Fresh on the lips of every music lover is next year’s Byron Bay Bluesfest first artist announcement, and why wouldn’t it be with acts including The Black Keys, Alabama Shakes and Train to name a few. With over 50 years in the industry, and in his 25th year with Bluesfest, it is no question that festival Director Peter Noble is one of the most influential men in the Australian Music Industry. The Judith Wright Centre filled with Bigsound delegates on the final morning of the conference to catch keynote speaker Peter Noble talking of the past, the present and the future of Bluesfest.
Our writer, Emily Hosking, notes the top 5 things unveiled by Noble himself.
Longevity in the music industry is possible.
The beginning is always a very good place to start, and that is exactly where Noble kicked off. He discussed his beginnings, from being an 18-year-old musician, to his early days as a booking agent, and how he got to where he is today. One of the most important points he made was that if you continue to enjoy music, follow trends and embrace the way music and the industry evolves, you can stay relevant and active within this tumultuous industry.
Bluesfest has expanded to new genres and styles to include more music lovers.
Noble was quick to agree that Bluesfest is much more than just a blues festival these days: “Blues festivals don’t appeal to everyone. It’s what about what fits with it.” He explained that Ben Harper was the first artist that really opened his eyes to where the festival could move to. Encouraging a younger audience, Noble explained, “there was an epiphany in the audience. Ben Harper changed the face of Bluesfest and within a year or two, we changed the face of Australian Music. He showed us a new direction. If it’s great music, let’s do it.”
It takes years of persistence to get some of the biggest acts on the Bluesfest line-up.
Even though it is arguably one of the most reputable festivals to exist in Australia, Noble explained that it can take years to convince some artists to come aboard the Bluesfest line-up. Whether that be just getting ahold of them, or trying to fit in with their busy schedule, music releases or their personal/family commitments, the large and passionate Bluesfest team will keep chasing some acts for as long as they have to. Noble confessed: “I invite Neil young every single year. There are certain artists we will make an offer on year in and year out. But two or three years after knocking on their door, you can bring people around.”
Some of the biggest artists still get extremely nervous when fronting up to crowds as big as Bluesfest.
Even with some of the biggest names in the industry, Noble stressed that they are just people themselves, and no matter how many shows they play, they still get nervous. He recalled a story with Robert Plant, where just before he was to take to the Bluesfest stage, he was so nervous to the point of feeling ill: “It shows that he cares. Artist’s that get butterflies before they get up, means they care.”
The future of Bluesfest is still looking bright.
In his 25th year of his time with Bluesfest, it is inevitable that Noble will eventually move on. While he indicated options for the future of the festival to change hands, he explained that he’s not going anywhere anytime soon: “Will I step aside? The options are there. For me, the passion of doing it is still there and I’m not necessarily thinking of stepping aside in the next few years. But time catches up with us and that’s just the way it is.”
The Byron Bay Bluesfest will take place in April 2015.