Bluesfest 2015 – Third Artist Announcement

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Bluesfest Byron Bay, the multi award winning 5 Day Festival, held annually over the Easter Long weekend just north of Byron Bay (EVENT DATES: Thu 2nd to Mon 6th of April, 2015) reveals the 3rd medley of phenomenal artists who will be performing at Bluesfest 2015.

Announcement #3 features a strong dose of Blues and Roots and so much more, with an exceptional blend of genres and a selection of artists from around the globe. Artists already announced for the Easter Extravaganza include the first major global performance of the Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals reunion, The Black Keys, Zac Brown Band, Alabama Shakes, Paolo Nutini, David Gray and Ben Howard just to name a few.

In true Bluesfest tradition, the artist announcements will continue to roll out and satisfy a diverse array of musical palates.


and so many more to come!

Concert featuring Michael Franti & Spearhead, SOJA and Trevor Hall.
& a pre-concert yoga session accompanied by Michael Franti, his guitarist Jay Bowman & friends on vocals and guitar.

The Black Keys
Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals
Paolo Nutini • David Gray
Zac Brown Band • Alabama Shakes • Ben Howard
Train • Counting Crows
Michael Franti & Spearhead
George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic
Paul Kelly Presents The Merri Soul Sessions
feat. Dan Sultan, Kira Puru, Vika & Linda Bull, Clairy Browne
Xavier Rudd and the United Nations
Gary Clark Jr. • Angelique Kidjo • Jimmy Cliff • Mavis Staples
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue • SOJA • Rebelution
Dispatch • Chris Robinson Brotherhood • Beth Hart
Frank Turner And The Sleeping Souls • Mariachi El Bronx
Band Of Skulls • Pokey LaFarge
G. Love & Special Sauce • Ruthie Foster • The Beat
Keziah Jones • Sheppard • Playing for Change
RocKwiz Live

Peter Noble, Festival Director comments on the 3rd Artist Announcement:
With our third Bluesfest announcement it is all coming together and what a truly great one our 2015 Bluesfest is going to be. This artist release has the Blues, the Roots, Hip Hop and Gypsy Flamenco Rhythms – already a perfect mix- just add to it a dash of Swamp Rock plus some Southern Rock & Soul and you have a fine musical Gumbo brewing up for your listening pleasure next Easter in Byron.

Just some of the highlights of our third artist release include:
Three-time Grammy Award winner Keb Mo will be coming to Bluesfest on a career high after his most successful album in almost 20 years.
The Gipsy Kings will be in Australia on their 25th Anniversary World Tour.
Rodrigo y Gabriela will arrive down under a couple of weeks after headlining at Wembley Arena.
Jurassic 5 are re-uniting to play, after blitzing the Glastonbury and Coachella festivals recently.
Soulshine is another exciting addition to this announce, Michael Franti will be presenting a festival within a festival with a difference. This is a Bluesfest first!

Plus, how good is this? We have only announced about half of the artists playing at Bluesfest 2015, with major announcements yet to come. Be aware that after each announcement ticket sales experience a big surge, so make sure you get your tickets now before prices rise again and certain ticket types will become scarce.

With our previous announcements featuring The Black Keys, the reunion of Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, Paolo Nutini, David Gray, Ben Howard, the Zac Brown Band, Alabama Shakes, George Clinton’s Parliament Funkadelic and many more – One thing is for sure: it’s another classic Bluesfest coming up.

Bluesfest playing schedule is available on
All festival and camping tickets are on sale through or by phoning the office on 02 6685 8310.
Tickets are also available through Moshtix and Ticketmaster

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“The voices and guitar playing was incredible” – “No one could sit still in the audience” – “Their music touches the soul and moves my feet” – “They make their audience come alive” “I have attended 10-12 GK concerts over the years…This without doubt…was their best ever” Reviews from The Gipsy Kings Beacon Theatre performance, New York – September 6, 2014

The Gipsy Kings are returning to Australia after five long years – on their 25th anniversary tour – an incredible band and still at the top of their game. They have bought us hits such as ‘Djobi Djoba’, ‘Baila Me’, ‘Bamboléo’, ‘Bem Bem Maria’, ‘Volare’, ‘Tu Quieres Volver’,‘A Mi Manera (Comme D’Habitude)’,‘Vamos A Bailar’ and many more.

Melding deep-heated Flamenco, Rumba, Salsa and Pop to the tune of over 25 million albums sold, the Grammy Award-winning hit-makers will be celebrating their 25th anniversary tour in their very own, blistering tradition – taking audiences back to the Gypsy Flamenco Catalan region of Spain, from where their parents fled under the persecution of the Gypsy Romani people by the dictatorship of Franco, to the South of France, where they settled as refugees – through to today as the highest selling artists in French music history.

Uniting the family Reyes, sons of the legendary Flamenco singer Jose Reyes and the family Baliardo, sons of the legendary million record selling Flamenco guitar player Manitas de Plata, the band continues a tradition that has drawn famous fans such as Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, Salvador Dali and Charlie Chaplin who championed their parents, through to the millions of fans who follow the sons. Lead vocalist Nicolas Reyes and lead guitarist Tonino Baliardo continue to lead The Gipsy Kings as they have from the beginning – with their exciting music which fans have described on their recent US tour as their best ever. The creators of Rumba Flamenca are coming to Australia on only their third tour in almost three decades of performing.

From playing on the streets of Cannes and the hedonistic heights of St. Tropez, breaking world music barriers as one of the rare groups to top the US mainstream and world music charts – as well as the Australian and New Zealand charts. Their music has featured on soundtracks of the movies The Big Lebowski, Toy Story 3 and Glee. The band has embraced western classics by Bob Marley, the Doobie Brothers and The Eagles with globe-hopping grace, whilst also embracing dramatic cues from Brazilian and Caribbean culture.

Returning to their ground-breaking eponymous album and the nomadic spirit that has led them to their latest Grammy winning album Savor Flamenco, The Gipsy Kings will be giving audiences the ‘deep shout at the heart of our community’. Get ready for The Gipsy Kings to raise the roof of Bluesfest’s Crossroads Stage on Saturday April 4 with their Gypsy Flamenco, Rumba and dance-ready genre bending sound that they created and none have equalled.

‘One of those rare acts who can leave you open-mouthed in awe when witnessed live’ BBC Music
‘Two of the most talented guitarists on the planet’ Sydney Morning Herald

Rodrigo y Gabriela, the internationally acclaimed Mexican acoustic Rock guitar duo who have won the hearts of many Australians music fans (including all of us at Bluesfest) are returning with their unique instrumental blend of Rumba Flamenca including elements of Rock, Metal, Jazz and World music. Rodrigo y Gabriela will also be bringing their latest release and first studio album in five years with them; 9 Dead Alive.

Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero have been playing together for more than fifteen years. First as young Thrash Metal fans in their native Mexico City, then as innocents abroad and street musicians in Dublin, Ireland at the turn of the millennium, and finally as the globe-straddling, film-scoring, record-breaking artists they are today including career sales in excess of 1.5 million albums, and sold out tours worldwide including headlining at London’s Wembley Arena, just two weeks before they play Bluesfest.

Rodrigo y Gabriela are known for their exhilarating live shows, the extraordinary interplay between Sanchez’s fiery lead lines and Quintero’s phenomenal rhythmic battery, creates a sound which is truly universal. Their appeal is boundless, their scope limitless, and the music timeless, get ready to be wowed by Rodrigo y Gabriela at Bluesfest.

This conscious West Coast Hip Hop collective has regrouped to play The Coachella Music Festival in 2013 – the Glastonbury Festival in 2014 and now it’s our turn. Jurassic 5 formed in the early nineties and quickly became known as one of the soulful and socially aware Hip Hop groups of the LA underground scene. They weren’t throwback or old school, but they embodied a nostalgic sound that was also at once fresh and has remained the benchmark for original Hip Hop ever since.

The group gave us timeless tracks such as ‘Quality Control’, ‘What’s Golden’ , ‘Day at The Races’ and ‘Thin Line’ featuring Nelly Furtado before they parted ways in 2007. Although the band was out of sight they were certainly not out of mind and their lore grew on soundtracks, and in video games. After a huge sold out tour in early 2014 this distinctive six-piece are back and showing us what Hip Hop should sound like.

“We waited seven years for a gig this good, and we’d do it again … ‘If You Only Knew’, ‘High Fidelity’, ‘Thin Line’, and ‘Freedom’. Throw in a full band dance routine and close the night with ‘What’s Golden’ and what you have is THE PERFECT GIG. No encore needed when you end on a high like that, there’s nowhere else to go.” – TIMEOUT

Jurassic 5 have released their first song since the reunion, ‘The Way We Do It’. It features production from the late Heavy D and a sample of the White Stripes Get Behind Me Satan single ‘My Doorbell’.

MC Chali 2na, known for his distinct baritone cadence, a founder of Jurassic 5 and also a successful solo artist blew us away at Bluesfest’s 25th Anniversary and this time around we can look forward to the full 6-member tribe, who will be bringing the ‘J5’ party to Bluesfest. Welcome back Jurassic 5!

We welcome the godfather of British Blues back to Bluesfest. John Mayall is a pioneer of the Blues, he founded John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers in the ‘60’s which backed legendary musicians including John Lee Hooker and became a launching platform for the likes of Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Jack Bruce, Mick Taylor, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie and Don “Sugarcane” Harris.

With a career spanning well over 50 years Mayall has released over 60 albums including the all-time classic Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton (1966) as well as a number of dynamic albums throughout the eighties and nineties including; Behind The Iron Curtain, Chicago Line, A Sense of Place, and the Grammy-nominated Wake Up Call that featured guest artists Buddy Guy, Mavis Staples, Albert Collins and Mick Taylor. In 2002 Mayall with the Bluesbreakers, recorded Stories which debuted on the Billboard blues charts at #1

Never one to give up the Blues, John Mayall celebrated his 80th Birthday in 2013 by producing his first studio album in five years and one of the best and most personal albums of his career. A Special Life has a deep devotion to Blues and Roots music and has received accolades such as; “Mayall is at the top of his game here…” American Blues Scene.

Mayall has also continued to tour with high acclaim; “Mayall celebrated his 80th birthday with a dynamic and flawless onstage blues performance.” Examiner and “…At 80, he moves, plays, and tours like he was in his 20s. The flame still burns bright.” BAM Magazine

We welcome back a man who has lived the Blues, the one and only John Mayall.

Three-time Grammy winner, visionary Roots-music storyteller and Bluesfest favourite Keb’ Mo’ has just had his most successful release in almost 20 years, the new album BLUESAmericana. The album marks the 20th Anniversary of his debut ‘Keb’ Mo’ and also the second time Keb’ has undergone a personal transformation. His first began in 1984 in his native Los Angeles, where he’d worked hard to get record and publishing deals and establish himself as a studio musician under his given name Kevin Moore, and then saw all of that dissipate. Although he thought his career was over, he ended up getting a gig in a Blues combo with saxist Monk Higgins and guitarist Charles “Charlie Tuna” Dennis, who today plays rhythm six-string behind B.B. King. It is here when Keb’ says he learnt about all kinds of Blues: Delta Blues, Texas Blues, Chicago Blues, Soul-Blues…. Keb’ then developed his own sound, blending their acoustic framework with the Pop, R&B, Rock, Jazz and Soul that had previously stoked his compositions.

Over the past two decades Keb’ has cultivated a reputation as a modern master of American Roots music through the understated excellence of his live and studio performances. His songs have been recorded by B.B. King, Buddy Guy, the Dixie Chicks, Joe Cocker and Robert Palmer, and his playing inspired leading instrument maker Gibson Brands to issue the Keb’ Mo’ Signature Bluesmaster acoustic guitar. He’s collaborated with a host of other artists including Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Brown, Cassandra Wilson, Buddy Guy, Amy Grant, Solomon Burke and Little Milton.

We welcome back Keb’ Mo’, who will be teaching us all about the Blues and Roots once again at Bluesfest.

We welcome back Dave Alvin, who last played Bluesfest in ’96, and Phil Alvin, performing at Bluesfest for the very first time, showcasing their first album together after 30 years; Common Ground – The Songs of Big Bill Broonzy. For those of you not familiar, Big Bill Broonzy played Country Blues and Ragtime and through the 30’s & 40’s was one of the inventors of the Chicago Blues sound, and was the first Blues artist to take Blues and American folk music to Europe. Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin say; “We’re brothers, we argue sometimes – but one thing we never argue about is Big Bill Broonzy!”

The brothers, from the working class town of Downey, California, formed The Blasters in 1979. The Blasters were at the heart, the absolute epicentre, of the US Roots Rock scene of the 80’s, their unique blend of Blues, Rockabilly early Rock n Roll, Punk, Mountain and Rhythm and Blues saw them work alongside The Gun Club, X, The Cramps and Asleep At The Wheel. Their first album American Music, which came out in 1980 – turned the Roots Rock music loving community on its collective head. It contained the instant classics ‘American Music’,’ Marie Marie’ plus a whole bunch more genre bending and defining tracks, and with it began a cult following that continues to this day.

Their next album The Blasters (1981) if anything, received even more acclaim – ‘they could take all that was old and make it new again’ – the album contained the instant classics, ‘Border Radio’ ‘So Long Baby Goodbye’ – simply it was all killer no filler. But it was sibling rivalry that tore the band apart – with Dave Alvin leaving in 1986. Although The Blasters continued on after Dave left, fans felt it was never quite the same. THIS is why it is SO exciting to hear them both performing again after all these years AND with their superb band The Guilty Ones, the reviews are stunning. This is BIG Roots music news.

As well as their amazing versions of the Big Bill Broonzy songs and the album they are touring on, Blasters songs they are currently featuring in their sets include ‘Border Radio’, ‘Trouble Bound’, ‘One Bad Stud’,’ Marie Marie’ & ‘So Long Baby Goodbye’. We can just hear The Blasters fans salivating at the thought of hearing these classics again. They are also including songs in their sets from American Punk/Roots Rock Band X, (who Dave Alvin was a member of), Jimmy Rodgers and James Brown. These are going to be two absolute miss them at your peril performances at Bluesfest.

“Impassioned singing, riff-based Southern Rock, cold-blooded Swamp Funk and sly Memphis Soul.” -The New York Times
The return of JJ Grey & Mofro in 2015 will mark 7 years since we last welcomed them to Bluesfest. Over the course of six albums and a decade of touring, Southern Florida’s JJ Grey’s grimy blend of front porch Soul and down-home storytelling has taken him around the world and back again. Beating the streets on nearly every continent, he and his band Mofro have sewn a continuous thread of laying-it-on-the-line shows that move folks to dance and at times to tears.

JJ’s band, Mofro has also been a decade in the making. Over that time, great players have come and gone, but according to JJ, the present incarnation – with Art Edmaiston on saxophone, Dennis Marion on Trumpet, Anthony Farrell on organ and piano, Todd Smallie on bass, Anthony Cole on drums and Andrew Trube on guitar – is “the creme de la crème.” It is hard to put a label on Mofro, their music has elements of Southern Rock, Blues, Soul & Funk, with some Swamp Rock & Jam Band music thrown in for good measure to blend into a sound that is theirs alone.

From his early days playing cover music behind chicken wire at a Westside (Jacksonville) juke joint to playing sold-out shows and some of the largest music festivals in the world, it’s been a long road. But JJ has no illusions about where he’s headed or where he’s been. We are just glad he is finding his way back to Bluesfest.

If you’re after authentic Blues Rock legends, then this Swamp Rock master, originally from Oak Grove, Louisiana, is one you cannot afford to miss! Tony Joe White has been gracing our ears for nearly five decades with his laid back, signature Country Swamp Rock Blues style, of which he is one of the originators, and has collaborated with some of the world’s greats including Johnny Cash, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Tom Jones and J.J. Cale.
In the beginning, a trip to Nashville in 1966 saw a string of lucky breaks and White’s prolific recording career began at fabled Country-Soul label, Monument Records. An undeniably esteemed lyricist, Tony Joe White is responsible for writing such great songs as ‘Polk Salad Annie’(his biggest hit), ‘Rainy Night in Georgia’ and ‘Steamy Windows’ and through the years have been recorded by everyone from Elvis Presley, Tina Turner and Dusty Springfield. TJW even wrote a song about Bluesfest and his experience playing at the festival – ‘The Delta Singer’ – a first for us – it’s from his album One Hot July (2000).

His latest release, Hoodoo, was cut live to tape in an old antebellum house in Tennessee, oozing White’s raw and spontaneous trademark Swamp Funk style and stories of his Louisiana upbringing. The rich, velvet quality of his voice resonates to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, while his guitar sings bare bones Blues Rock that transport you straight into the heart of his distinct deep South heritage.

We’re honoured to welcome The Swamp Fox back to his regular spot on the Bluesfest stage for a truly bona fide Blues experience set to draw the most die-hard of Blues fans. Make the effort – you will not be disappointed.

We welcome back ‘piano professor’ Jon Cleary, who Bluesfest alumni Bonnie Raitt describes as ‘the ninth wonder of the world’. Born in England and bred in New Orleans, Jon Cleary is a triple threat, combining soulful vocals, masterful piano skills, and a knack for composing infectious grooves with melodic hooks and sharp lyrics. He balances a career performing on solo piano, playing with his power trio and the celebrated, Funk band The Absolute Monster Gentlemen, with a career as a notorious hired gun for artists such as Bonnie Raitt and John Scofield [Cleary is featured on vocals and keyboards on Piety Street by John Scofield & The Piety Street Band.] Jon has toured with Bonnie Raitt since 1999, and has appeared on the albums Silver Lining and Souls Alike. Jon has also worked alongside the likes of Taj Mahal, Doctor John and Jazz man John Scofield.

Don’t miss Jon Cleary’s own brand of New Orleans Funk & Classic R&B at Bluesfest 2015.

Trevor Hall, who will be making his Bluesfest debut in 2015 realised at a very young age that music was more than just a passion. As an 11 year old, playing harmonica beside his father in the cradle of the weeping willows of South Carolina, music quickly became his most intimate companion, guide and creative outlet. Trevor’s music is an eclectic mix of acoustic Rock, Reggae and Sanskrit chanting and he quickly broke through the music scene, with such early accomplishments in his career as having a song recorded on the Shrek the Third soundtrack, as well as joining a series of sold-out tours with artists such as Steel Pulse, The Wailers, Jimmy Cliff, Matisyahu, Michael Franti, Nahko and Colbie Callait. Trevor’s self-titled, first album debuted on Billboard’s Heatseeker chart at #7 in 2009, he was named one of the Top 20 New Artists by Music Connection magazine, and in 2010 MTV named him one of the twenty emerging artists for 2010. His most recent album, Chapter Of The Forest (2014) debuted at #3 on the iTunes singer-songwriter chart and #17 on the iTunes overall albums chart. Trevor Hall will be performing at Michael Franti’s Soulshine concert at Bluesfest on Easter Monday – visit below for more information.

She’s back! It’s been over 10 years since we’ve had the pleasure of this Canadian beauty at Bluesfest and with the success of her platinum selling latest album, Harmony, if you hadn’t heard of her in 2004, then you will now!
Toronto born Serena Ryder‘s star is constantly rising, having toured with Melissa Etheridge and featuring on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno last year following her trailblazing, 3x Platinum selling single ‘Stompa’ and the equally infectious, double platinum follow-up, ‘What I Wouldn’t Do’. Ryder is no stranger to sales success over the years with albums If Your Memory Serves You Well (2007) and Is it O.K. (2009) both achieving Gold selling status along with single ‘Weak In The Knees’ also reaching Gold.

If you’re ready for a feel good, Folk Rock session, then circle Serena Ryder in your festival programs – her instantly adorable stage presence and musicianship will have you smiling and dancing before you can say “Multi Platinum for a reason!”

“Jake is taking the instrument to a place that I can’t see anybody else catching up with.” – Eddie Vedder

Jake Shimabukuro, a wizard with the ukulele, returns to Bluesfest with his most ambitious and magical album yet, Grand Ukulele, produced by genius producer Alan Parsons (Dark Side of The Moon, Abbey Road). He found fame initially on YouTube with his rendition of George Harrison’s ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ which led to collaborations with the likes of Jimmy Buffett, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, Bette Midler, Yo-Yo Ma, Cyndi Lauper, Ziggy Marley, Levon Helm, Marcus Miller, Stanley Clarke, Les Paul, Dave Koz and Chris Botti.

In a relatively short career, Jake Shimabukuro has already redefined a heretofore under-the-radar instrument, been declared a musical “hero” by Rolling Stone, won accolades from the disparate likes of Eddie Vedder, Perez Hilton and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, wowed audiences on TV (Jimmy Kimmel, Conan), earned comparisons to Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis, and even played in front of the Queen of England.

Forget everything you know about the ukulele and let Jake Shimabukuro open your mind to his incredible and magical uke-world.

The Music Maker Foundation are bringing one of the most exciting Music Maker line-ups to ever play Bluesfest and to celebrate, we are expanding their sets to two daily, so you can hear all the music they have come so far to give you, their fans. We are proud of our relationship with the Music Maker Relief Foundation here at Bluesfest, which has been going for so many years now, having first presented a group of their fine artists in 2005.

This continues on from Festival Director Peter Noble’s love of Blues & Roots music – his many visits to the South of the US have resulted in artists such as RL Burnside performing at Bluesfest before he played major festivals in the US, and before he was ‘re-discovered’. The Music Maker Foundation is dedicated to artists from the South who continue to perform great Blues & Roots Music Styles and to keep their traditions alive as they enter into their older years.

Little Freddie King, who was supposed to play in 2014, but dropped out due to medical reasons, is coming in 2015. He is from McComb, Mississippi originally and has lived in New Orleans since the age of 14. He is Lightnin’ Hopkins cousin, but not related to Freddie King!! He cut the first Electric Blues recordings in New Orleans in 1969, and played the first Jazzfest in New Orleans and then every festival after that for over 40 years. He is a member of the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame and one very bad dude on the guitar.

Alabama Slim grew up playing in juke joints in Alabama and moved to New Orleans in the ‘60s. Since joining Music Maker, his music has been felt at performances in the States and abroad and he has recorded The Mighty Flood, an album featuring Little Freddie King. “I grew up listening to the old blues since I was a child. I spent summers with my grandparents who had a farm. Them old folks would get to moanin’ while they worked, and I just started moanin’ with them. That’s where I learned to sing.” – Alabama Slim

Taj Mahal rates Cool John Ferguson as “One of the five Greatest Guitarists in the World”. Living Blues Magazine awarded John the ‘Most Outstanding Guitarist’ Award – TWICE!! This guy is no slouch – to hear him play ‘Hey Joe’ is a revelation. It is bordering on criminal he is not MUCH better known in Blues and guitar circles. Cool John truly is that good.

Rounding out our Music Maker group of front line artists this year is George Stancell, who can deliver Gospel- infused raveups AND hard time Soul laments and he is a fine guitar player. Originally from Greenwood, Mississippi, and currently living in Milwaukee, Stancell often plays Chicago Blues clubs such as Rosa’s and has performed semi regularly at the Chicago Blues Festival.

The wonderful Music Maker Rhythm section features Ardie Dean on Drums – who is as good to watch as to listen to -absolutely the biz. Albert White will be on guitar, his uncle was Piano Red, and he used to play in his legendary band – Dr Feelgood & The Interns. Over his 50 year career he has worked with Joe Tex, Ray Charles and Beverley Guitar Watkins to name a few. Last but not least in this fine band will be, Nashid Abdul on bass. Nashid has previously worked with Muddy Waters son, Big Bill Morganfield. What a line-up – this is another don’t miss at Bluesfest 2015.