Music superstars take lead at bluesfest

Bluesfest director Peter Noble has thrown open this year's festival's program to music superstars Ben Harper and Australia's own John Butler.

They will choose up to seven bands to play before they each take to the stage.

Mr Noble said he enjoyed welcoming new programming ideas from world famous artists.

“Ben Harper is the important international performer to ever play Bluesfest, especially the way he connects with people,” he said.

“He quite simply embodies the spirit of the event.

“When I asked him to play our 20th birthday event he said he wouldn't miss it for anything.”

Mr Noble said Ben Harper will introduce four new artists to the program, Grace Woodroofe, Tom Freund, Tinariwen and AYO.

“Ben is producing Grace's album and has recently finished producing Tom's new album which is due for release in Australia soon,” he said.

“Grace Woodroofe, of Perth and now living in Los Angeles, had signed with Heath Ledger's new music label, Masses Music Co, which he started with Ben Harper.

“Grace will release her new album later this year.”

Mr Noble said Tinariwen was an African world blues desert band and AYO played soul-folk reggae.

Ben Harper will be appearing with his new band Relentless7.

John Butler Trio has programmed Paul Kelly, Blue King Brown, Saltwater Band, State Radio, Jeff Lang, Ngaiire and Nicky Bomba.

“John Butler has become a fantastic defining artist at Bluesfest and has been with us for a long time, moving from our smaller stages to where he headlines our Mojo main stage,” said Mr Noble.

“He's Australia's number one independent musician and someone very much at home at Bluesfest.

“John Butler Trio weren't scheduled to play any shows in 2009, instead recording an album and having toured for much of 2008 playing theatre shows, major international festivals including New Orleans Jazz Festival, Lollapalooza, Coachella and more.

“But for Bluesfest John Butler made an exception.”

John Butler said the festival helped launch his band in 2000.

“There's something special about this gig and be asked to program a day is a great honour,” he said.

“There's nothing like doing one of the best festivals in the world with peers that have inspired you let alone all of them being mates.”

Bluesfest's 20th birthday bash will happen at Belongil Fields in Byron Bay at Easter from Thursday, April 9, to Monday, April, 13.

For more information or to buy tickets go to the website at or phone the Bluesfest office on 66858310.

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