Let the festival begin: Acts not to be missed this Bluesfest
BLUES is a musical genre originated by African Americans in the Deep South of the United States around the end of the 19th century.
The genre developed from roots in African musical traditions, African-American work songs, spirituals, and European-American folk music.
The blues form, found in jazz, rhythm and blues and rock and roll, is characterized by the call-and-response pattern, the blues scale and specific chord progressions, of which the twelve-bar blues is the most common.
Blues is varied and that's why Bluesfest Byron Bay's line up includes long time icons of Blues, such as Mavis Staples and Buddy Guy, stars of rhythm and blues, such as Mary J Blige, and new bands such as St Paul and the Broken Bones, Vintage Trouble and Zac Brown Band, where gospel, rock and roll, and jazz also influence the artists on stage.
There are Australasian legends, like Neil Finn, also set to go on stage, plus American and European stars such as Santana, Jimmy Buffett and Billy Bragg.
The beauty of Bluesfest is that you have a list of favourites to see live, and then you will end up discovering a new act that will make the festival just that bit extra enjoyable.
These are some of them:
Mary J Blige
NINE-time Grammy Award-winner, Golden Globe Award nominee and multi-platinum R&B legend Mary J Blige will release her 13th studio album, Strength of a Woman, this month via EMI Music Australia.
She will also make her Bluesfest debut this year.
Mary J Blige has amassed an impressive eight multi-platinum albums, 32 Grammy nominations and five American Music Awards.
She has sold more than 50 million albums worldwide.
The iconic Grammy Award winner, singer, songwriter, actress and philanthropist is a defining voice of the contemporary music era.
She is responsible for hit singles such as Be Without You, No More Drama, Not Gon' Cry and Just Fine.
Featuring production by DJ Camper, Bam, Hit-Boy, and Kaytranada, her new release will feature collaborations with Kanye West, Quavo (of Migos), DJ Khaled and Missy Elliot, among others.
The album's latest single, Love Yourself, released last week, features vocals from Kanye West as well as production by DJ Camper.
Love Yourself follows the successful tracks U + Me (Love Lesson) and Thick Of It.
The latter marks a career milestone for Blige.
Co-written by Blige along with Jazmine Sullivan, the song spent 16 weeks at #1 on the Urban AC Chart, marking her longest running #1 single on that chart.
- At the Mojo stage tomorrow from 10pm.
NEIL FINN, 58, is a New Zealand-born singer, songwriter and musician.
Along with his brother Tim Finn, he was the co-frontman for Split Enz and frontman for Crowded House. He has also recorded several successful solo albums.
Finn, along with his bands Split Enz and Crowded House, are responsible for some of Australia's most beloved songs including Don't Dream It's Over, I Got You, Something So Strong, Better Be Home Soon, Weather With You and Four Seasons in One Day.
In February 2014 Finn released his third solo album, Dizzy Heights.
- At Crossroads stage on Monday from 8.30pm.
MAVIS Staples, 77, is an American rhythm and blues and gospel singer, actress, and civil rights activist. She has recorded and performed with her family's band The Staple Singers, and also as a solo artist. By the mid-1960s The Staple Singers, inspired by Pops' close friendship with Martin Luther King Jr, became the spiritual and musical voices of the civil rights movement.
Since 1969 she has released 14 studio albums, one EP, three compilations and one live album. Staples was briefly married to Spencer Leak in 1964; they divorced when Staples would not end her music career to stay home. In the 2015 documentary Mavis! she reveals that Bob Dylan once proposed to her, and she turned him down.
At Jambalaya today from 6pm, at Crossroads tomorrow from 3.45pm, at Jambalaya on Sunday from 9pm, and at Jambalaya on Monday from 8.30pm.
GREGORY Porter, 44, is an American singer, song- writer and actor.
He won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album in 2017 for Take Me to the Alley and previously in 2014 for Liquid Spirit.
He has been described as "the Neo-Nat King Cole", due to his vocal skills and music style.
For public appearances, Porter normally wears a hat with fabric that covers his ears and chin.
In an interview with Jazzweekly.com by George W Harris in November 2012, when asked "What's with the weird and wonderful hat?"
Porter said: "I've had some surgery on my skin, so this has been my look for a little while and will continue to be for a while longer. People recognise me by it now. It is what it is."
BETH HART is an American singer, songwriter and musician from Los Angeles, California.
She rose to fame with the release of her 1999 single LA Song (Out of This Town) from her second album Screamin' for My Supper.
The single was a No 1 hit in New Zealand, as well as reaching top five on the US Adult Contemporary and No 7 on the Billboard Adult Top 40 Chart.
Subsequent albums, namely Seesaw and Live In Amsterdam by Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa, achieved No 1 status on the Billboard Blues Album Chart.
Hart's release Bang Bang Boom Boom rose to No 3 on the Billboard Blues Album Chart, as well as the album Don't Explain by Hart and Bonamassa.
The album Seesaw rose to No 8 on the Billboard Top Independent Album Chart.
At Crossroads on Saturday from 7.30pm, and Mojo on Sunday from 6.30pm.
- At the Jambalaya stage tomorrow from 8pm and at Mojo on Thursday from 6pm.
AUSTRALIAN artist Yirrmal Marika, from North-East Arnhem Land, has made a refreshing entrance into the music scene.
Inspired by his grandfather, Dr Yunupingu, former lead singer of Yothu Yindi, he fuses tradition and contemporary with class and passion.
Yirrmal is an inspiring songwriter and guitarist with a beautiful voice, singing songs about his homeland and culture with feeling beyond his years.
- At the Boomerang stage on Saturday from 12.30pm.
BONNIE Lynn Raitt is an American blues singer- songwriter, musician, and activist from California.
During the 1970s, Raitt released a series of roots-influenced albums which incorporated elements of blues, rock, folk and country.
In 1989, after several years of critical acclaim but little commercial success, she had a major hit with the album Nick of Time.
Raitt has received 10 Grammy Awards and she is listed as No 50 in Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time and No 89 on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists.
Her latest album was Dig in the Deep (2016).
- At Crossroads tomorrow from 8.45pm.
DIVAS and Demons is the latest album from Melbourne duo Remi.
Formed by Remi (Remi Kolawole, born in Canberra to a Nigerian father and Australian mother) and Sensible J (Justin Smith), this music project is considered one of the most important voice in Australia Hip Hop today.
The 16-track sophomore LP features the singles For Good, featuring Sampa the Great (another hip hop rising star), Substance Therapy, and Lose Sleep featuring Jordan Rakei.
- At the Jambalaya stage on Sunday from 6pm and at Delta on Monday from 7.30pm.
NORTH Carolina-born singer Nikki Hill is back to Bluesfest by popular demand after a number of successful shows in 2015.
Her take on AC/DC's Whole Lotta Rosie got Australian audiences asking for more of this young blues star.
Although she started singing in a gospel choir in church as a child, she became a personal trainer.
Hill started singing professionally only in 2011, with her first EP being released in 2012.
Those four tunes, penned by Hill herself, proved to have an energy that appeal- ed to many. Her first full album, Here's Nikki Hill (2013), continued the trend.
- At Delta today at 6.30pm and tomorrow at 1.30pm, at Crossroads on Saturday at 3pm, and at Delta on Sunday at 9pm.
NAHKO and Medicine for the People is an American world music musical collective formed in 2008.
The group is headed by Nahko Bear. He is of Apache, Puerto Rican and Filipino descent. He began playing piano at age six.
The collective also includes Justin Chittams (drums), Chase Makai (lead guitarist), Hope Medford (percussion), Patricio Zuñiga Labarca (bass guitar) and Max Ribner (trumpet). Their music is a fusion of various cultural musical influences.
- At the Jambalaya stage on Saturday from 9.30pm and at Delta on Monday from 10.30pm.
LAURA Mvula is a British soul singer-songwriter from Birmingham.
Since catapulting into the limelight with her debut album Sing To The Moon, Laura Mvula has a new album, The Dreaming Room, set to be released on June 17.
The new album The Dreaming Room has been touted as an expansion on what was already a captivating sound.
In January 2016, Mvula released Overcome, a collaboration with Nile Rodgers, and the lead single from The Dreaming Room.
She recorded Sing to the Moon with Snarky Puppy for the album Family Dinner - Volume 2, which was released on February 2016.
- At Delta on Saturday from 7.30pm, Jamalaya on Sunday from 7.30pm, and Crossroads on Monday, 12.45pm.
JETHRO Tull's second album, Stand Up, marked an early turning point for the band with the addition of guitarist Martin Barre along with Ian Anderson's introduction of folk-rock influences to the group's blues-based sound.
Released in the summer of 1969, Stand Up rose quickly to the top of the UK Albums Chart, and eventually earned gold certification in the US.
Stand Up was the first album where Anderson controlled the music and lyrics, resulting in a group of diverse songs that ranged from swirling blues to the group's spirited re-working of Johann Sebastian Bach's Bouree in E Minor.
- At Crossroads stage on Sunday from 4pm.
Rickie Lee Jones
VOCALIST, musician, songwriter and producer Rickie Lee Jones is an American music institution.
Over the course of a career that spans five decades, Jones has recorded in various musical styles including rock, R&B, blues, pop, soul, and jazz.
Jones is a prolific musician with 16 album released, the last one, The Other Side of Desire, was launched in 2015.
- At Jambalaya tomorrow from 6.30pm and Delta on Saturday at 4.30pm.
BORN and raised in Chicago, Melody Angel began playing guitar at the age of 13. Even though her mother was barely getting by raising two children alone, she found a way to introduce Melody to her first Fender Stratocaster by buying the guitar out of a window of a pawn shop. Angel plays regularly at Buddy Guy's nightclub Legends in Chicago, which is considered a stamp of approval by the great himself.
- At Juke Joint today 4.30pm, Jambalaya tomorrow 2pm, again at Juke Joint on Saturday 5pm and Monday 7.30pm.