Rory Phillips, 9, in full swing at Bluesfest this year.
Rory Phillips, 9, in full swing at Bluesfest this year. Digby Hildreth

Taking it easy with the youngest Bluesfest performer

RORY Phillips is just nine-years-old, but he can tell you how the song Take It Easy came into being, and who the next contender for Jimi Hendrix’s guitar-god crown could be. 

Plus, and most importantly, he plays guitar (a Gibson, no less) like a prodigy, and can handle a blues tune like a boss. 

The Tumut, Snowy Mountains, boy was in the Bluesfest Busking Competition (Grommets division) and played in the heats at Three Blue Ducks restaurant at The Farm the weekend before the festival. 

He was also asked to return to the Byron Bay restaurant for another set on Good Friday. 

While here he caught the attention of local muso Dan Hannaford, who asked him to play between his own sets at the Brunswick Heads pub last Thursday night.  

As if the exposure wasn’t exciting enough, Rory watched one of his guitar heroes, Derek Trucks, perform and met him later at the CD signing tent. 

Hearing his story, Trucks gave him one of his personal glass slides – signed – which Rory said blew his mind.  

He likes the blues but doesn’t listen to it a lot, he says, preferring Joe Walsh, the Eagles and AC/DC. 

It was Walsh’s playing that turned him onto the instrument, with the song In My Car. 

“I used to be interested in cars but from the moment my dad played me that song all I wanted to do was play guitar.” 

He was six at the time and is still thought to be the youngest performer ever to appear at Bluesfest. 

While he didn’t make the comp final cut, he was one of two contestants invited back to the busking stage last Sunday, where he drew a dense semi-circle of admirers, drawn by his personality, style and stage presence, as well as his six-string skills. 

Rory’s ambition is to fill out Wembley Stadium in London – but before he gets there, it’s very likely he’ll be joining the old-timers on the big Bluesfest Mojo or Crossroad stage. 

Make a note of the name: he’ll be back.

 



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