The Bluesfest saga has entered another day as multiple international artists have left the festival’s lineup with claims they were not going to be paid and were removed from the festival without their consent.
Per Double J, Big Freedia, Wu-Tang Clan’s GZA, Talib Kweli and New Orleans brass band The Soul Rebels — who also had sideshows locked in — have confirmed they will not be appearing at the Byron Bay festival this year.
A statement from The Soul Rebels’ management claimed the artists were taken off the Bluesfest lineup without their individual consent and without any communication from Bluesfest director Peter Noble apart from his alleged decision to not pay them.
“The tour of The Soul Rebels, GZA, Talib Kweli, and Big Freedia was cancelled by Peter Noble and Bluesfest in bad faith and in breach of contract,” the statement read.
“The artists had fully executed signed contracts with Peter Noble and had already booked travel to Australia and were looking forward to returning to the country to perform for their fans.
“Peter Noble removed the artists and the tour without any further communication or reason from Bluesfest other than him stating his decision to not want to pay the artists.”
Noble told Double J the story is more complex than it appears and he will leave the allegations between Bluesfest’s and the artists’ legal teams.
“There will always be tours that don’t work,” he said.
“There is usually a way that everybody is able to come to a negotiation [and] that they are cancelled. It’s only when people refuse to accept the responsibility on both sides that there is a dispute.”
He also denied the statement’s suggestion that the inclusion of Sticky Fingers to the lineup was an attempt to replace Big Freedia, GZA and others.
“I’m not going to in any way prejudice my legal position here, but they weren’t all coming,” he said.
“There’s a lot more to it.”