It was a sad day when the COVID-19 pandemic made a victim of Bluesfest 2020. With one of the biggest and eclectic lineups in the Byron Bay festival's history, edition #31 was set to be a long weekend for the ages.
But alas, it wasn't meant to be, and the organisers behind the five-day epic have decided instead to make the best of a bad situation, taking many of the axed 2020 lineup's best names and propping them up on the enormous first announcement for Bluesfest 2021.
It's a historic announcement for the Bluesfest team, with over 40 incredible bands and artists set to take the stage next April. And these are no small names, either – we're talking the likes of Bon Iver, Patti Smith, Jimmy Barnes, George Benson, The Teskey Brothers, John Butler... It's like a whole festival of headliners!
In addition to the lineup news comes a statement from festival director Peter Noble OAM:
"When Bluesfest 2020 was ordered by the Government to shut-down 2020 we immediately put our noses to the grindstone within days of the cancellation and got on with 2021. This Artist Announce is a testament to that fortitude.
"As this country’s most highly awarded music festival, we are working with Government to find the best possible outcomes for Bluesfest 2021. We want to present another great event, one that is safe and with best-practise protocols implemented on every level. We need it, the music industry needs it and the greater community needs it.
"Together we will find the most prudent pathway to revive the live music industry, an industry that is aching to get back to work ASAP.
"I am so grateful to all the international artists who want to return and be a part of 2021 Bluesfest, to all the Australian artists and to everyone in our industry supporting us in leading the way back to live music.
Above all my thanks go to the resilient Bluesfest team who have been dedicated through what has been the hardest time yet we have experienced in presenting a music festival. Bluesfest 2021 will be much more than the music on stage and the wonderful audience along with all those who present it. It will be an integral part of the return of the live music industry.
Many of 2020s line up want to return, so we fulfilled that and included some surprises like Bon Iver, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Jimmy Barnes and The Teskey Brothers to name a few. It’s a long way to next Easter and by that time travel restrictions are sure to be different. In the case of no international travel I’ve programmed a damn good line up of locals and a vibrant festival experience so people can come out and play.
Last week’s Early Bird ticket sales proved to me that people are keen for next year’s Bluesfest. Yes the future is uncertain for everyone, but humans need enjoyment, a place they can feel comfortable and trust they are in good hands, and Bluesfest is, and has always been that."
Tickets for Bluesfest 2021 are on sale now via the festival's website.
Cop the full lineup and event details below.
THE 32nd ANNUAL BYRON BAY BLUESFEST
Thursday April 1st – Monday 5th, 2021
Tygarah Tea Tree Farm, Byron Bay NSW
First Lineup Announcement:
- Bon Iver
- Patti Smith and Her Band
- Jimmy Barnes
- George Benson
- The Teskey Brothers
- John Butler
- Xavier Rudd
- The Cat Empire
- Kool & The Gang
- The Gipsy Kings
- Kasey Chambers
- The Waifs
- Troy Cassar-Daley
- Michael Franti & Spearhead
- The Wailers (performing songs from Legend)
- The Black Sorrows
- Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
- Tory Kelly
- Buffy Sainte-Marie
- The Marcus King Band
- Christone "Kingfish" Ingram
- Jimmie Vaughan
- John Mayall
- Melbourne Ska Orchestra
- Larkin Poe
- Weddings, Parties, Anything
- Harts Plays Hendrix
- Ash Grunwald
- The War & Treaty
- Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles
- Walter Trout
- The Bamboos
- Mick Thomas' Roving Commission
- Dami Im
- Pierce Brothers
- Emily Wurramarra
- Ray Beadle
- Henry Wagons
- Hussy Hicks
- Pacey, King & Doley
- Daniel Champagne
- Nathan Cavaleri
- Little Georgia
- Bluesfest Busking Competition & Winners
- The Australian Americana Music Honours