Erica Hawkey Band

THE Easter Blues Bender returns again this weekend in Bendigo.

It began with Bendigo Blues and Roots Music Festival involved acts being invited to play at the annual Bull Street concert and has grown and evolved, hosted by a multitude of venues, along with spots on the Bendigo Easter Festival program in Rosalind Park.

Asked why the team work to put the Blues Bender program on when they’ve got an imposing workload already, festival director Colin Thompson suggests it’s silly not to.

“There’s so much activity and so much more foot traffic in the CBD on Easter weekend in Bendigo, it’s a great opportunity to showcase some of the artists we enjoy working with,” he said.

There will be 25 featured acts performing in eight host venues including the Golden Vine Hotel, Handle Bar and The Basement Bar.

There are two stages in Rosalind Park which are hosting Blues Bender acts as are the Bendigo Art Gallery and The Exchange restaurant/café/bar.

“There will be your louder blues bands, such as Nardia Rose Band and Catfish Voodoo at the Golden Vine on Friday and Saturday night respectively,” Mr Thompson said.

“Harlem, Soul Contact and Erica Hawkey Band will be kicking goals in Bull Street as part of the Metro’s larger program for the weekend, as well as Midweek Blues and Highway 79 smashing out raucous sets at Handle Bar.”

There will be solo and duo acts performing blues, folk, soul and their own original songs at stages like The Exchange and The Basement Bar.

Young artists have clearly benefited from their experiences through Bendigo Blues and Roots Music Festival over the past seven years and Easter Blues Bender’s programming celebrates young talent heavily, starting 1pm on Good Friday with the Youth Stage in

Rosalind Park showcasing some of Bendigo’s best young acts, as well as showing off one of Melbourne’s favourite young blues guitarists, Charlie Bedford.

Celebrated young roots artist from Yackandandah, Richard Perso features at the Golden Vine on Friday night, as well as playing multiple venues on Easter Saturday.

As always with BB&RMF-partnered events, the Blues Bender provides gender balance on all stages as well, with plenty of great female artists highlighted on this Easter’s program.

“With powerful female artists like Melbourne’s Nardia Brancasitano, Jess Parker and Mezz Coleman, along with talented locals Sherri Parry, Sarah Wilkinson, Erica Hawky, Steph Bitter and Erin Mannix, the false stigma of blues and roots music being a boys club is well and truly shattered,” Mr Thompson said.