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24th Byron Bay Bluesfest

BY Miranda Riley | 20-Sep-2012
Today Bluesfest, Australia’s multi-award winning 5 Day Festival presents its 1st artist announcement for Easter 2013 (March 28 – April 1) held in beautiful Byron Shire, at its dedicated event site, the Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm. It’s the earliest announcement in the history of Bluesfest – 6 weeks sooner than usual and it marks the beginning of FOUR exciting announcements to be released in the upcoming weeks.
Carlos Santana

“This is our Year” says Peter Noble, Festival Director. “We are delivering one of our absolute best artist line-ups ever, and the first announcement is only the beginning. Any Festival in the world announcing Ben Harper with his Band, Santana, Iggy & The Stooges (on their final tour), Chris Isaak, Wilco, Bonnie Raitt, Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi, Glen Hansard with the Frames, Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls, Playing for Change and lots more on their first announcement – has GOT to make everyone everywhere sit up and take notice.... and That’s NOT all Folks. We sure have got some more deadly artists up our sleeves to roll out over the next month.”

The 24th Bluesfest will take place between Thursday 28th of March and Monday 1st of April 2013 at Bluesfest’s permanent home at Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm just outside of Byron Bay. Tickets are on sale now through www.bluesfest.com.au or by phoning the Bluesfest office on 02 6685 8310

Ben Harper

Ben Harper and his band are returning to Bluesfest this Easter, much to the delight of Festival Director, Peter Noble: “There is something about Ben and Bluesfest that cannot be put into words….to hear him perform at the Festival which discovered him is almost an experience approaching mysticism….it is transcendental…you have been warned”

Ben Harper…Bluesfest favourite…. Multi Instrumentalist…Artist…Activist, the list goes on. Whether it’s through the soul of Southern Gospel, 70’s funk, blues, reggae or rock and roll, Ben and his trademark Weissenborn guitar wows audiences across the globe with his provoking live performances, poignant lyrics and timeless song writing.

To celebrate his stellar career, Ben will be releasing By My Side later this year – a selection of his favourite ballads including “Diamonds On The Inside”, “Forever” and “Waiting On An Angel”, Ben will also include his new ballad “Crazy Amazing”.

Bluesfest is thrilled to have Ben Harper and his band back this Easter to deliver yet another life changing live performance, not to be missed.



Bluesfest is absolutely delighted to welcome Santana for their first ever performance at the Festival. Santana emerged from the San Francisco Bay Area music scene in the 1960s, the group has sold more than 100 million records, reached more than 100 million fans at concerts worldwide, and been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Santana has won 10 GRAMMYs, including a record-tying nine for a single project, 1999’s Supernatural (including Album of the Year and Record of the Year for “Smooth”). With the 2010 release of Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time¬, Santana joined the Rolling Stones as one of only two music acts in Billboard history to score at least one Top Ten album in each decade from the 1960s on. Among other honours, Carlos Santana is #20 on Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”—“Santana's crystalline tone and clean arcing sustain make him the rare instrumentalist who can be identified in just one note.”

Santana’s hits include Black Magic Woman, Evil Ways, Oye Como Va, Jingo, Samba Pa Ti, Everything’s Coming Our Way, Hope you are Feeling Better, Everybody’s Everything and many more. Shape Shifter (released May 15, 2012) is Carlos Santana’s 36th album. Comprising mostly original compositions that Carlos has been setting aside for such an instrumental project, the album’s sequence is as thoughtfully conceived as track selection. The songs flow together and come alive as the magical sustain of Carlos’ guitar and the spirit behind every note makes music that breaks through all cultural and language barriers—the music of Santana.

A big welcome to Bluesfest – it’s an immense honour to have Santana grace the stage on Good Friday.



“From the '60s to this moment, IGGY POP has been a solid reminder of what happens when an artist stays true to himself only and doesn’t give a damn about the rest of it … IGGY POP is the Heavyweight Champion of rock and roll.” – Henry Rollins.

A decade after the Godfathers of Punk reunited, IGGY & THE STOOGES will return to Australia in March 2013 for Bluesfest. Iconic frontman Iggy Pop will once again lead guitarist James Williamson, drummer Scott Asheton, bassist Mike Watt and sax player Steve Mackay into rock and roll battle. In 2010, IGGY & THE STOOGES were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Their influence crosses generations and the rock spectrum – from the hardcore Rollins to The Sex Pistols, The Birthday Party and Kurt Cobain.

In 2013, it’s Bluesfest’s turn to witness the unyielding power of the Heavyweight Champions of rock and roll. IGGY & THE STOOGES - LEGENDS that legends turn out to watch !!


Steve Miller Band

Call him the Gangster of Love. Call him Maurice. You can even call him the Midnight Toker or Space Cowboy. Everybody knows that Steve Miller speaks the pompitus of love.

The Steve Miller Band has sold more than 30 million records in a career spanning more than 40 years. His trademark blues-rock sound has made him one of the cornerstone legends of his genre. Award-winning albums like ‘The Joker’, ‘Brave New World’, ‘Abracadabra’ and ‘Fly Like An Eagle’; and songs like: ‘Gangster Of Love’, ‘Rock ‘n Me,’ ‘Fly Like an Eagle,’ ‘Jet Airliner,’ ‘Jungle Love,’ ‘The Joker’, ‘Abracadabra,’ ‘Livin’ In The USA’, ‘Take the Money and Run,’ and ‘Swingtown’ have cemented Steve Miller as one of rock music’s all-time greats. His touring schedule to packed out arenas continues without let up.

The announcement of the 2012/13 touring season by the Steve Miller Band follows three of the most busy, productive years in the long, illustrious career of Steve Miller. Some people call him the Space Cowboy. Some call him the Gangster of Love. Whatever you call him, Steve Miller is making the best music of his life and he is making lots of it.


Chris Isaak

It’s with great joy Bluesfest announces the prolific American rocker, Chris Isaak, performing at Bluesfest for the very first time this Easter. With a career spanning more than a quarter or a century, Chris has given us hits such as “Wicked Game”, “Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing” and “Somebody’s Crying”.

His latest album Beyond the Sun (2011), recorded at the legendary Memphis’ Sun Studio is homage to Chris’s obsession with the glory days of the Studio and the visionary artists who all got their starts there. The list includes Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis- all of them discovered and nurtured by the late, great Sun Records founder Sam Phillips. Beyond the Sun features a handpicked selection of Sun greats, it opens with Johnny Cash’s “Ring Of Fire” and also includes “I Walk The Line”. Elvis Presley is also heavily represented on the album, with “Trying to Get to You” and the first song Elvis ever recorded, “My Happiness” among others. Chris also penned a few originals for the Album, including the rock track “Live It Up” and “Lovely Loretta”.

The result is an Album that recaptures the magic of the classics sides cut by those rock and roll icons at Sun studio with Phillips in the mid – ‘50s , while also getting down to the heart and soul of Chris’s own musical identity.

Make sure you don’t miss out on this magic in full force, when Chris Isaak takes the Bluesfest stage for the first time this Easter.



Wilco - one of the most requested bands ever to grace the Bluesfest stages are coming back. If you don’t own a Wilco album, your music collection can never be complete. Here is a band that has that rare quality of appealing to people from all walks of life, from different generations and with opposing music tastes. Those who caught them at Bluesfest in 2006, where they had the entire crowd transfixed, will be able to vouch for this.

Once in a blue moon this type of genius comes along, and 16 years ago that’s exactly what happened. It hasn’t been a simple build for these musicians, though they accrued critical acclaim from the start, but eight studio albums later, they have proven themselves time and again to be one of the best live bands around.

Their latest release, The Whole Love (2011) showcases Wilco in a stunning new light, with bold rock songs, sombre acoustic ballads and punchy pop songs. Don’t miss this staggering live band as the blue moon rises this Bluesfest.


Bonnie Raitt

Bonnie Raitt is more than a best-selling artist, respected guitarist, expressive singer and accomplished songwriter….Bonnie Raitt has become and institution in American Music. To say Bonnie’s music career has been a success seems somewhat of an understatement.

She has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is a nine-time Grammy winner and Rolling Stone named her one of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time”. It seems everything Bonnie touches turns to gold, with her latest effort… her nineteenth studio album….no exception.

Slipstream marks Bonnie’s return to studio recording after seven years, as she has taken a well deserved break since her last acclaimed Album Souls Alike (2005). Slipstream has seen Bonnie’s biggest Billboard chart debut in almost 20 years, Rolling Stone describe the Album as,“…mood music with a razor edge, pain fronting as bliss, delivered by a vet who understands that blues are often about just that”.

Bonnie Raitt has backed up the release Slipstream with an extensive tour, selling out dates across America and demand for tickets soaring to a point that multiple additional dates had to be added across the tour. Her live shows have also earned her praise;

“Rigourous, sentimental, magnanimous, resilient” New York Times
“Peerless…Surreal” Chicago Tribune
“As Strong as ever…perfect” Boston Globe

Bluesfest is immensely proud to welcome Bonnie Raitt back after her last Bluesfest performance in 2007.


Dropkick Murphys

It’s going to be a Celtic, punk- rock party when Boston’s Dropkick Murphy take the Bluesfest stage for the first time this Easter! The Dropkick Murphys first hit the scene in 1996 with their platinum single “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” featured in Martin Scorsese’s Academy Award –winning film The Departed.

The band will be bringing their seventh studio album Going out in Style with them. The album is a raucous and rollicking romp overflow with punk rock energy, folk soul and of course … Irish spirit. Going out in Style is the story of Cornelius Larkin, a recently deceased Irish immigrant looking down at his own wake.

“There are some punk shows where you’re more of less guaranteed to have a good time…but few come close to the camaraderie and fist pumping pride that the Dropkick Murphys can inspire….” TNT Magazine 2012

So everyone, get those bagpipes ready… we will be celebrating the life of Cornelius Larkin in full force this Easter at Bluesfest, make sure you are as well.


GLEN HANSARD with The Frames

Glen Hansard, the captivating Oscar-winning Frames front man and more recently one half of the Swell Season duo, is returning to Bluesfest in March 2013. Long time fans will also be thrilled to know Glen’s main band, The Frames will be Hansard’s backing group on stage for this tour.

Celebrating his debut solo release – the acclaimed ‘Rhythm and Repose’ – it is his first album of new material since 2009 release Strict Joy with The Swell Season. Glen Hansard is revered as an intense and electric live performer – famous for digging deep and giving everything in concert to rapturous receptions. He is well known for his work for more than two decades with his incendiary band The Frames – but is perhaps now most recognised for The Swell Season – the duo he created with Czech songstress Markéta Irglová. In 2007, The Swell Season took home the Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Falling Slowly” from the Once film-sensation soundtrack.

Artists with the emotional conviction of Glen Hansard are rare.

“The audience is eating out of his hand: it sings along, it screams in ecstasy and gives the singer a standing encore, which, by the closing track ‘Astral Weeks’ alone (Van Morrison cover) is downright deserved.” Lust for life – Live Review 07/12



The new generation of guitar-slinging royalty is coming back to town!

From his awesome slide-guitar work with The Allman Brothers to his position for over a year as Eric Clapton’s features soloist, the Grammy award-winning Derek Trucks is the youngest musician to make Rolling Stone’s “Top 100 Guitarists of All Time” – and the only person in the Top Twenty under the age of 50!

Susan Tedeschi's knack for combining her passion for American roots music—especially electric blues, Southern soul and black gospel—with an awe-inspiring vocal prowess has resulted in a successful career, a series of award-winning recordings, and a devoted following. Blessed with an ability to dig deep and deliver powerful, R&B belters or wrap her voice around a gentle ballad, she is a talented guitarist as well, steeped in the electric blues tradition.

And whats’ more – Derek and Susan are husband and wife!

Their first album, Revelator in 2011, earned the band the Grammy for Best Blues Album, debuted on the Billboard Top 200 chart at #12, and brought both artists to their highest first week sales and charting of their careers.

Their sophomore album Everybody's Talkin', a double-disc set released in May 2012 came out of a series of 12 live performances containing a spirited blend of originals and vibrant covers. It debuted in the top 25 of Billboard's top albums chart and has maintained a top 3 position on the best-selling blues albums chart since its release.

“One of the truly great live rock albums" - Sydney Morning Herald.

The touring continues – the crowds and fans grow!

Bluesfest gives the Tedeschi Trucks Band a big welcome back to Bluesfest and Australia.


Newton Faulkner

Newton Faulkner emerged in 2007 with the debut album Handbuilt By Robots, the Album secured platinum status in Australia and his home, the UK. It wasn’t long after, Newton first wowed Bluesfest audiences in 2008 and we can’t wait to have this feel-good performer with his trademark rust –red dreads back on the stage this Easter.

Newton is known for his distinctive guitar playing style; a tap-pick-and-strum technique that allows him to use his instrument as guitar, bass and drums all at once. Newton loves performing, whether in a club, cave, theatre, festival or hot-air balloons. His live performances are engaging, uplifting and show audiences the incredible talent he holds; “He launches into each song with impressive guitar work and vocals being an understatement” Faster Louder , Palais Theatre, April 2010.

It will be three years this Easter, since we last saw Newton grace the Bluesfest stage and he is bringing with him, his third studio album Write It On Your Skin (2012). Newton is a man with a purist’s love of music and a burning desire to share his songs with people, make sure you don’t miss what Newton has to share with you this Easter at Bluesfest.


William Elliott Whitmore

A man armed only with a banjo and a bass drum can be a formidable force, especially if his name is William Elliott Whitmore. Making his Bluesfest début, William is bringing his brilliant new record, Field Songs with him, on which he uses this two-instrument attack along with his honest, powerful voice that leaves no doubt that he will be heard. This approach is testament to his home. William comes from the land, growing up on a farm in Lee County, Iowa, between the Des Moines and Mississippi Rivers. “It’s some of the most fertile land in the world,” Whitmore proudly proclaims, still living on the same farm today.

Where he comes from says a lot about where William Elliott Whitmore is going. Son & grandson of musicians, he never had to go far to discover great new music. “My parents’ record collection was amazing and inspiring,” Whitmore remembers. “It included everything from the country music of Charlie Pride and Willie Nelson to the soulful music of Ray Charles and Leon Russell.” Around 15 or 16 when his hands finally got big enough to go around the guitar neck he started strumming some chords and writing lyrics. He hasn’t looked back since.

His live performances are of a calibre to leave one completely stunned in silence; his albums full of songs not only from the heart but also from the heartland.

William Elliott Whitmore is one of the most interesting contributions to today's diverse collection of musical ingenuity and we couldn’t be more excited to watch him turn strangers to diehards this Bluesfest.


Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls

Another Bluesfest first timer, “The people’s prince of punk poetry” (NME) Frank Turner is set to visit our shores for the fourth time. He may have started off as the voice of post-hardcore band Million Dead, but his primarily acoustic guitar-based brand of folk song writing, catchy melodies and punk passion has taken off in a big way.

In just two years word of Frank’s honest and passionate folk/punk has started to steamroll. He has gone from supporting Green Day in 2010 at Wembley’s vast Arena venue to headlining at the same venue himself in 2012. In this short time – Frank has seen his life change beyond recognition. 2011 he received two NME award nominations; he stormed the UK album Charts with England Keep My Bones making the top 5, selling over 50,000 copies to date. And 2012 has been no different, with a performance at the Olympic Opening Ceremony in London 2012 and receiving two awards at the inaugural AIM Awards for Best Live Act and Hardest Working Artist.

Frank Turner, as a fledgling solo artist armed only with an acoustic guitar has a DIY work ethic, and a passion for plying his trade with integrity and honesty. Frank toured up and down the country playing backs of pubs, people’s front rooms and anywhere else that would have him. With a handful of catchy folk/country/punk songs and enough charm and charisma to win over any crowd, he amassed more and more fans and a fevered cult following soon formed.

“Frank Turner’s music is a revelation to me,” says Gurewitz.

“I can’t stop listening to it. It’s a real privilege to get out there and help Xtra Mile spread the Frank Turner gospel.”

With hand picked 15 sing collection of his catalogue, Last Minute and Lost Evenings, being released in October 2012 things seem to be only going onwards and upwards for Frank, and it only takes one listen to see why. Join us inside the packed out tent, heaving with his adoring Australian fans and intrigued passers-byes this Bluesfest.


Grace Potter

This is a voice you rarely stumble across, a smoky, assured voice that spans effortlessly from a whisper to a soaring cappella within a single breath. Grace Potter’s effortless stage presence and sweeping soul voice is not only hard to find, but impossible to forget.

Live, Potter’s sultry vocals, rock chic flying V guitar and keys combine the vintage sound that reminds you of songs you listened to on your parents’ car radio, with electric energy that makes you want to get on the soles of their feet and dance til dawn. This unbeatable combination has lead to USA Today calling her: “The best female rock singer in the country”.

Equal parts seductive and dangerous, live this evocative voice and commanding presence translates her inventive, soul-searching poetry to life and is sure to have you transfixed for her entire set and leave you covered in goose bumps. If you’re up for a dance, pop along to see this big personality light up the Bluesfest stage for the first time.


Playing For Change – Connecting the world through music!

If you ever needed an excuse to hear some truly incredible music performed by a bunch of the most talented and seasoned musicians from all corners of the globe, here it is. Introducing Playing For Change, an extraordinary, joyful live experience that will stay with you long after the house lights have come up, and the funds raised from the tour will continue to affect people’s lives for years to come.

The 9 piece Playing For Change Band include the most incredible musicians from across 4 continents, each with their own rich cultural background and distinctive voice that creates an unforgettable live experience that has toured through Europe, USA, Latin America & Africa. From this success, the Playing For Change Foundation was created in order to help communities by developing 8 music programs and music schools in Ghana, Mali, South Africa, Nepal and Rwanda, allowing for the conservation and transmission of these rich cultural heritages in developing countries. The 9 piece band are made up of the unique fusion of influences and talents which are constantly evolving and growing since their first concerts in 2008. Grandpa Elliott, legendary street musician from New Orleans sings alongside with Clarence Bekker (Netherlands), Titi Tsira (South Africa), Jason Tamba and Mermans Kenkosenki (Congo), Peter Bunetta (USA) on drums, Roberto Luti (Italy) on Steel Guitar, Oskar Cartaya (Puerto Rico) on Bass and Tom Canning (USA) on Keys.

For the first time this incredibly movement is coming to Australia, this is your chance to see and hear a handful of musicians, from all walks of life, who have travelled thousands of miles from their homes, united in purpose and chorus on our Bluesfest stage. You won’t need an excuse to enjoy this, come and join the cause and marvel at the diversity and profound creativity of our world.



Introducing Halifax’s very own Ben Caplan. This charismatic Canadian is to folklore what smoke is to bourbon. Perfectly coupled. Ben’s song writing is as bold in range as it is in ferocity. Fuelled by a quality of melodrama and powerful lyricism, it’s the romance and the manhood crashing with his voice that gives Ben a truly innovative and experimental artistry. A sound that bridges the gap between controlled composition and unruly passion.

Striding in pace Caplan has marked his place in the Canadian music landscape with a growling spirit similar to that of Tom Waits or Seasick Steve. Caplan’s tours have extended throughout the Commonwealth, the rhapsodic energy in his live show an elegant cacophony gaining attention around the world. Touring since 2006, this rugged rogue has just been nominated for 7 music Scotia Awards & performed at the rolodex of festivals. Now it’s our turn.

Breaking between guitar, banjo, piano, and melodica, Caplan’s stage show is almost reminiscent of a burly and bearded Freddy Mercury; a raging, strong, and exploratory songwriter, it’s the blues in his soul, and the heart in your chest pounding as one that makes Ben Caplan an act not to be missed this Easter.