Bluesfest Day 1 – 18 April 2019
If you are wondering why people keep coming back to Bluesfest year after year for 30 years, it’s because there is always new and exciting music to discover here. Whether it be seeing an artist for the first time that you have never heard of that has actually been around for decades and is really famous somewhere else, or having the opportunity to see recently emerged artists from right here on your doorstep. Day 1 brought the Bluesfest crowd a taste of what is hot in Australia right now with Dallas Woods, Baker Boy and Ocean Alley all on the menu. Continue reading Live Review : Bluesfest 2019 – Day 1→
Bluesfest 2018 – Saturday 31st March – Day 3
Day three was feeling pretty cruizy and chilled as people in for the whole music marathon were recovering from two huge days of sonic feasting already. No long lines for food and moving around the festival was pretty easy compared to the day before. That was until Jackson Browne was about to start at the Crossroads and then trying to move towards the other stages became an extreme effort as all roads and traffic pointed to Jackson Browne. The Crossroads was completely filled to hear his beautiful clear sound and heartfelt lyrics which unfortunately were slightly impacted for people at the back of the tent by sound bleed from a particularly energetic set by Harts over at the Jambalaya. Not so bad for the crowd at Jambalaya who were being engulfed by Harts powerful sounds.
Juanes at the Mojo had a small but extremely dedicated and appreciative crowd cheering wildly between songs. This Columbian singer sang the entire set in Spanish and at one point thanked the crowd for appreciating and respecting this. His music is diverse and ranged from ballads to hard rock with plenty of danceable tunes in between. All with a distinctly Latin flavour. Having won 20 Latin Grammy awards he is a legend in Spanish speaking countries worldwide but not so well known in Australia. Juanes being a social justice and peace activist was invited to join like minded Michael Franti on stage at the Mojo later in the evening.
The New Power Generation played their final show for the festival at the Mojo so they ramped up the vibe to 110%. Clearly enjoying their Bluesfest experience they gave the audience a show they will never forget. The bigger stage suited their performance and the 10-piece band had the room they needed for synchronised dance moves and expression. Prince’s songs were brought to life by his former band with epic synths, brilliant bass and outstanding vocals by André Cymone, Kip Blackshire and Támar Davis. Támar especially hits those high notes that sound impossible but oh so sweet. Bassist Dwayne Thomas Jr. was dressed as a human billboard advertising himself. His bass and clothes covered with Mono Neon signs, clearly an invitation to google him and find out more. No shyness about self promotion here. People of all ages enjoyed this uplifting and soulful tribute to an artist that has given us so much and departed way too soon.
People were finding it impossible to walk past Chain at the Delta stage, they had to dance walk and groove instead. As Peter Noble said while asking them to do an extra song “Chain are Australia’s greatest Blues band” having formed in 1968 they celebrate their 50th anniversary this year. The Afro Celt Sound System brought a dynamic mix of cultures and instruments to the Delta stage delivering a high energy set filled with sounds and influences from Indian, African and Gaelic traditions. I’m looking forward to dancing with them again today Sunday April 1st at 3pm at the Jambalaya.
Michael Franti and Spearhead had the honour of headlining at the Mojo under the full moon and will play again on Monday night the 2nd of April at the Crossroads at 10pm. As always Michael delivered positive and purpose filled messages through accessible upbeat music to an ever expanding fan filled audience.
Feeling completely satisfied from three huge days of Bluesfest already it was good to be reminded by acrobatic vocalist Ziek McCarter from Con Brio earlier in the day that “this is not a show, this is a party” and the party goes on. Sunday is looking to be massive. Crowds are expected to swell for the big acts coming on tonight – Melissa Etheridge, Sheryl Crow, Seal, John Bulter Trio and Tash Sultana. It’s the last day of Boomerang Festival today so if you haven’t checked this out yet make sure you are in early enough to catch the magic happening at the Boomerang dance ground and near by tents from 12:30pm.
Bluesfest 2018 – Friday 30th March – Day 2
Mesmerising singing in language, dancing and didgeridoo emanated from the Boomerang Festival dance grounds from early in the day. Smoking leaves scented the air around people gathered to watch Jannawi Dance Clan and Muggera Dancers. Setting the tone, for a day filled with crowd participation, the lead song man invited the audience to learn a few dances. Connecting with, honouring and protecting the land was a strong theme in the movements and intention of the dances we were invited to learn. Continue reading Live Review : Bluesfest Byron Bay 2018 – Day 2→
Bluesfest Byron Bay 2018 – Thursday 29th March – Day 1
Rain cannot keep away the dedicated amphibious Bluesfest patron happy to withstand a bit of discomfort for the annual feast of music, artfully curated by Bluesfest director Peter Noble each year. The festival opened along with the sky, as the fertile fields of Tyagarah became the scene of another epic gathering of masters of sound from around the globe.
Five consecutive days in the sunshine was a rare treat for Bluesfest regulars who have endured years of mud to listen to the incredible artists invited to perform at this world class festival. Day five felt very relaxed as the big crowds had thinned and lining up for a bite to eat or something to drink seemed almost instant in comparison to previous days. Weary stall holders still served customers with smiles and delicious concoctions but understandably they were looking forward to the event drawing to a close. Continue reading Live Review + Photo Gallery : Bluesfest Byron Bay 2017 – Day Five→
Review by Wanda Hill
Photos by Stuart Blythe + Ant Ritz
Everybody loves Santana. I hope the other bands with a 7.30pm time slot had an audience because it felt like the entire festival population was trying to get as close as possible to Carlos Santana and the incredible line up of singers and musicians on tour with him at the moment. It is amazing what we can put up with if the music is sooo brilliant that being pushed, crushed and having a variety of drinks spilled on you is all taken with good nature and shared understanding of I just need to be as close as possible to this magnificence. Continue reading Live Review + Photo Gallery : Bluesfest Byron Bay 2017 – Day Four→
Review by Wanda Hill
Photos by Stuart Blythe + Ant Ritz
The festival site was cranking with a huge crowd enjoying everything the festival has to offer. Moving from A to B involved weaving in and out of human traffic going in every direction and careful navigation through seas of chairs arranged to take advantage of screens outside the main tents. Colourfully adding to this complexity were a series of roving street acts including stilt walkers who amazingly manage to move forward with grace amidst the whirl of chaos beneath them. Continue reading Live Review + Photo Gallery : Bluesfest Byron Bay 2017 – Day Two→
Recent major flooding of the Northern Rivers area is barely perceptible at the Bluesfest site, with only a small puddle here and there as a giveaway. Instead, the site is flooded with musicians from around the globe bringing the world of music and culture to our doorstep. As always the lineup is a mix of old and new talent, attracting a broad cross-section of society, of all ages, to the festival. Continue reading Live Review + Photo Gallery : Bluesfest Byron Bay 2017 – Day One→
It was an emotional end to Bluesfest last night witnessing Brian Wilson perform Pet Sounds with original Beach Boys member Al Jardine and long term member Blondie Chaplin accompanied by a mini orchestra including string, woodwind and brass sections as well as drums, percussion, guitars, bass and support singer. This was part of a world tour celebrating the 50th anniversary of Rolling Stone’s declared second greatest album of all time and will most likely be Brian Wilson’s last trip to Australia. Hearing the historically important songs of the Beach Boys, live from the creators mouth was a surprisingly special experience considering that I have never particularly been a Beach Boys fan. Realising the place in history of these songs and the way they continue to influence several generations was deeply moving. The world the Beach Boys were singing about in the 60’s seems so innocent compared to the world we live in today. Brian Wilson was not looking his best but still managed to sing songs including Fun Fun Fun, Good Vibrations, Help Me Rhonda and Wouldn’t it be Nice with a bit of support from Matt Jardine for the sections that were no longer in his vocal range. They created a joyous atmosphere that was so infectious… maybe I’m a Beach Boys fan now just in time before this era sadly comes to and end. Continue reading Live Review + Photo Gallery : Bluesfest Byron Bay 2016 – Day Five→
Shooglenifty were a great fresh way to start Bluesfest 2016 Day 4. Their celtic flavours are not often heard at Bluesfest. A great contrast and way to refresh the ears, kind of like sniffing a coffee bean in between wine tasting. With a fiddle, banjo, mandolin, drums, guitar and bass these guys from Scotland had the audience experimenting with their best River Dance impersonations and moving in energetic ways that are not your usual Bluesfest hip swinging standard. With beautiful tunes, jigs and reels that branched out to sound almost middle eastern and esoteric at times, this band can really get you dancing. Violinist Angus Grant kept the focus sharply on the music declaring ‘we only have an hour, so we are going to dispense with the hysterical banter that goes on between songs’. See Shooglenifty perform today at the Juke Joint 4:15pm. Continue reading Live Review + Photo Gallery : Bluesfest Byron Bay 2016 – Day Four→
Day three was all about soaking up epic saxophonist Kamasi Washington with his band from Los Angeles during their last Australian show for 2016. To see a jazz/funk band of this quality and diversity in Australia is a real treat and must be embraced if you like this genre. Each incredible musician on tour with Kamasi was given plenty of stage time to showcase their unique contribution and own original material with respectful introductions from Kamasi explaining how they met. It was a real neighbourhood affair with childhood friends and Kamasi’s father all on stage. Some have been friends before they had even picked up an instrument. The arrangements were intricate, full of detail, embracing difficult time signatures, highlighting the fine pedigree of these musicians who mix with jazz royalty back in their homeland. Continue reading Live Review + Photo Gallery : Bluesfest Byron Bay 2016 – Day Three→
Wondering around the Bluesfest site during the early afternoon on day 2, I could hear a beautiful familiar voice rising over the cacophony of sounds emanating from multiple tents. Following the voice lead me to the Crossroads stage to find Djakapurra from Bangarra singing with East Journey, an amazing band from North East Arnhem Land carrying on the tradition of Yothu Yindi. They performed new original songs that are bound to end up in the charts as well as performing Yothu Yindi favourites such as Treaty. Lead singer Rrawun Maymuru’s versatility was showcased with vocal styles ranging form traditional ceremonial song poetry, to ballads and full on rock. His song writing is appreciated world wide through songs he has written for Gurrumul. The band and dancers were truly exceptional and will be appearing at the Boomerang Dance Grounds over the next 3 evenings. Continue reading Live Review + Photo Gallery : Bluesfest Byron Bay 2016 – Day Two→