Blues Portrait – A Profile of the Australian Blues Scene by Pauline Bailey

“Blues Portrait” provides a snapshot of the contemporary Australian blues scene. 130 musicians across three volumes share their thoughts and insights about their musical journeys and describe, in their own words, how they discovered the blues and what it means to them. The books explore how they have each shaped the broad, rich and diverse blues scene we have in Australia.


“Blues Portrait is an incredible book which documents the Australian blues music scene and it’s amazing musicians.” – Peter D. Harper

“If you collect music biographies (or just want a good read) you need this book. It fills a big void in any collection because there are so few books about blues musicians – especially Australian ones. Even if you’re not a blues fan (God forbid!), the book is full of great down-to-earth chats with the likes of Kevin Borich, Bob Spencer, Phil Para and Kerri Simpson, to name but a few.” – Sharon B.

“I learnt so much and filled in a lot of gaps that I didn’t even know were gaps in this wonderful music scene we have here. So grateful to have this book.” – Grant

“Certainly can recommend this book to any music enthusiast, no matter what their preferred genre is – the blues is where it all began for the music of today.” – Lee

In November 2019 I self-published my first book, Blues Portrait. This was followed by Volumes 2 and 3 which were released simultaneously in November 2021.  

I have always had a passion for Australian music – blues music in particular, and I’ve always believed that Australian blues has been overlooked in the musical landscape. When I started looking for books on the subject, I was surprised to discover that nobody had properly documented this genre, so in 2017 I embarked on a quest to track down some of this country’s blues legends. I was curious about their experiences and stories, and I thought other people might be interested in hearing them as well – it was that simple. I began with some friends and artists that I knew, and started the process of interviewing, transcribing, writing and building a profile of each artist on my list. Once I started interviewing people it quickly became evident that the blues scene was far more diversified and expansive than I had anticipated. The initial interviews were only the tip of the iceberg – each person took me down a different road, and I discovered many more people keen to tell their stories.

The end result is a collection of 130 people spread across three books, illustrating this country’s broad and impressive blues culture. Because the books also discuss how blues has affected and influenced other musical styles, I’ve included people who aren’t technically “blues” – individuals from all walks of life with a variety of backgrounds, influences, and inspirations, but who all have one thing in common: the desire to make music. I’m extremely grateful to every one of these incredible musicians (some of whom have become dear friends) for generously sharing their time, stories, and perspectives on what it means to be a musician.

Before embarking on this ambitious project, I had very little experience in writing and publishing. I worked with Melbourne musician Kim Volkman in 2017 to edit and self-publish his autobiography and book of short stories (“The Devil Won’t Take Charity” and “For Those That Dance With The Skeleton”) and that’s when the idea for a larger endeavour germinated! Volumes 2 and 3 were compiled during the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020/2021, and they provide insight into the hardships faced by artists at that time. Because of the pandemic, I had to conduct most of the interviews for the second and third books over the phone, but I did get to meet up with some of the artists in between lockdowns. At the time of writing (June 2022) and with the pandemic still going strong, I’m currently working on Volume 4… stay tuned!

Blues Portrait two book set:

Blues Portrait 3 book set:

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© Pauline Bailey