STILL RIDING HIGH: Jill Tweedie will sing with the Foreday Riders again as they celebrate their 50th anniversary at the Girrakool Blues Festival.
STILL RIDING HIGH: Jill Tweedie will sing with the Foreday Riders again as they celebrate their 50th anniversary at the Girrakool Blues Festival.

Foreday Riders singing the Blues at Girrakool Festival

JILL Tweedie was just a 14-year-old kid from Ryde when she became the original singer with Blues band the Foreday Riders back in 1967.

Fifty years on, the Terrigal resident is back to celebrate when the band plays at the second Girrakool Blues Festival and BBQ at Mt Penang Gardens on March 4-5.

The band, kept together throughout the decades by its founding brothers, Ron and Jeff King, has earned the moniker of Sydney's 'University of the Blues' as a result of all the talents who have cut their performing teeth in its ever-changing line up, including solo guitarist Ray Beadle.

Other band members have now been with them since the 1980s and '90s, with current frontman Shane Pacey, best known from the Bondi Cigars, with them for about the past 10 years.

"The thing with Blues bands is members do tend to play with different bands and to come and go; it's just part of the Blues," Jill said.

She still plays with the band a couple of times a year, and says it's always wonderful to get back on stage with them.

"To have the support of the band is just great. There's a real feeling of longstanding friendship and you know the music will be terrific," she said.

And, of course, there's the shared memories after 50 years together. Jill was about five years younger than the rest of the band when her brother, then base player, introduced her to it. Their first ongoing gig was at John Huey's Wine Bar in the Rocks.

"I wasn't allowed to even be in there in those days, being under age, but the boys looked after me, and the police, who had a station right nearby, just told me to 'disappear' whenever they came in, so I wouldn't get into trouble," Jill laughed.

"I think I actually had a very sheltered upbringing with all those boys to look after me, but my parents weren't too impressed at first ..."

Jill has continued her music, playing locally in a trio called HipSister. And although she didn't appear at last year's Girrakool, she was very much impressed with what she saw as part of the audience, and is excited to be on stage this year.

"The standard of music was really high, and it was so well organised and the stage set-up was so well done," she said.

She's looking forward to seeing local boys Grizzlee Train and Queensland's Hat Fitz and Cara, with Hat Fitz "a whiz on guitar, mandolin ... you name it".

And that's just the start of a talented national and international line-up of 20 bands, which includes New Orleans' Hot 8 Brass Band and Eugene Hideaway Bridges (think BB King), Harmonica virtuoso Phil Wiggins with the Backsliders' Dom Turner and World Blues ex-pat Harper with his American band Midwest Kind.

"Due to the success of the 2016 event, we have been able to secure four of the best touring international Blues bands, which pushes Girrakool into a realm of standing alongside the best of the best music festivals in Australia," said festival director, Bruce Johnson.

There will also be a strong Aboriginal content, with indigenous bands, a Welcome to Country ceremony and the potential of short tours to the Girrakool waterfalls and engravings.

Gates open at 10am Saturday and Sunday, with the first band from 11.30am, finishing at 10pm Saturday and 6.30pm Sunday. Go to girrakoolblues.com.au.

Tickets are 15% off before the day and start from $46.75 for adults.


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