With such a stacked lineup of homegrown talent, we’re sifting through our picks for the 10 must-see locals acts at Bluesfest 2023.
Bluesfest’s 2023 edition is fast approaching, with the promise of premier roots music set to take over Byron Bay’s Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm this Easter long weekend (April 6 – April 10). The annual festival this year boasts one of its starriest lineups to date, led by the likes of international icons Bonnie Raitt, Elvis Costello and The Doobie Brothers.
Pundits should already be well aware of the many reasons to attend Bluesfest 2023 (if not, head here to familiarise yourself), as well as some of our picks for the must-see classic musicians at this year’s edition. With such a stacked lineup of talent, we’re sifting through our choices for the stellar, must-see local acts who will be performing at Bluesfest 2023.
Gang of Youths
Fronted by Dave Le’aupepe and with three studio albums to their name, Gang of Youths will bring their award-winning catalogue to the Bluesfest stage this year. Sure to comprise the Sydney band’s festival setlist is songs from their latest release angel in realtime., which cracked Happy Mag’s list of 2022’s best Australian albums, and spawned standout tracks The Angel of 8th Ave and the Springsteen-esque In The Wake Of Your Leave.
The record was inspired by Le’aupepe’s father, and was accompanied by the band’s biggest-ever Australian tour. The Gang Of Youths brought their energetic live performance chops to venues across the country, a feat the band will surely emulate when they steal the spotlight at Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm this Easter. Gang Of Youths’ Bluesfest set will take place on Friday, April 7.
The Cat Empire
Spanning decades, genres and legions of fans the world over The Cat Empire has maintained the legacy of its sound through founding members and lineup mainstays Felix Riebl and Ollie McGill. The most recent entry into the group’s eight-album catalogue arrived in 2019 with Stolen Diamonds, with Riebl and McGill having since performed at Bluesfest 2021.
The Cat Empire’s upcoming festival appearance will usher in a new era for the group, with their place on previous lineups across the country evidence of their live performance skill. The Cat Empire will perform at Bluesfest 2023 on Monday, April 10.
Counting Gold and Platinum certifications and multiple ARIA nominations among his many accolades, Xavier Rudd’s music is both masterful and well-intentioned. Across 10 studio albums, the singer-songwriter has combined folksy blues rock with a distinct socially conscious message, ensuring the lasting legacy of his discography. Rudd’s latest album, Jan Juc Moon, arrived in March of last year, and will no-doubt place among what’s sure to be a powerful Bluesfest 2023 setlist. Xavier Rudd will take to the stage at Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm on Monday, April 10.
At just 34 years old, Dami Im has already built a career seemingly suited for an artist 20 years her senior, beginning with her victory in the 2013 edition of X Factor. Since then, the powerhouse vocalist has represented Australia at Eurovision, where she earned the highest score ever achieved by an Australian entrant in the song contest.
Sound of Silence went on to chart in 38 countries, with Im’s self-titled debut becoming a platinum best-seller. Be sure to catch Im’s live renditions of smash hits like Alive, Super Love and Gladiator, when she takes to the Bluesfest stage on Saturday, April 8 and Sunday, April 9.
Multi-instrumentalist and bonafide Australian music royalty Tash Sultana has more than earned their place atop Bluesfest’s 2023 lineup. Sultana has two deservedly acclaimed albums to their name, including 2018’s APRA-nominated Flow State and its Best Soul/R&B ARIA-nominated follow-up Terra Firma.
More recently, Sultana shared a special MTV Unplugged (Live in Melbourne) album, which featured performances recorded at the city’s iconic Chapel off Chapel venue. Sultana is undoubtedly one of the must-see acts on Bluesfest’s Sunday roster on April 9.
The Black Sorrows
With vocalist mainstay Joe Camilleri leading the charge, Melbourne band The Black Sorrows will bring their career and decade-spanning catalogue to the Bluesfest stage this Easter, fresh off their own headline shows across the country, and last year’s European tour. The 1990 ARIA-winners for Best Pop Group have sold upwards of two million records, helped by perhaps their biggest hit in 1988’s Hold On To Me.
The band’s most recent album, Saint Georges Road, arrived in 2021, and cracked the Top 20 of the ARIA Charts upon its release. The Black Sorrows will perform at Bluesfest 2023 on both Saturday (April 8) and Sunday (April 9).
Ash Grunwald shows no signs of slowing down, with his Josh Tesky collaborative album Push The Blues Away arriving in 2020 and with follow-up solo project Shout Into The Noise landing last year. Among the Melbourne singer’s accolades is a starry credit list that includes collaborator and Grammy-nominated songwriter Lachlan Bostock of Mansionair, and a Best International Act win at the 2014 LA Music Critic Awards.
Elsewhere, Grunwald has achieved six top 50 albums, scored two APRA Awards, and received five ARIA nominations across his eleven-album discography. Ash Grunwald will steal the spotlight at Bluesfest 2023 on April 9 and April 10.
With 35 years of experience on the Australian touring circuit and a handful of previous Bluesfest outings on their portfolio, Backsliders have all but confirmed their place on your must-see festival set itinerary. With decades of experience in the game and sound that moves from delta-style blues to jungle-like rhythms, the Dom Turner and Rob Hirst-led outfit will offer one of Bluesfest’s most explosive sets when they perform on Sunday (April 9) and Monday (April 10).
Round Mountain Girls
For NSW quintet Round Mountain Girls, the only way to go is up. Since forming over a decade ago, the band has since counted over a hundred live shows to their name, with two tours of the UK already under their belt. Round Mountain Girls have elsewhere opened for the likes of Zac Brown Band, Santana, Tim McGraw and Brad Paisley, and have earned their comparisons to everyone from Mumford and Sons to Metallica. Be sure to check out Round Mountain Girls 2023 Bluesfest set on Friday (April 7) and Sunday (April 9).