Here we go folks; our massive dedicated volunteer crew, ever generous and engaged venues, supportive sponsors and partners, not to mention our featured artists, are excited to present yet another magnificent program of shows as part of this year's Bendigo Blues & Roots Music Festival.
With over 130 acts on our program again this year - more than 40 of whom have never played our festival before - it'll be another weekend full of discoveries, even for BB&RMF veterans.
We've changed it up a little by welcoming some new venues, and our geographical footprint is bigger than ever this year, with venues outside of the Bendigo CBD like The Hibernian in Golden Square, Barr & Wells in Kangaroo Flat, D'Arcy's Bakery in Eaglehawk and as far spread as Ravenswood Homestead, The Maldon Hotel, Tooborac Hotel and Brewery and Shiraz Republic in Cornella!
There are also plenty of venues for those wishing for a quiet retreat to sit and listen and soak in the talent of the gentler music on our program, such as the Chinese Water Gardens of Golden Dragon Museum, St Paul's Cathedral, Bendigo Art Gallery, Peppergreen Farm and The Blues Tram, to name but a few.
Ulumbarra Theatre is hosting a couple of marquee concerts, featuring John Butler and the Waifs, with local main supports Sherri Parry and Grim Fawkner with Allister Turrill, respectively - with the bonus of free Pop-Up gigs in the foyer from 7pm each of those nights.
Wayne Jury and his team will host the famed Blues Boot Camp, for young musicians with the support of Capital Venues and Events and some of the generous local music teachers lending an invaluable hand.
Our Youth Stages (supported by Yo Bendigo) will again showcase some of the best young talent getting around - at St Paul's Cathedral on the Friday afternoon and Library Gardens on Saturday. We'll also have our famed School Band Showcase on the Sunday; this year being held in the View Street end of Rosalind Park.
The Old Church on the Hill (in Quarry Hill) will again host the traditional Gospel Choir Sing-along on the Sunday morning of our festival, led by the masterful Carl Pannuzzo and the Gorgeous Voices Choir. The Old Church also welcomes two evenings of bands and a Saturday afternoon workshop teaching improvisation for beginners, all run by our valued partner Bendigo Jazz Club.
I often get asked which act I'm most excited to see at the upcoming festival. I always think it's a bit unfair of me to answer, not to mention difficult, as there are literally scores of acts I'm excited to see. But this year I would have to say New Zealand's powerhouse duo Swamp Thing is the band I'm most excited to see and hear in person. We're fortunate to have them playing three gigs at three different venues over BB&RMF weekend and I strongly urge everyone to get out along to at least one of their performances.
As per usual, the program kicks off on Thursday morning (November 7) and will flow through, at no less than 45 venues, through till midnight on Sunday night (November 10), so be sure to take advantage of as much music as you can wrap your ears around.
PS - I have a small favour to ask: When interacting with staff at our host venues, or the many volunteers who you'll bump into over the weekend, please take a moment out of your time to thank them for supporting live music. It'd mean a lot to our crew and all the many musicians and music fans who benefit from the countless hours of work involved in planning and running an event of this size.
Thanks again for your support and involvement. We hope to see you out enjoying live music at local venues, big and small, for many years to come.
Director, Bendigo Blues & Roots Music Festival
Five top tips:
1. Download the official festival app and plan your weekend
2. Pull out your picnic rug, gather your family and friends, and get down to Rosalind Park on Saturday for the all-day family friendly concert from 11am - 7pm
3. Catch some culture aboard the Bendigo Blues Tram, a two hour journey, sipping some local beverages while enjoying some sublime Australian talent.
4. There are more than 130 artists performing, from across Australia See tip #1 above!
5. Pick up an Easy Rider Pass, it's the only way to ride and gets you best seats in the house for John Butler (intimate and solo) at Ulumbarra plus a heap of extra value - be quick!