Mal Eastick headlines this year's Blues Brew & Barbecues event.
Mal Eastick headlines this year's Blues Brew & Barbecues event.

Eastick joins sizzling line-up at Blues, Brews and Barbecues

IF THERE is one notable change to this year's Blues Brews and Barbecues event it will be at least 20 degrees cooler according to weather predications.

With a delightful 26C anticipated for the annual music festival and Yamba Cup Day, CRJC events manager Wayne "Tank" Phillips was hoping crowd numbers would return to previous levels.

"We're not doing 45 degrees and 25 people this year," Mr Phillips said, remembering the horror of one of the hottest days on record in the Clarence last year.

"We've been keeping an eye on the weather and it's looking good, maybe one mil of rain but that's about it."

Mr Phillips was look forward to having blues legend Mal Eastick as this year's drawcard after plenty of people drew his attention to Eastick's musical pedigree.

"It took some organising but we got him. He's been in the game a long time and an accomplished player so it should be a great show," he said.

Mr Phillips said Phil Emmanuel would also be back after sweating it out to a handful of dedicated fans last year.

"We thought he deserved another shot at playing to an actual crowd this time. He and Mal are going to jam for a set too which will be a sight to see."

Joining the two legends will be local blues guitarist Sam Fletcher.

Mr Phillips said the BB &B format would basically remain the same with a range of craft beers and a gourmet barbecue menu for people to try.

"We added a lamb kofta and have a few new beers in the mix this time but everything else is pretty much the same as last time; I always say 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'," he said.

After last year's heat-striken event, he said the CRJC rallied with NSW Racing to move it back to March.

"There's always a couple of hot ones through February now we are back in March we are all geared up for it," he said.

"There's plenty of bar staff, plenty of food and plenty of great entertainment for people to enjoy."

Eastick has been trading licks with the best in Australia an internationally for decades.

The newish Yamba resident who has his own Blues Bar once a month at the coastal hamlet's golf club, was looking forward to making a debut at Grafton's premier blues event.

He said he would bring a singer friend of 20 years from Sydney for the occasion.

"He was the singer on last album with the band, Spirit," Eastick said.

Eastick was also looking forward to catching up with his mate and fellow blues guitar aficionado Emmanuel.

"Phil plays a different, more indirect style to me. Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and BB King kind of thing. I've played a lot of guitar shows and some with Phil before," he said.

"It will be that kind of show where you can see the diversity of this genre."

And while Emmanuel sweated it out on that record February day in Grafton last year, Eastick was not having much luck either down south on the same day.

"It was on this small paddleboat in Windsor, north of Penrith. It was 52 degrees in the shade. It was an open-ended riverboat with about 70 people on board.

"Talk about dedicated. I was so drained of energy it took me two hours to get off the boat," Eastick said.

"I drank water all day and sweated it so quickly I never had to use the toilet.

"Phil and I compared notes about our gigs that day. You could say it was the hottest gig I've ever played."

Blues, Brews and Barbecues kicks off at midday on Sunday at Grafton Racecourse in conjunction with the Yamba Cup. Tickets are $15.



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