Glenn is Wright behind popular music festivals
AS A young Trombone player in Sydney three decades ago Glenn Wright could little imagine that one day he would be organizing and over-seeing two of the most-loved boutique music festivals in Australia.
Wright, who moved to the Far North Coast sixteen years ago, is originator and Festival Director of the highly successful Bello Winter Music Festival, held earlier this month, and it's equally successful big sister Mullum Music Festival, November 14-17.
The sell out events centre around two of the North Coasts most picturesque towns - Bellingen and Mullumbimby and rather than being held in a big field somewhere with a huge headliner and port-a-loos for miles, they are an eclectic mix of up and coming and much-loved talent and take place in clubs, pubs and halls across the towns, all within walking distance and with ready access to chairs and flushable toilets.
These are music festivals, family friendly and done with style, finesse and a large pinch of ambience - hardly surprising for one of the men behind one of Sydney's much-loved music venues Harbourside Brasserie.
"When I was a kid of 18-19 my father financed my brother into a restaurant at Pier One in Sydney," Glen said explaining how he became involved in the music industry. For Glen to begin with it was a place to play Trombone in the band at every Saturday but when his father died he became more involved and the two brothers chef and musician turned it into one of "The" live music spots in Sydney over the next decade and a half.
But with a young family it was time to move on and out of the city in 2002 - a tree or sea change - to where his wife had family in Bellingen or further north to another favourite spot - Mullumbimby. In the end a property deal fell through in the southern region and the perfect place was found further north.
However the family's love of Bello never waned and a few years ago when Glen was looking to extend the Mullum Festival (which he started 12 years ago as a way to make a living doing what he knew best) it was decided rather than turn it into a big paddock event, to start a winter one and Bello Winter Music Festival was born.
Glenn said it is held on the coldest week of the year and allows North Coasters to do something we don't get to do a lot - "dress up in coats and boots and go out", it also means that it's two cold for other events and so music lovers have the town to themselves.
The second festival also allowed Mullum to continue to have the charm that had become it's trademark.
Part of the secret for the success of the festivals has been Glenn's knack for picking acts like Tash Sultana, right before they go from up and coming to big names. The ability to bring an emerging artist to the area just before they hit the big time has been a financial necessity for the small events and part of the charm for both the Mullum and Bello festivals. A secret to keeping costs down and people coming back.
Glen believes it's those concerts that are some of the most memorable, witnessing a young artist on the rise, a memory and bragging rights in the making, a "oh I saw him/her/them when they played in front of 200 people and now they are selling out big venues" occasion.
"There are so many moments at Mullum where you have the privilege of being in a room knowing that you are witnessing phenomenal talent," he explained.
The 12th annual Mullum Music Festival will feature more than 200 performances. The first of this year's line-up has been announced and includes Nano Stern (CH), Mojo Juju (AU), Sibusile Xaba (Sth Africa) Emma Donovan & The Putbacks, Allensworth (US) Alysha Brilla (Can), Joe Pug (US), Z Star Trinity (UK), Thando Ruby Boots, Lucie Thorne, The Wilson Pickers and Sunnyside 4 days.