Organisers of the annual Cairns Festival have announced the first two names appearing on this year’s live music program, with Queensland locals Amy Shark and Danny Harley (best known as The Kite String Tangle) both set to perform.
The news comes exactly 60 years since the first Cairns Festival was held on May 26, 1962. Shark and Harley were confirmed for this year’s edition in an unusual way, simply tagged in the description that accompanies a trailer for the festival’s return.
That trailer stars Cairns singer-songwriter Naomi Wenitong and musical comedian Stephen Teakle (performing as his iconic Barry Morgan character), though it’s unconfirmed whether either of them will appear on the program alongside the aforementioned artists.
Have a look at the trailer below:
Shark’s performance, slated for August 29 at the Tanks Arts Centre, comes as part of her 60-date ‘See U Somewhere’ tour. It’ll be the last date of the run – which is currently travelling through regional towns in Western Australia – following other Queensland gigs in Caloundra, Biloela, Bundaberg, Gladstone, Rockhampton, Mackay and Townsville.
Harley, on the other hand, will be appearing at Cairns Festival with his new stage production Aftermath, a collaboration with the Australasian Dance Collective. A synopsis for the show describes it as “a rousing aural, visual and sensory trip”, sporting an original score performed live by Harley. Amy Hollingsworth and Jack Lister helmed the show’s concept, which is said to explore “a haunting world of disquiet, both familiar and unfamiliar”.
That show is also set to go down at the Tanks Arts Centre, with performances dated for Thursday September 1 and Friday 2. As a whole, this year’s Cairns Festival will run from August 26 through to September 4. Dozens of individual events will be held throughout the city over those ten days and nights, with a mix of free and ticketed installations.
More announcements will be made in the coming weeks – keep an eye out here for more info.
“This is a big year for Cairns Festival,” mayor Bob Manning said in a press statement. “Through the years there have been a few name changes, but what has remained steadfast is community’s support, which has grown the festival into a staple fixture on the regional Queensland events calendar, drawing thousands of people to our spectacular city.
“With six decades of memorable moments to spur us on, the 2022 Cairns Festival program builds on past successes, includes old favourites and incorporates some exciting new features and concepts, including a spectacular immersive laser and light experience to kick off 10-days of festivities.”
The Cairns Festival was launched in 1962, then named the Cairns Tourist Festival, initially to commemorate the launch of a new jetty on Green Island. It continued annually under the name Fun in the Sun, running from 1963 until the early ‘90s. It was then retitled as the Reef Festival – honouring the regional city’s access to the Great Barrier Reef – until it became known as Festival Cairns in 2002, and finally as the Cairns Festival in 2010.
Earlier this month, Shark called on the Australian government to better support its local artists, imploring those in power “to learn from what’s happened” throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Speaking to the ABC, she said she was hopeful the pandemic had wreaked the last of its havoc on Australia’s touring landscape, but argued that safeguards should still be enacted now, lest a similar event impact the industry in years to come.
“I feel like [the pandemic is] coming to an end, but it’s so uncertain,” Shark said. “We don’t know, but I would hope that the powers that be would have learnt from what we’ve been through and try and get somewhat prepared. In case this does happen again, what are the procedures?”
Meanwhile, 2021 saw Harley launch a new project with Woodes titled Tornado Club. They released their debut EP, ‘Reset’, last July, with a deluxe edition following in November. Harley’s most recent album as The Kite String Tangle, ‘C()D3X’, landed in March 2020.