As the industry winds down after another hectic year, Peter Noble and his team at Bluesfest crank the gears for another big push.

The 29th annual Bluesfest is taking shape with a stacked lineup featuring Lionel Richie, Robert Plant, Kesha and scores more. Female artists are again prominent, with Tash Sultana, Sheryl Crow and Melissa Etheridge high on the bill, though the addition of Kesha has been met with some scowls.

Noble has heard it all before. He took brickbats when he booked Kendrick Lamar for the 2016 event. Lamar wasn’t blues, the critics howled.  Soon after that announcement, the hip-hop star cleaned up at the Grammys, taking home five trophies for his politically-charged second studio album To Pimp A Butterfly.

Here’s someone who fought for her rights, lost her court case and still dropped a brilliant record… The media doesn’t pick it up

Noble brushed off the complaints then as he does now.

“We’re in this time when there are so many abuse allegations out there and here’s someone who fought for her rights, lost her court case and still dropped a brilliant record,” he says of Kesha. “The media doesn’t pick it up.”

TIO’s Lars Brandle spoke with Noble from his other home in Bali for a glimpse inside the evolving Bluesfest beast, and a lesson in trusting your instincts.

How’s the festival shaping up?