Two of America's most diverse and innovative talents will be crooning to Tasmanians and interstate visitors over the March long weekend - indie songstress Cat Power and funk master George Clinton with Parliament Funkadelic. After wrapping up their respective sets at Melbourne's Golden Plains Festival, the event headliners will fly south to Hobart and play to crowds lazing on the lawns of MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art. The event coincides with the Eight Hours Public Holiday, what other states may know as Labour Day, where Tasmanians and Victorians take the second Monday in March off to celebrate being granted an eight-hour working day in Australia.
The return of both artists is a treat for their Australian fans. Super crooner Cat Power, aka Chan Marshall, hasn't graced the Australian stage since 2010 when she delivered a standout performance at the Sydney Opera House - this time she's promoting her ninth studio album Sun. Likewise, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic are bringing the funk back down under for the first time in over 10 years. A champion of groove with over 55 years in the music game, George will have his epic 22-piece psychedelic circus in tow - we're talking clowns, roller girls and stage antics as colourful as his hair.
"The best thing about concerts at MONA is the festive atmosphere they create," said MONA events media manager Rebecca Fitzgibbon.
"It's just idyllic - people lounging on beanbags with Moorilla wine and paella cooked on site. It's great to have the atmosphere of the market and music on the stage for people not to feel like they have to hit the road straight away, they can just stay and enjoy it."
MONA's summer market, MoMa, kicks off the long weekend festivities on Saturday March 9 with a hearty dose of food, art and music. Enthusiasts are offered a taste of Tasmania's thriving food culture with organic and artisan delicacies to be savoured such as locally produced cheeses, jams, chocolates and wines. With a winery and brewery at its doorstep as well as a fine dining restaurant and tasting plates making the rounds, MONA serves up a flavour-filled feast as well as a visual one.
Given its infancy you could be forgiven if you haven't heard of MONA. Little over two years since its doors opened, MONA has made itself known on Australia's museum and gallery circuit, becoming a social highlight for locals and a tourism boon for the city of Hobart. Boasting an impressive collection of old meets new, it's not uncommon to see ancient antiquities snuggled in beside contemporary installations, with hundreds of artistic works from founder David Walsh's private collection. Perched on the River Derwent, the largely subterranean MONA is built into peninsula cliffs and, much like an iceberg, there is more to this gallery than first meets the eye.
Tasmania has become synonymous with a healthy lifestyle and Hobart is leading the trend for an organic-inspired culture-driven way of life. While some may argue MONA kick-started this trend, Rebecca believes the museum is simply tapping into the scene at the right time.
"I think it's more of a lifestyle change where people are engaged and taking more chances. There's a definite buoyancy of culture here you just can't help getting involved with and buzz of activity we haven't seen before - it's pretty inspiring."
The Museum of Old and New Art is accessible by ferry from Hobart's Brooke St Terminal. The long weekend event will see Cat Power play on Sunday March 10 at 3pm and George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic on Monday March 11 at 3pm.