Sampa The Great | Credit: Don Arnold / Getty

Bluesfest Boss Issues New Statement Following Sampa the Great Withdrawal

The ongoing saga involving Bluesfest director Peter Noble’s controversial booking of polarising Aussie band Sticky Fingers continues.

Following a statement to the media on 21st February, Noble has issued a second statement, this time directly to ticket holders. It comes after Zambian artist Sampa the Great quietly followed King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard’s lead and removed herself from the lineup in protest.

“Please take the time to educate yourself with the facts regarding Sticky Fingers.”

“I hoped it didn’t need to be said, but unfortunately, it does. We at Bluesfest stand for something: inclusivity,” Noble told ticketholders in an email on 22nd February.

“We want to support artists who are achieving greatness, which often involves overcoming incredible hurdles. Please take the time to educate yourself with the facts regarding Sticky Fingers.”

He continued: “They aren’t monsters; they are a seriously great Australian band whose singer has had to overcome barriers that would have sidelined all but the most determined to continue to perform. Yes, he has transgressed in the past, but not for many years.

“I question why there is such an ongoing witch-hunt toward a man with a mental health disorder. A man who is attempting to grow and function in society. Shouldn’t we forgive and provide a path to redemption for artists who have taken ownership of their situation and have proven for many years now that they have found a way to function responsibly?”

Noble’s statement concluded: “Is Australia the only place in the world where a minority attempts to ban one of Australia’s great bands over something that happened so many years ago? I want to thank the vast majority of the music industry for supporting inclusivity. Make us proud, Dylan; you are doing great!”

Taiwanese-Australian singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and advocate Jaguar Jonze has already responded to Noble’s statement with distinct exasperation.

“One white man shouldn’t be able to decide that an apology or the time passed is enough to ensure safety and respect in our workplaces,” the artist wrote on social media.

“One white man shouldn’t be able to platform and enable abuse, bigotry and a pattern of bad behaviour. One white man shouldn’t have the power to dismiss and jeopardise the pain of First Nations people, women and our marginalised communities.”

Jonze continued to drive the point home: “One white man who was not affected by the trauma should most definitely not glamourise the abuse as rock ‘n’ roll bad boy behaviour. One white man shouldn’t be able to risk an entire festival line up of artists’ safety and financial security.”

They concluded: “Do the research on the incidents, it is not a one off. STOP ENABLING ABUSE.”

The controversy stems from Sticky Fingers’ history of alleged antisocial behaviour, including accusations of racism, sexism and transphobia made against singer Dylan Frost, as well as incidents of violence and disorder, and the band’s perceived lack of accountability or contrition.

Further Reading

Sampa the Great is the Latest Artist to Pull Out of Bluesfest

Bluesfest’s Peter Noble Releases Statement Regarding His Decision to Give Sticky Fingers a “Chance at Rehabilitation”

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard Cancel Bluesfest Performance

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