Equinophobes unit – it’s that time again!
If you also think that the best thing to do on Melbourne Cup weekend is to get out of town, then I suggest that you too need to get tickets for the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues. The Festival was started by Wang’s jazz community back in 1990, and Blues was added to the program in 1994.
The Festival has a dedicated Blues marquee, and it is possible to buy a ticket just for that venue, but then you would be missing the blues performers at other venues (eg Pinsent Hotel), and the jazz contingent.
This year they have quite a few blues acts, some local that we know of, some we don’t. They also have others from NSW, NT and overseas.
So the Victorians we all know well include Shannon Bourne (doing his Jimi Hendrix Tribute), Justin Yap Band, Lloyd Spiegel, Jimi Hocking & the Blues Machine, Andrea Marr & the Funky Hitmen, Pugsley Buzzard & The Devil’s Orchestra, Kevin Borich Express, John McNamara and Chango Tree.
The Gospel Belles is one group I will be looking forward to. The Gospel Belles are Kerri Simpson (vocals, guitar), Diana Wolfe (vocals), Kelly Auty (vocals), Marisa Quigley (vocals), Dean Addison (bass), Mark Grunden (drums) and Tim Neal (keyboard). Kerri Simpson, with Kelly Auty, Marisa and Diana, created the Gospel Belles in 2006 to perform swinging interpretations of their favourite gospel and blues songs in the African-American tradition.
This vocal ensemble (with guest Tim Neal) combines these outstanding singers and big personalities, and the result is a musical treat—with charm galore and more than a dash of dry wit thrown in. The Belles renowned for their power-packed vocals, earthy humour and captivating stage shows.
They deliver classic gospel and blues songs, and their interpretations of the genre are uplifting, authentic and, on occasion, ever-so-slightly irreverent. Their eponymous debut EP was voted in the Top 10 Albums of 2011 in the annual Rhythms Magazine Writer’s Poll.
From NSW we can expect Foreday Riders, Richard Perso, Spiderbait (with Wangaratta Horns), The Lachy Doley Group and Shane Pacey.
Ian Moss is one I’ll be looking out for. A shop window advert lead to him joining Cold Chisel back in 1973. From there, what can I say? Top Australian guitarist, overseas success, New York residencies, as he put it, on to “tough, ballsy blues meets rock.” All of that and I’ve never seen him live before.
Caiti Baker is appearing from the Northern Territory, and the Festival would not be the same without the Blues Brothers 3677 (it’s the postcode). Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen will be attending from New Orleans. Jon is actually from Britain, but has lived in New Orleans for 35 years. He has written and co-written songs with and for Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal and the decade that he spent working with Raitt inspired her to unabashedly dub Cleary “the ninth wonder of the world.”
If you are lucky, tickets are still available.
By John Lamp
Image sourced via Lloyd Spiegel Music socials