26 August 2022

Jimmy Barnes takes to the stage for Summernats' 35th anniversary

| James Coleman
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Jimmy Barnes

Jimmy Barnes will be on stage at Summernats in January. Photo: Jimmy Barnes, Facebook.

Australian rock legend Jimmy Barnes is on track to play at Canberra’s biggest petrolhead festival in January.

The artist behind ‘Working Class Man’ and ‘Khe Sanh’ is headlining the music line-up for Summernats 35 when it returns to Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC) from 5 to 8 January 2023.

The twice-inducted ARIA hall-of-famer said he was excited to be playing in Canberra.

“It’s been a long time coming, but I’m finally playing Summernats,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to belting out some rock and roll for everyone at Australia’s home of horsepower. I can’t wait to see you all there.”

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Summernats has been held in Canberra since 1987, only taking a break in 2021 due to COVID-19. The late Chic Henry promoted and organised it between 1987 and 2009 before he sold it.

Current Summernats co-owner Andy Lopez said they didn’t want the 35th anniversary of the event to go by without some sort of party.

“We have wanted to get Jimmy Barnes to Summernats for years and this is our way of celebrating not only 35 years but also our first normal Summernats since COVID and the bushfires,” he said.

Crowd cheering at car burnout

Summernats #34 at EPIC Canberra. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

“If there’s a bigger name in Aussie rock, or someone who fits in so perfectly with the crowd, I don’t know who it is. The young people love him, and the older people love him too. He crosses all those generations and is such an icon.”

Barnesy will perform on the Friday evening, which Andy described as the “calmer day”.

“If you’re a Jimmy Barnes die-hard and Summernats-curious, this is a really good day to come down.”

The last time Barnesy was in Canberra was during his national tour in 2018 when he released his chart-topping memoir, Working Class Man. He will be joined on the Summernats stage by Shannon Noll (aka ‘Nollsie’).

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Nollsie first had the Summernats crowd singing along in January 2020 with a moving rendition of (what else but) ‘What About Me?’. He also won the celebrity lawnmower race. He says he’s keen to come back and join in the mayhem.

“I had an amazing time at Summernats 33 performing, racing lawn mowers, and even judging the mullet competition,” he says.

“I can’t wait to be back at Summernats with Jimmy Barnes.”

Saturday night is described as a high-energy party with three acts lined up from Bliss N Eso, Stafford Brothers and Brooke Ever.

Jimmy Barnes

Jimmy Barnes at the Menslink breakfast in 2019. Photo: Region.

The Bliss N Eso band is no stranger to the event, having partied both on and off stage with the die-hard car fans.

“Summernats is one of our favourite places to connect to our fans,” the band said.

“Most people know we love cars, and we’re stoked to be back in Canberra to tear up the stage.”

Matt Stafford from the Stafford Brothers said they’ll be bringing their own brand of electronic party music.

“We have a massive set planned for the punters,” he said.

“It’s always good to be home in Australia and Summernats is a great way to kick off 2023.”

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More than 2400 cars have already registered for Summernats 35, with five months to go. For comparison, last year’s was the biggest event in its history with 2600 entrants.

Andy said it’s a good sign that Canberrans are ready to start enjoying themselves again.

“Everyone has really suffered over the past two years and we’re just really happy to see our punters really keen to get back together,” he said.

“It’s good from a business point of view, but it’s also really good from a heart-and-soul-community point of view too.”

Tickets to Summernats 35 are available online. Friday’s pass costs $89.50 and includes the evening performance.

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