FANS: A massive crowd turns up to watch Michael Franti and the Speahead at Bluesfest 2014.
FANS: A massive crowd turns up to watch Michael Franti and the Speahead at Bluesfest 2014. Marc Stapelberg

A guide to Bluesfest: 14 acts not to miss

BLUESFEST Byron Bay showcases music from around the world annually on the Easter long weekend on 120 hectares at Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm, just north of Byron Bay.

The event presents more than 200 performances with various stages over five, 12-hour days, offering camping for up to 6,000 people, five licensed bars, more than 100 food and market stalls, undercover food courts, beer gardens, and children's entertainment.

IN three decades, Bluesfest has seen iconic performers on its stages, from Bob Dylan to Patti Smith, Paul Simon, Robert Plant, John Legend, BB King, Lionel Ritchie, Kendrick Lamar, Ben Harper, John Mayer, Grace Jones, Buddy Guy, John Foggerty, Michael Franti, Midnight Oil, Angelique Kidjo, Kasey Chambers, to name but a few.

The headliner in 1990 was Charlie Musselwhite with his band.

Bluesfest also hosts Boomerang, an initiative of Bluesfest director Peter Noble and Rhoda Roberts, a Bundjalung woman and Festival Director.

Boomerang is an experience of living cultures through traditional and contemporary music, featuring some of the world's oldest instruments, dance and rituals along with traditional arts practices and workshops that focus on mother tongues and first instruments.

From a modest crowd of 6,000 when it began in 1990, Bluesfest now attracts an audience of over 100,000.

It is regarded as a safe, fun, family-friendly event.

Who you will see in 2019

Melody Angel at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago Illinois , January 15, 2017.
Melody Angel at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago Illinois , January 15, 2017. Paul Natkin

Melody Angel

Born and raised on the south side of Chicago, Melody Angel began playing guitar at the age of thirteen.

Even though her mother was barely getting by raising two children alone, she found a way to introduce Melody to her first Fender Stratocaster by buying the guitar out of a window of a pawn shop.

Angel plays regularly at Buddy Guy's nightclub Legends in Chicago, which is considered a stamp of approval by the great himself.

Angel said to The Northern Star in 2017 that a Nina Simone's quote from the 1960s resonated with her so much that it changed her life.

"She showed me that singing my truth could help free and inspire my people. One voice could change the world,” she said.

Today at Juke Joint from 7pm, tomorrow at Delta from 2.30pm, Saturday at Juke Joint from 8.30pm, Sunday at Mojo from 12.30pm and Monday at Juke Jint from 9pm.

George Clinton.
George Clinton.

George Clinton

George Edward Clinton is an American singer, songwriter, bandleader, and record producer.

His Parliament-Funkadelic collective developed an influential and eclectic form of funk music during the 1970s that drew on science-fiction, outlandish fashion, psychedelic culture, and surreal humor.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, alongside 15 other members of Parliament-Funkadelic. In 2019, he and Parliament-Funkadelic will be given Grammy Lifetime Achievement Awards.

In April 2018, Clinton announced that he would retire from touring in May 2019 so this may be the last time we can see him in Australia. He indicated that he expected Parliament Funkadelic would continue to tour without him.

On Sunday at Crossroads from 10pm and Monday at Jambalaya from 9.15pm.

Mojo Juju.
Mojo Juju.

Mojo Juju

MOJO 'Juju' Ruiz de Luzuriaga is an Australian singer-songwriter and guitarist, and if you don't know her music, you should.

Born and raised in regional NSW, she is Filipino on her father's side, Wiradjuri on her mother's, and she identifyies as a queer woman of colour.

The Dubbo-born, Melbourne-based singer came through with her most ambitious album yet on her third release, Native Tongue (2018).

The story of the "love affair" between her great-grandparents, Pearl and Jackson, is a thread that spans several tracks.

It scored her an ARIA nomination, a J Award win for Australian Music Video of the Year.

Her live show used to feature big-band flashiness and rootsy, blues stomping. Lately, Juju's live show are joined by her brother Steve Ruiz de Luzuriaga, known as T-Bone, on drums, plus bassist and keyboardist Yeo Choong.

At Boomerang stage on Saturday, 3pm and at Delta on Monday from 4.30pm.

epa02081161 Original members of the band The Stooges, Iggy Pop (4th L), Scott Asheton (2nd R) and James Williamson (3rd L), stand with newer band members Scott Thurston (L), Steve Mackay (2nd L), and Mike Watt (R), in the press room at the 2010 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction ceremony at the Waldorf Astoria in New York, New York, USA, on 15 March 2010. The Stooges were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during the the ceremony tonight.  EPA/JUSTIN LANE
epa02081161 Original members of the band The Stooges, Iggy Pop (4th L), Scott Asheton (2nd R) and James Williamson (3rd L), stand with newer band members Scott Thurston (L), Steve Mackay (2nd L), and Mike Watt (R), in the press room at the 2010 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction ceremony at the Waldorf Astoria in New York, New York, USA, on 15 March 2010. The Stooges were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during the the ceremony tonight. EPA/JUSTIN LANE JUSTIN LANE

Iggy Pop

JAMES Newell Osterberg Jr., better known as Iggy Pop, is an American singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, and actor.

You will be able to watch him devouring human flesh as a zombie in the upcoming film The Dead Don't Die, where he will share the screen with Chloë Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, Tilda Swinton, RZA, Tom Waits, Rosie Perez, Danny Glover, Caleb Landry Jones, Carol Kane and Selena Gomez, just to count a few.

The 'Godfather of Punk', who is about to turn 72, pre-figured both '70s punk and '90s grunge and has built a legendary career filled with both critical acclaim and fanatic cult success.

He is famous for stage diving, but after an accident in Spain in 2010, such antics are not always present in his shows.

On July 2018, Iggy Pop released a joint EP with Underworld, titled Teatime Dub Encounters.

Tomorrow at Crossroads from 10pm.

Tash Sultana was a crowd favourite.
Tash Sultana was a crowd favourite. Lyn McCarthy

Tash Sultana

TASH Sultana is an Australian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, described as a "one-person band”.

Sultana is non-binary and uses the pronoun they.

Sultana's 2016 single Jungle was voted into third place in the Triple J Hottest 100, 2016. Sultana also had three songs voted into the Triple J Hottest 100, 2017.

Sultana grew up in Melbourne, and has been playing guitar from the age of three, beginning a career in music through busking.

An active musician on Bandcamp since 2013, Sultana's recordings were viewed millions of times on YouTube in 2016.

Sultanas EP, Notion, was released on September 2016, followed by a sold-out world tour in early 2017. They can play 20 instruments.

Their debut LP, Flow State, released on 31 August 2018.

Tomorrow at Mojo from 10.30pm.

Lucy Galant.
Lucy Galant. Darren Clarkee

Lucy Gallant

BYRON Bay artist Lucy Gallant will be launching her new album Darkness To Light this week at Bluesfest.

The lead single Not Normal an exuberant declaration to live a life connected to the world, in search of various forms of beauty.

The music on this track is an exotic cocktail of upbeat acoustic instruments and spacious electronica.

The singer-songwriter and producer has captivated audiences at nearly every major festival, including Bluesfest Byron Bay, Splendour in the Grass, Falls Festival, Woodford, Art Basel in the US and multiple times at the UK's Glastonbury Festival.

She has just returned from LA after filming the music video for Not Normal. It was shot by Robert Reed Altman who is well respected in Hollywood and has worked on many great television programs and movies like Lost and Bones as Director and head of photography.

Tomorrow at Mojo from 2pm and Monday at Juke Joint from 2.45pm.

Allen Stone.
Allen Stone.

Allen Stone

ALLEN Stone is an American soul and R&B singer and musician in Chewelah, Washington.

He began his career singing at his father's church. His father was a preacher and his mother was a nurse.

Allen did not discover soul music until he was a teenager, and started collecting classic albums from the 1960s and 1970s.

When Stacie Orrico, a close friend of Allen's as a teen, became successful in music, Stone decided to become serious about his musical career.

Radius, his first album for Capitol Records, was released on May 2015. It was recorded in collaboration with Magnus Tingsek.

He features in Deva Mahal's song Turnt Up, part of her debut album Run Deep. Deva Mahal is also playing at Bluesfest Byron Bay 2019.

This Saturday at Crossroads from 3pm, Sunday at Delta from 7.15pm and Monday at Crossroads from 2.30pm.

Paul Kelly.
Paul Kelly. Daniel Boud

Paul Kelly

WHEN Paul Kelly plays, Australia listens.

Paul Maurice Kelly AO is an Australian rock music singer-songwriter, guitarist, and harmonica player.

He has performed solo, and has led numerous groups, including the Dots, the Coloured Girls, and the Messengers.

Kelly's music style has ranged from bluegrass to studio-oriented dub reggae, but his core output straddles folk, rock, and country.

Kelly has written songs with and for numerous artists, including Mick Thomas, Geyer, Kate Ceberano, Vika and Linda Bull, Nick Cave, Nick Barker, Kasey Chambers, Yothu Yindi, Archie Roach, Gyan, Missy Higgins, and Troy Cassar-Daley.

Paul Kelly has won 14 ARIA Awards, three APRA Awards. He was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 1997, and has won six Country Music Awards.

At Mojo stage on Monday from 8.45pm.

Kurt Vile.
Kurt Vile. Marina Chavez

Kurt Vile

KURT Vile and the Violators are coming to Bluesfest for the first time this year.

Kurt Samuel Vile is an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer.

He is known for his solo work and as the former lead guitarist of rock band The War on Drugs.

Both in the studio and during live performances, Vile is accompanied by his backing band, The Violators, which currently includes Jesse Trbovich (bass, guitar, saxophone), Rob Laakso (guitar, bass) and Kyle Spence (drums).

In 2017, Vile and Australian Courtney Barnett released the collaborative album Lotta Sea Lice. The lead single Over Everything was released on August 2017, accompanied by the music video directed by Danny Cohen.

In 2018, Vile announced his seventh solo studio album, Bottle It In, released on October 12, 2018.

Today at Mojo from 7.30pm and Saturday at Mojo from 6pm.

Larkin Poe.
Larkin Poe.

Larkin Poe

LARKIN Poe is an American roots rock band from Atlanta, GA fronted by sisters Rebecca Lovell and Megan Lovell.

They are descendants of tortured artist and creative genius, Edgar Allen Poe.

At a young age, the girls were classically trained on violin and piano while being exposed to classic rock icons including Fleetwood Mac and Pink Floyd.

Featuring strong southern harmonies, heavy electric guitar riffs, and slide guitar, they are often touted as 'the little sisters of the Allman Brothers”.

In 2018, Larkin Poe's self-produced third album Peach was nominated for a Blues Foundation Best Emerging Artist Album award.

Larkin Poe released Venom & Faith, their fourth studio album, on November 2018.

The album was recorded in Nashville, and reached number 1 on the Billboard blues album chart for the week of November 24, 2018.

This Saturday at Delta from 3.45pm and Sunday at Juke Joint from 8.15pm.

Hozier. Edward Cooke


ANDREW Hozier-Byrne, known professionally as Hozier, is an Irish musician, singer, and songwriter.

He had his international breakthrough after releasing his debut single Take Me to Church, which had been certified multi-platinum in several countries, including the US, the UK and Canada. The music video violence perpetrated against members of the LGBTQAI+ community.

In September 2018, Hozier released an EP, titled Nina Cried Power, featuring blues icon Mavis Staples on the title track, which opposes xenophobia and references various musicians, acknowledging their contributions.

He released his second album, Wasteland, Baby!, last month. It debuted atop the US Billboard 200. The album's cover was painted by Hozier's mother who also created the artwork covers for some of his previous releases.

Tomorrow at Crossroads from 8.10pm.

Aussie rapper Baker Boy. Supplied by Universal Music.
Aussie rapper Baker Boy. Supplied by Universal Music. Cesar Rodrigues

Baker Boy

DANZAL Baker, known professionally as Baker Boy, is an Indigenous Australian rapper from Darwin, a dancer, artist, and actor. The 22-year-old has rapped and danced his way into the hearts of tens of thousands of young Australians performing original hip-hop songs incorporating both English and Yolu Matha.

In 2017, he attracted national attention as the winner of the Triple J Unearthed National Indigenous Music Awards Competition, releasing the singles Cloud 9 (featuring Kian) and Marryuna (featuring Yirrmal) in the same year.

Both singles were featured in the Triple J Hottest 100 countdown of 2017.

On January 25 2019, Baker released his fifth single, Cool As Hell. On the same day, he became the 2019 recipient of the Young Australian of the Year award.

Today at Crossroads from 5.50pm, tomorrow at Boomerang from 3.50pm and Saturday at Jambalaya from 8.05pm.

The Hussy Hicks.
The Hussy Hicks.

Hussy Hicks

MUSICIAN Julz Parker and bandmate Leesa Gentz are The Hussy Hicks.

A band of accomplished and powerful women, Hussy Hicks have made a name for themselves locally and on the international stage the old fashioned wayby playing their music and connecting with audiences one passionate performance at a time.

Julz Parker is widely recognised amongst her peers as one of Australia's finest guitar players, with a tone and approach that sits stylistically between Jimmy Page, Peter Green, Django Reinhardt and Tom Morello.

Leesa Gentz's powerhouse stage presence, soaring vocals and massive smile will steal your heart, have you hanging on every note and leave a tingle dancing down your spine.

The Hussies' music incorporates blues, folk and riffy rock with gypsy, surf, alt country and soul plus beautiful vocal harmonies.

Tomorrow at Juke Joint from 6.30pm and Monday at Juke Joint from 7.15pm.

Samantha Fish.

Samantha Fish

SAMANTHA Fish is an American blues singer-songwriter and guitarist.

Fish released her fourth solo album, Chills & Fever, on March 2017.

The album was recorded in Detroit and was recorded with members of the band The Detroit Cobras.

Samantha Fish is continuing the blues legacy and making fans pay attention again. Her deep soulful voice combined with the fact that she shreds on guitar in four inch heels makes her a must see.

Go see her show, close your eyes and listened to her signature solo battles with her drummer.

Today at Delta from 7.30pm, tomorrow at Delta from 10pm, Saturday at Delta from 5.15pm and Monday at Jambalaya from 3pm.