Arlo McKinley replaces Ian Noe on Port Fairy Folk Festival lineup for March

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Arlo McKinley replaces Ian Noe on Port Fairy Folk Festival lineup for March

Image: Arlo McKinley. Supplied.

Early James will now be joined on tour with another first-time Australian tourist and up-and-coming singer-writer Arlo McKinley.

Returning to the glorious setting of the music-loving coastal village for its 46th edition from 10-13 March,  the 2023 Port Fairy Folk Festival has just seen a lineup change for the forthcoming event with Kentucky’s Ian Noe having to pull out of what was to be his first Australian tour, a co-headliner (including PFFF) with fellow young Southern singer-songwriter, Alabama’s Early James.

In a like-for-like swap, Early James will now be joined on tour with another first-time Australian tourist and up-and-coming singer-writer, Cincinatti-based Arlo McKinley, who was the last artist signed by the late John Prine to his Oh Boy Records label.

Keep up with the latest music news, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

Port Fairy Folk Festival announces third artist lineup for 2023

Ian Noe’s management revealed: “Due to personal health issues, Ian unfortunately is unable to get to Australia for his March dates. These issues have forced him to cancel or reschedule significant shows in the USA also. Ian would dearly love to eventually get to Australia, but at this time, it makes the most sense to cancel his involvement in the tour. We’ll revisit this as soon as we can. The team and Ian appreciate patience and understanding.”

And Love Police’s BT has said,“Fortunately I was in Nashville when I was hit with the news about Ian Noe not being able to make the March shows. Fortunate as I was watching Arlo McKinley at about the exact time I got the news. Arlo is a similar intense, colourful and magical artist, and as luck would have it, he was free to head to Australia for the first time ever. It’s a bummer when acts cancel, particularly Ian as this is the second time now, but we wish him well with his personal issues. The great ones generally always have them…  We’re hoping you’ll take a chance and discover Arlo’s music if you haven’t heard him before. Managed by Tyler Childers people, signed to John Prine’s label, he’s gotta have something! If not, you can get a refund for 2 weeks. See you at the shows.”

Arlo McKinley, who is coming to Australia on the back of his acclaimed third album This Mess We’re In, was something of a late starter, releasing his first album, the DIY Arlo McKinley & The Lonesome Sound in 2014 at the age of 35. In 2019, at a show in Nashville, a fan came up and introduced himself. That fan was John Prine, and Arlo’s life was soon changed forever, as he became the last artist signed by the late songwriting legend to his pioneering Oh Boy label. Growing up in a music-loving family in Cincinnati, Arlo spent his early adulthood working in a record store and playing in a duo called The Great Depression before a job delivering tuxedos gave him time enough behind the wheel to develop his songwriting.

This Mess We’re In, like his first Oh Boy release Die Midwestern – which Rolling Stone praised for its “songs of heartbreak, restlessness and hard-won experience” – was recorded at the legendary Sam Phillips Recording Service in Memphis with an ace band that includes drummer Ken Coomer (Wilco), guitarist Will Sexton and keyboardist Rick Steff (Lucero, Cat Power).

Producer Matt Ross-Spang, who’s worked with Jason Isbell and Margo Price, is back as well, and for the first time McKinley incorporated strings into some of songs, reflecting his love of artists like Nick Drake and Nick Cave. This Mess We’re In has been well received in Australia and featured in many writers’ Best of 2022 in Rhythms magazine.

Bringing two captivating young Americana outsiders to Australia for the first time, the pairing of Arlo McKinley and Early James at PFFF promises a night of grit, honesty, colour and vibration.

Port Fairy Folk Festival takes place in the beautiful seaside town of Port Fairy, Victoria from 10-13 March 2023. Tickets are available now. For further information and to secure your spot at Australia’s biggest folk festival by the sea, visit