The 31st annual Byron Bay Bluesfest in 2020 is promising to be a big occasion and is always an important date to mark on the Australian music calendar. The country’s natural beauty is part of what makes a festival like Bluesfest one of the top music events in the world, yet it would not attract over a hundred thousand people each year if it were not for the stellar line up it produces year in and year out.
Top names such as Lenny Kravitz, Dave Matthews Band, Crowded House and Patti Smith headline 200 performances in total that will make their way to Australia in April to thrill the masses of blues and roots music fans who will ascend onto the Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm on the Easter long weekend over a 5 day period.
Next year’s Bluesfest line up also boasts a very culturally diverse line up of different ages, ethnicities as well as gender diverse bands and artists. Many of these acts are the rising talents of contemporary blues, rock, funk and jazz capturing the attention of fans globally.
If you’re planning on making the journey to stay and camp over a few days then it is worth knowing five of the rising artists on the lineup who are setting a precedent for excellence in modern music.
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
Hailing from Mississippi, blues and rock guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Christone “Kingfish” Ingram is a 20-year-old prodigy who could blow Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton or Jeff Beck right off the stage when they were his age. This gifted musician plays silky blues that is at times scintillating and channels the essence of electric blues guitar icons Muddy Waters, B.B King and Buddy Guy. Ingram released his debut album Kingfish in May this year and if you check out a YouTube clip of one of his live performances, you will realize that his music is best witnessed on the stage where he truly bares his spirit, going full throttle on improvised solos like he was an old soul. His deep soothing vocals also shine through in his incredible performance, in other words, he’s definitely one artist not to be missed.
No strangers to the festival, Larkin Poe left audiences in awe at this year’s Bluesfest so much so they are returning for a second appearance on next year’s lineup. This young dynamic sister duo originally from Atlanta certainly know how to cook up authentic southern roots music whilst adding a little bluegrass, psychedelic, Americana and rock’n’roll into their recipe for good measure. They have been nicknamed the little sisters of the Allman Brothers and take inspiration from their English literary giant ancestor Edgar Allan Poe. Their haunting lyrics and dark gothic tone make their reappearance at Bluesfest most welcomed. They are paving the way for new and exciting music and have built a solid reputation as a live act.
The Marcus King Band
US outfit The Marcus King Band are reminding a younger generation of the laidback music and culture American soul and blues offered in the 1960s and ’70s. Band leader Marcus King is a 23-year-old musical phenomenon who sings with such ease and passion whilst playing guitar that is elegant and ever so clean. King’s incredibly accomplished band could accompany any world classic R&B singer. And they are one of the hardest working groups from South Carolina having played 140 shows in the last year whilst ploughing forward into the new year. This will be their second invitation to Bluesfest having played a sold-out Australian tour delighting festival-goers with their return down under.
Australian bass guitar extraordinaire Tal Wilkenfeld came to prominence when, as a teenager, she moved to the US, forging a music career that would turn her into the hottest young session player in the music industry, playing alongside legendary artists such as Prince, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock. This year, leading her own band, Wilkenfeld went on a world tour supporting The Who and released her latest solo album Love Remains, a mystical rock LP which received critical acclaim from several publications like Rolling Stone magazine, demonstrating her songwriting skills as well as her talents as a multi-instrumentalist. Her virtuosity will be on display at Bluesfest 2020 as she performs fresh new solo material for the first time to an Australian audience.
Cory Henry and the Funk Apostles
If you’re searching for some music leaning on the jazz, gospel and funk edge then your best bet is to check out Cory Henry and the Funk Apostles. Making their debut at next year’s Bluesfest, the Brooklyn collective will certainly go down well for those who like to dance to feel good rhythms that go down your spine mixed with world-class musicianship. Frontman Cory Henry is best known as the organ player in Snarky Puppy but his sonic tentacles have ventured into various other projects, the Funk Apostles being the latest manifestation. Fronting the band with his soulful voice, Henry and his band showcase a songwriting style that is eclectic and open to experimentation. At 32 this is Henry’s first band as the captain of the ship and they have a debut album Act of Love to play to the Bluesfest faithful.
The 31st annual Byron Bay Bluesfest will run from Thursday, 9th April til Monday, 13th April 2020 at Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm, with promoters promising “the best festival yet”. Check out the full Bluesfest lineup here. And head here for the latest Bluesfest 2020 sideshow announcements.