Bluesfest gets three exclusives in first announcement: “The audience decides the acts”
Bluesfest audiences are very particular about the acts booked, and they make their requests known.
“Really, it’s the audience that decides the acts,” director Peter Noble says.
“The names on the first announcement for our 30th birthday edition are an indication of that.”
As a result, at the very top of the list are Bluesfest’s favourite sons – Jack Johnson and Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals.
Both are appearing exclusively for Bluesfest.
Noble says that Harper’s first Bluesfest appearance in 1996 was a turning point for the festival.
“It remains one of the most important [performances] in the history of our event, and actually gave us the inspiration to move out of being a purely blues festival and evolving into being Australia’s first blues and roots music festival – even creating the genre.
“The artists inspired by Ben Harper in Australia include John Butler, Xavier Rudd and many, many more; his influence on music is profound.”
In 2015 when Harper reunited The Innocent Criminals after a seven-year hiatus, their premiere festival performance in the world was in Byron Bay.
Johnson returns for the first time since 2014, although he’s often in the area surfing and jamming with local musicians.
Noble recounts, “Jack Johnson first played Bluesfest five years later in 2001, and once again Bluesfest has never been the same.
“Jack’s roots-based, surf lifestyle, environmentally-aware music instantly struck a chord with our audience.
Also exclusive are St Paul & The Broken Bones which the festival introduced to its annual 100,000 aggregated crowd and made hot favourites after their first set.
Noble says that Rockwiz Live is back because of heavy crowd demand.
The 2019 edition also marks the final Australian shows of George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, who are retiring.
Bluesfest favourite Kasey Chambers will celebrate the 20th anniversary of her ground-breaking album The Captain with a first-time performance of her debut album, track by track.
Others returning to the festival are Tommy Emmanuel, Colin Hay, Richard Clapton, Russell Morris, The Black Sorrows and Tex Perkins, plus internationals Vintage Trouble, Nahko & Medicine for the People, Arlo Guthrie, Snarky Puppy, Keb’ Mo’, Elephant Sessions, The California Honeydrops and Trevor Hall.
First-timers include Ray LaMontagne, folk supergroup I’m With Her, Larkin Poe, Kurt Vile and Greensky Bluegrass.
The 30th anniversary is held at Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm over the Easter long weekend- Thursday, April 18 to Monday 22.