Review by Wanda Hill
Photos by Stuart Blythe
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.
Entering the festival at sunset, the first sounds I hear are grinding guitar and roaring lyrics from Melody Angel, a total rock goddess from Chicago. Telling tales of escape from the ghetto whilst creating sounds reminisce of Jimi Hendrix with a slightly harder edge. She is conjuring a massive effect with a small band which includes her mother on backing vocals. Witness her power for yourself as she performs again three more times over the easter weekend. Friday 2pm at Jambalaya, Saturday 5pm at the Juke Joint and Monday 7.30pm also at the Juke Joint.
Snarky Puppy came highly recommended by several muso friends as the must see band of the festival, and yep… they are amazing. This genre defying instrumental collective probably most influenced by jazz from Texas and Brooklyn are extremely funky yet mellow at times and have two trumpet players that will absolutely blow your mind. The nine band members on stage all got a chance to shine during the exquisite opening night set. Promising to play entirely different material tonight, Snarky Puppy are back at 8.30pm at the Mojo.
Having always wanted to see Miles Davis I was stoked to see the Miles Electric Band featuring a stellar line up of legendary artists who have performed with Miles Davis over the years. The musical talent encapsulated in this band is extraordinary and it was unfortunate that production issues did not allow the subtleties and textures created by the musicians to reach the audience until about half way through the set. Some truly beautiful moments were created by this group as they performed Miles Davis material from the1969–1975 era. Christian Scott a young trumpeter chosen to play with these legends is more than worthy of the honour. Waiting till Monday 3.30pm to see the Miles Electric Band again at the Mojo will be very difficult.
Gallant burst onto the stage in a rush of excitement mirrored by his audience. Ok this guy is really good and well matched by his band creating a very fresh sound. Young people rushed to the front to be close to this on the rise mega star with the voice of an angel. Easy to groove to and very entertaining, phat keyboard sounds, epic drums and guitar provide the perfect bedrock for Gallant to float his magical voice high into the heavens. Destined for greatness, Gallant from Los Angeles is making his Australian debut at Bluesfest and has one more show tonight at the Mojo from 5.30pm.
Feeling the anticipation among the crowd waiting for Patti Smith to come on stage at the Mojo was overwhelming. People having waited a lifetime to see her perform were jostling for better positions and milling with nervous excitement. Patti came out to a sea of love and admiration which she promptly reflected back into the audience putting everyone at ease. Waves of emotion surged through the crowd as her songs inspired feelings ranging from happiness to despair with every shade of intensity in-between. Performing her album Horses in sequence was punctuated when she stopped to metaphorically turn over the record to side B. Apologising for occasional sickness induced cracks in her voice was unnecessary. Her presence, vocal power and lyrical genius was magnificent. Fortunately Patti Smith is performing an acoustic set at 5.15pm today at the Crossroads.
Bluesfest 2017 Day One
Thursday 13th April 2017