Archie Roach joins top line-up of talent at Blue Mountains Music Festival

Top national and international musicians will descend on Katoomba on Friday, March 16 when the 23rd Blue Mountains Music Festival kicks off.

Archie Roach returns to the three-day festival in 2018, joining an impressive line-up of  musical talent that includes Missy Higgins, Kate Miller-Heidke and Vikki Thorn from The Waifs.

With more than 100 concerts across seven stages, other performers include Yorta Yorta hip-hop artist Briggs, Harry Manx and Steve Poltz from Canada, and Melbourne singer-songwriter Lior in duo format with the internationally renowned Paul Grabowsky.  

ARIA-winner Higgins will make her first festival appearance on Sunday afternoon while the multi-talented Miller-Heidke will be returning for her third festival appearance.

Among the overseas artists is award-winning UK singer-songwriter, Blair Dunlop, who last performed at the Katoomba festival in 2014.

Also from the UK, with five albums and a coveted Radio 2 folk award for best duo between them, are newcomers Josienne Clark and Ben Walker. Other artists will include Irish singer-songwriter  SON (Susan O’Neil), Canadian showman and ace fiddle player Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys, and two New Zealand acts in award winning indie-folk singer Mel Parsons and the lively Frank Burkitt Band.

When Archie Roach released his debut album, Charcoal Lane, in 1990, the impact was immediate. The album’s centrepiece, Took the Children Away, shone a spotlight on the forcible removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from their families and brought it to the attention of the global community. The single won an International Human Rights Achievement Award, while the album was certified gold and won two ARIA Awards.

The release of the album also introduced audiences to Roach’s own extraordinary story. As one of the Stolen Generations removed under these government policies, he grew up in foster homes and met his partner, Ruby Hunter, while living on the streets. The pair, who shared a deep love of music, formed a lifelong bond.

Over the following decade, Archie consolidated his success with three more albums – Jamu Dreaming (1993), Looking for Butter Boy (1997) and Sensual Being (2002). 

In early 2010, Roach’s life took a dramatic turn with Ruby’s sudden death. Struggling to cope with the loss of his soul mate, he suffered a massive stroke that left him temporarily paralysed along his right side, unable to talk, walk or play his guitar.

But in 2012 he returned with a new album, Into the Bloodstream, which collected numerous awards. In 2015, he was formally recognised when he was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his services to music and his support of social justice.

Roach will be playing two concerts at music festival and will join the Heartland Conversations on Sunday morning.

The weather forecast is looking good and tickets and program information are available at www.bmff.org.au​ so keen festival-goers can start planning their weekend already.