Wollongong’s booming small bar and live music scene is all thanks to the Yours and Owls festival directors, according to Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery.

His comments come as the city prepares for its third, and largest, advent of the live music festival which will take place at Stuart Park over the October long weekend. The festival was developed from the original Yours and Owls live music venue opened by childhood friends Adam Smith, Ben Tillman and Balunn Jones in 2011.

“Yours and Owls was the team that got things going, and helped people appreciate the small bars and venues,” Mr Bradbery said. “People often aren’t into the big venues and pubs, they want something a bit more intimate with a friendlier and warmer atmosphere.”

The tiny Yours and Owls music venue on Kembla Street was sold in 2013 to make way for bigger ventures, such as the festival, which will this year include international and sell-out artists such as The Living End, Hermitude, Client Liaison and Stonefield.

However, festival directors insist they have retained the homey charm of the brand, with many local and upcoming artists featuring on the lineup.

“It’s something we’re really proud of, and we’ll always be pushing that agenda,” said Yours and Owls director Adam Smith.

Stanwell Park musician Bec Sandridge will be performing at the festival for the second year running, having won a Triple J Unearthed competition to perform at the event last year. Prior to that performance, she was entirely self-managed.

“That competition set me up with a manager, and a record label, and just a team of really great people,” she said. “Without all this support, I would be no one.”

Sandridge credits the festival with giving her the essential publicity to kick-start her career. She is currently touring Australia to launch a 7” vinyl.

This year’s Yours and Owls festival promises more shade, more facilities and bigger stages than seen in previous years, and the directors are anticipating a sell-out audience. Tickets are available now on the Yours and Owls website.


Photo: supplied by Bec Sandridge