The Bluesfest director has released a statement addressing the inclusion of Sticky Fingers on this year’s festival lineup.
The Sydney indie rock band were announced as additions to the bill last week, joining previously announced artists such as Gang of Youths, Elvis Costello, and Paolo Nutini.
Their inclusion, however, was quickly criticised on social media, with many pointing to myriad old allegations surrounding Sticky Fingers’ frontman Dylan Frost.
That led to fellow Bluesfest act King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard confirming their withdrawal from this year’s lineup yesterday. “We are deeply disappointed to be in this position but sometimes you need to be willing to make sacrifices to stand up for your values,” they wrote on Instagram.
In a newly released statement, Bluesfest director Peter Noble has now addressed the complex situation, pointing out his festival’s historical commitment to diversity.
“Over the years, Bluesfest has been the promoter of music festivals which allowed diverse artists to exercise their freedom of artistic expression and have afforded the Australian public access to their works,” Noble’s statement begins.
“In the course of doing so, Bluesfest has been proud to give prominence to Indigenous artists and to promote diversity in the music industry.”
Noble’s statement continues: “Recently, a band decided to cancel a forthcoming appearance at Bluesfest because Sticky Fingers, particularly its lead singer (who are booked to play at Bluesfest), was involved in an incident with another artist offstage a long time ago.
There has already been a lot of social media traffic about this decision. I think one commentator well reflects my feelings, as previously stated:
“That whole situation happened 7 years ago and the lead singer of Sticky Fingers has been extremely apologetic and open about his bipolar schizophrenia and substance abuse during that time and is also Māori. They’ve done the work to try and make amends and took a long hiatus to fix things.”
According to Noble, any attempt to victimise Sticky Fingers and Frost is “cruel and unforgiving.”
“This cruelty and lack of compassion are foreign to my values, as is the attempt to suppress the band’s artistic expression. I was and remain proud to give the band a chance at rehabilitation,” he adds.
The statement concludes with a direct message to the Australian public: “Bluesfest hopes that the public will understand, respect, and hopefully, on reflection, agree with the position my company and I have taken. Forgiveness is critical to helping people with mental health challenges continue functioning in society.
“It has been suggested that because of the listing of Sticky Fingers, Bluesfest and I endorsed the lead singer’s ancient troubled behaviour. That suggestion is deplorable, untrue, and actionable as being defamatory.
Bluesfest is set to take place from Thursday, April 6th until Monday, April 10th. Tickets are still available for the festival via the official website.