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

Review By Wanda Hill
Photos by Stuart Blythe
Bluesfest Byron Bay 2016 – Day Two - March 25, 2016 Photographer:  Stuart Blythe
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.

It was a natural progression to move from East Journey at the Crossroads to the Boomerang Dance Grounds for a feast of dancing. Mali Kiai Mura Buai Dance Troupe from Boigu Island in the Torres Strait had 4 generations singing and dancing together with music and dress that evoke images of tropical islands, beautiful flowers, cassowaries and relaxed lifestyles where time for family and gathering together is prioritised. Rako from Fiji showcased powerful warrior style moves as well as hypnotic Polynesian Hula hip swaying, all set to intricate rhythms created by simple drums and chants. eXcelsior a group of very talented young men from Queensland and NSW performed a dance that travels from ancient traditions through to contemporary styles providing a journey in which to loose the mind and just feel through the emotion and creativity expressed by seamless choreography that enabled each dancer to share their magic.

Archie Roach initiated a perfect relaxing afternoon at the Crossroads with his soothing, gentle voice and the feeling of respect for the land, that emanates from all of his music. His profound storytelling is peppered with beautiful quotes that stayed in my mind and set the tone for they day like ‘its good to smile, it can be infectious’. So with this in mind the brilliant day continues into the night where things rev up a few notches as funk seems to be the flavour of the evening.

St. Paul and the Broken Bones looked like they were attending a high end business meeting in their very formal suits but were absolute kings of the soul funk genre with a massive sound and big stage presence reminiscent of the James Brown experience. Playing at the festival again on Saturday and Monday these guys are a must see for anyone who loves a big band and powerful vocal chords. There is nothing that Paul Janeway can’t do with his voice. Turn up and witness his power and range on Saturday at 3pm at the Crossroads and Monday at 4.30 at the Jambalaya.

Following the crowd is a useful tactic for finding great musicians. Seeing a surge of people rush towards the Juke Joint lead me to find Lucky Peterson a New York legend totally upping the vibe and spreading brilliant energy out upon the crowd by singing, dancing, smiling and playing the Hammond. Why was he on such a small stage? The bass player needed a bigger sound system for his spectacular running grooves.

The icing on todays cake was definitely Con Brio from San Francisco. It was easy to fall in love with lead singer Ziek McCarter with his beautiful voice, original dance style and clever way of getting the audience involved in deeper issues whilst being totally entertaining. Best of all their music was great to dance to and the perfect way to finish day 2.

Photo Gallery features:
Hussy Hicks, Lukas Nelson & Promise Of The Real, Blackberry Smoke, Archie Roach, Graham Nash, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, The Mick Fleetwood Blues Band, Grace Potter, City and Colour, The National, Elle King
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