SUZY Starlite and Simon Campbell were practically destined to be in a blues band together.
The duo, who hail from the Isle of Man along with drummer Steve Gibson, perform as the Starlite Campbell Band, and have made the journey to the North East for this weekend’s Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues.
Theirs is a unique story – talented musicians in their own right, the pair ran away after a whirlwind romance in 2014, which ultimately led to them releasing their first album together, Blueberry Pie, in 2017.
They had a link to Wangaratta before they even knew it – one of the festival’s artistic team, Frank Davidson, assisted with the recording of their debut album.
When Blueberry Pie started to rank in the top 10 of blues charts worldwide, the Starlite Campbell Band were surprised – but not as much as they were when they received a phone call from Mr Davidson at 7am one morning.
“I thought it was a hoax,” Mr Campbell said.
“When you get an Australian on the phone at 7am, you’re thinking ‘what’s going on?’”
A hoax it wasn’t – the Starlite Campbell Band are headlining the jam-packed Blues Marquee bill on Saturday night.
Starlite said playing shows in Australia had long been a goal of hers.
“The festival is a really big vision and I love that, it's beautiful that it’s in its 29th year,” she said.
“It’s a volunteer-driven thing, that’s really the heart of the festival.
“People come here on a yearly basis as a pilgrimage – we’re hoping it introduces us to new family and friends.
“I think it’ll be a place to make some beautiful memories and really just celebrate life.”
For Mr Campbell, his first night in Wangaratta had also revealed one of the region’s biggest drawcards.
“The thing that has really stuck out is the wine – it’s sensational,” he said.
“I think you drink all the good stuff here and send us the rest, I congratulate all the winemakers of Australia.”
Day passes for Saturday and Sunday are available from the Wangaratta Performing Arts Centre box office.