Festival organisers in Agnes Water have just dropped another name for their growing lineup of amazing performers for February 2018 – Friday night amping up with interstate Roots Blues band Marshall & The Fro.
Festival team member Amber Rodgers said “we are excited to have Marshall & The Fro join our lineup, bringing a fresh new blues sound to us – Surf Roots & Australian Mojo Rock. I hear they go really flat out on stage.”
Aptly named after two of music’s greatest rock/bluesmen (Jimi ‘Marshall’ Hendrix and Johnny ‘Dawson’ Winter) Marshall Dawson Okell was born on Good Friday, Friday the thirteenth on a full moon. His father Glenn was a Melbourne based rock-n-roll guitarist and Marshall’s greatest influence, nourishing his son’s musical appetite with the sounds of Hendrix, Winter, Muddy Waters, Little Feat and AC/DC.
Marshall’s first band, ‘The Immortal Flames’, was formed at age 11, with successive groups including punk and hard-rock bands. By the age of 19 Marshall was already a seasoned musician, having supported hundreds of older bands and played nearly all of the live music venues in the region.
Growing up on the NSW far North Coast, Marshall’s stomping ground embraced the pumping surfing scenes of Lennox Head, Byron Bay and Ballina, where he fostered a strong connection with his local environment and the community.
Alongside his musical pursuits, Marshall completed a BA in Social Science, as well as a Dip Ed in High School Teaching at Southern Cross, where he spent time tutoring special needs and indigenous children.
‘Marshall and the Fro’ band set the stage for a new wave of pumping surf mojo roots and blues, with early self-titled album and two EPs including the hugely popular tracks ‘Get Up’ and ‘Thongs’. Their second album ‘Friends for Life’ began a distribution deal with Only Blues Music. The band toured solidly for 5 years with multiple awards, regular airplay on JJJ and overseas release in Europe, Japan, Canada and the US.
In 2011 Marshall and the Fro parted company and continued with his touring lifestyle and a new period of musical self-exploration began.
2012 heralded a year of heartbreak for Marshall as he struggled through his father’s ongoing battle and eventual loss to terminal cancer. This was compounded by the tragic death of his close friend and co-producer Brian ‘Birdy’ Burdett, who was killed during the making of Marshall’s posthumously named third album.
The making of ‘Birdy’ drew upon the raw emotion and inevitable pain that enveloped Marshall during this time and gave rise to a more soulful, mature approach to song-writing. It carried with it the influence of Birdy’s mellower, Paul Simon/James Taylor-esque sound and saw Marshall embrace a deeper, more rhythmic musical style.
Having worked his way through no less than five tour vans, an unwavering dedication to his music and what can only be described as a stage presence that is ‘off the rails’, Marshall boasts a live crowd-following that puts most working musicians to shame. He has played alongside the likes of John Butler, Ben Harper, Wolfmother, Buddy Guy, The Cat Empire, Jeff Lang, Gomez and Xavier Rudd.
Marshall has made a notable return to the music of his youth, combining his love for legendary Soul and Blues singers like Little Feat, The Allman Brothers, Hat Fitz, Mavis Staples and Muddy Waters, with his undisguisable Hendrix, 70’s Woodstock sound. The result is a deep, raw, honest, dirty blues sound that grabs you by the throat and then soothes you with a sweet honeyed musical medicine. The pure emotion in his latest material leaves you exhausted and elated in its wake.
As with his previous recordings, Marshall enlisted the help of fellow musicians and friends ‘The Hussy Hicks’ Leesa Gentz and Julz Parker, as well as band members Nicolas Lemits, Ben Cox and Tracy Stephens in the making of the latest album ‘Sipping on Rocket Fuel’. Some material has been ten years in the making, a distinct evolution in his writing style and the obvious passion for life, loves and ongoing social commentary is there for all to hear.
Be warned. Marshall has emerged with a new level of addictive, heart and mind altering musical energy. This guy doesn’t just make music. He’s a roaring powerhouse of a man, his music will get under your skin, into your blood and course through you like a visceral super-high of the likes you won’t come down from easily.
After almost a decade solo, 2018 sees Marshall back fronting ‘The Fro’ and plans to take listeners back to where it all began.
- Winner of Best Blues & Roots at the Oz Music Awards
- Winners of Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Male Vocal, Best Protest & Best Blues and Roots Artist at the NCEIA Dolphin Awards
- Two time finalists in the International Song Writing Competition
- Regular Triple J and Roots & All air play, overseas airplay in Europe, Japan, Canada and the US.
- Songs featured with Billabong & Surfing Life
- Distribution through P-Vine Records in Japan and Only Blues Music in Australia.
- Winner of the Blues Over Byron Busking Competion
- Performed at Woodford Festival, Byron Bay Blues Festival, The Gympie Muster, The Quiksilver Pro Show, Queenscliff Music Festival, Apollo Bay Music Festival, Festival of the Sun and Peats Ridge Music Festival
- Played alongside some of Australia’s and the world’s best, including Ben Harper, Wolfmother, Goyte, The Living End, Buddy Guy, Blue King Brown, The Cat Empire, Jeff Lang, Gomez and Xavier Rudd.
- 2005 – Thongs (EP)
- 2007 – Marshall and The Fro – Self titled (album)
- 2010 – Marshall and The Fro – Friends For Life (album)
- 2012 – Marshall OKell – Sugar (EP)
- 2013 – Marshall OKell – Birdy (album)
- 2015 – Marshall Okell – Sipping on Rocket Fuel (album)
Agnes Water and the Town of 1770, with their clean golden sand, are in the Great Barrier Reef’s sensational Deep South, and every February the seaside villages rumble to the sounds of fantastic blues, roots and rock icons at the intimate 3 day Agnes Blues, Roots & Rock Festival.
Marshall & The Fro will be joined in the 2018 line up by international blues artist Eugene Hideaway Bridges, the energetic 19 Twenty, and Olivia Ruth along with many more great Aussie artists.
Nestled amongst the pristine coastal forests, the event boasts a generous marquee with tables and seating, superb sound and staging quality, a range of tasty fresh-cooked multicultural food, a well-stocked bar, and market stalls to browse.
Earlybird tickets are only on sale until 31 December 2017, so purchase NOW for a great price and plan your festival weekend.