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8 Of The Best Bluesfest 2017 Sideshows To See This Week

Written by Michael Carr on April 10, 2017

There are few things you can rely on in this world; death, taxes and Bluesfest bringing a swag of great sideshows to the Australian music calendar each year.

Once again proving why is it Australia’s most awarded festival, this year’s Bluesfest lineup is epic, to say the least, with rock legends like Santana and The Doobie Brothers playing alongside hip hop heavyweights Mary J Blige and Nas and everything in between. And while the festival is itself obviously the jewel in the crown, Bluesfest organisers certainly know how to share the wealth with those of us who can’t make it up to Byron by offering up a huge selection of sideshows.

Still with variety and choice come indecision and uncertainty, which is why we are here to help with our list of the 8 Bluesfest sideshows you’d be crazy to miss.

Nahko and Medicine For The People

Nahko and Medicine For The People are a band with a conscience, seeking to spread the word of tolerance, love and respect through their music to the world. With lyrics that deal with important issues such as indigenous rights and climate change, their music fuses hip hop and blues with folk and world music. A standout at last year’s festival, the band are stopping in at Byron again this year as part of their nearly constant touring around the world. Festival favourites wherever they land, their reputation as passionate and energetic performers precedes them, with their sideshow giving fans a chance to see them in a more intimate and personal setting.

A standout at last year’s festival, the band are stopping in at Byron again this year as part of their nearly constant touring around the world. Festival favourites wherever they land, their reputation as passionate and energetic performers precedes them, with their sideshow giving fans a chance to see them in a more intimate and personal setting.

Wednesday, 12th April
170 Russel, Melbourne
Tickets: Bluesfest Touring

Thursday, 13th April
The Metro, Sydney
Tickets: Bluesfest Touring

Saturday, 16th April
The Triffid, Brisbane
Tickets: Bluesfest Touring

St Paul & The Broken Bones

Another band returning from last year, St Paul & The Broken Bones had the Bluesfest audience in rapturous bliss with their heartfelt soul sound. Playing a frenetic mix of their own music as well as classic covers, the six-piece ensemble are all about putting on an amazing show and playing the music they love.

While an always energetic addition to any festival bill, their solo shows are renowned among soul enthusiasts the world over as some of the most high octane and entertaining this side of Motown, so don’t miss you chance when they swing through on their way to or from Bluesfest.

Wednesday, 12th April
The Triffid, Brisbane
Tickets: Bluesfest Touring

Wednesday, 19th April
The Metro, Sydney
Tickets: Bluesfest Touring

Thursday, 20th April
170 Russell, Melbourne
Tickets: Bluesfest Touring

Vintage Trouble

Mesmerising and energetic, LA-based Vintage Trouble conduct that rare balance act between homage and reinvention. Putting the soul back into rock’n’roll, the band’s 60s/70s sound matched with their razor sharp on stage chemistry and stylish sartorial flair makes for one of the most invigorating live shows this side of Woodstock. Led by hot to trot frontman Ty Taylor – who is never short on a hot dance move to spice things up – the band were a huge hit at Bluesfest last year so much so they’ve got them back again for seconds.

Led by hot to trot frontman Ty Taylor – who is never short on a hot dance move to spice things up – the band were a huge hit at Bluesfest last year so much so they’ve got them back again for seconds.

Sunday, 9th April
170 Russell, Melbourne
Tickets: Bluesfest Touring

Wednesday, 12th April
Oxford Arts Factory, Sydney
Tickets: Bluesfest Touring

Laura Mvula

Having already impressed the likes of Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Prince and Chic’s Nile Rodgers (who even asked to collaborate on a track) Laura Mvula has a reputation as one of contemporary soul’s strongest voices and most distinctive artists. Drawing inspiration from disparate sources such as Nina Simon and ’90s girl group Eternal, you’ll be able to experience her unique sound and striking presence up close and personal when she makes her run

Drawing inspiration from disparate sources such as Nina Simon and ’90s girl group Eternal, you’ll be able to experience her unique sound and striking presence up close and personal when she makes her run of shows down the east coast this week.

Wednesday, 12th April
Metro Theatre, Sydney
Tickets: Bluesfest Touring

Thursday, 13th April
Melbourne Recital Centre, Melbourne
Tickets: Bluesfest Touring

Saturday, 15th April
The Triffid, Brisbane
Tickets: Bluesfest Touring

Booker T Presents The Stax Records Revue

The legendary Booker T is another Bluesfest favourite returning this year. This time he will be performing a very special anthology of songs from the iconic soul label Stax Records, which of course he wrote a good many of.  The iconic songwriter is unfortunately only treating us to two shows while he’s here for the festival, yet coming equipped with his trumpet as well as his band and a troupe of

The iconic songwriter is only treating us to two shows while he’s here for the festival, yet coming equipped with his trumpet as well as his band and a troupe of top-notch backup singers, these two shows might be the most unmissable of the lot.

Thursday, 20th April
The Metro, Sydney
Tickets: Bluesfest Touring

Friday, 21st April
Melbourne Recital Centre, Melbourne
Tickets: Bluesfest Touring

Roy Ayers

Even on a bill as jam packed with music legends as this one,  Roy Ayers stands out. One of the seminal songwriters of the 70s and since, Ayers and his band will be bringing his show on the road for a couple of shows in the lead up to his appearance at Bluesfest. An acclaimed jazz

An acclaimed jazz vibraphonist and band leader – perhaps best known for his airy and blissful jam ‘Everybody Loves The Sunshine’ – his influence has gone on not only to inspire countless soul and jazz artists, but also via the art of sampling,  with his work being some of the most sampled by other hip hop artists. A powerhouse performer in his own right, his live shows are energetic and unpredictable but always entertaining.

Tuesday, 11th April
The Basement, Sydney
Tickets: Bluesfest Touring

Wednesday, 12th April
The Basement, Sydney
Tickets: Bluesfest Touring

Patti Smith

First up is US singer-songwriter, poet, visual artist and punk icon Patti Smith, who will sadly be touring Australia for the last time apparently. Initially only announcing two intimate shows to accompany her festival appearance, due to demand she’s announced an additional four, with three shows each in Sydney and Melbourne. Sorry Adelaide, but you must be pretty used to this by now.

The shows will give Australian audiences the chance of witnessing Smith perform her seminal album Horses in its entirety with her band in full at the shows (expect for her final show on 19th which will see her performing her usual mix of originals from across her career as well as some classic covers).  She’s even brought two members of her original band — Lenny Kaye and Jay Dee Daugherty — along for the ride, for what are sure to be some of the most memorable shows on 2017.

Patti Smith Performs Horses

Sunday, 9th April
State Theatre, Sydney
Tickets: Bluesfest Touring

Monday, 10th April
State Theatre, Sydney
Tickets: Bluesfest Touring

Tuesday, 11th April
State Theatre, Sydney
Tickets: Bluesfest Touring

Sunday, 16th April
Hamer Hall, Melbourne
Tickets: Bluesfest Touring

Monday, 17th April
Hamer Hall, Melbourne
Tickets: Bluesfest Touring

Tuesday, 18th April
State Theatre, Melbourne
Tickets: Bluesfest Touring

Mary J Blige

Now this one is very special for any of my fellow bedroom RnB wannabes, as we all know that when it comes to singing your heart out, few can rival the prowess of Mary J. Blige.  A 32-time Grammy winner (which is super impressive considering she’s only 46) Queen Mary’s Bluesfest appearance and sideshows come after she was due to visit us for Soulfest last year before the festival and all sideshows were cancelled. Still, better late than never as they say, with her fans surely frothing at

Still, better late than never as they say, with fans surely frothing at the mouth to get to experience her powerful and emotional live show in Sydney and Melbourne this week.

Monday, 10th April
Sydney Opera House, Sydney
Tickets: Bluesfest Touring

Wednesday, 12th April
Hamer Hall, Melbourne
Tickets: Bluesfest Touring

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