The impressive Ulumbarra Theatre, rising from within the walls of Bendigo’s historic former Sandhurst Gaol, will play host to Bendigo Autumn Music (BAM) festival’s Opening Night Gala this April. The special one-night event kicks off the inaugural festival with a selection of short performances, providing a musical taste of the week ahead. Celebrating Australian music legends and offering a chance to discover new must see, up and coming artists, all under the roof of the once Pentonville-style prison and now beautiful 1,000 seated theatre space.

Heading up the line up for the evening is Australian music icon and ARIA Award winner Deborah Conway and long time collaborator Willy Zygier. Having met in 1991, the critically acclaimed pair have together released 10 albums over a 27 year collaboration and we are excited to have them perform at BAM.

One of the special aspects of BAM will be the immersing of musicians from around the country and indeed the world on the picturesque city of Bendigo. Bringing a sonic kaleidoscope to the evening, Melbourne six-piece outfit, Saskwatch, promise ever-changing soundscapes and colourful patterns that neatly evoke elements of neo-psychedelic, indie-pop and soul.

From South Africa the charismatic guitar savant and singer, who the BBC’s Giles Peterson hailed as extraordinary, Sibusile Xaba brings his addictive blend of Zulu folk music, bossa nova, flamenco, desert blues and jazz to the evening. Sibusile will perform each day of the festival and will no doubt be a smash hit!

The opening night also hosts Melbourne artists, Ryan Downey, regarded as a jaw-dropping amalgamation of Leonard Cohen and Bill Callahan by way of some mid-century crooner; and lead singer and songwriter of indie-pop outfit Totally Mild, Elizabeth, who will perform her solo works. As well as esteemed violinist, composer and songwriter Xani and Central Victorian local, and troubadour storyteller, Archer.

Malian guitar legend Moussa Diakite and his exciting five-piece band Wassado have delighted many a festival goer by fusing West African tradition with blues, jazz, Cuban and Afro-rock – a dynamic high energy mix that is mesmerising and sophisticated.

The audience will also be treated to performances by award-winning showman, Mario Queen of the Circus, who has wooed audiences all over the world with his variety show of complex juggling tricks and universal sex appeal executed to the anthems of his favourite supergroup, Queen. And the incredible improvisation, clowning and tableaux from Roundabout Theatre.

The occasion is bound together by MC extraordinaire Brian Nankervis, an acclaimed producer, performer and the beloved co-host of Rockwiz.

BAM’s Opening Night Gala promises a night of frivolous entertainment in a unique and intriguing setting. With tickets to Thursday’s Opening Night Gala at $68 or $30 for youth (13-17 years) and $15 for children aged 12 years and under (Children under 5 are free) the family friendly affair is set to sell out. You can also attend the Opening Night Gala with the Gold Pass full festival 4 day ticket. Tickets on sale now at

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