Riverboats. A one, two; a one, two, three, four…

By Kimberley Price

The Waifs, Mark Seymour, Tex Perkins, Augie March, Deborah Conway and Benny Walker are part of the line-up for Riverboats 2019. KIMBERLEY PRICE takes a look at all the acts coming as one of the annual Echuca-Moama high points gets set to entertain 


It’s just one word but it means so much.

But Riverboats (aka the Riverboats festival) is one of ‘the’ fixtures on the local calendar.

A guaranteed sell out, in a guaranteed location, that is without parallel on the festival circuit

It is one of the few events upon which people wait with breathless anticipation to hear who is in the next line-up — and how quickly the tickets will be snapped up once the program goes public.

Riverboats 2019 will be headlined by folk rock band The Waifs, Tex Perkins — Far From Folsom, Mark Seymour and The Undertow and Augie March.

Supporting them across the three days of music in February will be Don Walker, Jen Cloher, Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier, Fraser A. Gorman, Gabriella Cohen, The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra, The Kill Devil Hills, Leah Senior and Echuca-Moama’s Benny Walker.

And running the show once again will be MC Brian Nankervis — the man with the Cheshire cat grin and endless witty repartee.

Brian is as much a fixture as the towering river red gums which shade the venue.

Festival director David Frazer said he was pumped about the 2019 program and still finds it hard to believe this will be his eighth event.

“It has been such an incredible journey so far. From its origins as a small regional festival back in 2012, Riverboats has now presented some of the biggest names in Australian music under the red gums at Aquatic Reserve, as well as receiving national acclaim including Gold for Best Festival at the 2017 QANTAS Australian Tourism Awards," he said.

“We are a little boutique festival that’s wonderfully unique. The line-up is one thing, but the town offerings are another.

“The Riverboats festival brings people to the Murray.”

Formed in 1992, sisters Vikki and Donna Simpson recruited Josh Cunningham to form The Waifs. Adding Ben Franz and David Ross Macdonald for their touring and recording, the band was a regular on the Australian charts in the early 2000s.

Their 2003 album Up All Night reached the top five of the Australian album charts, scored four ARIA awards and went double platinum.

The band’s soft whimsical sound and Australiana accents in ‘London Still’, ‘Bridal Train’ and ‘Sun Dirt Water’ have seen The Waifs become a household name.

Mark Seymour is an Australian music icon.

Front man of Hunters and Collectors, responsible for hits such as Holy Grail and Throw Your Arms Around Me, Mark
Seymour’s songs have been the soundtrack of Australian lifestyle for decades (despite any damage some of us have committed at karaoke night).

Joining him at Riverboats will be The Undertow, a band which collaborated with Seymour on their 2011 album — the first post H&C album he has credited to a band.

Seminal musician and Riverboats favourite Tex Perkins returns with his critically-acclaimed Far From Folsom — The
Songs of Johnny Cash.

In a major coup for Riverboats audiences, this will be the first time Far From Folsom has been performed as part of a music festival.

Featuring Tex’s legendary backing band The Tennessee Four, Far From Folsom embodies Johnny Cash’s iconic performances at Folsom and San Quentin prisons in the late 1960s.

If Augie March doesn’t make you feel like sitting against a window looking out at the rain and belting out One Crowded Hour then you’re doing something wrong.

The band formed in 1996 in Shepparton and has definitely seen the highs and lows of the music industry.

It wasn’t until their third album Moo, You Bloody Choir in 2006 that Augie found their place on the charts with their light vocals, strong bass and indie/pop sound.

Away from the mainstage, artists performing as part of Riverboats’ famous paddlesteamer sideshows are Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier, Benny Walker, Fraser A.

Gorman and Leah Senior. Benny Walker will also be performing at the annual Riverboats Breakfast, to be held on the upstairs balcony of the Beechworth Bakery.

“There are so many different things you mightn’t see at other festivals,” David Frazer said.

“Families can roll out their picnic rugs and get up close and personal with the artists all appearing on the one stage.”

Riverboats Music Festival will be held on February 15–17 at the Aquatic Reserve. 