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News March 6, 2023

Bluesfest Responds to Soul Rebels’ Legal Threat: ‘They Did Not Comply With The Contractual Terms’

Senior Journalist, B2B
Bluesfest Responds to Soul Rebels’ Legal Threat: ‘They Did Not Comply With The Contractual Terms’

Bluesfest has fired back at a scathing statement from a U.S. touring party that claims it was booked and then dumped from this year’s show “in bad faith and in breach of contract.”

The touring party, led by the Soul Rebels, with Big Freedia, Talib Kweli and Wu-Tang Clan’s GZA, had featured on the second artist announcement for Bluesfest, when it was released in October 2022. 

Their trip to Australia was also expected to include several dates on the east coast, produced by Bluesfest Touring.

The Soul Rebels and “Friends” spot appeared on subsequent Bluesfest line-ups, including a fifth artist drop on Feb. 1.

That is no longer the case. And it didn’t go unnoticed with those acts.

U.S.-based reps acting on behalf of the artists last month issued an unsparing press release, which claims the artists had “fully executed signed contracts” with Bluesfest director Peter Noble and “had already booked travel to Australia and were looking forward to returning to the country to perform for their fans.”

Also, the statement claims, “Noble removed the artists and the tour without further communication or reason from Bluesfest other than him stating his decision to not want to pay the artists.”

Bluesfest director Peter Noble

Furthermore, the message continues, “these are all black artists, and Big Freedia is an LGBTQ icon. It appears the tour may have been replaced by other artists including Sticky Fingers. We are uncertain about who else on Bluesfest may have also been cancelled.”

The letter adds, “Peter Noble’s cancellation of the tour of the aforementioned artists and on Bluesfest has resulted in significant financial loss to the artists. Peter’s egregious treatment and disregard of his contractual and moral obligations and disrespect can be completely supported by his actions and written communications.”

Noble and Bluefest has responded.

“The termination of the Soul Rebels contract by Bluesfest has nothing to do with the announcement of Sticky Fingers playing at Bluesfest 2023,” Noble tells The Music Network, reading from a statement prepared by the Bluefest legal team.

“The Soul Rebels contract was terminated because they did not comply with the contractual terms. By that, we mean, Soul Rebels, Big Freedia, GZA and Talib Kweli.”

It’s unclear to which “contractional terms” the statement refers.

The Soul Rebels situation is another headache for organisers of the popular Byron Bay fest.

Last week, Sticky Fingers stepped off the 2023 lineup following a weeks-long backlash, due to the controversial band’s inclusion.

As social media chatter on the band, and specifically the past, reported actions of its lead singer Dylan Frost, booked artists King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and Sampa The Great announced they would boycott this year’s festival.

After facing an avalanche of challenges in recent years, from floods to COVID, border closures, public health orders and last-minute cancellations, Bluesfest returned to its traditional easter long weekend slot in 2022.

That edition reported an audience upwards of 100,000, including prime minister-in-waiting Anthony Albanese.

Bluesfest 2023 is set for April 6-10 at Byron Events Farm, with headliners including Gang of Youths, Paolo Nutini, Tash Sultana, Bonnie Raitt and the Doobie Brothers.


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