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Festival brings out Byron buskers

The Hussy Hicks of Tallebudgera win the Busking over Byron original music competition at the Beach Hotel for a spot in the Bluesfest line-up.
The Hussy Hicks of Tallebudgera win the Busking over Byron original music competition at the Beach Hotel for a spot in the Bluesfest line-up. DAVID NIELSEN

IN A TOWN where some of the country’s best musos drive cabs and wait tables, it was always going to be a tough gig.

Bluesfest’s Busking Over Byron competition wrapped up yesterday with crowd favourite the Hussy Hicks taking out the title for 2010.

This is no ordinary busking contest where contestants rock up with a rusty set of bongos and a nylon string guitar.

Forty three slick, sharp and funky acts took to stages across Byron Bay over three days, pushing the poor judges to their decisive limits to choose the winner from a staggering talent pool of performers.

Seven finalists played back-to-back to an enthralled and enthused crowd of locals and out-of-towners yesterday afternoon at the Beach Hotel.

Hussy Hicks will now grace the Jambalaya Stage on Monday at midday.

They also picked up a $2000 recording package at Studio 301, and a gig at Southern Cross University’s Unibar – though that’s more like a win for the students.

The judges, independent producer Murray Burns, 2008 busking competition winner Matty Devitt and 2007 winner Marshall O’Kell had their work cut out for them as they spent most of yesterday splitting musical hairs.

The Specifics picked up second place by a hair’s breadth followed closely by Set Sail.

Mr O’Kell has played the last three festivals since taking out the contest in 2007.

“It has really opened doors for us,” he said.

“From winning the competition that year we’ve played over 50 festivals around the country since.”

Competition organiser Anita Colenbraider said the busking competition has gone from strength to strength over the last seven years.

“It was a difficult choice for the judges but they had a great time.

“Hussy Hicks were so beautiful, so humble. The crowd response was amazing – the girls absolutely captivated them.”

Mr Burns said the competition was getting bigger and bigger and attracting more and more bands.

“That’s why we want to tweak it a bit next year,” he said.

“It was originally just buskers but it’s becoming more of a band and buskers comp so we’ll have to address that.”



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