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Byron Shire
June 1, 2023

Blues brotherhood sticks together through thick and thin

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Paul Bibby

If local band Brotherhood of the Blues needs any inspiration when they step onto the stage at Bluesfest next month, they need only reflect on the ups and downs of the past two years.

It’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride for the Lismore foursome and their bandmates, with the producer of their first, self-titled album passing away and some other painful mishaps making life difficult.

‘We had the floods in Lismore, then two of our friends passed away, and we had some broken bones as well,’ says Zac Paden, 24, a Bundjalung man who has hemiplegic cerebral palsy.

‘That’s plenty of inspiration!’

But through all of the challenges the band has stuck together and stayed strong, writing and recording their first full length album Right Back Home, which will be released on April 5.

Just three weeks later they will take the stage at Bluesfest for the second time, after an incredibly successful debut in 2016.

“Nervous,” is Paden’s refreshingly honest answer when asked how he feels about the upcoming Blesfest shows on April 19 and April 22.

“But I’m pretty sure some of my other bandmates would say they’re excited so I guess that means we’re a mixture of nervous and excited,” he says.

Paden met his fellow front men John Cieslak and Luke Murray at RED Inc, the Lismore-based disability service provider.

Each of the three men has an indigenous background, and lives with a different disability, as does the band’s guitarist Harley Bodenham.

In 2014, the band caught the attention of renowned producer Anthony Lycenko, who gave them space at Byron’s Studio 301 and helped them to record their self-titled, debut EP.

Sadly, Lycenko passed away last year.

Thankfully, Rockinghorse Studio’s Paul Pilsnekis stepped into the breach to help the band produce ‘Right Back Home’.

‘We just write about what we’ve experienced – learning about life and writing about life and how life has been treating us,’ Paden says.

‘We’ve been learning about how to use music to connect with people.’

Alongside Paden, Cieslak, Murray and Bodenham are six other band members who help to give Brotherhood of the Blues a driving delta blues feel.

All 10 members will take the stage at Bluesfest on April 19 and 22.

For more information, visit the group’s Facebook page.

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