Australian Guitar - - Feature -

Bluesfest it­self is al­ways a must-see event with a near end­less pa­rade of great acts to sam­ple, but the Bluesfest sideshow ex­pe­ri­ence is its own, equally spe­cial thing. Whereas fes­ti­val sets are gen­er­ally tai­lored to be broadly en­joy­able for a big crowd who may not be fa­mil­iar with every track, the sideshows are where you’ll find your favourites stretch­ing out and play­ing solely for the fans. That can be es­pe­cially true of Bluesfest sideshows when you’re talk­ing about acts with an im­pro­vi­sa­tional spirit: you never know what’s go­ing to hap­pen when an artist is given the stage time to stretch out in, and an au­di­ence who are re­cep­tive to them tak­ing chances. Here are our three picks for must-see sideshows.


For proof of Wal­ter Trout’s stand­ing in the blues com­mu­nity, look no fur­ther than the crowd­fund­ing drive that raised $240,000 to save his life when he was in need of a liver trans­plant in 2014. Trout has now well and truly bounced back, and his most re­cent stu­dio al­bum, the 14-track We’reAl­lInThisTo­gether, is jam-packed with friends: Kenny Wayne Shep­herd, Sonny Lan­dreth, Char­lie Mus­sel­white, Robben Ford, Eric Gales, Edgar Win­ter, War­ren Haynes, Joe Louis Walker, John May­all, Joe Bona­massa Randy Bach­man and plenty more.

Trout’s ca­reer be­gan in the late ‘60s and ‘70s, and he’s played with the likes of John Lee Hooker, Canned Heat, John May­all’s Blues­break­ers and Joe Tex. His play­ing is heav­ily in­formed by the blues greats but with his own un­de­ni­able voice. You can see him at the Cor­ner Ho­tel in Mel­bourne on March 29th and the Fac­tory Theatre in Syd­ney on March 31st, in ad­di­tion to his Bluesfest ap­pear­ances on April 1st and 2nd.

Read an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with Wal­ter Trout on our web­site at aus­tralian­gui­tar­


War­ren Haynes is no stranger to Bluesfest. Their 2018 re­turn cel­e­brates the re­cent re­lease of TheTel

StarSes­sions, a new archival al­bum fea­tur­ing the band’s very first, never-be­fore-re­leased de­mos from 1994 fea­tur­ing late bass great Allen Woody.

“Hav­ing lis­tened to them re­cently, for the first time in decades, a big smile came over my face,” Haynes says. “These record­ings cap­ture the raw­ness and ex­cite­ment of the ear­li­est stage of Gov’t Mule.” The Mule will be joined by Lukas Nel­son & Prom­ise Of The Real, fea­tur­ing the son of Willy Nel­son and no slouch on the gui­tar him­self. The band backed Neil Young on his Mon­san­toYears al­bum and tour.

You can see Gov’t Mule with Lukas Nel­son & Prom­ise Of The Real at the Metro Theatre in Syd­ney on Mon­day, March 26th and The Cor­ner Ho­tel in Mel­bourne on March 27th, as well as their Bluesfest ap­pear­ances (Gov’t Mule on Thurs­day, March 29th and Fri­day, March 30th, and Lukas Nel­son & Prom­ise Of The Real every day from Thurs­day, March 29th to Mon­day, April 2nd).


New­ton first came onto mu­sic lovers’ radars in 2007 with his ac­claimed de­but, Hand­builtBy Ro­bots, which hit plat­inum in Aus­tralia and the UK. He’s since re­leased four cel­e­brated stu­dio al­bums: Re­builtByHu­mans, WriteItOnYour

Skin, Stu­dioZoo and Hu­manLove. The lat­ter is full of rac­ing drums, African per­cus­sion, chanted cho­ruses, am­bi­ent in­ter­ludes and the most grip­ping hooks of his ca­reer to date, and is packed with great gui­tar play­ing.

“One of my main aims was to as­sem­ble a set of songs that re­ally work for the later slots at fes­ti­vals,” he says. “I wanted to make a record that tapped into the idea of a fes­ti­val, where you hear all these dif­fer­ent strands of mu­sic float­ing in and out of your head. I want to be up there as the sun is set­ting, and peo­ple are start­ing to let their hair down.”

You can catch New­ton at the Fac­tory Theatre in Syd­ney on April 1st, lunch and din­ner shows at Li­zottes in New­cas­tle on April 2nd, the Cor­ner Ho­tel in Mel­bourne on April 4th, The Gov in Ade­laide on April 6th and Jack Rab­bit Slims in Perth on April 8th.

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