By Jessica Micallef
During a trip to Cambodia, Jimmy O’Hare was inspired to support the Cambodian Kids Foundation through music. The Gisborne resident chats with Jessica Micallef about his role as director of the Macedon Ranges Music Festival.
What is your connection with Sunbury and Macedon Ranges?
I grew up and went to school in Gisborne and now do work in the area as a musician, guitar teacher and as the director of the Macedon Ranges Music Festival (MRMF).
How long have you lived in the area?
I lived in Gisborne until I was 20 and then moved to Melbourne a couple of years ago to be closer to university. I’m very fortunate to still spend a lot of time in the area and it still feels like home.
What are you passionate about?
I have a lot of varied interests but my main passions would lie in music and social justice. I’ve been playing music since primary school and now do a lot of work as both a performer and guitar teacher. Travelling through south-east Asia as a teenager drastically broadened my world view and led me to develop a strong passion for social justice and global health. Being someone who lives in such a lucky country, I feel a certain responsibility to dedicate time to helping others who are less fortunate. I get to combine these two passions in the work I do for MRMF.
Tell me about your involvement as the Macedon Ranges Music Festival director?
I’ve been a part of the festival since it began in 2013 and have been leading the festival team since 2015. My role has changed considerably as we’ve grown; back then I did a lot of the work and dragged my mum, girlfriend and some close friends into doing odd jobs but we now have an amazing core group of volunteers who all do incredible work to make the event come together.
Tell me about the festival and how it came about?
The festival came about after my family did a volunteer trip to a small school in rural Cambodia. I think what we experienced on that trip affected us all and we came back wanting to continue to support the Woodend-based Cambodian Kids Foundation (CKF). We decided that holding a mini music festival would be fun so dad built a makeshift stage in our Gisborne backyard and we asked some mates around to jam and throw some money in a jar. With the help of some friends, the festival was born and it has just grown organically every year. A lot of things have changed since then but we’re very proud to still donate 100 per cent of ticket sales to CKF.
What other hats do you wear in the community?
I get to perform pretty regularly across the Macedon Ranges in a bunch of different groups for various venues and events. I also teach guitar in a couple of local primary schools and the kids are a lot of fun to work with.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
My only fun fact about myself is that I once came second out of 70,000 people in the
Herald Sun footy tipping competition when I was 15. I came one tip short of winning myself $20,000 and I still haven’t quite come to terms with not winning – it’s a touchy subject.
What is the best thing about the Sunbury and Macedon Ranges?
Having now lived in Melbourne for a couple of years I have a greater appreciation for the sense of community that’s present in the Macedon Ranges. The area is also blessed to have some very peaceful and naturally beautiful places.
If you could change anything about the area, what would it be?
I’d love to see more support for young musicians. Getting your foot in the door as an inexperienced performer in a regional area can be really tough. We’re fortunate to have the Macedon Ranges Music Collective and Music in the Sticks program doing some great work.