Echuca – What was missing from Riverboats Music Festival this year?



There was music.  There was wine.  There were picnics on the green grass and giant red gums with paper lanterns strung between them. But something was missing from this year’s Riverboats Music Festival… Jeff!


This is Jeff. He doesn't usually have a monkey.
This is Jeff. He doesn’t usually have a monkey.


Jeff has arranged our annual expedition to Echuca since Riverboats’ inception. But this year he dumped us for the nation state of Singapore. And in the words of multi Grammy winning artist Wally De Backer, aka Gotye ,“Singapore – poor choice”.  But how do I know what Wally’s opinion on this matter was? Well…



Traditionally the Friday evening of Riverboats is a sedate occasion.  However despite the drizzly weather the vibe of the group this year saw a few more wines and beers consumed than is the norm. Even the customary interpretive dance was spontaneously created for Ian Moss’ My Baby.  Let’s just say that the title was taken very literally and if you missed it just be thankful.


Obligatory riverboat pic
Obligatory riverboat pic


At the end of the gig Ben came back from the merch tent with a Riverboats calico bag signed by Ian Moss. But this guru of Australia music didn’t just put his moniker on the bag. He voiced his opinion of Jeff’s absence, “To Jeff, this festival is way better without you”.  Game on! What did the rest of the line up for Riverboats 2014 think of Jeff’s absence?




Saturday was a slow start.  After a walk to the bakery to refuel I had to have a nap in the caravan. I could faintly hear the sounds of Tinpan Orange.  It was enough to get me up and out of bed but I walked through the festival gates just as they were wrapping up their set. This happens to me every year! Missing a great band on Saturday afternoon is as much tradition for me as the interpretive dance.

Don Walker may be one of Australia’s greatest songwriter however he really didn’t get the gist of the game coming up with only “For Jeff – Don Walker”. Disappointing considering that we even started off a new bag on the Saturday so he didn’t have to share one with Ian Moss.

Dan Kelly used the words of a song that he wrote about John Howard to describe his feelings about Jeff’s absence and also had some kind words for Jeff’s long-suffering partner Sue.




I lined up to get The Basics views on Jeff’s non-attendance. I hate queuing but there were some over zealous fans of Gotye that kept me amused.  Kris Schroeder chose to remind Jeff that Singapore has the death penalty (fitting advice if you know him) and Tim Heath kept it simple with, “You’re a shit bloke”.




Wagons put on a great show and the song Willie Nelson was a simple choice for the interpretive dance on night two. Many of the willies could have been mistaken for elephant trunks and no one was entirely sure what the Nelson wrestling move looked like but we made it work.   Henry Wagons wanted to know where Jeff was but also requested that Sue give him a call.

During the Cat Empire set the heavens opened and the bag was lucky to be saved.




On the final afternoon the sun shone through and we watched Paul Dempsey perform a set of covers and originals.  The warmer weather put everyone in a happy mood and Paul even adorned the bag with, “Miss You Jeff”.





The 2014 Riverboats Music Festival concluded with a set from Tim Finn. Tim might want to have a chat with Don Walker about what constitutes a great festival set list. From early 80’s Split Endz tunes to a few Crowded House sing along classics, he held the crowd and even assured punters that their favourites were coming up when requests were shouted out from the crowd.




We never found out what Tim Finn thought of Jeff’s non-attendance. By that point we were sick of lining up for him.  Next year Jeff can get his own merchandise signed.







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