Blues Fest again in the running for top award

THE East Coast Blues and Roots Festival has proven its popularity again this year with its nomination for the Best Music Festival in Australia.

Festival director Peter Noble said the event had previously won the accolade, the Robert Helpmann Award, in 2005 and 2006.

“The Helpmann Award is like the Grammies of the entertainment industry, so to win is a massive achievement,” he said.

Mr Noble said the award had a lot of competition from every major Australian music festival, including the popular Big Day Out and Summerfield Days.

If his event won again, Mr Noble said the award would recognise the importance of the festival, not only to its home town, Byron Bay, but to the Northern Rivers.

A selection of acts from the 2008 Blues and Roots Festival

Mr Noble said that the award, which would be announced at the end of this month, was judged by people in the entertainment and arts industry.

On average, the Blues and Roots Festival, which is held annually around Easter, draws a crowd of between 70,000 and 85,000 people.

“If we have the big names, such as Ben Harper and Jack Johnson, then we can expect record crowds,” Mr Noble said.

The annual Helpmann Awards were established in 2001 by Live Performance Australia (LPA) to recognise distinguished artistic achievement in the many disciplines of Australia's live performance sectors, including musical theatre, contemporary music, comedy, opera, classical music, dance and physical theatre.

“I think the festival's popularity proves we have a good chance again this year,” Mr Noble said.

Voting for the 2008 Helpmann Awards will close on Monday, July 14, and the winner will be announced on July 28.

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