Grommets take centre stage at Bluesfest competition

Tahlia Matheson, 17, of Ocean Shores performs in the grommet section of the Bluesfest Busking Competition on Saturday.
Tahlia Matheson, 17, of Ocean Shores performs in the grommet section of the Bluesfest Busking Competition on Saturday. Rodney Stevens

SINCE taking to the stage at last year's inaugural Bluesfest Grommet Busking Competition, 17-year-old Tahlia Matheson's confidence has soared.

The Ocean Shores resident said she used to be shy, but has drawn on her confidence and exposure from last year's competition to try and forge a career as a musician.

"I'm planning to move to London next year to study song writing at the London Institute of Contemporary Performance," she said.

A lover of acoustic music, Tahlia said the competition was the perfect way for young musicians to launch a career, just like fellow Northern Rivers two-piece outfit Louie Swain and Patrick Hetherington hope to do.

GREAT VIBES: Byron Bay two-piece outfit Louie Swain and Patrick Hetherington rock the stage during the grommet section of the Bluesfest Busking Competition.
GREAT VIBES: Byron Bay two-piece outfit Louie Swain and Patrick Hetherington rock the stage during the grommet section of the Bluesfest Busking Competition. Rodney Stevens

After competing with the band Lifeline in last year's competition, the pair chose to go it alone this year, and hope to travel the world playing music.

"The competition gives you great exposure being linked in with Bluesfest; it puts you on the map," said Patrick.

"If music was the way we could make money to travel the world it would be a dream," said Louie.

Co-organiser Melissa Moss said the second annual Bluesfest Grommet Busking competition for musicians under 18 attracted 21 entrants from as far away as Victoria and North Queensland.

"We went from 10 entrants last year to having to knock people back this year, without advertising, just through word of mouth," she said.

"It's amazing to see the level of talent the musicians have at such a young age."

"This experience gives the kids the chance to decide what they want to do with their music career."

The winner of the grommet section of the competition gets to play at Bluesfest, plus a mentor session with Xavier Rudd, a recording package with Studio 301and a PR package with Dragging Canoe Records.

The finals of the Bluesfest Busking Competition will be held at Byron Bay's Beach Hotel on Good Friday from noon.

The judges of the busking competition will pick the cream of the young talent to perform in the grommet showcase on the busking stage at Bluesfest on Easter Sunday.

Topics:  bluesfest entertainment

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