Rusty Thorpe’s 10 best moments of Bluesfest 2018

Words by Rusty Thorpe, Marketing Manager of Byron Bay Bluesfest. 

Loved your article – the 10 best moments of Bluesfest. I agree and disagree, because I also have ten of my own… such was the depth of the line-up!!

Here they are,  in no particular order:

Photo: Evan Malcolm

Missed out on Bluesfest 2018? Experience it all through the eyes of Rusty Thorpe, Byron Bay Bluesfest’s Marketing Manager going on 10 years.

Jackson Browne

Singing The Load Out/Stay... as an older dude I cant tell you how many years I had waited to hear that live!

Photo: Lachlan Douglas


Absolutely two stunning sets with the ageless Skye Edwards up front – looking insanely ethereal. Trip-hop was never more beautiful!!

Jimmy Cliff

At the Double J live broadcast on Good Friday afternoon singing a medley of songs, and then having the crowd sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to him – tearjerking stuff

Tash Sultana

Delivering the biggest, most powerful next-level set of her life (and don’t just take my word for it – her manager texted me with those very words too).

tash sultana bluesfest 2018
Photo: Joseph Mayers

Chic with Nile Rodgers

If ever there was a band that came to party – CHIC were it! 90 minutes of million-sellers – all written by their timeless leader, Nile Rodgers.

Didn’t think I’d ever hear a packed Bluesfest tent singing Like A Virgin... lol

chic nile rodgers
Photo: Deb Kloeden

Steve Smyth

Ditching his band, bringing out a 4-piece string section, and delivering a ‘blues-aria’ (don’t know how to describe this!) in SPANISH!!! Crowd… went… bonkers!!

steve smyth
Photo: Josh Groom

Shaun Kirk

One big voice – a heap of great songs. I loved it when he explained he had had a dream where the Bluesfest crowd sang along with him, and then asked “will you make my dream come true?”

How could the packed tent refuse?

Photo: A V Moulay

All Our Exes Live In Texas

They raised the roof when they all appeared wearing ‘Stop Adani’ shirts. Their music, as always, is glorious… and always delivered with a sense of humour tinged with just the right amount of seriousness.

Photo: Tao Jones

The New Power Generation

Honouring Prince in the best way possible … the second ‘Most Likely To Party’ band. They hit their groove from note #1 and just kept raising the bar…

It was party central – and the crowd let ‘em know it.

Photo: Rudiger Wasser

Hussy Hicks

As one reviewer stated: “I can sum up Bluesfest in two words: Hussy & Hicks.”

Watching them roar through a set at a packed Jambalaya Stage (at 12.30pm… that’s gotta be a record!) was a joy – and it was so much fun that Julz stopped playing so she could take a selfie of her and Leesa in front of this tent full of people. Julz photo wasn’t good enough to publish, but her mate got this one – the effect is there !!

These guys are extremely underrated – and they do ROKKKK!!

Photo: Wesley Hetherington

And …

I didn’t even get to mention the killer sets from blues veterans Chain, or the wonderfully new and extraordinarily talented Caiti Baker (We will be seeing a lot more of her, I guarantee it),or the potent and powerful lyricism of Alynda Segarra and Hurray For The Riff Raff, or the bar-raising sets from The Hanlon Brothers, Mia Dyson, Holy Holy and Dan Sultan.

Honestly, there was not one ‘filler’ at Bluesfest, every single act stepped up to the plate – then stepped over it – and brought a set that was worthy of any stage, anywhere in the world. It was a riot, a party, a family fun-filled festival…

It was like… WOW!! What a weekend – BRING ON 2019 !!

Bluesfest will be 30 years young next Easter. Don’t forget to come and join the CELEBRATION !!!!


RUSTY THORPE has been Marketing Manager at Bluesfest in Byron Bay for nine years. In a previous life he was RUSTY NAILS – one of the early guys at the original Double J in the 70’s and Triple J in the ’80s.

He also survived the only TISM Tour of the UK!!!