St Kilda has always been known for its picturesque views, the iconic Luna Park, the quirky shopping district and its incredibly colourful music scene.
St Kilda Festival just wrapped up another successful year celebrating four decades as a beacon of the St Kilda music community and this March will see the St Kilda Blues Festival (SKBF) return for a huge second instalment.
This year, thousands of feet will wander the streets as venues, cafes and shops come alive to showcase the best in blues music.
“We had our first festival last year and the festival is entirely venue based so we don’t have any stages, nothing really outdoors,” SKBF Operations Director Diane Forster says. “We don’t want to have any stages away from venues because we don’t want anything to detract from the venues. We also made the decision to make everything free for the public to get them inside of our amazing venues to enjoy a great weekend of music.
“[The festival] goes over from early Friday evening until late Sunday night, so over an entire weekend, and will be the weekend after the Grand Prix.”
St Kilda has exceptional music venues on offer including the legendary Palais Theatre, the charming Memo Music Hall, the royal Prince Bandroom as well as Fifth Province, Dogs Bar, Vineyard, and even Spanish restaurant Lona, many of which are confirmed hosts for the festival.
“St Kilda is a fantastic place,” Forster says. “It has a bit of everything, a bit of high class, a bit of grunge and it’s in a beautiful location. There will be about 15 to 20 venues and we have a much bigger presence in Fitzroy Street than we did last year.
“Last year, it was really three-quarters down Acland Street but now it’s more 50/50 which is great. There are even venues that don’t have music at other times that get on board during the festival.”
The expansion of the venues calls for expansion of the program. There will be buskers in the street, soloists in cafes, five-piece blues bands inside live music venues, even a marching band on a tram.
“We have buskers in the streets and we also have a second line marching band on the Saturday and Sunday evening who march down Fitzroy Street, hop on the tram and then the march up Acland Street before ending up outside Dogs Bar,” says Forster.
“We have soloists, duos, trios, we have full bands – it just depends on what suits the individual venues. We only choose the best of the best performers who are mostly Melbourne performers but we have a guy coming over from Adelaide, there’s someone from Sydney, and a couple of guys from Brisbane. We have some guys coming in from Chicago as well … which is super exciting.”
For those warriors eager enough to face an additional day of music, SKBF will be hosting an afterparty on the Monday, known as The Survivors Party.
“On the Monday afternoon, we have what we call ‘The Survivors Party’, so a few of us get together at Dogs Bar and have something to eat and something to drink and we get a DJ in, Max Crawdaddy who has a show on Triple R.
“He comes in and plays really great music throughout the afternoon into the evening and we all just sit around and breathe a big sigh of relief. That’s open to the public as well. It’s a really nice way to unwind and relax and reflect on the big weekend.”
St Kilda Blues Festival takes over the beachside suburb from Friday March 20 to Sunday March 22. Check out the program and find out more via stkildabluesfestival.com.au or keep up with them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.