Wailin' the Blues

Echuca-Moama Winter Blues Festival

Come to Echuca for Winter Blues 2019 and you’ll be too late. It’s over. Come for Winter Blues 2020 and you’ll be too early.

Video Blues Sampler of bands at the Echuca Moama Winter Blues Festival 2019: Press Play

As them name suggests, the Winter Blues Festival struts its stuff during the last weekend in July in Echuca, Victoria.

And the best part is that it’s all free. F-R-E-E. The music. The bands. The venues. All free. There is no cover charge to enter a venue. You don’t have to buy a festival pass because they don’t exist. No minimum requirement. No requirement to buy a meal. That includes bars, the distillery, hotels, cafes and restaurants. If all you want to do is turn up and listen to the bands jumpin’ jivin’ grinding and hollering the blues, you’re always welcome.

The reality is that attendees at the festival eat, drink and support the local economy by shopping, eating, drinking, buying festival merchandise such as beanies, programs, T-shirts and CDs and celebrating the blues and the lovely city of Echuca.

Shots of the City of Echuca located on the banks of the Murray River

Bands range from acoustic to full-on electrified performers, well known Aussie blues bands such as Three Kings and Chubby Rae and the Elevators, rollicking party bands such as Electric Blues Collective and a stage for unknown singers ready to make their mark in the blues.

Footage of Electric Blues Collective Live & Smokin'

I chose some bands solely on their names (Steve Boyd’s Rum Reverie, Bonnie Kay and the Bonafides and Jesse Valach and the Testaments), others for their pedigree (Three Kings features blues legend Ian Collard formerly of Collard Greens and Gravy, Shane Pacey Trio formerly of Bondi Cigars) and others because I had no idea of who they are and what they’d play. So, why not?

The program begins late morning and continues until midnight. Sleep in; stay up late; however your day starts and ends, you will get plenty of blues throughout the day and night.

Most of the venues are located within a few blocks of each other so you can wander between venues to catch bands that are playing at the same time unless you get right into a band then you’re welcome to stay and listen and bop the blues.

Miss a band and you can check to see when they’ll be playing next. Bands and singers perform numerous times throughout the festival. Plus there’s an app to assist you work out bands, times, and venues.

One of the best venues was a winery on the banks of the Murray River just out of Echuca to see Roderick Smith (The Dingoes) in a low-key performance while sipping wine and dining on freshly baked pizza.

It’s a busy weekend but you never feel crowded. Anyhow, crowds are part of a music festival. And everyone is well behaved.

The Murray River is a short walk from the venues and several stages are located next to the river with its steamboats and historic setting.

The only cost to you is your travel expenses depending on whether you get there by car, caravan, bus, plane, walking, motorcycle or river steamboat.

We were there this year and we’ll be back next year. Take note—If you don’t book your accommodation now for Winter Blues 2020, you won’t be wailin’ the Blues, you’ll be groanin’ and moanin’ the Blues.