Mark it in your calendar
It only wrapped up its 2015 event a few months ago and the organisers of Byron Bay's annual music festival Bluesfest have bounced back bigger than ever by releasing the massive first round of artists set to hit the stage in March 2016.
In what is the earliest announcement in the history of the festival, US indie-rockers The National have been announced to headline, alongside rock-folk act City & Colour, reggae legends UB40 featuring Ali Campbell, Astro & Mickey Virtue and many more.
Tickets for next year's event, running from 24 March to 28 March, are on sale now and can be purchased at the festival website.
The Bluefest 2016 line-up is as follows:
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City & Colour
UB40 — featuring Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue
Tesdeschi Trucks Band
The Cat Empire
Lukas Nelson & Promise Of The Real
St Paul & The Broken Bones
In what will be their only show during their trip to Australia, the Grammy-nominated quintet return after performing headline shows in 2014. Led by lead singer Matt Berninger, The National have sold out live shows throughout the world and topped music charts everywhere — their show is not one to be missed. Fans are encouraged to get in early for tickets as this will be their only chance.
Making their debut at Bluesfest 2016, City & Colour, led by frontman Dallas Green, are one band every Bluesfest punter should make time for. Renowned for his powerful vocals and honest lyrics, Green can command the audience like few other lead singers. While he is known for his acoustic work, Green will be supported by his live band in what is set to be a memorable performance.
The band has been in existence for nearly 40 years and British reggae-pop act UB40 featuring three of its original members will be gracing the Byron Bay shores to perform hit after hit for the live audience. After selling out shows across the country last year and being arguably the biggest reggae act of all time, UB40 featuring Ali Campbell, Astro & Mickey Virtue will delight fans with songs spanning over their eighteen-album catalogue, including tracks from their latest live album.
After opening for Blues legend BB King when he was just 12 years old, US musician Joe Bonamassa has gone on to make quite a name for himself and to become one of the biggest names in blues music today. Hot off the release of his 2014 studio album, Different Shades Of Blue, the guitarist will take to the Bluefest stage for his only Aussie appearance, so fans are guaranteed to hear some of his new work, as well as some memorable classics.
Aussie ska and jazz act The Cat Empire will head home in time for the 2016 event after they wrap up their current overseas tour. No stranger to Bluesfest, the Melbourne-founded band make their return to the annual event which they are considered fan favourites for. Mixing genres like rock and funk with a brass ensemble is what The Cat Empire do best and their show will no doubt be one that Aussie fans take note of.
It wouldn't be a blues festival without some Willy Nelson inspired tunes and who better to deliver than the iconic musician's son? The band have made quite a name for themselves over the years which have included joining Neil Young on his newly released album and accompanying tour as his backing band. They've only been together since 2008 but they are making their name known in a big way and a Bluesfest performance will be just another way to prove it.
Also making their debut appearance at Bluesfest, are Gospel-jazz supergroup The Word. Featuring guitarist Robert Randolph, keyboardist John Medeski and all three of the North Mississippi Allstars the band return from a long hiatus. One of their new tracks, Glory Glory features the debut of the world's first acoustic pedal steel guitar, so needless to say you just don't quite know what to expect when these guys hit the stage.
The Grammy Award-winning former lead singer of African-American folk group Carolina Chocolate Drops has wowed crowds since going solo and she is going from strength to strength with her debut album released earlier this year, Tomorrow Is My Turn. On the album, Giddens gives sublime renditions of classics such as Dolly Parton's Don't Let It Trouble Your Mind and more.
Detroit-born Blues powerhouse Janiva Magness heads to Bluesfest for her debut appearance after recently taking out the Contemporary Blues Female Artist Of The Year for a fourth time running at the Blues Music Awards. She also took out the coveted Blues Music Award for BB King Entertainer Of The Year, making her only the second female artist to do so behind Koko Taylor. Magness released her latest album Original in 2014.
Alabama-founded group St Paul & The Broken Bones will also make their first appearance at the Aussie music fest. The seven-piece act make the trip down in support of their debut album Half The City which was received well by critics and fans alike. The soul band are making their name known worldwide having toured at festivals such as Lollapalooza, Coachella and recently opening for iconic Brit band, The Rolling Stones.
With three albums under his belt, US soul artist Allen Stone has found a rhythm that many young musicians aspire to. Having performed with acts such as Macklemore and featuring on The Late Show With David Letterman, Stone has built up a massive name for himself at just 28 years old. His show is one to keep an eye on, featuring tracks from his May released album, Radius.
They are one of the biggest names in the Ska Tone 2 genre and after relaunching the band in 2011, The Selecter are set to make a splash at next year's event in their debut appearance. Since playing stages such as Coachella and Glastonbury, the revitalised nine-piece act head to Australia after the release of their latest album, Subculture this year.
Americana act Shakey Graves, real name Alejandro Rose-Garcia has been likened to the vocals of popular US rock group Kings Of Leon, however the Texan-born musician brings the energy of a full band into his solo act. His music was one of 2014's top digital sellers and Rose-Garcia is set to show Aussie fans what they have been missing out on.