Review by Wanda Hill
Photos by Stuart Blythe + Ant Ritz
One of the great things about Bluesfest is that the musicians who travel a long way from around the globe to get here have a brilliant time and enjoy the opportunity to see acts they have never seen, and to meet and collaborate with artists that inspire them. Backstage they are treated to unique Byron/Bluesfest hospitality and have a chance to learn about Australia’s Indigenous peoples through magnificent artworks placed throughout the greenroom. Being such a friendly festival it is not unusual to see guest artists out in the crowd enjoying the atmosphere.
Jake Shimabukuro proved that all you need to attract a roaring crowd is a ukulele and plenty of Aloha spirit. Bringing his Hawaiian heritage to Byron Bay Jake found a very appreciative audience to share his immense talent with and expertly made the humble four string instrument sound like a sophisticated flamenco guitar. Jake packed out Jambalaya and will no doubt attract another huge crowd on Sunday, 2pm at the Mojo.
California’s Gregory Porter wrapped the Mojo in his smooth, warm and romantic voice. His lyrics deep and filled with love, rode beautifully on expert jazz ensemble magic, created by the upright bass, piano, sax and percussion players in his band. A very classy act delivered with such ease and grace. Hopefully he will return to Bluesfest in the very near future.
Fear of flying did not stop Laura Mvula making the 23 hour plane journey from England be at Bluesfest sharing her unique take on pop music. With a degree in classical composition her orchestrations are far from predictable but still highly danceable. Enjoy her happy, life affirming presence and upbeat melodic style on Sunday, 7.30pm at Jambalaya or at the CrossRoads on Monday, 12.45pm. See for yourself this artist that was greatly admired and nurtured by the late Prince.
Cruising around I noticed some awesome festival fashions including electronic flashing LED t-shirts and interesting headgear designed to let your friends know where you are in the pulsing masses. Was great to see a proper punk with a twin fin mohawk getting around, possibly a fan of Billy Bragg who performed earlier in the day. So far the guys with mirror ball helmets are providing the best public service as it is hard not to smile and feel awesome when a posse of guys in 70’s suits with mirror balls on their heads, bring the disco to you.
Even the wonderful volunteers picking up the endless supply of discarded cups and cans were grooving to Roy Ayers as they cleaned up the Delta stage dance floor. This would have to be some of the best music to dance to at the festival and will leave you feeling great for days to come. The legendary Buddy Guy was playing at he same time as Roy but I could not drag my self away from his fantastic tracks including Everybody Loves the Sunshine. Fortunately Buddy Guy is back on Sunday 5.30pm at the Cross Roads followed by Santana at 7.30pm.
Saturday night headliners The Doobie Brothers came out blazing and kept everyones energy high by playing their endless stream of hits spanning decades to perfection. This classic, quality Rock and Roll outfit really hit the mark with the Bluesfest crowd. Leaving everyone in high spirits, ready for another fabulous day surrounded by people dedicated to our greatest human achievement – music.
Bluesfest 2017 Day 3 – Saturday 15th April