Live Review : Bluesfest Byron Bay 2019 – Day 5

By Wanda Hill

Photo Credit : Tao Jones

Bluesfest Day 5 – 22 April 2019

The final day of life in a village designed especially for fun looked magical as sun showers and rainbows illuminated the sky in true north coast style. Relaxed patrons roamed the grounds enjoying their last tastes of festival foods and music for the soul. Many of the visiting performers comment in their shows about the blessing of coming to this festival, the great time they have, and the beauty of the land and nearby ocean.

Cruisy blues emanated from the Jambalaya as Keb’ Mo’ showed that a guitar, good vibe and good songs are all you need to draw a massive crowd. While David Gray completely packed out the Mojo with his chilled out, atmospheric stadium ballad style. Elephant Sessions over at the Delta had the people jumping to their Irish folk/dance fusion, based around mandolin, violin, guitars and beats. They proudly performed a song written after their last Bluesfest experience, aptly named ‘Tyagerah’.

A big discovery for this year was Miss Velvet and the Blue Wolf playing at the Juke Joint. This genre bending band is bound to be back in future years on a bigger stage, judging by the beyond enthusiastic response from the audience. This is the first time I have witnessed the ‘sign of the horns’ \m/ being an appropriate gesture of appreciation here at Bluesfest. Miss Velvet’s insane vocal ability makes Rob Halford from Judas Priest seem measured in his approach to singing. Her intensity, never letting up for the entire set, was well supported by a brilliant band. Sporting a brass section and the usual guitar, bass, drums and keys, this band melded funk, blues, rock, dance, metal and hip hop in exciting new ways, which is why George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic have taken them on tour with them for the past year.

Popular draw card for Monday nights finale at the Crossroads was The Saboteurs otherwise known as The Raconteurs featuring Jack White. Cranking up the volume and intensity, electric guitars ruled the airways. Jack expressed dissatisfaction with the festival decibel limit wishing they could play even louder. Feigning the end of their show only an hour into their set added to the drama as the crowd cheered for more. Meanwhile the end of an era was occurring at the Jambalaya as George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic played their last ever Bluesfest show with George Clinton set to retire in May. Leaving us all with some P-Funk wisdom ‘Free your mind and your ass will follow’.

With everything now mud and rusted this post festival high will last for weeks. Spontaneous bursting into to song and hip swinging may erupt at anytime while memories of the past five days are still fresh. Feeling grateful for new friendships formed and old friendships strengthened by mutual love of music and culture, I have to thank the Bluesfest/Boomerang cast and crew. This was yet again, another magnificent world class event, here on Bundjalung country.

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