Live Review + Photo Gallery : Bluesfest Byron Bay 2016 – Day One

By Wanda Hill
Bluesfest Byron Bay 2016 – Day One - March 24, 2016 Photographer: Stuart Blythe
Day one and there is already too many choices. Who to see and where to be? The answer… a bit of everything and everywhere. Entering the festival site was made sweet with the sounds of Lord Huron paving the way for a relaxing night at Bluesfest 2016. The opportunity to leave the world of commitments behind and bathe in sweet music for five days is a pleasure that I am always grateful for and being spoilt for choice of which brilliant set of musicians to cast my ears and eyes upon, never gets old. I guess thats why Bluesfest has been going strong for 27 years and still finds new audiences by stepping out of the mould and bringing artists like Kendrick Lamar into the fold.

Bluesfest is is the perfect place to discover new music in between making sure you have prime position for your favourite bands. Last nights new discovery would have to be Kamasi Washington. His enigmatic presence was fascinating even before a sound was heard as he walked on stage to deliver funk assed jazz to the audience with his saxophone leading a band featuring two drummers, brass section and double bass.

The full moon rose and shone down on Emma Donovan and the Putbacks performing an exquisite set executed with that magical combination of precision musicianship and the deepest of soul. I could have gone home after this set and been completely happy and fulfilled but the night just had so much more to offer.

D’ Angelo was seriously funky, sexy and smooth. Everything that you would expect from this flamboyant performer who knows how to get you in the mood. His band were looking and sounding hot with their bedazzled guitars attracting one of the biggest crowds to the Mojo tent for the night.

The Word over at the Jambalaya were equally as funky except you could get up close and personal here, a great intimate alternative to the bustle over at the Mojo. Robert Randolph on distorted lap steel drives a powerful rhythm and melody guaranteed to get hips moving. This is the kind of music Bluesfest has been built upon and if your wondering around thinking the festival is not Bluesy enough for you put The Word on your list of bands to see and be treated to awesome lap steel guitar, driving bass and Hammond organ.

The big sound of the Tedeschi Trucks Band mixing musical influences and talents of 12 members called out from the Crossroads stage and I had to investigate. Mystical indian sitar sounds moved into hardcore country rock and back into some gospel inspired acapella. Susan Tedeschi a powerful front woman blew me away. I will be back to see more of her and Derek Trucks at the Crossroads on Saturday.

Bluesfest Byron Bay 2016 – Day One - March 24, 2016 Photographer: Stuart Blythe
By the end of the night Kendrick Lamar had the Mojo crowd totally entranced, moving together, obeying his movement commands with total commitment. Clearly the big Thursday crowds had come here just to see him. Meanwhile back at the Jambalaya The Wailers presenting Exodus provided the perfect familiar sounds to wind down with and prepare for the journey home.
Bring on Day Two!

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