Bluesfest Director Peter Noble: ‘We’re Not Like Any Other Festival’

2 September 2022 | 1:40 pm | Dan Cribb

“I just like it to be a festival featuring the best music that I can put on the stage that will lift people."

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Bluesfest 2023 signals a return to form after a brutal couple of years for one of the country’s most beloved events, with festival director Peter Noble calling this week’s artist reveal “a real Bluesfest announcement”.

After last year’s devastating cancellation on the eve of the event and flash flooding impacting this past April’s festival, next year’s bill is reminiscent of 2019 and prior, with legends such as Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt, Marvis Staple and Jackson Browne featured alongside the “stars of tomorrow” and a slew of big-name Aussie acts like Tash Sultana and Gang Of Youths.

It will be the first time since the pandemic began that Bluesfest will welcome international artists back, with the event slated to return to Byron Events Farm from April 6-10.

“That’s preaching to the converted; those people who have found our festival over the decades and have come to it and said, ‘This is the one I like,’” Noble told The Music.

“Well, that’s who this [line-up] is for. It’s like, ‘This is who I know you want to see guys.’

“To get an announcement out like this, which is basically who we are – we’re not like any other festival in Australia, we’re different – we have artists who might be able to play on other festivals, but when you put them together, that’s who we are.”

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Juggling heritage acts and exciting new talent, Noble acknowledged that it would have been quite easy to go too far in either direction, especially given he’s a self-proclaimed “music freak” who thrives on discovering artists.

“That’s what I find, after many decades in the business, is the most exciting part, because it allows me to stay relevant,” Noble said.

“You know, I don’t just listen to the music of my generation, I listen to the music of many generations, including now. That’s a very nice thing to happen in your life when you’ve been in the game for 50 years.

“But I’m getting pitched new music all the time and that’s a nice place to be. There are wonderful young artists being put in front of me wanting to play Bluesfest and so I get to find out about them.

“You look at the blues artists of today and they incorporate into what they do the music of now; there’s R&B in there, there are elements of hip hop and rap.”

When revealing the line-up yesterday, Bluesfest stressed that ticket prices would not be increasing this year, despite the rising costs of putting on a festival.

“The reason for that is because we’ve all been through a very bad time on the planet, for going on three years,” Noble said.

“So, I just want to be able to say to all those people who bought a ticket to come in 2020…and all those people who came this year, I just want them all to know – thank you. Thank you for supporting us, and we’re not going to charge you more. Have a great time.

“It doesn’t mean the festival is costing us any less, it doesn’t mean we’re paying the artists less – everything has gone up, but Bluesfest hasn’t. Now, I can’t do that forever, but for those people who are welded on Bluesfest, we care about you and we wouldn’t be here without you – thank you.”

$500,000 has also been invested in upgrading and waterproofing the site, with the team behind Bluesfest promising that they are doing their utmost to prevent cancellation and "are currently looking at every single aspect of the Bluesfest experience to ensure it's of the highest quality possible".

As for what fans can expect from future artist announcements?

“I’m out there looking for those artists who are the icing on the cake and maybe even one or two cherries; there are some discussions going on,” Noble teased.

“I just like it to be a festival featuring the best music that I can put on the stage that will lift people, and there are plenty that will get you dancing.”

5-Day passes are now available with a range of other options expected to arrive in the coming weeks. For ticketing and more details on Bluesfest 2023, click here.

In July, it was revealed that the festival’s glorious return this past April provided a $272 million boost to Australia's gross regional product.

Featuring the likes of Crowded House, Paul Kelly, Midnight Oil, Amy Shark, Baker Boy, The Living End and stacks more, it was the first full five-day event for Bluesfest, usually held annually over the Easter Long Weekend, since 2019 and drew a crowd of over 48,000 people, a near 30% increase on the 2019 festival figures.

And only a couple of weeks ago Bluesfest Touring announced two massive tours for April 2023, Bonnie Raitt, joined by special guests Mavis Staples, and Marcus King.