This November, Melbourne will play host to three days of concerts and conferences when AWME once again comes to town.

As well as insightful industry conferences with some of the best and brightest in the biz, the evenings will transform Melbourne into an exclusive musical hub showcasing the finest veterans and up-and-comers in roots music.

Local, national and international artists will share the bill at premier music venue locations around town, and watching on, delegates representing record labels, media, festivals and booking agents, as well as eager fans.

AWME is known for stellar and eclectic line-ups, and this year is no expectation. I’ve chosen 10 of the best Aussie acts to check out while you’re in town this November…

Skipping Girl Vinegar

Expect to be uplifted by indie-folk raconteurs Skipping Girl Vinegar. Celebrated songwriters, the band has released three critically acclaimed albums that have each made many ‘Album of the Year’ lists, receiving extensive radio play. Known for their classic melodies, energy and warmth of their live show, they have thrilled audiences at many of Australia’s premier festivals including Bluesfest, Splendour In The Grass, Falls Festival and Port Fairy Folk Music Festival. This heart-warming band is a must-see experience. Skipping Girl Vinegar will headline the opening night of AWME at The Arts Centre, Playhouse with support from Pirra on Thursday 12 November.

Ella Thompson

From being one-half of pop duo GL, to colloborations with Dorsal Fins, The Bamboos and sharing the stage with none other than Mark Ronson at his mammoth Splendour sideshow, Ella Thompson has been a busy-bee this year. Her debut record Janus is an assertive foray into the rocky road of maturation. Thompson translates this perfectly into song, with her lyrical inflections shifting between uncertain mutters, husky ruminations and empowered bellows. Her electro-melancholy piles in as much optimism as it can muster without forgetting a necessary dose of reality. Ella Thompson will showcase on the closing night of AWME 2015 at Max Watts with Ngaiire, Latinaotearoa, Cumbia Cosmonauts + DJ’s.

Emma Donovan & The PutBacks

Acclaimed indigenous vocalist Emma Donovan and Melbourne rhythm combo The PutBacks come together to bring you Dawn – an LP of hard-hitting and heartfelt soul – a gritty, uniquely Australian record, simultaneously classic and contemporary. The songwriting is in turns optimistic, angry and melancholic; the music fluid, live and raw. Recorded in one room, on eight channels of analogue tape with an electric connection between Emma and the band in every beat. Emma Donovan & the PutBacks will showcase at Max Watts on Thursday November 12 with Mojo Juju, Quarter Street and The Seven Ups.


It is a rare moment that you find a musician that can captivate you in a single song. Creating a sound that is grounded by honest lyrics but lifted by resonant percussion and melancholic reverb, HOWQUA gives even the most unseasoned of gig-goers that feeling of witnessing an artist on the brink of something huge. Carrying a certain enigma with his musical style, HOWQUA’s raw and compelling lyrics draw you in, while his performance leaves you yearning to know his story. Not one to shy away from baring his soul through his music, HOWQUA displays all the traits of a phenomenal storyteller and performer. HOWQUA will showcase at the Toff in Town on Thursday 12 November with Anna O and Yirrmal.

Anna O

Beats, style, a big voice and soaring melodies – WA born artist Anna O is making waves. Her debut EP When the Winter Came was released in April 2014 and has been garnering critical acclaim, with airplay on national community radio and Triple J. Serious buzz is building around this young artist who is consistently releasing unique, world-class music. If the momentum gathered is anything to go by, one thing is clear – Anna O does not disappoint. Anna O will showcase at the Toff in Town on Thursday 12 November with HOWQUA + Yirrmal.

Cash Savage & the Last Drinks

Hypnotising audiences internationally with their signature brand of country, blues and authenticity, Cash Savage and the Last Drinks are a six-piece musical juggernaut with a live performance hailed among Australia’s best. With her growling vocal and enigmatic performance, the honesty of her lyrics and the raw talent of the band behind her back Cash’s heart-pumping live show. In 2015, the band laid strong, loyal roots in Europe over a six-town, 11-show tour. Their third studio album is due for release in 2016. Cash Savage & the Last Drinks will showcase at Max Watts on Friday November 13, with Henry Wagons & the Only Children, Ruby Boots, Raised By Eagles + DJ’s.

Ruby Boots

A sound reminiscent of old country swagger with a modern day edge, soaring and upfront vocals and classy hooks, Ruby Boots has been adding her flair to the Australian alt-country scene for some years now, and doing so with a world of style and sass. It’s no wonder she has become one of the leading go-to talents for like-minded artists when they come and tour Australia. For principal singer and songwriter Bex Chilcott it’s all drive. The coarse edges of raw musical passion haven’t been buffed off, but embraced as her music rings more true to herself than ever. Ruby Boots will showcase at Max Watts on Friday November 13, with Henry Wagons & the Only Children, Cash Savage & the Last Drinks, Raised By Eagles + DJ’s.


Ngaiire is one-of-a-kind in Australia, and one of its finest vocalists, an international artist who “occupies a space somewhere between Solange and Erykah Badu with a coolness matched by a fine mastery”. Ngaiire’s heartbreaking voice, jazz degree from Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music, flamboyant costuming and a downbeat but inspiration-funk / nu-soul sound, earn her well-deserved Janelle Monae comparisons, with live reviews beyond favourable. The successful release of Ngaiire’s 2013 debut album Lamentations resulted in her 2014 Glastonbury debut and support slots for Alicia Keys, John Legend and Cody ChestnuTT. Early reviews for second record Blastoma praise Ngaiire’s “incredible” voice and “dynamic capabilities”. Ngaiire will headline the closing night of AWME 2015 at Max Watts with support from Ella Thompson, Latinaotearoa, Cumbia Cosmonauts + DJ’s.

Jess Ribeiro

Songwriter Jess Ribeiro plays hauntingly intimate folk music. No stranger to acclaim, Jess Ribeiro’s debut, My Little River, was awarded ABC Radio National Album of the Year, Best Country album at the 2012 AIR Awards and was shortlisted for the Australian Music Prize. Inspired by artists as diverse as The Velvet Underground, Dusty Springfield and Patti Smith, Jess Ribeiro’s latest album, a collaboration with Mick Harvey, dives headlong into hazy rock, landscape ambience and melodious 60’s psych folk. Jess Ribeiro will showcase at the Toff in Town on Saturday November 14, with Mick Thomas and Archer.


Archer harvests his songs from the stories he finds buried all across the country— as he walks along Australia’s dust cloaked highways, as he labours on a Murray River picking crew, twisting fruit from the vine in the Riverina sun. The weathered songs Archer plays are sparse and raw – it’s music steeped, even driven, by geography, the music of distances vast and landlocked, from a life undisturbed by the passage of time. There’s something vital about his ancient folk and blues, his naked voice and wounded guitar, something irrefutable; the past tattooed upon the present. Archer will showcase at the Toff in Town on Saturday November 14, with Mick Thomas and Jess Riberio.

For more details on this year’s AWME, head to