by David Robinson

The normally quiet town of Melrose, located 265 kilometres north of Adelaide at the base of Mount Remarkable, hosts the third annual Melrose Music Muster on Sept 23-25. Musicians and music lovers from around the state will take part in a three-day festival of beautiful sounds, fresh air and good vibes. As preparations move into their final phase we catch up with the man behind the Muster, Anton Lunstedt, and ask him where the idea to stage a music event in the oldest town in the Flinders Ranges originated.

“Since the late ’70s I’ve been driving up through here, it’s beautiful country,” Anton begins. “I spent many years as a tour guide, often passing through the area, and I always loved the beautiful scenery, the environment and the fabulous town. It’s really great.

“Years later I moved up here. I was the event co-ordinator for the Bangor Bushfire Relief Concert which involved a few of my musical mates, and that went off! It was great, and the musos said it would be good to do a festival up here. I had the time and some momentum so I thought I’d see if I could make something happen.”

How has the local community embraced the event?

“It’s a pretty small community and initially they probably weren’t sure about a bunch of strange people coming into town,” he laughs. “They didn’t know what to expect when a guy with long  hair and a ponytail started talking about a music festival, so they understandably stood back and applied a bit of caution. After the first one in 2014, which sort of broke the ice, people were more optimistic and positive about it. Last year’s Muster brought a lot of smiles and happiness to the locals and the wider community. And now we are ready for the third one which is going to happen in a couple of weeks’ time.”

How much work goes into staging something like this?

“Heaps; ultimately it’s a lot of legwork and talking,” Anton says. “Selling your ideas and getting people interested. And also getting involved with other things that are connected –a lot of networking. There are all the little jobs you’ve got to do to put the structure in place, and so many variables that you rely on. It is a lot of work, a lot of stress, and not enough people! I’m sure there’s probably a simpler way of doing it but I’m gradually learning as I go.melrose-music-muster-2016-the-clothesline

“It’s a really scary thing to put your faith into something that’s just an idea; it’s amazing how it falls together. The support, from the musicians and from other folks, is great. They jump on board and want to be part of it, and actually make the event happen. It’s amazing, that energy, and that’s really my driver. When you’ve got so many people wanting this; it keeps me rolling, it makes me work hard on putting it together, and doing all the necessary stuff so that these guys can come up here and have a good weekend, playing music with other musicians.”

Sounds like a big job. Do you get much help?

“Well, it comes from here and there. There’s this tiny community handling the organisation side of things. We’ve got a little gang of people, we get a few things done that way, but a lot of the stuff just comes out of left field – you know; musos know someone who knows someone that can do something… It’s great, meeting these excited people who want to be a part of what we are doing.”

What are your hopes for this year’s event?

“It’s really exhausting at this stage, and I’m just hoping I get it across the line,” he laughs. “It’s been a bit of a struggle over the last few weeks, but I’ve made some headway. I’m a bit behind with some things because I’ve had to disappear and go and do something else, but it’s really starting to come together now.

“It’s looking solid again, and it’s almost at the point of only needing to take care of some of the finer details, probably this week. The last week will be just sort of sweeping the street and putting up the signs [laughs].

“It’s all good; a few weeks ago, even a week ago, it was absolute panic. You don’t want to let people down, you want to be ready and make sure everything is looking great. I’m feeling very confident. It makes me feel very happy to see the Muster growing; people are hearing about it and want to come up and share in this magical weekend.”

Have there been any standout moments for you in previous Musters?

“In 2014 the standout moment was simply making it happen,” Anton says. “I did it pretty much all by myself and paid for it by credit card. And when I look back at it, I feel like I just gave everyone a good party. I’m still trying to pay that credit card off!

“I believed in the idea and so did a lot of other people, and I opened my mouth and said, ‘Yes, we should do this.’ I certainly put myself in a position where I had to deliver, other people did too, and as a consequence of that, the Muster went on the next year.

On the Sunday night in 2014 there was a big electrical storm,” he continues. “People were starting to relax after three big days, and I had my first beers for the weekend. It was magical.

“There was another great moment in one of our venues, the church. I was exhausted before the Muster had even started, and I pretty much didn’t sleep throughout the whole weekend, and I went up to the church. I sat there, just listening to someone performing. The acoustics were wonderful, there were no amplifiers or anything, it was a purely natural sound. I just had this little moment there. I was just overjoyed, it was so beautiful, and it was what I’d envisaged for the weekend. There was a little tear in my eye, it was that good.”

What is the best thing about the Melrose Music Muster?

“Well, I would say, just that it exists. Putting this together was not solely my own dream; I listened to other people talking about music in South Australia and beyond, and I felt that we really needed something like this on the calendar. Showcasing Melrose to our southern cousins, and our northern cousins, and have them come and play music with us. The Flinders Ranges is an iconic place and I have a great love for it. I don’t want to see a nuclear dump; I want to see a music festival, national parks, things like that. That will bring much more money and life into the region. People will get to come here and really enjoy it. It’s good for the soul, good for the individual, good for the town and good for the state.”

What are you looking forward to seeing there this year?

“I’ve shifted the format around a bit, moving some elements outdoors onto the oval, so people will see the big and beautiful Mount Remarkable, the giant redgums, with the spring breezes blowing and there will be music wafting through the air. It will be such a beautiful sight. This is my vision for the event, and for the location, so I’m looking forward to seeing how that turns out and whether people will embrace it. I think they will, because at this time of year we get cracking good weather; it should be wonderful.”

The Melrose Music Muster takes place in various locations in Melrose from Fri 23 Sep until Sun 25 Sep.

For more info, head to

Cover image courtesy of David Robinson

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