A Potted History
Local publicans George and Maryanne Lipman and Richard Simmer of the
Tattersalls Hotel, founded the Australian Blues Music Festival in 1997 with
the first Festival held at the Goulburn Recreation Area (showground).
Besides celebrating their love of Australian Blues Music, the Festival was
seen as an opportunity to increase the level of visitation to the Goulburn
District during a time of year in which numbers were traditionally low.
In 1999, due to increasing infrastructure costs of the Festival, it was sold to Goulburn City Council. As a Council-run event the format changed to a multi-venue Festival held in various venues throught the Goulburn historic CBD including pubs, clubs, restaurants, cafes and Goulburn’s beautiful Belmore Park (with artistic direction provided by Stephen O’Connell then Terry Lockwood).
Council licensed the running of the Festival to private enterprise in 2005, then resumed management of the event from 2006-2009 when it was coordinated by Jenny Falconer and Sarah Dawson with the Tourism Business Unit of Goulburn Mulwaree Council.
The format of the Festival in this period focussed on showcasing the best of emerging and established blues acts from around Australia. The program included a variety of ticketed and free performances commencing with blues performances in the region prior to the Festival and a large opening night associated with the presentation of the Australian Blues Music ‘Chain’ Awards. Activities over the Festival weekend included workshops with the artists, a weekend-long open mic, West Coast Showcase, Black Market Music Showcase, Youth in Bues Jam, buskers, markets, vintage guitar and amp shop, industry meet and greet breakfast forum, All Star Pro Jam, After Party and Die Hards’ Breakfast.
Over this time, the Festival’s reputation as the National Festival of Australian Blues Music attracted the widespread support of the Australian blues music industry, appreciation societies, patrons and volunteers. As a friendly little festival/industry event with intimate performance spaces and plenty of opportunities to have a chat with the artists, the Festival enjoyed a very high patron loyalty rate of dedicated blues music enthusiasts and gained a reputation as “Australia’s peak blues event” and “the top Australian blues venue”.
In June 2009, Council voted to outsource the management of the Festival for a 5-year period commencing with the 2010 event.