Mr Bluesfest Peter Noble knows how important the music is to fans

Best of the Blues: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue at Bluesfest 2015. Picture: Edwina Pickles
Best of the Blues: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue at Bluesfest 2015. Picture: Edwina Pickles

It’s early Tuesday afternoon when Peter Noble reaches me by phone. We were supposed to talk hours earlier, but, the day hasn’t gone to plan. For starters, internet news outlets report reborn pop star Kesha had cancelled her Australian tour (including Bluesfest) from injuries she received when she fell onstage during a concert in Dubai.

For Noble, who owns and operates Bluesfest, it’s a blow. She was one of the shining overseas stars due to perform at the festival. The playing schedule released Tuesday morning had her headlining day one (March 29).

“Those things happen,” Noble says. “It has changed my day a little bit. That’s what you get.”

After a bit of fury in the office, Noble was calm again, with his eye on catching a flight to Sydney and on to Perth, to attend the Australian Tourism Awards (Bluesfest was a finalist in the major festivals and events category). Then, it’s on to London for Noble, before jetting back in time to meet music legend Robert Plant on his arrival in Australia ahead of Plant’s tour booked by Noble.

“I look forward to so many things,” Noble says, his stream-of-consciousness thoughts running like a water tap. “Like a great artist like Plant deciding I’m the guy he will tour for. We’ve almost sold out a third show in Sydney. You know, we play the smaller venues so you can see the star sweat, and you’re not a half kilometre away.

“I love the reunions, the artists I have toured before. Walter Trout is coming back. He had a liver transplant two years ago.”

During the five-day Bluesfest, Noble will be on deck and running at full tilt. 

“I start onsite at 10.30,” he says. “I have a massage at 11.45 and I’m going to the stages at 12. I do the same thing every year, like an old dog – you can’t teach me new tricks.”

He will visit all five stages, checking with stage managers and crews, and watch some acts, but none for too long.

“When you have a big team putting on a big show, the last thing to do is stay in your office with the glitterati. I’ve seen too many festivals where the managers do that. In the end, they see only 10 to 15 per cent of the artists. It doesn’t work like that – I’m a music guy. The public should know the guy behind the event is a music guy.”

Last year Bluesfest drew 105,000 attendees, hosting 85 bands with a total of 670 artists who gave 185 performances across the Easter weekend. This year will be no different.

“We have an embarrassment of riches,” he says with pride. “On Facebook someone said it would take month to see them all. And they’re right.”

He figures there are two ways to attack the festival: create your own formguide, or just wander around and discover a new talent. He suggests the second approach.

He confesses he woke up on this morning singing All Night Long (by Lionel Richie, one of this year’s headliners). It must feel like he’s literally living the dream.