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May 11, 2021

Popular names dominate second Bluesfest line-up

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Ben Harper will play Bluesfest 2015 with his original backing band the Innocent Criminals.
Ben Harper will play Bluesfest 2015 with his original backing band the Innocent Criminals.

While there aren’t many surprises in the second Bluesfest 2015 line-up, most are acts with a great Bluesfest pedigree.

Artists such as Ben Harper, Counting Crows, David Gray, Gary Clark Junior, Angelique Kijo, Mavis Staples, Jimmy Cliff, Ruthie Foster and Playing for Change have all played to rapturous applause and standing ovations in Bluesfests past. So it is little surprise to see them all on the bill once again.

But in typical Bluesfest style, the reappearance of some of them comes with a twist.

Ben Harper, who seems to alternate every second Bluesfest with Jack Johnson, will be holding a reunion of his original band The Innocent Criminals on the Bluesfest stage. And management swear he will not be performing any sideshows whilst in Australia.

British balladeer David Gray returns to Bluesfest for the first time since 2009 with his new album Mutineer, which has seen him compared to the likes of Cat Stevens, Van Morrison and Bruce Springsteen.

Austin-based Grammy Award winner Gary Clark Jr rocked the house at Bluesfest 2014 so hard he was a shoe-in for a return gig this year.

Likewise Jimmy Cliff, ‘left the Bluesfest crowd in awe in 2013’, says Bluesfest director Peter Noble, ‘and we can’t wait for him to do it all over again’.

Mavis Staples may be 75 but she hasn’t slowed up a bit and her return will be worth catching, especially as she has publicly stated that Bluesfest is her favourite festival of all time.

When other big-name artists are still recovering from the previous night, Ruthie Foster is often found fronting the Bluesfest stage in the heat of the day with an energy that leaves the audience boiling over.

The Beat has seen changes to the original line-up over the last 30 years and the formation of the American based band, The English Beat who have recently toured Australia. But it is the original front man Ranking Roger who will be playing to Bluesfest audiences next Easter.

Along with the well knowns are some significant up-and-comers including: Brisbane’s family sensation Sheppard; Keziah Jones, who has been likened to ‘George Clinton sharing a joint with Fela’; US band Dispatch, famed for their audience participation routines; young British singer-songwriter Ben Howard; and Scottish-Italian muso Paolo Nutini.

Noble says of Howard and Nutini, ‘They are at the vanguard of the UK music movement of now – and are rightly hailed as superstars in waiting.  Between them they have topped the UK album charts, won the Brit Awards, Q Awards, UK Festival Awards and headlined every major festival from Glastonbury to Latitude.’

They join an already substantial line-up from the first announcement, including the Black Keys, Zac Brown Band, Alabama Shakes and Train, among others.

More information, the playing schedule and tickets are available from the Bluesfest website: www.bluesfest.com.au.

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