Ladies sing the blues

Writers in Action student  AMY-JANE WEWER catches up with some of the female artists playing in Bendigo this weekend.

Abbie Cardwell is on the blues and roots festival line-up.

The streets of Bendigo are about to get a whole lot more musical, and a whole lot more international. With Americana roots and the spice of Mexico from just south of the border, Abbie Cardwell is a talent for which Australia is lucky to claim.

Playing banjo, guitar, and ukulele, Abbie’s ‘local’ music scene isn’t exactly ‘local’.

“My ‘local’ is Melbourne, Brissy, and Mexico, so that’s a tad confusing for most,” Abbie says. “But it means I get to play with bands in all these places all around the world.”

Although Abbie writes and performs solo, she also collaborates and performs with bands internationally, with her main stages in Australia and Mexico.

Now, in Bendigo for the Blues and Roots festival this weekend, Abbie has new music and a new band to show off, too. What else can she possibly have in store? Well, “Fun times!” Abbie says.

“My past experience in playing Bendigo Blues festival has been great. I believe it delivers rich experiences for locals that would not normally be exposed to such a selection of great, quality musicians. It’s a great town doing a great thing to celebrate grass roots music and a musical community.”

When asked if she’s excited to be a part of Bendigo’s Blues and Roots Festival, quite fittingly, Abbie answers, “Si!”

You can catch Abbie’s sets at the Bendigo Blues and Roots Festival from 9pm today, Friday. November 6 at the Golden Vine. Entry is $5.

On Saturday, November 7, head to Rocks on Rosalind from 7pm. It’s $10 for the day or $15 for a weekend pass.

Hailey Calvert-photo by Carol Calvert
Hailey Calvert spoke to La Trobe student Amy ahead of the festival. Photograph by Carol Calvert.

Hailey Calvert’s local music scene is Brisbane. For years, she’s performed around the city and has seen a lot of new music venues open up.

“Although I’ve performed nationally and internationally, I’ve always come back to Brisbane,” she says. “I’ve played most of my shows there.”

Now, once again, Hailey is swapping Brisbane for Bendigo as she heads down south for the Bendigo Blues and Roots Festival. And she’s excited.

“I’m always excited to be a part of it,” she says. “The festival is definitely one of my favourites. Bendigo is lovely and it really is wonderful how the festival takes over the whole town.”

Bendigo, it’s time to pat yourself on the back. The Bendigo music scene is one to be commended.

“I’ve never been to a town that loves music as much as Bendigo,” says Hailey (presumably out of earshot from any Brisbanites). “Everyone is so friendly and helpful – it really is like the whole town loves music.”

In fact, the regional support Bendigo offers for its music scene is probably second-to-none.

“Every town could be improved by a lively and supportive music scene,” says Hailey. “But Bendigo is extremely lucky to have someone like Colin Thompson [festival director]. He’s not only one of the friendliest people I’ve ever met, but also an endless supporter of musicians and live music in Bendigo.”

With so many good vibes around the place, it’s no surprise Hailey can’t wait to bring her folks/blues sound back to Bendigo. And with six shows lined up, festival-goers have no excuse to miss the stripped-back sounds of the girl that grew up in a small mining town and listened to Eric Clapton with her dad.

“I’m excited to be bringing along an amazing singer, guitarist, and harmonica player, Jason Cameron,” Hailey says. “I’m also keen to play a few new songs that I’ve written for an upcoming album.”

To catch Hailey’s sets, keep your weekend clear this November 6, 7 and 8.

Full details on the festival website,

Andrea Marr is bringing her band to Bendigo.
Andrea Marr is bringing her band to Bendigo.

Andrea Marr is ready to party. And at this year’s Blues and Roots Festival, you can join her.

With an extensive musical background, you can expect quite an act from the Andrea Marr Band. With a heavy presence in the local music scene as a vocal coach of 20 years and the vocal coach for an R&B Gospel Choir called Urban Praise, the band is without a doubt well-crafted.

“I’ve been involved in Urban Praise for 10 years now as a lead singer, choir member and vocal coach,” says the 2012 MBAS Blues Performer of the Year. “I’m very involved in my local music scene.”

With strong local ties, it’s the Blues and Roots Festival that’s on Andrea’s mind. Having played the event three times previously, Andrea praises the Bendigo crowds.

“It’s a great festival and the people are wonderful and really get into the music,” she says “One night we played a gig in a storm and they still turned up, danced and hollered all through the show and lined up to buy CDs! Go Bendigo!”

This year, Andrea has a new album and can’t wait to play it for the crowds. Considering it’s getting airplay all over the United States, the UK, Germany and Denmark and is even in the top 10 of the Australian Blues and Roots charts, Bendigo music fans can expect a great show. For Bendigo, Andrea believes the festival is great for “musicians and punters alike”.

“We really get to see a lot of other acts and catch up with people in a more casual atmosphere,” she says. “And I think [the festival] brings a lot of people to the town.”

The trip to Bendigo for Marr fans is well-worth it. But as much fun as the festival is for attendees, it’s equally as important for the bands that play it.

“It’s a great tourism initiative and as the music industry becomes smaller, festivals become more and more important to artists like me,” Andrea says.

So what can fans and festival-goers expect from the Andrea Marr Band? Well, a party atmosphere for one, says Andrea.

“Andrea Marr Band have always brought a party atmosphere that people can dance and sing along with,” Andrea says. “And this year we have some great new tunes and a killer new album, so we can’t wait!”

Andrea Marr Band will play at the Bridge Hotel Street Party on Saturday from 8pm.



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