with the Commonwealth Hotel across the road!).

The initial Porch Sessions in Adelaide took time to grow its wings: but from a handful of friends gathering in a backyard four years ago, the group have now held their second annual Porchland Festival.

Townsville’s Neighbourhood Sessions are growing in leaps and bounds in their own right. With only one event held, plans were already in place for the next four events: one held last weekend with a waiting list hoping for invites, one sold out on a boat in two weekends’ time and another open event by the beach on Mother’s Day. The most impressive addition to the Neighbourhood Sessions calendar, though, is their upcoming Neck of the Woods Festival.

Lit by a string of globe lights and with only the bare essentials available on the pallet stage, Neighbourhood Sessions ensures every performance is raw and soulful.

The Festival, to be held in a yet-to-be-revealed location in Townsville’s surrounds, will allow ‘neighbours’ to camp for a night serenaded by a line-up of Neighbourhood Sessions favourites and newbies joined by the chorus of NQ nature.

The festival format is something that wasn’t attempted by Porch Sessions until their events were well-established: but with both previous Neighbourhood Sessions events booked out within hours of RSVPs opening and all upcoming events with staggering amounts of interest online, the event already has promise to become a Townsville staple.

What, exactly, would the Festival involve? Neighbourhood Sessions organiser, Nicole Cross, shed some light at Saturday’s event.

“Neck of the Woods will be a very similar theme to what we’re doing with Neighbourhood Sessions but will be a larger scale festival event. It’ll be about 30 minutes out of Townsville in ‘the woods.’ It’s an absolutely amazing location – which is still secret at the moment, but will be revealed soon,” Nicole said.

“It’s incredibly scenic with green grass and hills, and with camping available. All will be announced in the near future, but if you follow our page and check out our online events you can find out more shortly.”

There’s still no solid info confirmed, but you can expect it to be everything you love about Neighbourhood Sessions – only on a larger scale. From more musicians, to more space for audience members and maybe even a few food trucks and handmade stalls. Everything’s still up in the air at this stage, but one thing’s for sure: if the past two Neighbourhood Sessions are anything to go by, this will be one Festival you want to get in quick for!

Neighbourhood Sessions on a Boat is already booked out! But you can kick back with Neighbourhood Sessions by the Sea at Tobruk Kiosk from 9am on 14 May, before the Neck of the Woods Neighbourhood Sessions Festival on 8 July. For further information on all Neighbourhood Sessions events and artist announcements, stay up to date on the Neighbourhood Sessions Facebook page.

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