Byron Bay Bluesfest chief Peter Noble has given a more promising forecast for the Australian festival market than most are used to hearing, recently telling The Music that not only is his popular blues and roots event going strong, but that many other promoters also have reason to smile.
“We’ve done pretty well pretty much every year since we moved to the new site,” says Noble. Bluesfest was held in festival hub Byron Bay before moving to Tyagarah. “It has really, really been a good few years for us and from what I can hear it’s been a pretty good few years for a few festivals.”
“So many festivals are doing well but people don’t write that, do they?” Noble continues, insisting that the public concentrates too much on struggling events. “Falls just expanded and sold out, Woodford just did their biggest festival ever and Bluesfest looks like it could have its biggest ever.”
“People always want to concentrate on the negative ones but it’s not balanced by talking about the other ones too,” he adds. According to Noble, the downfall of many festivals lies in programming, with a plethora of festivals all “putting on the same artists that somebody else is putting on.”
“Events have got to have their own artists and there’s got to be a certain amount of them that you’re introducing to the market or that hasn’t been in the market for a while,” he explains. “I know AJ [Maddah] said he doesn’t book much Australian acts because they over-tour the market and mess up the dressing room, or something like that, but there’s an awful lot of truth to what he said.”
Noble also addressed the issue of artist cancellations, which plagued several festivals over the last 12 months, most notably Soundwave, who saw the departure of multiple artists, including a stage headliner. “All the artists [on the Bluesfest 2014 lineup] so far are coming,” says Noble.
“No one has contacted us to say they have an illness or the myriad of reasons why people haven’t showed up.” Noble did in fact have an issue with Jamaican legend Ernest Ranglin last year, with the latter claiming he wasn’t informed of the dates, as well as the departure of guitarist Walter Trout.
Considering the mammoth 25th anniversary lineup, and with Noble himself “touring 38 acts alone,” Bluesfest have done remarkably well in keeping the integrity of their bill. “All I know is, if you book the right acts who have a reputation for showing up, then chances are they’ll show up,” says Noble.