Easter Blues Bender returns again this Easter weekend in Bendigo.
It began with Bendigo Blues & Roots Music Festival (BB&RMF) involved acts being invited to play at the annual Bull Street concert and has grown and evolved, hosted by a multitude of venues, along with spots on the Bendigo Easter Festival program in Rosalind Park, thanks to City of Greater Bendigo’s Major Events team.
Asked why the BB&RMF team work to put the Blues Bender program on when they’ve got an imposing workload already, festival director Colin Thompson suggests it’s silly not to; “There’s so much activity and so much more foot traffic in the CBD on Easter weekend in Bendigo, it’s a great opportunity to showcase some of the artists we enjoy working with, as well as some of the many venues who do a great job of hosting live music on a regular basis in our great town.” You’ll note Colin says ‘some’ as the program for Easter Blues Bender is nowhere near as expansive as the one put together each year for the second weekend in November, but it’s still a larger program than a lot of popular music festivals, with 25 featured acts performing in 8 host venues. The pub venues include live music mainstays The Golden Vine Hotel, Handle Bar and The Basement Bar, while there are two stages in Rosalind Park are hosting Blues Bender acts as are the Bendigo Art Gallery and The Exchange restaurant/café/bar. But what to expect at each venue? Colin gives us a brief run-down: “There will be your louder blues bands, such as Nardia Rose Band and Catfish Voodoo at the Golden Vine on Friday and Saturday night respectively; Harlem, Soul Contact and Erica Hawkey Band kicking goals in Bull Street as part of the Metro’s larger program for the weekend, as well as Midweek Blues and Highway 79 smashing out raucous sets at Handle Bar. There will be solo and duo acts performing blues, folk, soul and their own original songs at stages like The Exchange and The Basement Bar. The most gentle performances will be purely acoustic at the Bendigo Art Gallery, which proved such a breakthrough venue for music fans looking for a quiet spot to enjoy an intimate experience with top class singer/songwriters; we are really grateful the Gallery put their hand up to host music for us this Easter Saturday.”
Young artists have clearly benefited from their experiences through Bendigo Blues & Roots Music Festival over the last 7 years and Easter Blues Bender’s programming celebrates young talent heavily, starting 1pm on Good Friday with the BB&RMF Youth Stage (in Rosalind Park) showcasing some of Bendigo’s best young acts, as well as showing off one of Melbourne’s favourite young blues guitarists, Charlie Bedford. Celebrated young roots artist from Yackandandah, Richard Perso features at the Golden Vine on Friday night, as well as playing multiple venues on Easter Saturday. As always with BB&RMF-partnered events, the Blues Bender provides gender balance on all stages as well, with plenty of great female artists highlighted on this Easter’s program. With powerful female artists like Melbourne’s Nardia Brancasitano, Jess Parker and Mezz Coleman, along with talented locals Sherri Parry, Sarah Wilkinson, Erica Hawky, Steph Bitter and Erin Mannix, the false stigma of blues & roots music being a ‘boys club’ is well and truly shattered.
The program for Easter Blues Bender has much of what we have come to expect from the BB&RMF promoted events: performers of diverse ages and experience levels, but all kicking goals and deserving of a wider audience and greater recognition for their talents. You are encouraged take advantage of this chance to enjoy top quality live music at low (or no) cost around Bendigo this coming weekend, in intimate venues as well as public spaces, and discover your potential new favorite act to look forward to seeing and hearing again in November, when the big one rolls around again.