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It's mental health month, and with the shambolic state of mental health services in regional Australia being the subject of great media attention in recent weeks (and months), a bevy of NSW north coast musicians have banded together to proactively address the issue.

With the support of politicians and the business community, over 170 local musos, performers and artists have donated their time and talents to the In Good Company Open Air Music Festival for mental health and homelessness, to be held in Lismore this coming November.

“Live music can’t end mental illness or homelessness in our communities, but it can definitely help raise awareness and money to address some of the problems,” said Horace Bevan, former Bourbon Street lead guitarist, Alstonville resident and brainchild of the event.

The grassroots event, organised entirely by volunteers, will be held on Saturday November 13 at The Lismore Turf Club (racetrack) and is tipped to draw crowds in their thousands to town, and raise big bucks for local charities the Mental Health Support Group and the Lismore Soup Kitchen.

“Lismore needs a party and this will be a fantastic day – a massive, family-friendly shindig for everyone in our region,” Mr Bevan said. “We’re going to transform the racetrack into a community feast for the senses –a space where great music, good people, tasty food and the ‘spirit of giving’ prevail. From midday to midnight, we’ll have theatre and circus performers sprawled across the grounds, market and arts stalls and great music across one main stage and throughout the grounds.”

The Festival has received an extremely warm response from Reverend Tim Costello, CEO of World Vision Australia and Lismore Soup Kitchen patron, and Barbara Swain, coordinator of the Mental Health Support Group.

costello

Tim loves the idea

“As the Patron of the Lismore Soup Kitchen I am delighted to give my backing to this great fundraiser - the In Good Company festival,” Mr Costello said. “It sounds like an event worth leaving Melbourne for! Wish I was free to join you. A wonderful initiative for two great and worthwhile causes.  It is this sort of celebration which makes community creative, a lot of fun and inclusive.  May it be the beginning of a great local tradition.”

Barbara Swain shared his sentiment. “Last year, Horace and the In Good Company musicians put on a charity concert in aid of the Mental Health Support Group and the Lismore Soup Kitchen.  It was hugely successful and highlighted the plight of the mentally ill and the homeless in our community,” Ms Swain said. 

She added that it was “exciting” to see such a large group of volunteers, musicians and performers who are prepared to stand up and do something for this most little understood section of our community. 

“Here in the Northern Rivers we have a big population of people living with mental illness and we need funds to be able to support in any way we can, those who are stigmatized and beset by the scourge of mental illness,” she said.

“This concert is a huge boost for mental health in the Northern Rivers. It highlights mental health, enables the community to have fun whilst supporting the fundraising event and will provide vital funds for us to continue to assist mental health consumers in the area. Mental illness affects not only the sufferer but their family too.  Any publicity to highlight mental illness is a bonus.” 

In Good Company’s musical line-up is growing bigger by the day, boasting an eclectic mix of local and inter-state rock n roll, reggae, folk, indie, pop and blues acts. 

re-mainssmall    ngaiiresmall

Internationally renowned indie/soul songstress and former Lismore girl Ngaiire Joseph and her 5-piece band will headline the event. Aussie singer/songwriter Diana Anaid will also hit the stage. Nationally-renowned country rock ‘n’ roll band The Re-mains has accepted their invitation to join the festivities, Dolphin Award Album of the Year winners The Tendons.

Bangalow-based drumming/dancing troupe the Samba-Blisstas are also on board. Byron-based social conscience rock band the Very Unique Existence will donate their talents, joining funky local world-music five-piece Stipsky and Lismore-based Guitar virtuoso and Dolphin Award Song of the Year 2010 finalist, Luke Vassella. Comedian S Sorrensen will MC the event.

For Mr Bevan and fellow organisers of the Festival, their disappointment at the lack of political leadership on mental health comes across loud and clear. “It’s no secret that we have very high rates of mental illness across Australia, particularly in regional areas like Lismore where demand for support services isn’t being adequately met. 

“Mental illness has also been proven as the leading cause of homelessness, which is another big issue in our region, particularly in the 16-25 age range,” said Mr Bevan, who was once homeless himself.

Tickets for the Festival will be available in coming months and will be very affordable, $12 for concession holders and $15 for adults. All proceeds from the In Good Company Open Air Festival will go to two local charities: the Mental Health Support Group and the Lismore Soup Kitchen. The Win-some Lose-some Gospel Choir and the Winsome Street Choir, directed by Peter Lehner (below, with Bevan) of Sydney Street Choir fame, will also perform on the day.

The festival has the full support of local politicians Janelle Saffin MP, Thomas George MP and Mayor Jenny Dowell and local businesses Southern Cross University, The Northern Star, Southern Cross Ten, Southern Cross Credit Union, Regional Express (REX) airlines, NORTEC, Lismore City Council, EnviTE, Planet Music and ON-Q, which are sponsoring the event.

To become a sponsor, donate to help us cover costs or to simply volunteer for the Festival, hit the Festival’s official website www.ingoodcompany2010.org . Bookings can be made via phone or email, with tickets costing $15 for adults, $12 for concessions and $30 for families.

Posted: Sunday October 17, 2010

Published: Oct 17, 2010 6:12pm by philippa.

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