SUMMER RHYTHM FESTIVAL returns with all-star Canberra show

Summer Rhythm Festival article by Josh Eckersley

On New Year’s Eve we will see the long-overdue return of the Summer Rhythm Festival, which is shaping up to be the biggest local event of the year. With a jam-packed line-up that showcases a diverse range of Canberra’s best musicians, you can expect a full day of fun, food, and festivities that will carry us through to 2022. This month we spoke with the dynamic live music promoter/musician duo behind the Summer Rhythm Festival, Rafael Florez of Cultura Clandestino and Dan Luton of Strange Hours, about their dedication to bringing back good vibes this Summer.

The Decideds
The Decideds @ Autumn Rhythm

Summer Rhythm – from 2009 to now

Those of us seasoned gig-goers may remember the original Summer Rhythm Festival from way back in 2009. It started as a one-day event with two stages, and over the course of three years it evolved, ultimately building into a three-day event with four stages, over 80 bands, camping, and market stalls. The festival was a grass roots and community-driven success story that was a well-remembered and often reminisced event in this neck of the woods. 

So why, in 2021, are we now seeing the resurrection of Summer Rhythm? We ask the diligent Dan Luton, who started the festival as a fundraiser for a friend, after suffering a motorbike accident, and he told us. 

“Ten years on, we still encounter people who remember the original Summer Rhythm Festival as one of the best events of their life,” Dan enthused. “This is why we are reviving it in its essence, over one beautiful night this New Year’s Eve. The event will be staged in The Wedgetail Pavilion at Goolabri this year, which alone is worth the experience. It is the only permanently installed, engineered stretch marquee in the region, nestled into the bushland.”

The majestic surrounds of Goolabri

Rafael adds: “I was a huge fan of the original event, especially the musical direction. It showcased bands that bridged the genres of dub, reggae, hip hop, blues/folk and world music. It saw some of the best dub/reggae bands in the country perform. Not to mention the cream of Canberra’s live music scene.” 

All the trimmings

It stands to reason that the 2021 New Year’s edition of Summer Rhythm will continue the celebration of life, positivity, and good vibes, with a swag of top-notch entertainment already locked and loaded. The dedicated duo has secured:

“a hand-picked and packed line up of diverse and amazing live music. There’s over 10 artists and a great range of genres,” Rafael tells us with excitement.

There will be camping available, food trucks, and community market stalls too. We’ve worked hard on the programming so there is a natural flow to the event. We start quite chilled for those attending earlier (including a children’s act). Then we ramp up as we get closer to midnight.”

Raio De Sol
Samba drumming group Raio De Sol

And what have these brilliant boys got planned for the big countdown to midnight, I hear you ask? Dan lets slip that, “we will have a special midnight piñata ceremony to see out 2021 in style!”

Rafael adds: “The midnight countdown will be orchestrated by local samba drumming group Raio De Sol. That will definitely be a cathartic communal experience.”

Lashings of lovely locals

Joining Raio De Sol on the night will be The Decideds, Shadow Ministers, The Burley Griffin, FunkyTrop, Muesli, Nice Good Things, and many more exciting local artists. The musical genres, ranging from Gypsy and dub reggae to Latin funk and blues presents an eclectic mix of world music that is deliberately ambitious and curated to inspire a broadening of people’s musical appreciation and overall experience.

Rafael explains: “At every step of the process, the perspective of the audience is central, especially with this line-up. We hope the punters might know one or two of the bands playing but will be exposed to many more that they have never heard of before. This year is particularly varied, but still holds true to the good vibes and reggae seeds of the original festival. Given we’ve not been able to experience a music festival because of Covid, it’s going to be extra special.”

Dan further explains: “Summer Rhythm has always celebrated diversity in music. It feels good to create a space where people are invited to cross over. To experience different musical genres as one. It’s great to co-produce this edition with Rafael. He always puts on really uplifting and diverse shows, and understands how to put together a great line-up that flows well.”

WHAT: Summer Rhythm Festival
WHERE: Wedgetail Pavilion @ Goolabri
WHEN: 3pm, 31 December – 1am, 1 January 2022
TIX: For further information, visit

Liked it? Take a second to support BMA Magazine on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

Leave a Reply