WITH less than four weeks to go before the annual Australian Blues Music Festival gets underway, organisers are satisfied with the way things are shaping up.
Promoter Geoff Bell told the Post the festival had been steadily growing over the past few years and while he wasn’t prepared to speculate about numbers he couldn’t foresee there being any difference this year.
“We have some good advertising underway. We’re using a lot of specialist radio, we’re doing a lot of poster runs, a lot of social media work, we’re hammering that hard, and, yeah, we’re happy with where things are,” Mr Bell said.
“We just got a mention in The Age newspaper in their Hot Things of Summer. One of the comments they made was, ’Tamworth is the home of country music but Goulburn is the home of Australian blues and the Australian Blues Music Awards’.
So that is the first time I have really seen that in print outside of Goulburn. To me that says a lot that we have got this festival over the years to the point where people are starting to recognise that.”
He said the big drawcard for this year’s event was definitely the line-up, which includes some of the biggest names in Blues.
This year’s headline act is Jeff Lang, who won the ARIA last year for Best Blues and Roots Album.
Lang played at the inaugural Blues Festival, back in the ‘90s, and has since carved out a career as world class musician, touring internationally and selling out venues in Europe, New Zealand, the USA, Canada, Japan, China and India.
Mr Bell said they had tried to get Lang back to the festival for many years and that things finally came together.
“I’m stoked to have Jeff Lang back at the festival,” he said.
“It’s a great thing. I am a big fan of Jeff…The thing I like about Jeff is he does it his way. He goes out and he just does what he does and people love that because he has never changed to suit the media. He doesn’t get played on commercial radio but he is out there doing it and he pulls (consistently) big audiences.”
Mr Bell was also excited to have The Bondi Cigars playing this year.
“Back in the ‘80s The Bondi Cigars were one of those bands that you had to see in Sydney. You would see a bill and it would say: Richard Clapton, The Cockroaches and The Bondi Cigars. Or, Australian Crawl, Mental as Anything and the Bondi Cigars. They were always on the bill, they were a blues band but people loved them,” he explained.
“They’re not a straight blues band, they are a little funkier and they have the twin guitars out the front… They’re a mighty band and they don’t do a lot of shows these days.”
The other ticketed show this year is festival favourites Dream Boogie, who have developed a strong local following over the past few years.
There will also be more than 70 free shows and Mr Bell said he had worked hard to put together a diverse program that would appeal not only to Blues devotees but also punters who weren’t familiar with the genre.
“Every single band isn’t going to appeal to every single person but there is something out there for every person,” he said.
“Everyone will find something they like because the Blues is diverse and that is what I have tried to do with the line-up to make it strong, from the hardcore through to the sort of Tommy Richardson who is that sort of surfy, dreads, stomp-box type of thing. P.L. Williamson who is coming this year plays in a rock band named Mammal. He was also a member of Pete Murray’s band The Stone Masons and he does the stomp-box, resonator blues.
And then you’ve also got acts like Don Hopkins and Rob Grosser, who were the runners up in the duo section of the Memphis International Blues Challenge last year, and they are doing more sort of New Orleans piano type of blues. So there are just so many facets to it. I reckon there is something here for everyone.”
The Australian Blues Music Festival runs from Thursday, February 7 until Sunday, February 10.