Trade clii | Month 21 | Autumn
A Festival Called PANAMA
The dirt road crunched underneath my decaying leather shoes as I strolled away from the festival towards a hill covered in pine trees. With the forest around me I climbed up and up until I found the perfect patch. I wasn’t looking for solitude in the silence of the forest I was simply looking for a patch of dried decaying pine needles to sit and listen to the music coming from the valley below. Panama.
Two young gentlemen and a team of high spirited friends created a new music festival this year called Panama. Located in the north of Tasmania in a secluded forest and a 1000 person capacity this has simply become one of my favourite music festivals I’ve ever experienced. And don’t think because it’s a small festival that the lineup is anything to shrug off either.
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Interview with Tim & Dan
Describe your most memorable adventure as a child.
When I was about 6 I had a friend who lived on a couple of acres beside some bushland in north Brisbane. They were a catholic family and he had six brothers and sisters, a dam full of turtles, a crazy horse, chickens, snakes and a tree house. His mum was a big round woman always cooking for the kids and keeping the crew in line with a wooden spoon. His Dad was a tall, thin, chain-smoking, painter with washed out red hair and few words to spare. I went there during school holidays and ran wild on the property.
We used to get meat bones from his mum and tie them to an old rope. We’d throw them in the dam and wait for the turtles to come to nibble. We’d slowly, slowly pull the rope in, bringing the turtles closer and closer to the edge. We’d be knee deep in the murky water, toes buried in the cold muddy bed. Eventually you would start to see the dark shape moving below the surface, almost black and about the size of a dinner plate. When they were close enough we’d swoop down and catch them with our bare hands. They’d emerge mossy and furious, webbed claws scratching at our arms. We’d collect them all day and then let them all go at sun down. In the evenings, if we had had a good day, our arms were like scribbly bark from the their claws.
Lego: it's not so much a specific moment in childhood, but more so an overarching theme. There was plenty of bike riding and playing with fire too, but the tactile imaginarium that was the world of Lego is one of the the most vivid and creative memories I hold.
What is the best thing about creating a music festival?
I actually honestly love it all. I love the year round work, chatting with bands and agents, dreaming and scheming about how to make things better and better. I love the build-up - working long days building and painting, planning and organising. Working hard with a small team you build a special bond and I think it’s that which I love the most. I love the buzz of the event itself seeing it all come together, greeting and watching the artists settle in and perform, seeing people having such a good time and having one myself. I also love the slow exhausted pack up, the pressure’s off, but the glow remains.
Being a part of something that is so unavoidably greater than oneself.
What was the hardest part when creating Panama Music Festival?
Well for me it was the risk. The risk that there weren’t enough people interested in what we were doing to make it possible. Tasmania has 500 000 people in the whole state. And we wanted 1000 of those to trek off into the bush and trust us with a line-up of bands most people had probably never heard of. I had some sleepless nights.
Avoiding micro-managing while maintaining a sense of intimacy, dedication, and attention to detail in each and every interaction I have. Knowing when to let something go or when to pursue it is often critical as well.
Are there any industry secrets that guests usually don’t know?
Yes - It’s mostly all secrets.
Probably, but I really don't know, I'm still learning. Each and every gig teaches me something, reinforces something, or offers up a circumstance in which a previously held belief is completely upended.
What was one of the most dangerous things you’ve gone through in life?
My wife just had a baby. I wont go into the details but it was a tricky labour and it was pretty scary at times. We’re all safe and sound now but fuckin’ yikes…it’s good to be home.
Ten years smoking cigarettes. (Which I know is kind of lame and perhaps that suggests I should pursue challenges that are a little more creative).
If you could do anything tomorrow what would you do?
We have some family overseas in Sweden and Canada. With our newborn son just born Id like to have them all in one place.
I'd be in Melbourne (which is where I am now) and I'd be working on the circus Oz big top tent (which is what I will be doing tomorrow). On my lunch break I'd would devise a plan to rid the world of willful ignorance.
If you could teach humanity one thing, what would it be?
Be kind to each other.
What is something you haven’t told someone in a long time?
I hate the sound of sucking on iceblocks. Really really hate it. Also sucking water out of wet fabric. Disgusting.
It's been a very long time since I have told anyone that I genuinely want to hear a detailed description of the dreams they had last night.
Describe your most memorable adventure as an adult.
I did work experience in a tiny little town in Kenya when I was about twenty. I lived in a mud hut with a thatched roof, no power and water from a well. I spent a lot of time reading and playing guitar. I made a bunch of friends and got a bit of an idea of what life was like there. It was a precious time that I think about it often. I worked on a community led microfinance program – did some training and research for them. It was an important part of my life.
I will never forget a trip to Montreal in 2010, I learnt (the hard way) that I cannot exist without the love, kindness and warmth of other people.
If you had to recommend a favourite music album, what would it be?
Here’s four. Sorry.
Sharon Van Etten – Tramp
Jonathan Wilson – Gentle Spirit
Fionn Regan – The End of History
War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream
No, but I am currently listening to a Melbourne artist called Grizzly Jim Lawrie. His album, Paying My Debts From The Grave, is making me feel the very best kind of sadness.