MR BLUESFEST: Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals will be in Byron Bay in 2019.
MR BLUESFEST: Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals will be in Byron Bay in 2019. Christian Morrow

Ben Harper will bring new songs to Bluesfest 2019

AMERICAN blues star Ben Harper has got the band back together and is getting ready to go out on tour with The Innocent Criminals, offering old hits and new music they are getting ready for a new EP release.

Harper is very excited to be releasing new songs.

"I'm excited about a new perspective I have on how to produce new material," he said.

"It's deeply connected to the earlier part of my career but it's still one step forward. It's like if Bill Withers, De La Soul and Elvis Presley had a baby."

After a couple of years touring with blues icon Charlie Musselwhite, a tour that brought them to Splendour in the Grass 2018, Harper said the Criminals were thrilled to be touring again.

"The Innocent Criminals took a hiatus because I have been running around the world with Charlie Musselwhite, so it's going to be very exciting for us to get back together," he said.

"We will definitely be hitting the stage with catalogue material from Welcome to the Cruel World (1994) all the way to our most recent one Call It What It Is (2016)," he said.

He confirmed the band was already working on the show they will be bringing to Bluesfest 2019.

"It's six months from now but, as a band, we are already talking songs, we are already working on what will be the Byron Bay set," Harper said.

"We are going to be touring before that, so by the time we get to Bluesfest we'll hit the ground running," he said.

"There are no formulas, we want to keep it fresh.

"The Innocent Criminals have made 15 records, we can do one song from every record and still have a full set."

Harper acknowledged the importance that Australia and Bluesfest had in his career.

"Byron Bay, for me, was a jumping-off point, Australia was one of the English- speaking territories that recognised what I was doing on a mass level, that then reflected into the rest of the world," he said.

"Australia and New Zealand were the first English-speaking territories that allowed me to hang gold and platinum records off my walls.

"Bluesfest kicked that off."

"When I'm talking to other bands, they have their flashpoint moments - for some bands it's a song but for me it's specific shows and Byron Bay Bluesfest is one of those flashpoint moments in my career."

  • At Bluesfest 2019, April 18 to 22, at Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm. Visit bluesfest.com.au for details.


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