Review by Wanda Hill
Photos by Stuart Blythe + Ant Ritz
The festival site was cranking with a huge crowd enjoying everything the festival has to offer. Moving from A to B involved weaving in and out of human traffic going in every direction and careful navigation through seas of chairs arranged to take advantage of screens outside the main tents. Colourfully adding to this complexity were a series of roving street acts including stilt walkers who amazingly manage to move forward with grace amidst the whirl of chaos beneath them.
Boomerang festival within Bluesfest started today and will run on Saturday and Sunday as well, hosting a series of of Australian Indigenous artists and Indigenous artists from around the world. Yirrmal from North-East Arnhem Land performed stunning original songs with his voice so clear and beautiful and lyrics so strong and wise. This incredible young man will have won many new fans today as he uplifted everyone’s spirits and also got the dance floor pumping with covers of Yothu Yindi songs – Treaty and Djapana. Don’t miss Yirrmal!!! Playing again Saturday 12.30pm at the Juke Joint.
Roy Ayers created his vibraphone magic over at Jambalaya. Something about the vibraphone touches a part of my musical soul that doesn’t often get stimulated. The harmonics of this instrument are really interesting and worth checking out if you haven’t been exposed to its sound. Roy’s compositions are really groovy, relaxing and funky. His music makes me feel like I’m in a 70’s movie with a brilliant soundtrack. Roy Ayers has one more show this Saturday, 9.00pm at the Delta.
Seeing Patti Smith again was irresistible despite having to wrangle through the masses gathered to worship her at the CrossRoads. Festival director Peter Noble said in a press conference today that he had been working for many years to get Patti to the festival. Absolutely captivating, Patti delivered her messages to the world via poetry, song and by reading excerpts from her book Just Kids. “People have the power to redeem the work of fools”. Patti urged the younger generation to build the biggest peace movement the world has ever seen “you have the technology”. Together with her band, Patti stirred up vast intent and emotion. At the end of this charged set, I was relieved to look around and see that other people also had tear stained eyes and the confused look of elation and exhaustion on their faces.
The Soul Rebels on the Delta stage provided a complete change of pace with their New Orleans party style full brass band moving even the most resistant body into a state of inspired groove. Perfect medicine to set the tone for a night of dancing ahead. The Suffers followed and kept the momentum going with awe inspiring vocals by Kam Franklin who recently quit her day job to pursue a full time music career with her band. A risk well worth taking as the world needs to see her head tilt back and experience the immense sound and glorious vibration that she emits. See this Gulf Coast Soul band perform again on bigger stages – Sunday 4.30pm at Jambalaya and Monday 2pm at the Mojo.
And for some blues at the Juke Joint, Eric Gales was extremely excited to be in Australia shredding some superb traditional blues with progressive twists that have seen him enjoy chart topping success in Australia with recent releases. Eric is well respected by other blues giants and according to Joe Bonamassa, Eric is “one of the best if not the best guitarist in the world today”. You have one more chance to see this inspirational guitar playing genius at the Delta stage on Sunday 7.30pm.
Strength, intelligence, glamour and a very warm heart came to the fore as Mary J Blige made her presence felt at the Mojo. Executing perfect stage craft and soul filled vocals, well supported by her vocal harmony singers, Mary created an empowering and fun filled atmosphere. Experiencing R&B royalty Mary J Blige and her very tight band for the first time at Bluesfest was the perfect way to end the night.
Bluesfest 2017 Day 2 – Friday 14th April