Current Tours, Live, Music News, Tours - Australian — October 14, 2014 at 5:45 pm

BLUESFEST 2015 announce second wave of artists


Today, Bluesfest Byron Bay, the highly awarded 5 Day Music Festival, held over the 2015 Easter long weekend (EVENT DATES: Thu 2nd to Mon 6th of April, 2015) reveals its 2nd group of outstanding artists to perform at its purpose-built festival & camping site just north of Byron Bay.

The 1st Announcement for the 26th Annual Bluesfest that included THE BLACK KEYS, ZAC BROWN BAND, ALABAMA SHAKES and TRAIN among other greats created a stir AND this 2nd edition proves there is no stopping now, with more headlining announcements on the horizon!

Bluesfest Second Artist Announcement includes:




and so many more to come!

Bluesfest does what Bluesfest loves and that is writing festival history!

The much anticipated reunion of BEN HARPER & THE INNOCENT CRIMINALS at Bluesfest on Easter Sunday (April 5) will go into history as one of the major events on the 2015 Festival calendar. It is going to be the bands ONLY performance in Australia with NO other shows to be added. It’s exclusive as can be and Bluesfest is truly honoured to welcome back BEN HARPER & THE INNOCENT CRIMINALS after their 7 year break!

Scroll down to read what Festival Director Peter Noble has to say about the Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals Reunion and some of the other amazing artists in this announcement.

Also topping the 2nd Bluesfest artist announcement is multi-platinum recording artist PAOLO NUTINI. The Scotsman with Italian heritage has become a truly stellar writer and musician. His chart topping album Caustic Love released in April this year has received rave reviews, including “the best UK R&B album since the 1970’s blue-eyed soul heyday of Rod Stewart and Joe Cocker” by The Independent (UK) and has gained him many new fans. It has been a fixture in the Top 20 of the BBC ALBUM CHARTS since its release 25 weeks ago. NUTINI delivers a range of genres from Rock, Soul, and Folk to Blues with a stunning voice that delivers raw emotion. This young man oozes talent and on stage he is joined by his accomplished 9 piece band.  PAOLO NUTINI is going to be a real Bluesfest highlight!

DAVID GRAY returns to Bluesfest from the UK (since his first show in 2006). On stage GRAY lives every word and every note, immersing himself into the whole experience. His songs ‘This Year’s Love’, ‘Babylon’, ‘Please Forgive Me’, ‘Sail Away’ from his 1998 album White Ladder have become eternal & unforgettable hits. David was described in his early career as ‘a young Bob Dylan’ by Joan Baez in 1992 – (Bob’s muse when he was in his early career) and now 10,000,000 album sales later, David STILL has the record for Ireland’s biggest selling album with White Ladder . Peter Vincent from the Sydney Morning Herald describes the 2014 Mutineer album as follows: “It has garnered his best reviews in years” & “Timeless – As the likes of Cat Stevens, Van Morrison and Bruce Springsteen’’ – WHOA. His last shows in Australia were in 2009 and of course they were instant sell-outs.  His fans on that tour were very avid about Gray’s performances: “It’s ALL about the music – and the music is FANTASTIC”, “Best night of my life”, “A stellar performance from one of the greatest lyricists of all time”. DAVID GRAY is a great artist, brilliant performer and master songwriter, he is going to blow the roof off the tent at Bluesfest – an absolute don’t miss.

Young and talented English singer-songwriter BEN HOWARD has been drawing worldwide attention and gaining star status with 2 Brit Awards under his belt for best Male Solo Artist AND Breakthrough Act for 2013. Songs like ‘Only Love’, ‘Burgh Island’ and ‘Keep Your Head Up’ are deeply moving. Ben’s guitar skills are superb and accompanied by his 2 close band members on cello and drums, this 3 piece ensemble is a straight down pleasure to watch. Any expectations of this artist will be exceeded when you see him live. BEN HOWARD is totally original with a unique sound and unforgettable performances. BEN will also be bringing new material from his soon to be released album – I Forget Where We Were (October 24, 2014).

Multi-platinum American Rock Band COUNTING CROWS are no strangers to Bluesfest after coming to Byron Bay in 2013. For more than two decades, COUNTING CROWS have enchanted listeners worldwide with their intensely soulful and intricate take on timeless Rock & Roll and their hits like ‘Mr Jones’ and ‘Accidentally in Love’ are all time favourites. COUNTING CROWS never cease to amaze their audience with their powerful stage presence and they will be bringing brand new material with them from their latest and seventh studio album Somewhere Under Wonderland (September, 2014) which the Telegraph described as “Counting Crows channel Lynyrd Skynyrd and REM in their best collection of songs since their debut”.

Austin based Blues Luminary and Grammy Award Winner GARY CLARK JR. rocked the house at Bluesfest 2014. We couldn’t get enough and at Bluesfest 2015 he will be performing three times! GARY CLARK JR. is the new generation of Blues and a legend in the making.  He is a mind-blowing guitarist, incredible songwriter and a soulful singer who fuses his deep Blues influence with a love of classic Hip-Hop and Contemporary Soul. From the minute GARY CLARK JR. opens his show he commands the stage and it is no surprise that the NY Times described him as the next Hendrix.  For those fans that can’t wait until he returns to the stage at Bluesfest, GARY CLARK JR. has just released a new live album Gary Clark Jr. Live. GARY CLARK JR. has been an inspiration to many who have in turn inspired him, including the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Jimmy Page and Dave Matthews just to name a few, who hailed his arrival as a major talent and cherished chances to perform with him. President Barack Obama declared “he’s the future”and we couldn’t agree more.

ANGÉLIQUE KIDJO is a Grammy Award winner, tireless campaigner for women’s health and education in Africa, a UNICEF Peace Ambassador and also, with a 20 year discography, 12 albums and thousands of concerts around the world, a gifted performer  and prolific songwriter. On Eve, her latest album, and Savoy Records debut, named for her own mother as well as the mythical “mother of all living,” the Benin born, singer/songwriter builds on this ever-evolving legacy.   She has collaborated with the greats from the Jazz and Pop worlds—including Philip Glass, Peter Gabriel, Branford Marsalis, Dianne Reeves, Herbie Hancock, Bono, Josh Groban, and Alicia Keys as well as Bluesfest alumni Carlos Santana, Dave Matthews, Dr John, John Legend and Joss Stone. Don’t miss the return of ANGÉLIQUE KIDJO to Bluesfest – you can be sure her performances will be very special!

Reggae Legend, the honourable JIMMY CLIFF, who Rolling Stone penned as “Reggae’s first global superstar”, is a 2-time Grammy Award Winner and a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee. JIMMY CLIFF’S role in the 1972 Jamaican film, The Harder They Come, introduced Reggae to the world.  Then there are the hits such as ‘Many Rivers To Cross’, ‘Wonderful World, Beautiful People’, ‘Vietnam’, ‘Sitting In Limbo’, ‘You Can Get It If You Really Want’ and ‘The Harder They Come’ that has led to his songs being performed and recorded by Willie Nelson, New Order, Bruce Springsteen and Cher (among many others). Paul Simon featured CLIFF’S 1970 song ‘Vietnam’ in his 2011 concerts and Dylan called it the greatest protest song ever written.  Not one to shy away from a cover himself, JIMMY CLIFF’S version of Johnny Nash’s ‘I Can See Clearly Now’ in 1993 catapulted him onto the mainstream pop charts in the US once again. He left the Bluesfest crowd in awe in 2013 and we can’t wait for him to do it all over again.

VH1 named Grammy Award winner MAVIS STAPLES as one of the 100 Greatest Women of Rock and Roll, and Rolling Stone listed her as one of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.  MAVIS STAPLES is the real deal. In her 67-year career – from her ground-breaking family gospel group – THE STAPLES SINGERS ‘I’ll Take You There’, ‘Respect Yourself’, ‘If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me)’ and on her own, MAVIS STAPLES is responsible for blazing a Rhythm & Blues trail, while never relinquishing her Gospel roots and it is now that her star is shining brightest. MAVIS STAPLES has publicly stated that Bluesfest is her favourite festival of all time. The lady don’t lie!!

If you are ready for some massive audience participation then don’t miss DISPATCH who are coming to Australia for the first time ever! These guys, hailing from the United States, are true entertainers – super talented and super energetic. DISPATCH will put on a high energy show that will rock the house, playing the classics and material from their 2012 released album Circles Around The Sun.  Playing to sold out audiences as big as 18,500 people in the USA, including their incredible three night sold out residency at Madison Square Garden! This highly anticipated first visit to Australia has been a long time coming for DISPATCH and they could not be more excited to finally bring their catalogue of new & old favourites our way.  This is what the band had to say; For years we’ve wanted to perform in Australia! Here we are, 15 years deep into our musical career and it’s FINALLY time. We can hardly wait to get over there in 2015 and play songs spanning our whole career for you – we promise it will be worth the wait! See you soon!” Their genres are multifold, ranging from, Indie Folk, Roots Rock, Reggae, Fusion to Rock and Ska! If you are not familiar with DISPATCH, rest assured: You will be after next Bluesfest!

From houses of worship, to houses of Blues, RUTHIE FOSTER has always been a rafter-rattler. And with a soul-filled voice honed in Texas churches, she can move audiences to tears or ecstasy — sometimes in a single song. Her last two albums, 2009’s The Truth According to Ruthie Foster and 2012’s Let It Burn, moved the Recording Academy to deliver Best Blues Album Grammy nominations; her latest, Promise of a Brand New Day, could make her a contender once more. Those who have followed RUTHIE FOSTER’S eclectic musical history know that she can burn down any stage with her combustible blend of Soul, Blues, Rock, Folk and Gospel.


After coming in at number 45 in the UK Telegraphs 100 best Glastonbury performances ever and one of the major players of the UK’s 2-Tone movement, THE BEAT will be another standout performer at Bluesfest 2015. Forming in 1978 in Birmingham, 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 (led by Dave Wakeling) but it is with great pleasure we welcome back original front man Ranking Roger to Bluesfest. It will be 6 years since he last performed with ‘Special Beat’ featuring members of The Specials and THE BEAT. Most of you will be familiar with at least one of their hit singles such as; ‘Mirror in the Bathroom’,‘Too Nice To Talk To’, ‘Can’t Get Used To Losing You’,‘Hands off She’s Mine’ and ‘All Out To Get You’.  It’s time to take a trip down memory lane!

“George Clinton sharing a joint with Fela”.  KEZIAH JONES describing the sound of his latest album Captain Rugged. Another Bluesfest debut we can’t wait for is the charismatic Nigerian musician KEZIAH JONES, who was born among the ghettos and skyscrapers of bustling Lagos and also goes by the name of ‘Captain Rugged’, his quirky and socially committed double. KEZIAH JONES has honed his craft of sharing the powerful story of his country, following in the footsteps of Fela Kuti, a fellow countryman and great defender of pan-africanism who was imprisoned several times for speaking against the Nigerian dictatorship. His live performances are not to be missed and Jones will be bringing his own brand of ‘Blufunk’ to Bluesfest, a fusion of raw Blues and Punk Funk attitude crossed with Yoruba Rhythms.  We are counting down the days until we see this real-life superhero next Easter!

Australia’s own Brisbane sensation SHEPPARD has been creating quite a stir overseas! They have been dominating in the UK and through Europe and beyond, hitting the top 10 in Ireland, #1 in Italy, #3 in Austria and #4 in Poland with their song ‘Geronimo’  which has also received a mammoth reception back home and has earned the title of the highest selling Australian single for 2014.  It will be the first Bluesfest performance for SHEPPARD which features siblings, George, Amy and Emma Sheppard along with Jay Bovino, Dean Gordon and Michael Butler and no doubt it won’t be their last. The star will continue to rise for this incredible multi-platinum Indie six-piece.

PLAYING FOR CHANGE stands for so much more than just music. It is a movement created to inspire, connect and bring peace to the world through music. PLAYING FOR CHANGE supports music schools and programs that are created and operated by the local community and then purposefully connect those communities around the world. The PLAYING FOR CHANGE band is made up of musicians from all walks of life coming from all over the world. Their Bluesfest performance will be an unforgettable live musical experience featuring Grandpa Elliott, legendary street musician from New Orleans, who sings alongside Clarence Bekker (Netherlands), Titi Tsira (South Africa), Tal Ben Ari “Tula” (Israel), Jason Tamba (Congo), and Mermans Mosengo (Congo). The rhythm section features Roberto Luti (Italy) on lead guitar, Orbe Ortiz (Cuba) on the bass, Peter Bunetta (USA) on drums, and Keiko Komaki (Japan) on keyboards.  Together on stage they create an atmosphere of love and unity for everyone! PLAYING FOR CHANGE is coming to Bluesfest for the 3rd time in a row. Wonderful, indeed!

Peter Noble, Festival Director Comments on the 2nd Artist Announcement:

“Ben Harper, Paolo Nutini, David Gray and Ben Howard in the one Bluesfest announcement. What a line-up, each one of these artists is gold – purely brilliant in their own way. This is starting to shape into one of the great Bluesfest artist bills and we have plenty of artists still to go in future announcements.

You join BEN HARPER & THE INNOCENT CRIMINALS with Bluesfest and it’s a very special bond: it was way back in 1996 when the Festival broke the news that this band was important and in return, their huge success showed us (Bluesfest) the way forward to booking the style of event the festival is famous for today and one that has been copied all over the world.

I am very honoured that BEN HARPER chose the first major global performance of the INNOCENT CRIMINALS Reunion to occur at Bluesfest. Bluesfest is their spiritual home and the last time the band performed officially was in 2007 and it was in 2008, when they decided to take a break. They did one impromptu unannounced performance – at Bluesfest in 2011 to the astonishment of their fans – who came expecting to see the RELENTLESS 7. What an unexpected performance, it was pure magic.

I remember that night in 2011 well: It was all so last minute, to a point where their percussionist bought a djembe drum from a busker in the street in Byron Bay– the home of Bluesfest- for the performance, as he hadn’t brought one with him. It really was so special for everyone – the audience couldn’t believe that they were seeing, perhaps the most influential band to EVER play Bluesfest, back on our stage unannounced and hearing the songs they love once again. I recall the band’s celebrations in the dressing room, after their truly great show, going most of the night – they were all so thrilled to be back together again. What an honour that they chose Bluesfest to reunite and do their first official performance – save for a couple of warm up dates in a club in San Francisco. We have had so many magical moments at Bluesfest – this is surely going to be up there with the best.

How can I only gush on about BEN HARPER when we have some of the absolute best of the NEXT generation artists also in this announcement in PAOLO NUTINI and BEN HOWARD. 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 – headlined EVERY major festival from Glastonbury to Latitude.

GARY CLARK JR. is fast becoming THE Blues guitar player and singer of this generation. To celebrate his return to Bluesfest – we are going to have him perform 3 times – because when it’s that good – you just can’t get enough and rest assured, each show is going to be very powerful!

MAVIS STAPLES turned 75 on her last birthday – she is one of our all-time favourite artists at Bluesfest. Her stellar career goes back to the 1950’s with the family band – The Staples Singers, led by her dad – Pops Roebuck Staples – to their chart topping run in the 70’s singing such classics as – ‘I’ll take You There’, ‘If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me)’, ‘Let’s Do It Again’, ‘Respect Yourself’– and many, many more. With the passing of Pops Staples, MAVIS has gone solo – around the beginning of this century – and shown that she has got the IT factor, winning a Grammy Award and headlining so many festivals including the Chicago Blues Festival, as well as having this year’s Newport folk Festival dedicated to her. She is one of the greats. We can’t wait to welcome her back to Bluesfest. Simply a DO NOT MISS artist.”


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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