Who IS Hugo T ARMSTRONG
Hugo T Armstrong, founder and proprietor of the Legendary Blues Train, has been working in the Australian independent music scene for over 20 years, and is a great exponent of local music talent and enjoys running such a unique event venue.
Hugo was born in the coastal Victorian town of Point Lonsdale and as a young boy thrived both on sailing and music.
In 1989 Hugo joined PBS 106.7 FM as a volunteer announcer and was soon appointed the station's first full time sales manager.
He MC’d the Apollo Bay Music Festival from 1990 to 1998 and the Annual Melbourne Blues Festival at the Palace in St Kilda from 1990 to 1996. He was the Main Stage MC at the East Coast Blues and Roots Festival in Byron Bay for four years. He was also a regular guest presenter on the live national CBAA radio broadcasts from festivals including Australia’s largest ever Blues and Roots Broadcast introducing Ben Harper, Michael Franti from Spearhead, Angelique Kidjo and other artists.
Hugo’s PBS show ‘Now Dig This’ was launched in 1989 and quickly became the number one roots show on the station. After 21 years on-air, he retired in May 2010.
Hugo’s national career as a DJ was launched after touring three times with Aria award-winning band The Badloves as a roots DJ in the mid-90s. He has since DJ’d private parties for everyone from Elle McPherson to Joe Cocker and was the in-house DJ for the prestigious Mercury Lounge at Crown Casino from its launch. He has DJ’d at shows by Bob Dylan, BB King, Charlie Daniels, Kate Ceberano, Renee Geyer, Wide Spread Panic, Robert Cray. In more recent times, he ran a hugely successful soul night at Federation Square’s Transport Bar on Thursdays for two years.
In 1994, inspired by stories of the old blues masters jamming it up on Mississippi freight trains as they travelled the Deep South, Hugo joined forces with the renowned Pasquini’s Deli of Point Lonsdale to create one of the Geelong region's most spectacular dining and entertainment experiences - Queenscliff's legendary Blues Train, voted number 6 in the RACV Top 101 Things to Do in Victoria (out of a total 75,000 votes, topping Puffing Billy and Soverign Hill to name a few).
The Blues Train experience begins at historic Queenscliff Station with a hearty meal. At each stop revellers swap carriages to see one of the four other great blues acts performing on the train. These days over 10,000 people board The Blues Train each year for this unique combination of music and the beautiful scenery of Queenscliff, Swan Bay, Marcus Hill and Drysdale.
In 1998 Hugo was appointed Artistic Director and Promoter of the Queenscliff Music Festival. He successfully developed Queenscliff Music Festival into one of the country’s premier music festivals, winning a national tourism award and three consecutive state awards, seeing its induction into the Victorian Tourism Hall of Fame. The festival was the official Victorian Ausmusic Day event twice and also won an Australia Day Award. Under Hugo's leadership, Queenscliff Music Festival developed into a sustainable annual musical and cultural event growing in both scale and reputation.
Over his time in various parts of the music community Hugo has established strong relationships with artists, agents, labels, promoters, touring companies and the national music media including the ABC. In 2001 he received a Centenary of Federation Medal, a reflection of his contribution to both music and his local community.
After Hugo retired his position as Artistic Director and Promoter of Queenscliff Music Festival in 2005 he was invited to accept the position of Program Manager at PBS. He had previously held staff roles in sales and marketing at the station, in addition to his role as an announcer.
With a deep and long-standing understanding of PBS, his aim as Program Manager was to develop and promote programming to create a larger listening audience across Melbourne for the diverse range of under-represented music played by PBS. These include blues, roots, jazz, punk, hardcore, emo, electronic, country, rock, latin, indie, soul and reggae, to name a few.
PBS today enjoys a flow and structure to its exciting music programming, along with a weekday breakfast radio team, and presents major musical events at Federation Square to increase its profile in the heart of this great city.
ter three years of increased membership sales, Hugo resigned as Program Manager of PBS to concentrate on his hugely popular Blues Train. In 2008 he was appointed Chair of Bellarine Peninsula Tourism, where he subsequently launched the hugely successful Bellarine Taste Trail.
In 2011, Hugo was appointed Music Programmer for the long-running Echuca-Moama Winter Blues Festival, held last weekend in July.
Hugo travelled to the musical mecca of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Music Fesival for four consecutive years. In his spare time Hugo can be seen sitting in his dingy (the "Barry White") off his home town of Point Lonsdale … and always listening to music.