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Despite lost headliners, Bluesfest welcomes 105k+

The loss of Neil Young and Barry Gibb failed to put a dent in Byron Bay Bluesfest 2017's turn-out, with Patti Smith, Santana and Madness making it a festival to remember

By IQ on 19 Apr 2017

Patti Smith, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2017, Australia

Patti Smith at Bluesfest on Saturday

image © Tao Jones for Byron Bay Bluesfest

Byron Bay Bluesfest this year recorded one of its biggest-ever attendances, with more than 105,000 people passing through its gates from Thursday 13 to Monday 17 April in spite of being down two headliners.

Both Neil Young and Bee Gee Barry Gibb were confirmed for the 28th Bluesfest, but cancelled within weeks of each other last December, with Young apparently deciding “to take 2017 off from touring” and Live Nation calling off Gibb’s planned trek “due to a change in international commitments”.

Despite the setbacks, attendance still matched 2015 levels, and beat 2014’s 104,526 – but fell short of 2011’s Bob Dylan-headlined mega-event.

Promoter Peter Noble OAM comments: “I think everybody that came this year will tell you that this has been one of the great Bluesfests, and in my opinion certainly within our top three.”

“I think everybody that came this year will tell you that this has been one of the great Bluesfests”

Headliners were Patti Smith (performing Horses), the Zac Brown Band, Jimmy Buffett, Santana and Nas, with other performers including The Doobie Brothers, Madness, The Lumineers and an admirably strong contingent of female talent, such as Smith, Mary J. Blige, Laura Mvula, Bonnie Raitt, Courtney Barnett, Corinne Bailey Ray, Nikki Hill and Rickie Lee Jones.

“Backstage is like a rock’n’roll fantasy camp,” said Hill, “and, especially, seeing such a female presence around has been incredible.”

Bluefest will return to Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm, New South Wales, for its 29th outing on 29 March–2 April 2018.


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