This review (slightly modified) was originally published on XS Entertainment:

Caxton Street – Seafood Wine and Music Bash – Sunday May 5th, 2013

Billed as one of Australia’s biggest street parties – The Caxton Seafood and Wine Festival 2013,  drew a large crowd this year, hanks to reasonably good weather and a barrage of publicity.  The Festival is for anyone keen to sample seafood delights; sip on a few wines and enjoy  entertainment via an array of musical artists.  As the sun dipped and the music volume grew, like at so many Australian events, where relaxing and drinking is involved, many over-exuberant alcohol-fuelled patrons released their inhibitions. 


The cordoned off Caxton Street starts to fill


street style eating

The festival gates opened at 11am, with the enticing smell of freshly cooking food wafting up the cordoned-off section of Caxton Street. Local restaurants offered a selection of food options (seafood dominant of course!) The many stalls set up on the shop fronts, provided a quick street style eating experience for diners keen to part with cash. Prawns on skewers; bay-maries filled with fish and rice combinations; massive pans simmering with seafood paella, even German Wurst hot dogs for those wanting to deviate from seafood. One food stall stood ready for the onslaught, their fridge cabinets filled with pre-made seafood pizzas, served hot on cardboard slabs. 

As official sponsors, local winery Sirromet held the wine monopoly.  The Caxton Hotel sold alternative alcoholic choices, although I am not  sure what purpose was the Hawaiian kit (worn by the females staff.) Is it a pre-requisite to be as close to 18 years, to work at these places?  Or are the young ones are equipped with greater tolerance levels for the drunken scenes which tend to unravel later in the evening? Or maybe their lower pay rates allows Management to hire so many of them?

Photo of Building (1)

This building is dated 1883

Wandering through the closed off Caxton Street, gave chance to take a closer look at the street-scape. Interesting to take in the remnants of a few older style buildings and interesting architecture. When driving through Caxton street or frequenting the bars and restaurants in this busy little pocket  of Brisbane, I have never much notice of the local history.

I wonder what the local residents thought of the street closures. Caxton street was blocked off  the night before, re-opening at midnight on Sunday. Judging by the revelry when we left after 7pm, the residents should have the right to demand compensation for the disruption to their inner city lifestyle. But maybe the residents were paid to leave for the week-end?  There were no signs of inhabitants in the two houses close to the Petrie Terrace stage.


Great view from the front rooms of these cottages – but no-one home?

The weather remained friendly – there was a moment when rain looked imminent – but the official opening by Lord Mayor Graham Quirk was (maybe) enough to scare those rain clouds away.

A choice of stages – one at the top of Caxton Street, near the Hale Street End, another at the Petrie Terrace entrance and a mid way point platform hosting guest DJ’s, offered diverse music options. You chose where to to sit/stand or mingle.  The first musical act began at 12.20pm at the Petrie Terrace stage .James and Matthew (4) James Johnston and Matthew Graham opened the afternoon with a couple of relaxing songs. A select few gathered to listen to their acoustic guitars and pleasant harmonies.

Mr Cassidy – changed the pace with their bluesy, country sound. Danni Carr (vocals/banjo) and Emile Owen (vocals/mandolin/violin) injecting a folksy feel into Caxton Street. Joined by Emile’s husband Scott Owen (Living End) on double bass and vocals and Fingers Malone on drums – the growing crowd were treated to some entertaining sounds.

Man in Crowd (5)

Chilling to Mr Cassidy

Mr Cassidy

Mr Cassidy – sharing their bluesy sound

When Danni’s husband, Ash Grunwald hit the stage for their final song, Mountain Side, the finale became a family fun day with their kids up on stage happily dancing. We saw Ash’s laid back parenting style in action as he confidently played the banjo, as their youngest slept uninterrupted in a baby pouch on his chest. The kid will grow up knowing his music!


Ash Grunwald and new bub – with ear muffs muting the sound

The area began to fill as Melbourne based band, Taxiride hit the stage with their opening track Get Set. The mood remained mellow and relaxed until lead singer Jason Singh raised the audience off the bitumen with their final iconic song: Creepin up Slowly.

Taxiride (9)

the crowd gets to their feet with Taxiride’s finale

A cross section of ages gathered for 80’s Band Mental As Anything. Greedy Smith (keyboard and vocals) literally assaulted the senses with a screaming introduction to the afternoon (the sound quality of his mic was questionable.) Opening with Too Many Times, I was beginning to wonder if Greedy had passed his use-by-date. But you can’t deny the man’s energy, antics and his banter sharing  his satirical take on the world as he introduced each song (if you could understand him.) Sipping on his mug of tea throughout the show (declaring it was only herbal tea), Greedy gave the Caxton Street crowd a circus standard performance. Was Greedy impersonating a clown? In a striped red and white t-shirt, round John Lennon glasses his grey and flowing locks pinned with a young girl’s clip – he could not care less.  Despite his disheveled appearance, his unpredictable and warped antics revved the crowd! Finally, everyone was up and dancing.


Mental as Anything and Greedy in clown mode

Martin Plaza (11)

Martin Plaza – a little more sedate

Martin Plaza was unfailingly stoic on vocals and guitar (If you leave me, can I come too?)  The crowd forgave Greedy and his ever-increasingly tea-stained shirt, as the Mentals gave an entertaining version of (Just like) Romeo and Juliet. Attending a LIVE performance of this much-loved Aussie band from the 80’s, maybe its better to close your eyes to the visual signs of aging and simply listen to their un-dated sound? They still manages to fire up the crowd.

Choirboys (12)


The years seems to have been kinder to the Choirboys, the act following the Mentals. Lead singer Mark Gable, has aged more gracefully. After the Mental’s Greedy Smith’s screaming (unintelligible) comments, the Choirboys appearance on stage was a welcome relief. Another iconic Aussie band from the 80’s – the Choirboys had the crowd dancing and singing along to Run to Paradise and Never Gonna Die.

The Choirboys were my highlight of the night. It was timely to leave, so we made the slow departure north up Caxton Street, past the partying crowd. The seafood stalls had slowed in trade, but the empty bottles and drink vessels were multiplying. As the revelers kicked on, I was fairly confident, there would be a few sick days called in Monday morning.

Bottle collection (13)

gathering consumables

Sadly there seems to be a price that comes with fun, festivals and inner-city locations. But with the many sore heads, is also the big clean-up once the gates have closed and the last merry patron, makes their stumbled exit.  Spare a thought for all those wheelie bins filled with leftover seafood remnants, fermenting somewhere in the sun. At least the seagulls will be happy.

jenn jay

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