It probably couldn’t get more chill than a music festival by the ocean. Now in its second year, the Drop will be setting up stages by the beach to provide a good time for fans of Australia’s indie artists and a soundtrack for the Vissla Sydney Surf Pro, which is one leg of the World Surf League Qualifying Series. The evening’s tunes will kick off at 3pm, ready for a sunset dance party at Keirle Park, just a stone’s throw from Manly Beach. The line-up will have the crowds swaying and fist-pumping in equal measure. Brother-sister duo Angus and Julia Stone will surely bring a set as majestic as a big jet plane, while loveable scamps from the Illawarra, Hockey Dad, will get audiences riled up with their new era rock. Client Liaison may just arrive in an off-white limousine that’ll be pumping joyful electro-dance tracks, while the Jungle Giants will have everyone boppin’ and singing along to ‘Feel the Way I Do’ and ‘She’s a Riot’. But we won’t really be happy until we hear the folk-pop storyteller Alex the Astronaut sing ‘Happy Song’. The festival is aiming to be as green as possible – bring your empty, reusable water bottles – and will cater to all vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free dietary requirements across the food stalls and bars. While they’re promising a friendly community vibe, the event is only for people over the age of 18, so don’t forget your ID.
When you’re considering a weekend escape to the vineyard-strewn countryside of the Hunter Valley, you’re not normally also in the market for a bass-heavy dance party. But if you’re as versatile and complex as an age-honeyed pinot gris, we reckon you’ll love Wine Machine. This joyful event will take place on the green grounds the Hunter’s Roche Estate winery, where you’ll be reeling from a full day of the spectacular performances we’ve come to expect from the festival’s master of ceremonies, Hot Dub Time Machine. Party starter and Sydney DJ Tom Loud will send audiences into a nostalgia frenzy with a transfixing audio-visual performance exploring decades of popular music past. The musical time travellers will be joined by a host of modern-day musicians, including lauded dance music pros like the Presets, Hayden James and Confidence Man, and hosted by former Triple j presenter, Alex Dyson. So put your dancing shoes, slug a glass of chardy and get grooving.
The world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas is now in its 11th year. Last year’s festival received 2.25 million visitors to the city for free illuminations from 6pm every night of the festival, plus headline music acts Solange, Ice Cube and St Vincent, and talks and workshops covering gaming, start-up businesses and homegrown fashion. So how will this year’s event top the tenth-year celebrations? So far, we know ARIA-winning Australian three-piece Rüfüs du Sol will be playing exclusive shows at Carriageworks ($89, Jun 13-14) as part of the Vivid Music programming, and classic goth-pop band the Cure are the first act announced for Vivid Live’s line-up at Sydney Opera House (tickets already exhausted via ballot, May 24-25 & 27-28). We also know that Vivid Light has a new curator for 2019 – Lucy Keeler, former co-director of Ample Projects, who will create the famous Light Walk that stretches along Sydney Harbour foreshore for 23 nights of the festival, and brings in valuable footfall for Destination NSW, the NSW Government’s tourism agency and owner of the festival. Keeler designed and worked on some of Vivid Sydney’s largest light installations over the years, including the animal sculptures at Taronga Zoo, Urban Tree Project in Martin Place and Snugglepot and Cuddlepie at Customs House in 2018. The full program will be announced from mid-March.
George Clinton laid down the funk beat that has inspired more than five decades of musical evolution, from R’n’B and disco to post-punk and hip hop. His invitation to the Byron Bay Bluesfest has inspired this genre changemaker to take a final tour of Australia. He’ll be giving Sydney fans some extra love at an Enmore Theatre performance on April 20, 2019 in the lead-up to the festival. Since the 1960s, Clinton has broken ground with Parliament’s outlandish, science-fiction fashion and doop-wop vocal style, and Funkadelic’s psychedelic, rock-oriented sound. Leading both groups, and then spearheading a musical merger, Clinton created and still leads the music collective of rotating artists, Parliament Funkadelic. After amassing 77 years of wisdom, recording three platinum albums and more than 40 Rn''B hit singles, his performance is sure to be splendid final Aussie hoorah. Die-hard fans will be be ready to tear the roof off with hits like ‘Give Up the Funk’ and ‘P-Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up)’.
Before adding their harmonies to the choir of other bluegrass-folk performers at the 2019 Byron Bay Bluesfest, the three-woman act I’m With Her will share their new album with Sydneysiders. Four years since their first impromptu collaboration, these three independently successful American artists will perform their 2018 debut album See You Around at Sydney’s City Recital Hall. See You Around is storytelling music that is raw and intimate, played on guitar, fiddle, banjo and mandolin with seamlessly blended vocals – they seem, at times, like a one singer with three voices. The women behind the strings, Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan, each bring their own tone and experience to the tightly-knit group, and they have a bundle of awards among them: Watkins from her time spent fiddling for band Nickel Creek, while O’Donovan performed on the critically acclaimed Goat Rodeo Sessions, and Jarosz taking home a Grammy for best folk album. See them combine all their strengths on April 16, 2019, as they celebrate the 30th anniversary of Bluesfest.
Listening to Ray LaMontagne’s smooth, ethereal songs is the perfect way to decompress after a long day, and if you’re in dire need of some musical rejuvenation, you’re in luck. He’ll share his soothing folk and soul melodies with Australian audiences on a national tour before appearing at the 30th Byron Bay Bluesfest. He'll visit the State Theatre in Sydney, too, on April 24, as part of the Bluesfest birthday celebrations to give Sydneysiders who can’t make it to the annual festival a chance to hear his award-winning set list. It’s been ten years since LaMontagne performed for Australian audiences, so he’s bringing a little support from his home in the US and inviting John Stirratt to join him on stage. Stirratt is the bass guitarist and one of the founding members of the Grammy Award-winning band Wilco. Together, they’ll perform hits from across LaMontagne’s seven studio albums, which capture a whole story across their song range. Fans will be listening out for popular tracks like ‘Beg Steal or Borrow’ which was nominated as song of the year in 2010, or more recent jams like ‘Such a Simple Thing.’
Trevor Hall’s engaging live performance won over Australian blues and folk fans in 2017 at Bluesfest, and he’ll return next year with another refreshing set for the festival’s 30th anniversary. Before he takes to the famed stage that celebrates rock, blues and everything in between, Hall will visit Sydney, too, to perform an intimate gig at Oxford Art Factory (Apr 17). Focusing on inclusive spirituality and emotional healing, Hall’s live performances often take on a religious or meditative quality. He skilfully blends folk, rock and reggae with references to divinities and the use of Sanskrit – the sacred language of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. This spirituality extends beyond the stage, when Hall makes his annual pilgrimage to India to support children living below the poverty line. The American artist also puts a lot of faith and power in the hands of his fans. Rather than releasing his 2017 album The Fruitful Darkness through a record label, Hall enlisted his fans (who he calls ‘the villagers’) to contribute to its independent release over the course of a year through his Kickstarter online campaign. The villagers will be listening out for album favourites like the gently echoing ‘My Heart, Your Heart’ and the rolling ‘What I know’ when Hall arrives in Australia in 2019.
Based in Los Angeles, the group are known for their retro sound that’s imbued with elements of R’n’B and American roots music. They’ve developed this and their confident performance style across three studio albums and performing beside rock’n’roll legends including Bon Jovi, the Rolling Stones and the Who. Their brand of American rhythm and blues will be an applauded addition to the line-up at Bluesfest in Byron Bay for its 30th anniversary. But before they join the cohort of other classic acts, they’ll bring their theatrical performance to the Oxford Art Factory on April 24. Fans of their hip-grinding Elvis-style performances will have a wild time, where they can expect to hear popular songs like ‘Nobody Told Me’ and ‘Blues Hand Me Down.’
Before she brings her ethereal R’n’B to Bluesfest in 2019, Meshell Ndegeocello will share an intimate performance with Sydney at the Factory Theatre on Saturday, April 20. The master vocalist, songwriter, rapper and talented multi-instrumentalist, Ndegeocello will be performing tracks from her 2018 release Ventriloquism, all the way back to her landmark neo-soul album Plantation Lullabies, which debuted in 1993. As a key proponent for this collaborative genre, Ndegeocello’s songs are characterised by the diverse influences of neo-soul. In her majestic stage performance, you’ll hear elements of soul, contemporary R’n’B, jazz, funk, hip-hop, African roots and even touches of electronic and pop music. This Bluesfest sideshow from the ten-time Grammy nominee is set to be an impressive performance. Those who have followed her work over the last 25 years can look out for old favourites like ‘I’m Digging You (Like an Old Soul Record)’ and ‘Step Into the Projects’ along with early hits which explore Ndegeocello’s experiences as an African American, gender and race relations, and her sexuality. Her most recent album, Ventriloquism, reflects on the era of Ndegeocello’s popularisation, covering hit tracks recorded in the ’80s and ’90s. We're looking forward to hearing her renditions of pop and R’n’B classics like ‘I Wonder If I Take You Home’ originally recorded by Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam with Full Force, TLC’s ‘Waterfalls’ and Sade’s ‘Smooth Operator’.
This Compton-born, postmodern bluesman has garnered a strong reputation among his American rock, country and folk brothers and sisters since he started strumming for the big time in 1994. In less than 30 years, Keb’ Mo’ (aka Kevin Roosevelt Moore) has produce 14 albums, won four Grammy awards and received another 11 nominations. The singer-songwriter and guitarist will visit Sydney on April 16, 2019 at the Factory Theatre for a solo performance. This will mark his third stop on a national tour before his Byron Bay Bluesfest appearance, where he’ll continue to celebrate the festival’s 30th anniversary. Look out for early hits like ‘She Just Wants to Dance’ and more recent creations from his collaborative album TajMo, which he produced in 2017 with multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Taj Mahal, who’s known off-stage as Henry Fredericks. Keb' Mo' now hails from Nashville, where he’s cultivated a strong following for his American roots music. His open-hearted sound is influenced by many eras of rock, jazz, country and pop, and he has collaborated with a multitude of artists across these genres. Now 66 years of age, Keb' Mo' is also known for a considered political and social stand, actively supporting initiatives like Vote for Change and the No Nukes Group while also tutoring young aspiring musicians, and once performing in the White House for former US president Barack Obama.