Ash Grunwald will play tunes from his new album at Rivafest this Saturday night.
Ash Grunwald will play tunes from his new album at Rivafest this Saturday night.

Ballina's festival by the river

The Rivafest in Ballina is back again this Saturday and Sunday, November 28 and 29.

This Saturday all the action happens at Missingham Bridge Park from 3.30pm to 9pm; and this Sunday at Fawcett Park, Ballina, from 9am to 9pm.

And it’s a huge program of performances and workshops.

Ballina is raging this weekend...

A highlight of the Saturday performance program is a show by Ash Grunwald.

Ash is currently riding high on the release of his new album Fish Out Of Water – an album that is taking this Aussie bluesman even higher in the roots/blues music scene.

Raised in outer Melbourne, Ash first picked up a guitar at the age of 10. He became obsessed with 12-bar blues and the likes of Buddy Guy, Albert King and Muddy Waters. Music (and dreadlocks) came to be the driving force in his life. These days his life is all about performing and touring. (And dreadlocks.)

Ash is a busy man. Earlier this year, he was in the US playing the South By Southwest music festival, picking up a US management deal, plus a UK label and tour. Then he was off to Canada for his debut tour there, performing to sell-out crowds. In May, it was back to Japan. (Whew!)

Now the man will do his blues/roots thing at Missingham Bridge Park, Ballina, this Saturday, November 28, from 6.30pm. The gig is free.

Another blazing highlight of Rivafest is an evening performance by that Aussie king of jazz, Vince Jones, at Fawcett Park, Ballina, from 6.30pm. (Entry is $35.)

Australia’s leading jazz vocalist, Vince Jones, resists showing off technique to the detriment of feel. Vince also plays trumpet with a distinctive reserve and subtlety – he plays a little less and gets a good deal more from it.

Born in Glasgow, Vince and his family came to live in Australia when he was 11 years old. He grew up in Wollongong, listening to his musician father’s collection of great jazz albums. Music became a part of Vince’s world.

Vince has released a swag of albums making him one of the most popular performers in Australia.

There’s plenty more live music on the Rivafest program this Sunday, November 29, at Fawcett Park in Ballina.

Fyah Walk is an eight-piece band offering rhythmic variations from the hard-edged rap and dance hall style to deep roots reggae – all with powerful messages of humanity. From 2.30pm.

Juzzie Smith is also on the bill. Juzzie’s music steps into blues, folk, and country and then off into a world of its own. Juzzie plays upbeat, groovy music to make you feel good. From 10.30am.

Karen and the Captains of Class play smooth jazz, classic blues and original tunes. The trio features Karen Hanna on vocals, virtuoso Jim Kelly on guitar and Jack Thorncraft on bass. From 1pm.

Wild Marmalade is a high-energy organic trance, drum and didge band. Playing totally live with ferocious intensity, this duo creates inspired dance music without the use of any electronic machines, blending the ancient sounds of the didgeridoo with contemporary dance beats. From 5.30pm.

Thundering through the streets in their wild whacky costumes and thundering percussion, The Samba Blisstas (a funky, syncopated street troupe) will leave you sweaty and screaming for more. From 7.30pm.

So there. There’s a lot going on, including a huge number of workshops, at Rivafest.

To find out more visit


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