ORIGINAL STORY: Byron Bay’s Bluesfest has responded to criticism of its first lineup announcement for 2019, which features only four musical acts with female members: Kasey Chambers, Irish Mythen, Larkin Poe and I’m With Her.
After announcing its first string of acts for 2019 this morning, Bluesfest was called into question by activist group LISTEN, which criticised the festival for replicating what it described as “an atrocious history of male dominated lineups”.
“You have shown women and non binary musicians that they don’t deserve a spot, and if they do, they are not worth getting announced first,” the group said on Facebook.
“All FOUR acts you have included with women in them are white. Where is the celebration and platforming of the black women who BUILT this genre of music? We’ll wait for the list of excuses.”
In a statement in response to LISTEN’s criticism, Bluesfest said it had “no excuses”, and defended its history of booking diverse acts.
“We are conscious of booking a variety of acts from all walks of life, take a look back over the years at our lineup and you’ll see the amazing diversity of cultures and genres,” the festival said.
“We host the Boomerang festival in conjunction with Bluesfest and celebrate Indigenous and local acts as well. Unlike other festivals we have more than one major announcement in the lead up, don’t judge too soon and stay tuned for more to come.”
In a further statement, LISTEN said it doesn’t doubt that Bluesfest will announce more female acts, but told organisers not to “act like an almost entirely male first lineup announcement doesn’t send a message”.
“Your job is to reflect the diversity of the industry,” LISTEN said.
“You don’t score points for past events or for platforming First Nations artists – that’s the bare minimum. It doesn’t carry over to give you a free pass for not doing your job.”
Music Feeds has contacted Bluesfest for further comment. Read LISTEN’s post in full, below.
Bluesfest is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2019, and will return to Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm between Thursday, 18th April to Monday, 22nd April.