The seventh Bendigo Blues & Roots Music Festival is just two weeks away. An exciting, diverse weekend of music is in store for the 20,000 punters expected.

Over 140 artists – nearly half of them Bendigo Festival debutants – will perform in over 50 venues, ranging from the intimate Basement Bar, to the state-of-the-art Ulumbarra Theatre.

Once again, a Festival highlight will be the Saturday afternoon concert in Rosalind Park which features 13 acts, including world music ensemble Sol Nation, Geelong’s gutsy The Mojo Corner, Bendigo’s own Andrew Watts and Seed, and multi-genre 11-piece The Northern Folk. Ultra-talented troubadour Grim Fawkner kicks off the day.

I’ve yet to take my highlighter pen to this year’s program, but there is no shortage of ‘must-see’ events.

Shane Howard tops a first-class Saturday night line-up at the Ulumbarra. Howard’s unique voice has been mapping the Australian landscape for 40 years. Howard will draw on his extensive back catalogue of 13 albums.

Support for Shane Howard comes from Yirrmal, a young indigenous songwriter-guitarist. Yirrmal fuses traditional and contemporary arrangements, and sings with a feeling beyond his years.

The increasingly-popular Blues Tram will run four times during the Festival. Regularly now a sell-out, this year sees pocket dynamo Genevieve Chadwick belt-out some Janis-esque (Joplin, not Ian) numbers on the Friday night. Other acts ‘tramming it’ over the weekend include Travis Bowlin, Simon Wright, and Miss Whiskey. Blues Trams feature two acts, run for around two-and-a-half hours, and offer a great perspective on Bendigo’s stunning CBD architecture.

Marisa Quigley makes a quick return to Bendigo after her sparkling performance on the October Blues Tram. The Beechworth-based songstress has two Festival gigs scheduled – at the Bridge Hotel early on Saturday afternoon, and a lunchtime set at the Golden Square Hotel on Sunday. The often-dark themes in Quigley’s songs, and her consummate story-telling make for a compelling show.

John McNamara has four Festival appearances scheduled, including at the Rifle Brigade Hotel on Sunday afternoon, and an early Friday evening set at Yard Bird on the balcony of the Hotel Shamrock. McNamara’s most recent album, Rollin’ With It, is quite a change in direction for the Victorian blues artist. Recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis, the album has a distinctly soulful sound and feel.

The Flannos are Bendigo locals. Their name derives from the flannelette shirts they proudly don for their lively, bluesy-pub rock gigs. Catch them for a blast of Aussie rock covers, spilt beer and the kind of dancing those involved will probably want to forget the following morning. The Flannos play at the Brian Boru on the Friday night.

Bendigo Blues & Roots Music Festival runs from Thursday, November, 9 through to Sunday, November, 12. The full program is available online at and from participating venues and the Bendigo Visitor Centre.


If you can’t wait for Festival weekend and need a bluesy-rootsy fix before then, head along to the Golden Vine this Saturday night, October, 28 for an inspired double-header.

Delta blues-style outfit, Sons Of The Blues, are joined by Slim Fit and the Low Wasters – a new band that has evolved out of the remnants of The Mockbells. Featuring Michael Enever, Michael Timcke, Adrian Deakin, Ben Gibbons, and Gav Moncrief, they promise to deliver an infectious mix of sassy songs of love and loss, booze and bad behaviour with searing solos and frantic, banging rhythms.

Doors at 8pm, entrance is $10.