Folk favourite to reunite with Bellarine fans
Australian folk darling Julia Stone has promised to have Bellarine fans up and dancing this weekend as her latest record makes its debut in the region.
Stone is among the headline acts of the first edition of By the Pier, a sister event to Queesncliff Music Festival, and begins tomorrow (Friday, March 25) evening at Queenscliff foreshore.
She released her third album Sixty Summers in April last year, which was notable for its higher tempo than fans and critics usually associate with the long-time folk singer-songwriter, who became best known as half of superstar sibling duo Angus and Julia Stone.
Stone promised a healthy mix of old and new for the local set, but said she wanted to see revellers on their feet to celebrate the return of live events.
“I always play older songs, there’ll be some of those guys in there and some stuff I’ve written with my brother,” she said.
“There’ll definitely be stuff like Break, Unreal, Sixty Summers, Fire in Me; they’re all just fun festival songs because you can dance to them.
“Initially I wanted to do the record because I’ve been doing folk music for a long time and it’s really beautiful to sing that kind of music, but I really love the opportunity to dance with people.”
This year’s schedule marks a return to the packed calendar that had become the 37-year-old’s norm for close to two decades since launching her career shortly after finishing high school in Sydney.
The break away from the tour bus allowed Stone to finalise the new album while also gaining new perspectives outside her usual sphere, including studying and working in the mental health space.
“At first I enjoyed the change of lifestyle. I’ve been touring since I was 20,” she said.
“I didn’t see any breaks coming up, life was always about playing shows.
“When the pandemic hit, initially it was quite a novelty to not be always leaving.
“I found I had other things I was interested in.
“We all come up against things in our life at different times and having the skillset to know how to sit in that discomfort was really helpful.”
Stone’s absence from the tour scene was keenly felt in the Surf Coast and Bellarine, where she was a regular performer pre-pandemic.
She last played locally alongside Angus at The Drop Torquay in 2019 and has also notched appearances at the previous Queenscliff Folk Festival.
Stone was on the ticket for last year’s Queenscliff Music Festival in November, before COVID ultimately scuppered the event for another year.
Her absence from the Bellarine this time will be far shorter. Stone will team up with her brother Angus to support rock stars Crowded House on their nationwide tour, which includes a tour date at Mount Duneed on April 23.
She said she was looking forward to an emotional on-stage reunion with her brother, which will provide the added bonus of the siblings ticking off a bucket list item by supporting one of their greatest musical idols.
“We haven’t played a show together for two years now.
“We were talking the other day about how exciting it is for us. We grew up listening to Crowded House, it’s a life goal to see the people that influenced our music, so that’ll be a huge thing.
“I love him, he’s my brother. I miss him and I love singing music with people all over the place. I’ve done a lot of collaborations and a lot of duets but there’s nothing like singing live with him.”
Emotional reunions are set to become a theme of the coming months, as Australian performers invite crowds back to enjoy the music and events they love.
“I had a batch of rehearsals (last) week, and playing music again has felt very special. I don’t think anyone in my community of musicians is ever going to take that for granted again,” Stone said.
“I’m so excited live music is happening again.
“I can feel the energy and excitement as it’s all about to kick off, and I think it’s going to be really helpful and healing for what has been a really challenging and tricky couple of years.”
Stone headlines the Saturday line-up for the Queenscliff festival, which also includes dance duo Client Liaison and award-winning Indigenous urban artist Briggs.
A Friday opener led by San Cisco and a Sunday finale including pop queen Vera Blue bookend the inaugural three-day event.
For tickets and information, head to bythepier.com.au.