My favourite weekend of the year in Bendigo is upon us.

The sixth Bendigo Blues & Roots Music Festival kicked-off last night (Thursday, November, 3) and kicks on in earnest today and over the weekend. Some 170 acts will be performing in over 40 venues to around 15,000 punters. The Festival has come a long way.

“I’m really excited. There are so many acts to choose from. We’re expecting our biggest ever turn-out for the family concert in Rosalind Park on Saturday,” said Colin Thompson, Festival Director. “It’s great to see everything fall into place; lots of hard work by lots of dedicated people.”

There’s so much to see, it’s almost anxiety-inducing.

Local music legend Skip kicks proceedings off in Rosalind Park on Saturday with his Kids School Choir. Then it’s eight hours of continuous music, including the sublime Graciana Holland, the inimitable Alister Turrill, Nashville’s Travis Bowlin, festival first-timers Catfish Voodoo and the gritty, bluesy sound of Greg Dodd and The Hoodoo Men. Regular Bendigo visitor Abbie Cardwell has an early afternoon slot and another Bendigo favourite, Benny Walker, rounds out the afternoon.
Also on Saturday afternoon and through to 10pm, The Bridge Hotel again hosts their Street Party. The Jackson Four are Festival first-timers. They’re just back from the UK (where they are a UK Blues Radio top 20 band). They are one of about 60 acts making their BB&RMF debuts. Saturday’s Street Party kicks off with Bleach and features eight bands including The Mojo Corner and Geoff Achison & The Souldiggers. Sunday’s line-up is pretty tasty as well, with Messin’ ‘Round, The Associates and Salvador amongst others.

The Gold Dust Lounge really turns it on during Festival weekend. Saturday sees 12 acts scheduled over nearly 12 hours. Queensland’s Josh Rennie-Hynes plays an early afternoon set. Other highlights include Hailey Calvert and Nicole Brophy. Rounding out proceedings (for night owls) is Highway 79 – on stage at 12.45am and guaranteed to keep anyone awake.

On Saturday night at MacGillivray Hall on McCrae Street, Aussie blues legend Ian Collard joins two visiting international acts – Travis Bowlin and Eugene Hideaway Bridges.

Bridges is a seven times nominee for USA Blues Music Awards. Allmusic described him as “a vibrant and enthusiastic singer and guitarist…brings fire and intensity to contemporary blues, which he laces with hints of his gospel singing past.”

Fresh from the triumphant launch of her debut EP at a packed Golden Vine last week, Sherri Parry makes four appearances at the Festival, including at the Queens Arms on Friday and the Belmont on Sunday.

Glenn Skuthorpe is another Festival first-timer I’m hoping to catch. He’s at Yard Bird on Saturday afternoon and at the Engine Room in View Street on Sunday afternoon.

The quirky Lily and King are always a Festival highlight. They play four times over the weekend including at Rocks On Rosalind on Sunday afternoon. They’re a ‘must-see’ if you’ve never had the pleasure before.

If you like your blues at the heavier, rockier end of the scale then Sunday arvo at the Hibo looks the go. Melbourne’s Bag O’ Nails kick things off, followed by Midweek Blues, Andy Phillips & The Cadillac Walk, with John-Luke Shelley’s new outfit, JLS & Co, wrapping things up.
A massive weekend in store.