Ten badass babes you need to catch at this year’s Bluesfest

With International Women’s Day (IWD) a happening thang on 8 March, we thought we’d shine a spotlight on a selection of the rather exemplary female contingent appearing at Bluesfest 2020.

So here’s ten hip and happening femmes that you’d be mad to miss!

Ani Difranco (performing on Bluesfest Saturday and Sunday): An artist who’s always played things strictly on her own terms (she famously turned down a major label recording contract at age 20, preferring instead to start her own record label, which she still runs today), Ani Difranco is a much-loved visitor to these shores. Known for her genre blending approach to her craft, her folk/roots/jazz/rock hybrid, curated from across her 20 album career, will no doubt be one of THE highlights of Bluesfest 2020. Righteous Babe!


Buffy Sainte-Marie (performing on Bluesfest Friday and Sunday): Pioneering Canadian-American First Nations artist Buffy Sainte-Marie is known for her tireless activism as well as her exemplary music, which she’s been performing since the 60’s. Best known for numbers such as ‘Universal Soldier’ and ‘Up Where We Belong’, her most recent album, ‘Medicine Songs’, was yet another high watermark release for this enduring and socially conscious performer. Buffy will slay!


(c) Pete Souza

Brandi Carlile (performing on Bluesfest Friday): Having recently performed with the incomparable Mavis Staples, Brandi Carlile is an artist who continues to go from strength to strength. With six albums and multiple Grammy Award nominations to her credit, her genre hopping roots-based style and dynamic live performances have seen her exalted across stages around the world. Last year she also formed the country supergroup The Highwomen, together with Amanda Shires, Mareen Morris and Natalie Hemby. Be sure to get a shot of Brandi!


Erja Lyytinen (performing on Bluesfest Thursday, Friday and Saturday): Hailing all the way from Finland, this sassy singer, song-writer and six string shredder is one of the world’s up and coming blues guitar maestros, having recently polled 14th in Guitar World’s ’30 Best Blues Guitarists in the World Right Now’. She’s collaborated with a host of legends throughout Europe for over a decade, including performing with Carlos Santana in front of 20 000 people in her homeland in 2018. Sure to be one of ‘the’ discoveries of Bluesfest 2020.


Emily Wurramara (performing on Bluesfest Sunday): Our very own Emily Wurramara, hailing from the Northern Territory, is set to captivate Bluesfest 2020 with her spellbinding live performance, which she sings in both English and her traditional language, Anindilyakwa. Her debut EP, ‘Big Smoke’, blew up bigtime and she’s also been chosen to support none other than Grammy Award winning musical legend Mavis Staples on her upcoming Australian tour.


Larkin Poe (performing on Bluesfest Saturday and Monday): Nashville roots rock duo Larkin Poe, fronted by sisters Rebecca and Megan Lovell, have been referred to as “the little sisters of The Allman Brothers.” Having been anointed as the ‘best discovery’ of the 2014 Glastonbury Festival, the sassy sisters have also achieved fame as in-demand backing musicians for a host of artists, including our own Keith Urban. If Southern harmonies and slide riffs are your thing, you won’t want to be missing out on a dose of Larkin Poe.


Patti Smith (performing on Bluesfest Saturday): New York’s poetic high priestess of literate rock may be navigating her seventh decade, but the passion and fire still burns strong, as anyone who witnessed her incendiary performance at the festival in 2017 can attest to. In a word – unmissable!



Tal Wilkenfeld (performing on Bluesfest Saturday and Monday): Tal is a lady of the bass and a damn impressive one at that. Her collaborative CV makes for impressive reading – Eric Clapton, Prince, Jeff Beck, Mick Jagger and Herbie Hancock to name a few. She recently released her vocal debut album, the riff-tastic ‘Love Remains’, to much fanfare. Her live show is sure to be one of the most talked about at the rockier end of the Bluesfest spectrum.


Morgane Ji (performing on Bluesfest Friday, Saturday and Sunday): For those with a taste for the exotic and tribal, meet Morgane Ji, a shamanic practitioner of world electronica mixed with pop/rock smarts and filtered through her incredible vocal range. Be entranced by this magical performer of African, Indian and Asian background.


Yola (performing on Bluesfest Thursday, Friday and Sunday): On the rise UK songstress Yola has a voice steeped in the classic sounds of soul, while her music, also channels a contemporary blend of sweeping strings and twangy, six string country-noir. Her impressive debut album, ‘Walk Through Fire’, was recorded in conjunction with the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach and came out on his record label. One to watch.


Also a big shout out to all the other exemplary female artists on the Bluesfest 2020 bill, including big ticket headliner Alanis Morissette, Dami Im, Tori Kelly, Roshani and our own dynamic duo Hussy Hicks, to name just a few. Bluesfest hits Byron over the Easter weekend this 9-14 April. Tickets at bluesfest.com.au.

Header image of Buffy Sainte-Marie (c) Matt Barnes

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