Easterfest never fails to amaze me.

And this is not because of the huge crowds, the immense behind-the-scenes work, or the big names that this event attracts, although these things in themselves are quite mind-boggling.


UNDER THE BIG TENT: Charlotte Durut says it's the "buzz" of Easterfest which draws people from all around the world to take part. PICTURE: Adam Weathered

It's a special 'something extra' that makes this event more than simply a big Christian festival.

It's hard to describe, but this 'something extra' - or 'buzz', as I like to call it - is a feeling of anticipation, excitement, hope, and joy.

It's the feeling we so often sense when God is worshipped in a big way by a big crowd.

In a way that's hard to define, I believe this 'something extra' - or 'buzz', as I like to call it - is in fact the spirit of God, and it hovers over Easterfest in a wonderful cloud.

This year was my third time working at Easterfest, and the buzz was there again right from the start.

And this despite the fact that on almost every morning of the three-day festival, we woke up to foggy, drizzly, chilly mornings, while rain blanketed much of the festival during the weekend.

But still the buzz remained, and was there from the very early hours of Good Friday right until Easter Sunday evening.

I know I'm not the only one who finds this buzz contagious.

I believe it's what brings people from all around Australia to Easterfest every year, and what draws big music names from as far away as Canada and Africa.

Lester Davis

ENJOYING THE CROWD: Lester Davis, among those who played at Easterfest, says he loves "seeing what happens" when he plays Christian music. PICTURE: Adam Weathered

Or, in the case of the lesser-known-but-by-no-means-less-talented artist, Lester Davis, from Africa, the UK, and Europe.

With Jamaican parents and a childhood growing up in Birmingham, England, Lester's background is not the only thing about him that's highly varied.

The now naturalised Australian citizen freely admits to an eclectic style of music, which doesn't fit any one particular genre.

“I've always messed around with music,” he says. “I don't like to play just one style, I like to mix and match.”

Despite his variety of sound, there's no doubt Lester has a hard-edged, funky, and very cool rhythm to his music. His number one fan and supporter, his English wife Claire, backs him up too.

“His music has got such a good vibe to it,” she says.

With two albums already out and another two on the way, Lester is no stranger to performing either, although it was his first time performing as Lester Davis at Easterfest this year.

“I had a fantastic time at the festival,” he says. “I'd really like to play here again as I love networking and meeting new people.”

God has been a big part of Lester's music for most of his life, although he says he did drift away from the church as a teenager to toy with other possibilities.

“The Christian values were still there, but I scratched around with other things too,” he says. “I even got into the Rastafarian thing for awhile, but my family and my church were really praying for me at this time. I was on the church hit list.”

Lester is now more than happy to sing openly about God, but describes himself as a session guitarist and works with both secular and Christian groups.

His heart however is in such events as Easterfest and the crowds who attend them.

“I love seeing what happens when you play Christian music,” he says. “People often start crying and they don't even know why.

“My favourite thing about being on stage is uplifting people, speaking truth into their lives and gently pointing them towards Jesus Christ.”


"A GREAT WAY TO CELEBRATE EASTER": Alarice plays at this year's Easterfest in Toowoomba, Queensland. PICTURE: Adam Weathered

Alarice Thio - or simply Alarice, as she prefers to be called - has a background as well-travelled as Lester and just as strong a passion for speaking God's truth.

Gentle and a little shy, the 22-year-old has recently released a six-track EP and toured Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong.

Yet she says while music is everything to her now, she fought the urge to succumb to it for a long time.

“Being a musician seemed like too much of a big dream,” she says. “So I tried to get away from it and do the 'normal' thing, which is what my parents wanted me to do.

“I went to university and for awhile, I juggled marketing, finance, and music. I now have a commerce degree but since leaving university, I've called myself a professional musician. It's my calling.”

With the music she believes is “acoustic pop with a tinge of folk”, Alarice - whose family background is Singaporean, whose birthplace is New Zealand, and who now calls Sydney, Australia home - is not allowing anything to stop her from reaching her dreams.

In the next three months, she plans to tour Asia again before heading to Nashville, Tennessee.

Following the release of her EP, Songs for a Season, she hopes her first full-length album will be available on store shelves by the end of 2009.

And she also hopes to come back to Easterfest again to feel the buzz that so many fans of this event love.

“Easterfest is not only a great platform for artists, but a great way to celebrate Easter,” she says. “We're called to be God's light, just as it says in Matthew 5:14, and I believe speaking into other people's lives at places like Easterfest is the best thing we can do.”

• Easterfest will be held again in Queens Park, Toowoomba, Queensland, next Easter from 2nd to 4th April, 2010.  Visit www.easterfest.com.auFor more information about Alarice or Lester Davis, visit www.alaricemusic.com and www.myspace.com/lesterdavismusic.