Billy Bragg & Joe Henry Announce Australian Tour Dates

Billy Bragg
Image Courtesy of Billy Bragg and Joe Henry

Following the success of their amazing 2016 album Shine a Light: Field Recordings from the Great American Railroad folk music legends Billy Bragg and Joe Henry have announced plans to tour Australia this March.

The two singers will be in the country for Bluesfest followed by shows in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Adleaide and Fremantle.

Check out the full list of dates below:

Thursday 13th to Monday 17th April – Bluesfest, Byron Bay, NSW
Wednesday 19th April – Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 20th April – The Playhouse, Canberra, ACT
Saturday 22nd April – Melbourne Recital Centre, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 23rd April – Melbourne Recital Centre, Melbourne, VIC
Monday 24th April – Fowler’s Live, Adelaide, SA
Friday 28th April – Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle, WA

Michael Kiwanuka Announces Bluesfest Sideshows

Michael Kiwanuka
Image Courtesy of Michael Kiwanuka

Our love for English folk-soul singer Michael Kiwanuka is well documented so we’re pretty excited that he’ll be in the country next year for Bluesfest.

And if you’re lucky enough to live in either Sydney or Melbourne count yourself lucky as Michael Kiwanuka has a couple of sideshows coming your world. Check out the full list of dates below:

Thursday 13th to Monday 17th April – Bluesfest, Byron Bay, NSW
Tuesday 18th April – The Corner, Melbourne, VIC
Wednesday 19th April – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 20th April – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney, NSW

The Mountain Goats Announce Australian Tour Dates

The Mountains Goats
Image Courtesy of The Mountain Goats

Having been announced for next year’s Bluesfest acoustic troubadours The Mountain Goats have revealed their first Australian headlinr tour dates for five years.

The Mountain Goats will be making their way around the country visiting Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide for their 2017 tour. Check out the full list of dates below:

Thursday 6th April – Badlands, Perth, WA
Saturday 8th April – The Grace Emily, Adelaide, SA
Sunday 9th April – The Factory Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Wednesday 12th April – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 13th to Monday 17th April – Bluesfest, Byron Bar, NSW

Headline Tour Dates for Rhiannon Giddens

Rhiannon
Photo by Stuart Bucknell

Having wowed crowds at Bluesfest last year the marvelous Rhiannon Giddens has announced she’s back for 2017’s festival.

And even better Giddens has announced headline shows in Sydney and Melbourne – check out the full list of dates below and make sure you get to one of these gigs:

Saturday 8th April – Factory Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Tuesday 11th April – The Corner, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 13th to Monday 17th April – Bluesfest, NSW

Watch the New Video from The Lumineers “Sleep On The Floor”

The Lumineers
Image Courtesy of The Lumineers

The latest video from The Lumineers album Cleopatra is the wonderful “Sleep On The Floor”. Check it out here:

The Lumineers will in the country next year for Bluesfest and a bunch of headline shows – the full list of dates are below:

Thursday 13th April to Monday 17th April – Bluesfest, Byron Bay, NSW
Monday 17th April – Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW
Tuesday 18th April – Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW
Wednesday 19th April – State Theatre, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 22nd April – Metro City, Perth, WA

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 26th August

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– Sydney singer-songwriter Patrick James announced a solo tour this Spring. Details here

William Fitzsimmons announced details of his first live album. Details here

– A new folk-punk festival, the Cutthroat Folk Festival, has been announced for Sydney featuring Cutthroat Folk Fest will feature the likes of The Bottlers, Scarlet’s Revenge, Sailors Grave and Medusa’s Wake. Details here

Jen Cloher & The Endless Sea will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the album Dead Wood Falls with shows in Sydney and Melbourne. Details here

– So many new artists added to the Mullum Music Festival lineup including Yirrmal, The Wilson Pickers, Jordie Lane & The Sleepers, Julia Jacklin, Áine Tyrrell, Ethno Folk Orchestra, Claire Anne Taylor, Sal Kimber & The Rollin’ Wheel, Liz Stringer, The Button Collective and many more. Details here

Bluesfest announced the first round of artists for their 2017 lineup including Zac Brown Band, Patti Smith, The Lumineers (above), Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt, Mavis Staples, Billy Bragg, Jethro Tull, Trombone Shorty, Gregory Porter, Snarky Puppy, St. Paul and The Broken Bones, Beth Hart, Laura Mvula, Roy Ayers, Booker T Jones Presents The Stax Records Revue, Andrew Bird, Rickie Lee Jones, Joan Osborne, Turin Brakes, The Strumbellas, Jake Shimabukuro, Dumpstaphunk, Nikki Hill and Irish Mythen. Details here

– Sydney singer-songwriter Eddie Boyd released his new video “Stoned”. Details here

– Sydney four-piece All Our Exes Live In Texas announced a massive national tour. Details here

– Swedish folk singer The Tallest Man On Earth announced a handful of Australian tour dates. Details here

– Legendary folk rock band The Levellers will be touring Australia in October to celebrate 25th anniversary of their seminal record Levelling The Land. Details here

Passenger released his new video “Anywhere”. Details here

Releases This Week

Josh Rennie Hynes
FurthermoreJosh Rennie Hynes
iTunes

Phia
The Ocean Of EverythingPhia
iTunes

Taasha
Taasha Coates & Her Melancholy SweetheartsTaasha Coates & Her Melancholy Sweethearts
ABC Shop

Wilson Pickers
You Can’t Catch Fish From a TrainThe Wilson Pickers
iTunes

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Nick Payne

Nick Payne

To celebrate the successful crowdfunding of his solo album Nick Payne (Dear Orphans) is putting together a very special intimate show in his home town of Sydney tonight

Friday 26th August – The Newsagency, Sydney, NSW

Gigs Next Week

Áine Tyrrell
Friday 26th August – Boo Radley’s Hall, Glenreagh, NSW

All Our Exes Live In Texas
Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th September – Lorne Festival of Performing Arts, Lorne, VIC

Roadhouse feat. Andy Baylor’s Juke Joint Jumpers
Thursday 1st September – Miss Peaches, Sydney, NSW

Corey Harris
Friday 26th to Sunday 28th August – Blues & Roots Stage, Gympie Muster, QLD

BANFF x Caitlin Park
Friday 2nd September – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane, QLD

Dustin Tebbutt w/ Robbie Miller, Woodes
Friday 26th August – Jack Rabbit Slims, Perth, WA
Saturday 27th August – Jive, Adelaide, SA

Eddie Boyd
Friday 26th August – The Loft, Warrnambool, VIC
Saturday 27th August – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW

Fanny Lumsden & The Thrillseekers
Friday 2nd September – Ladysmith Hall, Ladysmith, NSW

Folk In The Blue feat. The Flash Coves, Tony Eardley, Francesca Sidoti, Paddy Cavanagh
Sunday 28th August – Hotel Blue, Katoomba, NSW

Folkswagon
Wednesday 31st August – Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Gympie Muster
Friday 26th to Sunday 28th August – Gympie, QLD

Hootennany feat. Elwood Myre
Sunday 28th August – Miss Peaches, Sydney, NSW

Jack Carty, Emily Barker & Jordan Millar
Friday 26th August – Shebeen Bandroom, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 27th August – The Grace Emily, Adelaide, SA
Sunday 28th August – Mojos Barm Fremantle, WA
Friday 2nd September – The Milk Factory, Brisbane, QLD

Joe & Harmony’s Magic Carpet Ride BE-IN #8 feat. Sarah Hoggard, Keely Denham, Paul Hayward and the Sidekicks, Michael-John Azzopardi
Saturday 27th August – Newtown Neighbourhood Centre, Sydney, NSW

John Flanagan Trio
Friday 26th August – Suttons House of Music, Ballarat, VIC
Saturday 27th August – The Old Church On The Hill, Bendigo, VIC

Key To The Highway w/ Bree De Rome
Friday 2nd September – Gasoline Pony, Sydney, NSW

Lazy Colts
Saturday 27th August – Franks Wild Years, Thirroul, NSW
Sunday 28th August – The Oxford Circus, Sydney, NSW

Little Features Presents The Barber Shop Series
Saturday 27th August – Bourke St. Barbers, Sydney, NSW

Little Wise w/ Alana Bruce, Sam Newton
Thursday 1st September – Gasoline Pony, Sydney, NSW

Liz Stringer
Wednesday 31st August – Club Mullum, Mullumbimby, NSW
Thursday 1st September – Junk Bar, Brisbane, QLD

Lorne Festival of Performing Arts
Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th September – Lorne, VIC

McMahon, Young & Daley
Friday 26th August – Marrickville Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW

Nick Payne
Friday 26th August – The Newsagency, Sydney, NSW

Not Good With Horses w/ Bree De Rome
Sunday 28th August – Union Hotel, Sydney, NSW

Redfest
Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th September – Redlands Showground, Brisbane, QLD

Shady Pines Rhinestone Gala feat. Papa Pilko And The Binrats, Key To The Highway, Satellite V, The Daphne Rawling Band, Extension Chord, The Sweet Jelly Rolls
Sunday 28th August – Shady Pines, Sydney, NSW

Sweet Jelly Rolls
Thursday 1st September – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW

The Dead Maggies
Friday 26th August – Psyfari Festival, Capertree Valley, NSW

Illawarra Folk Club Concert – Music & Friendship, A Special Fundraising Event
Sunday 28th August – City Diggers, Wollongong, NSW

Wirrina Bluegrass and Acoustic Roots Festival
Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th September – Wirrina Cove Holiday Park, Wirrina, SA

Friday Folk Flashback

“Under African Skies” – Paul Simon

Today is the 30th anniversary of the release of Graceland. I think that’s as good an excuse as any to fall down a Paul Simon Youtube rabbit hole.

Bluesfest Announces First Round of Artists for 2017

Bluesfest
Image Courtesy of The Lumineers

It may only be August but that doesn’t mean it isn’t time to start thinking about the 2017 festival season. This morning Bluesfest launched their first round of artists for next years festival and it’s huge.

This morning’s announcement includes Zac Brown Band, Patti Smith, The Lumineers (above), Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt, Mavis Staples, Billy Bragg, Jethro Tull, Trombone Shorty, Gregory Porter, Snarky Puppy, St. Paul and The Broken Bones, Beth Hart, Laura Mvula, Roy Ayers, Booker T Jones Presents The Stax Records Revue, Andrew Bird, Rickie Lee Jones, Joan Osborne, Turin Brakes, The Strumbellas, Jake Shimabukuro, Dumpstaphunk, Nikki Hill and Irish Mythen with more to be announced.

Bluesfest takes place over the Easter long weekend for the 13th to 17th April. For more information including how to get your hands on tickets check out the official site here.

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 15th April

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– UK nu-folk artist King Charles released his new video “Lady of the River”. Details here

Claude Hay released his new single “Love No More” (available for free download) and announced a bunch of tour dates through May. Details here

Dana Falconberry & Medicine Bow released their new video “Cormorant”. Details here

William Fitzsimmons released his gorgeous new video “A Part”. Details here

– English soul-folk singer Michael Kiwanuka has announced details of his new album Love & Hate. Details here

Paul Kelly has revealed the first track from his Shakespeare inspired Seven Sonnets & A Song, the very folky “Sonnet 18”. Details here

– Singer-songwriter Mark Wilkinson released his new single and video “Another Necklace”. Details here

– The 2016 Splendour in the Grass lineup dropped with a surprising number of indie-folk acts on the bill including Matt Corby, Boy & Bear, Jake Bugg, Leon Bridges, James Vincent McMorrow, Michael Kiwanuka, Marlon Williams, Kim Churchill and Little May. Details here

Josh Pyke announced a whole bunch of regional tour dates through June, July and August. Details here

– Queensland folk-punk stalwarts Jack Flash have called it a day with a final EP release Nothing But a Bad Dream. Details here

Skyscraper Stan & The Commission Flats released their new video “Always Thinking of You”. Details here

– Adelaide singer-songwriters Tom West, Todd Sibbin and Ryan Martin John collaborated on a new single “Dust”. Details here

Reviews

Gigs

“Year after year, Bluesfest manages to bring the big names and the impressive acts to Byron Bay for the annual Easter pilgrimage. Heading to Bluesfest this year, we really didn’t know many of the acts listed on the bill and wondered just what was in store for us, Timber and Steel wise. So here’s 5 things we learned at this year’s wildly successful, ultimate music sampler opportunity that is, Bluesfest” – we review Bluesfest 2016. Review here

Releases This Week

Person A
Person AEdward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
iTunes

Jack Flash
Nothing But A Bad DreamJack Flash
Bandcamp

Sam Beam
Love Letter For FireSam Beam and Jesca Hoop
iTunes

Tom West
Golden FleecesTom West
Bandcamp

Timber and Steel Presents

The Timbers

William Fitzsimmons

Friday 15th April – Sarrens Restaurant, Port Lincoln, SA

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Concert for Karl feat. Kasey Chambers, Catherine Britt, Adam Harvey, Adam Eckersley, Brooke McClymont, Jasmine Rae, Luke O’Shea, Harry Hookey, Katie Brianna, Caitlin Harnett Adam Young, Den Hanrahan and more

Kasey Chambers

The country music community is coming together to support their mate, Karl Broadie, in his fight against cancer. All proceeds go directly to Karl.

Sunday 17th April – Rooty Hill RSL, Sydney, NSW

Gigs Next Week

A Man Walks Into A Bar feat. Sam Newton
Thursday 21st April – Blood Moon Theatre, World Bar, Sydney, NSW
Friday 22nd April – Blood Moon Theatre, World Bar, Sydney, NSW

Colin Jones + The Delta Revue
Friday 22nd April – White Horse Hotel, Sydney, NSW

Concert for Karl feat. Kasey Chambers, Catherine Britt, Adam Harvey, Adam Eckersley, Brooke McClymont, Jasmine Rae, Luke O’Shea, Harry Hookey, Katie Brianna, Caitlin Harnett Adam Young, Den Hanrahan and more
Sunday 17th April – Rooty Hill RSL, Sydney, NSW

Daniel Champagne
Friday 15th April – Shebeen, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 16th April – Baby Black Espresso Bar, Bacchus Marsh, VIC
Sunday 17th April – Martians Cafe, Deans Marsh, VIC

Davey Craddock
Friday 15th to Sunday 17th April – Fairbridge Festival, WA

Devon Sproule
Friday 15th to Sunday 17th April – Fairbridge Folk Festival, Pinjarra, WA
Tuesday 19th April – The Grace Emily, Adelaide, SA
Wednesday 20th April – Smiths Alternative, Canberra, ACT
Thursday 21st April – Gasoline Pony, Sydney, NSW

Emerging Music Live, Acoustic Sessions feat. Kit & The Cub
Wednesday 20th April – Valve Bar, Sydney, NSW

Fairbridge Folk Festival
Friday 15th to Sunday 17th April – Fairbridge, WA

Folkswagon feat Jacob Pearson, The Delta Revue, Bree De Rome
Wednesday 20th April – Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Gordie Tentrees
Friday 15th to Sunday 17th April – Fairbridge Festival, Perth, WA

Harry Hookey and Mitch Power
Thursday 21st April – Retreat Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Hootenanny feat. Imogen Clark
Sunday 17th April – Miss Peaches, Sydney, NSW

Jack Flash
Saturday 16th April – The Beetle Bar, Brisbane, QLD

Jaron Freeman-Fox & The Opposite of Everything
Friday 15th to Sunday 17th April – Fairbridge Festival, Pinjarra, WA

Joe Mungovan
Saturday 16th April – The Heritage Hotel, Bulli, NSW
Friday 22nd April – No. 5 Church Street, Bellingen, NSW

Liam Gerner
Friday 15th April – Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC

Matt Corby
Wednesday 20th April – QPAC Theatre, Brisbane, QLD

Mark Lucas and The Dead Setters
Friday 15th April – Hotel Gearin, Katoomba, NSW
Saturday 16th April – The Bunker, Sydney, NSW

Oh Pep!
Friday 15th April – Oxford Art Factory Gallery Bar, Sydney, NSW

Rowena Wise
Saturday 16th April – The Toff In Town, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 17th April – The Homestead, Hobart, TAS
Friday 22nd April – The Wheatsheaf Hotel, Adelaide, SA

Ryan Bingham
Friday 22nd April – The Basement, Sydney, NSW

Sal Kimber & The Rollin’ Wheel and John Flanagan
Friday 15th April – Front Gallery, Canberra, ACT

Sian Evans
Saturday 16th April Night Quarter, Gold Coast, QLD
Friday 22nd April – Grounded Festival, Brisbane Valley, QLD

St Albans Folk Festival
Friday 22nd to Monday 25th April

The Beards
Wednesday 20th April – Pier Hotel, Esperance, WA
Thursday 21st April – The White Star, Albany, WA
Friday 22nd April – Dunsborough Tavern, Dunsborough, WA

The Dead Maggies
Friday 15th April – Currumbin Creek Tavern, Gold Coast, QLD
Saturday 16th April – Beetle Bar, Brisbane, QLD
Sunday 17th April – Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 22nd April – Barwon Club, Geelong, VIC

The East Pointers
Friday 15th to Sunday 17th April – Fairbridge Festival, WA

The Go Set
Friday 15th April – Brighton Up Bar, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 16th April – Transit Bar, Canberra, ACT
Friday 22nd April – Barwon Club, Geelong, VIC

The Gum Ball
Friday 22nd to Sunday 24th April – Dashville, NSW

The Timbers
Friday 15th to Sunday 17th April – Sarrens Restaurant, Port Lincoln, SA

The Weeping Willows
Sunday 17th April – Caravan Music Club, Oakleigh, VIC

Tim Guy
Sunday 17th April – Wheatsheaf Hotel, Adelaide, SA

TinPan Orange
Friday 15th to Sunday 17th April – Fairbridge Folk Festival, Fairbridge, WA

Tom Dockray
Friday 15th April – Six String Brewing Company, Erina, NSW
Saturday 16th April – Mr Falcon’s, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 17th April – Thirsty Crow Brewery, Wagga Wagga, NSW

Tracy McNeil & The Goodlife
Friday 15th April – The Retreat Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Vanishing Shapes
Wednesday 20th April – The Gasoline Pony, Sydney, NSW

Friday Folk Flashback

“Here’s The Tender Coming” – The Unthanks

Review: 5 things we learned at Bluesfest

Kale plays at Bluesfest 2016Kaleo playing Bluesfest
Photos by Stuart Bucknell

Year after year, Bluesfest manages to bring the big names and the impressive acts to Byron Bay for the annual Easter pilgrimage. Heading to Bluesfest this year, we really didn’t know many of the acts listed on the bill and wondered just what was in store for us, Timber and Steel wise. So here’s 5 things we learned at this year’s wildly successful, ultimate music sampler opportunity that is, Bluesfest.

#1 – Peter Noble knows how to program…

One thing is for sure, Peter Noble knows how to curate an inclusive, diverse and engaging festival. The big names drew enormous crowds to all their sets. City and Colour had the crowd from the first note and Dallas Green was on form all night.  The Decemberists gave their usual charming set delving in to a fabulous back catalogue of favourites. Not to go without a bit of political comment, they also played a song they thought to offer Donald Trump as his new campaign tune, ‘The Calamity Song’. The Cat Empire delivered a solid hour and a half set jam packed with both new tracks and past hits and favourites to wow the crowd. The biggest coup was probably The Original Blues Brothers Band closing out the weekend with a stellar set of their signature blues.

The festival was dappled with big names throughout the program. Archie Roach was in fine form, weaving his musical spell over the crowd and telling the tales of the land with strength and beauty, and a focus on songs from Charcoal Lane, the title track being a particular stand out moment of the set. Jason Isbell had his one an only set up against The Original Blues Brothers Band, so splitting our time between the two was challenging but rewarding as Isbell’s enigmatic style caught watchers in it’s thrall delivering a contemporary counterpoint to the old school blues on the other stage.

Kim Churchill plays BluesfestBut one of the most notable names for me, still playing midday sets, was Kim Churchill. Getting his big break on the Bluesfest Buskers stage all those years ago, Churchill has been a staple name on the line up ever since. His absence in 2015 was noted and the crowds that gathered for this sets this year spoke strongly of his popularity for the Bluesfest crowd. Watching him command the stage, with the occasional accompaniment of a fiddle player or percussionists, was a joy to witness and testament to the following he has. It felt like he had come home, and in the process had evolved from a keen boy with a guitar to a passionate man with a solid musical career stretching before him.

#2 – It’s never just about the Blues. Folk, Country, and Americana all strongly represented in 2016

Strolling from stage to stage, the peeling licks and plucky chords of the more folky persuasion were both notable and popular with punters, letting us stumble across all kinds of gems.  LA based Lord Huron made quite the entrance with a tension building soundscape and crescendo, an upbeat strummy and infectious style, inventive percussion beneath the acoustic lead and an ability to morph between styles, from the old school feel reminiscent of the 50s and 60s summer soundtracks, through alt country and indie folk rock vibes. A particular highlight from the four-piece was ‘Hurricane’, billed as a song about “getting in trouble”, turns out it was aptly named.

Described as an Icelandic Indie pop/rock/folk band, Kaleo was a light and lyrical delight. Building from their delicate opening style to gutsy, rhythm driven choruses, through alt-country sensibilities to deep southern style blues, and a soulful cover of Bang Bang, Kaleo didn’t hesitate to transcend styles and genres to sign off with a blues rock riff and howling vocals when warranted.

The Bros Landreth, hailing from Canada, brought their alt-country and folk laden cover of Wings’ ‘Let ‘Em In’ to break the ice and then let the Americana tinged goodness flow forth. A family affair, big brother David couldn’t attend so father Wally came in his place and whipped the crowd in to a cheering craze.

The Mastersons were touring with Steve Earle & The Dukes, and made appearances both on Earle’s sets and one of their own solo shows for Bluesfest. Their lyrical country styling, featuring voices working together in diverse melodic harmony gave their day opening set a contemplative mood, transporting the crowd to simpler days. Earle’s set was one great big treat of blues soaked tunes with toe-tapping jivey bluegrass edge, all with the sweet country counterpoint of The Mastersons.

Hound mouth playing Bluesfest 2016

It seemed to be a fatherly affair this Bluesfest, with Hussy Hicks welcoming Julz’s dad Greg to their set to deliver some blistering harmonica to their upbeat tempo and at times Joplin-esque wails and passion. Indiana’s Houndmouth however had no dad’s on their line up but did have plenty of twangy blues and American drawl to open their show and unravel your soul where you stood.

#3 – Word of Mouth is King

You know when you look at a line up and you’re not really sure what acts to check out? Well Bluesfest was that way inclined for many but within the first 8 hours, gossip was abuzz with recommendations and wild tales of phenomenal shows and must see acts to catch. So here’s what we checked out based purely on word of mouth.

Steve Smyth plays at Bluesfest 2016

OK, so Steve Smyth isn’t exactly news to us, but the stir on site had his name on the tips of peoples tongues and boy did he live up to the hype. Sheer genius stood on that stage in the form of master lyricist and vibrant stage presence. Smyth’s beautiful voice and stunning vibrato was just powerful solo as with the support backing instrumentalists. His performance of ‘Southland’ blew socks off across the festival.

Shooglenifty, also known as ‘that band I can’t pronounce’, was not what you expect when you read “Celtic” on the program, but a glorious blend of traditional highland derived tunes that were heavy on the fiddle and a mandolin at the ready, intricately twined with modern rhythms, a few electric guitars and a toe tapping beat, drew punters in before they could saunter too far past the heaving tent.

Blind Boy Paxton plays at Bluesfest 2016

The was no way to walk through the site without hearing the name, Blind Boy Paxton. Listening to his set was like a walk through time, from a fiddle calling a country dance and bransles, to a lightning speed banjo frenzy, a soothing guitar tune and even a lone harmonica telling you it’s tale. All this from one man on stage – simply astonishing.

#4 – The Ladies are out in force! And you should catch all of them live

There was a lot of talk about various acts, and word of mouth certainly got us to see some great performers, but thanks to emphatic and multiple recommendations from all kinds of punters, we discovered some of the most phenomenal women who stamped their mark and left as some of the powerhouses of Bluesfest.

We caught Sahara Beck for her last set and were immediately struck by her stage presence, the smooth set up with band and back up singers added the pizazz to her swag and gave her sultry vibe a ‘pop’ on stage.

Elle King had tongues wagging as word spread that after her first, expletive laden set, her set list had to be ‘revised’. However her husky, growling vocal licks were well and truly flowing when we caught her set in a heaving tent overflowing in to the customary Bluesfest rain. Sass and attitude would be the plainest way of describing King, her vibrancy comes from her musical versatility and ability to weave country vibes and bluegrassy panache throughout her ballsy bluesy set. A chameleon of style, King bowled over crowds with big notes, fiery wit and feisty repartee.

Elle King plays at Bluesfest 2016

Hailing from Ireland, via Canada, Irish Mythen is a modern troubadour equipped with a powerhouse voice and emphatic lyrics. Mythen might have been the grittiest, most real musician seen at Bluesfest this year, armed only with her guitar and her stories, she held hundreds of people spellbound, hanging on her every word any time she took to the stage. We caught her multiple times, and laughed, cried, cheered and sung along to songs we had only heard the first time days before. She regularly had the crowd in stitches with her sense of humour and story telling capers, and woe betide any punter brave enough to heckle her! Four stand out moments stayed with me, even though I saw them all more than once. Her performance of ‘Tullamore Blues’ almost defies description, except that the crowd was with her, in that space, singing every word and feeling every sentiment. Jesus is an experience to behold, hilarious in it’s explanation and empowering in it’s performance, I sincerely hope every person gets to experience it live. Her a Capella rendition of ‘The Auld Triangle’ gives me chills and is simply astounding.  And finally ’55 Years’ had me (and most in the crowd) in tears for the beauty it captures in it’s tale. A truly moving experience. Irish Mythen is awe inspiring and we’re excited she’ll be visiting Australia again soon.

Rhiannon Giddens plays at Bluesfest 2016

And finally, probably the all-singing, all-dancing highlight of the ladies was Rhiannon Giddens. Establishing herself originally as a part of Carolina Chocolate Drops, Giddens’ solo work is a sight to behold and a treat to hear. Her stunning vocals are soulful yet soar high in beautiful arcs and trills of an almost Celtic style. The skill of her band melds electric with acoustic in wonderful instrumental breaks, bouncing off one another jamming to a crescendo and returning the spotlight to her lead when the time was right. Her banjo crept through tunes to pounce on you unawares, yet could alternate and become the hero of the song. Old Bob Dylan lyrics never previously turned in to songs until Giddens got her hands on them offered a treasure trove to discover. Doing a Dolly Parton cover can be tough, but Giddens’ rendition of ‘Don’t Let It Trouble Your Mind’ saw her own the song completely, from every element of style through to her emotive connection with both lyrics and sentiment. From start to finish and for each and every set, she wowed the crowd with fiddle, banjo, modern takes on traditional style, soul stirring lyrics and even a step back in time to the 1920s. Her fancy footwork went down a treat and her ability to connect with the audience and tether them to her tale as the most exquisite experience to behold. She could chat to the crowd but make you feel like she spoke to you and you alone, and yet at all times Rhiannon Giddens continued to exist as her own ineffable self.

#5 – Soul is in, along with BIG bands

Now strictly speaking, Timber and Steel doesn’t really cover Soul, but the prevalence of the big band style soul injections at Bluesfest is worthy of admiration and appreciation, so it gets a gong here.

Emma Donovan & The Putbacks were a sight to behold as Donovan put her own stamp on soul, with earthy tones and a voice that rolled over the crowd, calling to them, beckoning them to hear her story. The combination of her stories and passionate, soulful delivery made for a tight set and profound performance.

I wrote down 4 words when seeing The Word, and two of them were expletives… “holy f***ing sh*t wow.” The couple of songs we caught were incredible, full of funky groves and some sweet slide guitar, all topped off with an electric organ. Very smooth and cool indeed.

Ash Grunwald plays at Bluesfest 2016Ash Grunwald hasn’t moved in to soul, but his Bluesfet setup did resemble the big backing bands of the soul acts and boy did it compliment his wailing blues. Never conforming to just one genre, Grunwald drew on bluegrass vibes, some indie rock to his blues and of course his signature commentary on Australian life. Playing River from his new album, Grunwald spoke about the anti-CSG message prevalent throughout his most recent recordings and confirmed he was among friends int he Bluesfest crowd. His set was punctuated with old favourites as highlights, crowds rollicking in his passionate performance and joining in to sing along on choruses, and the utter delight when Kasey Chambers joined him on stage for a brand new song was palpable.

Another of the tongue wagging recommendations was for Vintage Trouble, and my first impression was that lead singer Ty Taylor was sex on legs, with enough swagger stuffed in to a cravat and suit to fell an army. And when the full band kicked in, it blew the show off the Richter scale. A set full of southern blues, call and response, screaming and wailing blues breaks and enough on stage antics to warrant a lie down after watching. This was my kind of place, 1950s style jazzy blues, complete with energy and onstage charisma!

Vintage Trouble plays Bluesfest 2016

Now, if you haven’t yet heard of the phenomenal popularity and praise for Bluesfest debutants St. Paul and The Broken Bones, then you haven’t been doing the internet properly. Of all the word of mouth recommendations, St Paul and The Broken Bones was THE most talked about act at Bluesfest, and not without good reason. A big band blues-laden soul outfit, oozing funk, with a big personality for a front man in Paul Janeway. Opening with an almighty wail and sliding in to a crooning style track, the crowd knew exactly where they stood and were rooted to the spot to witness the explosive show by one of the most engaging acts we’ve seen in years. Janeway, on behalf of the entire band, exclaimed that Bluesfest was the best experience they had ever had and they would definitely be coming back to Australia, to which the crowd erupted with delight. A set filled with rumbling soul, emotive ballads and big, ballsy blues, St Paul and The Broken Bones is sure to be a high rotation favourite on many punters playlists for some time to come.

St Paul and The Broken Bones plays Bluesfest 2016

Without a doubt, Bluesfest’s skillfully curated 2016 lineup was a smash hit success, sure to be spoken of for years to come. Can’t wait to see what Peter Noble comes up with for 2017!

Bluesfest inspires Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar - Photo by Stuart BucknellKendrick Lamar performing on the opening night of Bluesfest
Photo by Stuart Bucknell

After a huge weekend opening the hugely popular Bluesfest in Byron Bay, Kendrick Lamar has been receiving praise and compliments on his stellar show ever since and helped to deliver the largest Thursday attendance ever seen at Bluesfest.

Lamar attended the remainder of Bluesfest and caught many acts from side of stage, exclaiming what a great festival and tremendous line up was on show over the Easter long weekend. Australian favourite Kasey Chambers was also in attendance at Bluesfest and joined a number of performers on stage as a guest for their set, including Archie Roach and Ash Grunwald.

Rumour has it that Chambers and Lamar met side of stage while watching City and Colour and traded tips on which acts to catch over the weekend. Having caught Chambers’ guest performances, Lamar has expressed an interest in collaborating with Chambers on a future, more blues and country inspired project.

Lamar reportedly said he is excited to return to the roots of R&B and take on the Blues genre for the foreseeable future and looks forward to bringing a country flavour and Australian talent in to the mix to give a real diversity to the project.

EDIT: Happy April Fools!

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