Promoter’s Pick

Insider’s Guide to the Big Top Tent 

From Australia’s king of country in John Williamson, to the nation’s favourite blues and roots artist in John Butler, the Airlie Beach Festival of Music has something for every musical taste.   

We spoke to festival founder Gavin Butlin who gave us his guide to the big top tent. 

Friday, November 8 

  • Chris Finnen & 8 Ball Aitken – “One of the best blues shows you’ll ever see.” 
  • Wanita and the Honky Tonk Bar Dwellers – “It’s always good to have the Queen of Honky Tonk back in Airlie. You never know what you’re going to get with Wanita so you’ve got to turn up to her gig to find out.”
  • Mahalia Barnes – “Mahalia’s been around music her entire life and is one of Australia’s premier soul singers.” 
  • Stars – “A brilliant blend of country, roots and rock from the original line-up of Mick Pealing, Mal Eastick, Roger McLachlan, and Glyn Dowding, featuring Nick Charles.” 
  • Pierce Brothers – “An Aussie duo who have made a name for themselves on the international festival circuit this year, playing to sell-out shows through Europe.”  
  • The Superjesus – “One of Australia’s most successful and respected rock bands and a staple on Aussie rock radio.” 
  • Australian Rock Collective (ARC) – “Are going to be awesome! They’re four of Australia’s most iconic rock bands coming together to give us one hour of power.” 

Saturday, November 9 

  • George & Noriko – “If you’re after something a little bit different, there’s nothing more different than Japanese Blues. When you hear it you just want more.” 
  • Tia Gostelow – “A local artist who’s doing magical things on Triple J and touring the world.”  
  • Spy Vs Spy – “One of Australia’s favourite pub rock bands.”  
  • Skyhooks featuring Racey – “I remember growing up as a kid, listening to Skyhooks and thinking they were the best band in the world. To have Racey coming all the way from the UK to be with them and to play tunes like ‘Some Girls Will’ will be as good for me as 10CC singing ‘Dreadlock Holiday’ in the tent in 2015, and that’s a big call.” 
  • Bustamento – “The perfect party band, guaranteed to get everyone dancing, and led by Nicky Bomba, who’s a true showman.”
  • Yothu Yindi – “I saw them 30 years ago in Toowoomba and the hairs were standing up on the back of my neck. It was one of those musical experiences of a lifetime I’ll never forget.” 
  • Bon But Not Forgotten – “The drummer Simon Wright was in AC/DC for eight years and to have the boys from The Angels and Rose Tattoo with him – it’s rock and roll royalty in the tent.”  

Sunday, November 10 

  • Innocent Eve – “Sisters from Rockhampton, the 2019 Festival ambassadors, and festival favourites.”  
  • John Williamson – “Wow. Since I was a kid I’ve loved listening to John Williamson. He’s about as Australian as a boxing kangaroo.” 
  • Frankie J and Wilbur Wilde – “Two of Australia’s best rock n rollers.”   
  • Smokie – “Just the three minutes of seeing them singing ‘Living Next Door to Alice’ in the main tent will be one of the highlights of the festival this year.”  
  • John Butler – “To have a musician of this stature playing in Airlie Beach will mean so much to the people of the Whitsundays.” 
  • The Airlie Beach All Stars – “After last year’s historic festival finale, we just had to invite the stars of the show back. Who knows who else from the line-up might get up with them in 2019. It’s going to be gold.”

As for the promoter’s final tip, “If you haven’t got your tickets grab them now,” he says. 

Tickets are on sale via OzTix, BigTix, Whitsunday Tickets, The MECC, Tourism Whitsundays, and direct from