You could comfortably call this the "Legends" announcement
If Byron Bay Bluesfest hadn't already achieved their apparent goal of making 2016 an event for the history books, it's more than met that potential now, with the annual camping festival unveiling a handful of seriously impressive line-up additions today, with the way led by iconic singer-songwriter and Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson.
Wilson — who, even on a line-up boasting Kendrick Lamar, Tom Jones, Noel Gallagher, The Decemberists and many others, stands out as a titan of industry — will bring a very special show indeed to Bluesfest, playing legendary album Pet Sounds in full alongside a choice selection of his greatest hits, backed by a voluminous, 11-piece band that even includes original Beach Boy Al Jardine and long-term member Blondie Chaplin.
Wilson is easily among the most decorated musicians to enter Bluesfest's history, having not only been admitted to the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 for his work with the Beach Boys but also having earned nods from the Songwriters Hall Of Fame (to which he was inducted by Paul McCartney) and the UK Music Hall of Fame, as well as winning two Grammys — Best Rock Instrumental Performance in 2005, Best Historical Album in 2013 — earning an honorary doctorate from Boston's Northeast University in 2003 and even seeing his childhood family home, in Hawthorne, California, be granted Historic Landmark status in the United States.
Naturally, Wilson's is a signing of which festival director Peter Noble is especially proud.
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“It is with pride we announce Brian Wilson performing Pet Sounds, the album that changed the course of music upon its release in 1966, in its entirety at Bluesfest, as well as a number of the hits he wrote and produced whilst a member of the Beach Boys and in his solo career," Noble said in a statement. "Pet Sounds has been listed by Rolling Stone as the second-greatest album of all time, after The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and has only been performed a handful of times before, and not for a decade."
Though he hasn't been a regular performing member of the Beach Boys since 1964, Wilson has remained an integral part of the band's multi-decade career, having spent much of their later years "almost singlehandedly" producing the band's recordings while they were on tour. He appeared with his Beach Boys brethren for a special reunion in 2012, honoring their 50th anniversary as a band, but with solo releases spanning from 1988's self-titled debut to this year's No Pier Pressure, there's so much more to the man than a handful of hit songs about surfing — and Aussie audiences will have a chance to discover that fact when they get to spend some time with a living legend come March.
Joining Wilson on the most recent announcement are acclaimed cult US art-rock outfit The Residents, whose giant-eyeball get-ups probably sit fresh in the mind of many people who were both alive to experience the '70s and '80s as they happened, as well as those of us who learnt about the decades predominantly through bleary-eyed viewings of early-morning Rage in our youth.
These aren't exactly The Residents of old, though — or, at least, certainly not their costumes. Indeed, since they last graced our shores about 10 years ago, now gone are the ostentatious ocular apparatuses; in their place has arrived the thoroughly more freakish Randy, Chuck & Bob Trilogy, part three of which, Shadowland, will get an airing at Bluesfest next year. The performance comes concurrently with celebrations of the band's 40th anniversary of scaring squares and setting the fringe abuzz with glee, the revelry having extended since last year (the actual 40-year mark from the release of their seminal debut effort Meet The Residents, in 1974) and set to continue well into next. In other words, if you're looking for a band at Bluesfest who knows how to party, look no further than The Residents.
Hey, we never said it wouldn't get weird.
Lest you be concerned about the "blues" part of the event's name, it bears mentioning that Taj Mahal - one of the late 20th century's most celebrated and influential blues'n'roots artists - has also signed on for 2016's Bluesfest, bringing with him nearly a half-century's worth of experience as a performer and writer.
In that time, he's picked up nine Grammy nominations - winning two of them - and was last year awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Association. It's been over a decade since the now-73-year-old troubadour has played on Aussie shores, and he's making an occasion of his return - he'll be performing solo and unplugged for the benefit of Bluesfest punters next year. With eight studio full-lengths to his name since he was last in our corner of the world (1993's Dancing The Blues was his most recent album the last time he visited), expect this to be a special showing of the highest degree.
Also among the newest announcement of acts destined to light up Byron Bay this March are soul sensations Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, who come to Australia hot on the heels of their widely acclaimed debut self-titled album (it peaked inside the top 20 on Billboard's Top 200 Album Chart). The nascent band - they only formed in 2013 - have garnered such a reputation for themselves in their relatively short lifespan that it's hard to imagine a soul landscape without them in it, slotting into the Bluesfest roster nicely alongisde fellow soul revivalists Allen Stone and St Paul & The Broken Bones.
Finally, Bluesfest welcomes Scottish outfit Shooglenifty, making their debut at the festival in March and bringign Down Under their distinct 'Acid Croft' styling - described as "a fiery and infectious blend of Celtic traditional music and dance grooves", and a "unique" sound that has taken them to nearly every corner of the globe across their 25-year career.
This is, of course, all in addition to the eye-popping array of other acts and attractions on offer at Bluesfest 2016; 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.
For further news and all things Bluesfest, head to the Festivals tab.