Three-day festival of Blues and barbecue
GIRRAKOOL Blues Festival and BBQ has grown again as it prepares for just its third year at Mt Penang Parklands from March 2-4.
Bruce and Alissa Johnson (Xabc Entertainment) are the force behind the festival, which they said combines "real music, real people and real food”.
High temperatures the first year and rain last year have led to adoption of a huge 35m x 40m big top which can hold up to 1500 people, as well as a move further up the park for better drainage.
The festival has also developed to encompass three days, with Friday and Saturday focussed on music and Sunday on the barbecue competition, which has multiplied from 11 teams to 36.
And when it comes to the music, there are 18 bands, including three internationals, covering a huge range of blues and roots from the urban blues of Chicago to Memphis soul, hill-country, world blues, folk-infused, boogie, funk, blues rock and beyond.
Bruce, 54, said he had always loved Blues music, having been brought up by a jazz-loving father.
But he really turned to music as part of his rehabilitation after a car accident, and that in turn led to promoting and touring artists.
And what better than to bring it to his own back door?
Bruce said in the United States Blues and barbecue were synonymous with good food and good music, and Girrakool reflected that New Orleans vibe while at the same time embracing indigenous culture and music, including the Stiff Gins who sing in traditional language.
He and Alissa are also excited to see British band Z-Star Delta (a two-piece akin to The Black Keys), Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band from the US, and AJ Dent, whose gospel blues with sacred steel guitar, Bruce said, tugged at his heartstrings from the first time he heard it.
And there's also a host of Aussie talent, from familiar names like Kevin Borich Express to The Backsliders, Kevin Bennett and the Floood, and the Bondi Cigars.
While their main demographic is 45-65 years, Alissa said there was a real family atmosphere and with 40 percent of the audience coming from outside the Central Coast, it's also a great boost for the area.
Gates open Friday at 5pm for a 6pm start and music till midnight, continuing Saturday midday to midnight and the barbecues heating up from 10am-7pm Sunday with local bands and kids' entertainment.
For full details and tickets go to www.girrakoolblues.com.au.