The twin township of Echuca Moama feels like the kind of place you could write a song about. Historic pubs with breezy wrap-a-round verandahs, wide open streets, yawning skies and a mighty river running through the centre. It’s a port town that’s held onto all the best bits of a long history while moving forward with the kinds of cultural initiatives that keep laziness at bay.
Take the Echuca Moama Winter Blues Festival, which this year celebrates its 20th anniversary. The annual event has established itself as a reliable magnet for some of the best roots and blues musicians in the country, who in turn attract crowds of up to 20,000. More than 60 performers will take the stage this month—or stages, as the case may be, as the festival is spread across pubs, cafés and restaurants throughout the twin towns, which can be easily accessed by bus or train from Melbourne.
Here are five artists not to miss at the Echuca Moama Winter Blues Festival 2019.
A blues songstress hailing from Melbourne, Anna Scionti (pronounced “Shon-tee”) plays raw, foot-stomping blues using her voice, a guitar and a bottleneck slide. Her most recent album “Orphan Diary”, released earlier this year, is an original collection of songs that detail love, loss and longing, particularly related to the singer’s loss of both parents during her teenage years. The album—which Scionti will play from at the blues festival—is a follow-up to her self-titled 2017 EP, which debuted at number two on the Australian Blues and Roots Airplay Charts.
Tamworth-based musician Buddy Knox has been a working musician his entire life, having grown up playing in his family’s band. Since 2007, Knox has been busy carving a name for himself as an independent and authoritative solo artist, notching up big-ticket Australian festivals from Bridgetown to the legendary Bluesfest—not to mention twice winning the title of Sydney Blues Society Performer of the Year. This one-off show is a chance to see an extraordinary guitarist put on a performance of authentic blues.
Emerging in the 1980s as mullet rocker Jimi the Human, Jimi Hocking is a mainstay of the Australian blues scene. The musician has acquired many identities for himself over the decades, including as a long-time member of seminal rock band The Screaming Jets and a successful solo artist with 14 albums under his belt. Not satisfied with an output that would fill the lifetime quota of any musician twice over, Hocking continues to perform and produce new music, which he will share with the Winter Blues Festival audience.
ELECTRIC BLUES COLLECTIVE
Veterans of the Echuca Moama Winter Blues Festival, Electric Blues Collective, are back this year for another round. If history is anything to go by, this deluge of ferocious Chicago blues is not to be missed. Led by singer and harpist Phil Coyne, this four-piece band combines jumping, hypnotic blues with clean-cut film-star style, complete with powder-blue jackets, midnight-black glasses and a frenzied level of energy destined to make you move.
A mixed bag of soul, blues and roots music, The Streamliners is a South Australian band known for fiery live shows. Over the course of their career, they have earned comparisons to artists such as The Allman Brothers and Albert King, and have been chosen to support international acts including Buddy Guy, Fabulous Thunderbirds and Junior Wells. Punters can expect a performance that goes well beyond The Streamliners’ seven studio albums to incorporate the improvisational madness that is at the heart of the band’s live energy.