Illawarra/Southern Highlands trio Bald and the Beautiful to perform at national final of 'Passport to Airlie Beach: Battle of Bands' competition

WINNERS: Bald and the Beautiful members Greg Whitford, Saul Burgess and David Sell with Illawarra competition organiser James Keene (far right). Picture: Supplied
WINNERS: Bald and the Beautiful members Greg Whitford, Saul Burgess and David Sell with Illawarra competition organiser James Keene (far right). Picture: Supplied

A group of high school friends/musicians are hoping an upcoming interstate gig will launch them on to the festival circuit. 

The Illawarra final of the national ‘Passport to Airlie Beach: Battle of Bands’ competition took place at the Oaks Hotel, Albion Park Rail on Sunday night. 

Winners, blues/roots-rockers Bald and the Beautiful qualified for the national grand final in Queensland, which will take place during the Airlie Beach Festival of Music weekend in November. 

Bassist Greg Whitford, 54, lives in Flinders, while band-mates Saul Burgess (guitars/vocals) and David Sell (drums) reside in the Southern Highlands. 

The band formed about three years ago, although the members had played in bands together in their youth. 

Friends since their teens, the trio attended Bowral High School together. 

Whitford, a welding inspector, said music had long been a passion of his.

However, while his band-mates continued to play music, the bassist said he had taken an extended break from the scene.

“I got wrapped up in my career and family from my mid-twenties,” he said.

“So I kind of gave it away and came back to it a few years ago.

“The other guys stuck with it more over the years.

“We’ve known each other for so long. In bands you can get a lot of personality clashes, but we’re a good unit.”

They will compete against 14 other bands from throughout the country in the grand final.

The national winner receives a main stage slot at the festival in 2019, as well as other prizes. 

This year’s festival line-up includes Smash Mouth, Dave Dobbyn, Marcia Hines and Kasey Chambers. 

“It’s a really good opportunity for us,” Whitford said.

“Playing original music, it can be difficult to get gigs.

“We’re always trying to break into the festival scene, and hopefully this is our way forward.”

Illawarra competition organiser James Keene said the finalists will also get to play promotional gigs in and around the festival site during the festival weekend.

“They get a chance to showcase themselves, and it's a great way to get their name out there,” he said.