Live Review + Photos: Byron Bay Bluesfest – Sunday 31 March 2024

Review by Wanda Hill
Photos by Ant Ritz

Byron Bay Bluesfest

Great to witness some new to Bluesfest artists performing over the weekend. The Jambalaya was alive with powerful female vocalists this easter Sunday. Fresh Australian talent WILSN blew everyone away with the beauty and clarity of her tone. Citing a few years living in Nashville as seminal in her song writing development. She is back in Australia now sharing her contemporary soul music with new audiences. Don’t miss the opportunity to see her emerging brilliance 5pm today at the Delta stage.

The unique style of Texan Jackie Venson was greatly appreciated by new fans. Playing electric guitar run through a few machines and accompanied by virtuoso drummer Rodney Hyder, together they created a huge and interesting sound. Jackie’s vocals are stripped back and subtle with her guitar mastery speaking volumes for her originality and craft. Her online electric guitar and pedal tutorials look like a great source of knowledge and inspiration for anyone considering a new creative outlet after being sparked by her.

Erja Lyytinen had fun with her listeners sharing simple choreographed dance moves for us to try, that brought a country feel to her otherwise traditional Rock/Blues set. Her sense of humour, strong vocals, wailing electric guitar supported up by solid bass and drum displayed why this Finnish artist has won so many awards. She plays again today 4pm at the Mojo. Also new to Bluesfest this year was Australian Country artist Brad Cox bringing some good old-fashioned values to Bluesfest. Singing about being loyal in love, a one-woman man, being able to fix cars and other lovely traits not often associated with the music scene. 

Highlight of the day was The Blind Boys of Alabama at the Crossroads. Even the security guards were dancing behind the scenes. The vibes just don’t get better than what they bring. A favourite among other artists performing at the festival, these legends evoke a lot of love and respect from all those touched by their magic. Fortunately, they are playing again tonight, 8pm at the Delta stage.

Peter Garrett and the Alter Egos hit the Mojo full of conviction, ever pertinent context and much needed truth telling. Always on point, Peter delivers time and time again. What a career, melding brilliant music with the most important messages of our time. Delivering hard content on a bed stimulating sounds seeping deep into our psyches. The audience enjoyment was palpable creating a memorable experience for years to come.

A chilled-out end to the evening was had with The Teskey Brothers singing sweet songs at the Mojo and Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals dropping the tempo at the Crossroads. A stark contrast to what will be an explosive end to the festival tonight with Infectious Grooves headlining the Mojo 8.30 pm. Super stoked that Bluesfest is getting a funk/metal inspired moment. Metallica fans will be excited to see that bassist Robert Trujillo is part of the all-star Infectious Grooves line up featuring Mike Muir and Dean Pleasants from Suicidal Tendencies, Dave Kushner (Velvet Revolver), Brooks Wackerman (Avenged Sevenfold) and Jay Weinberg (Slipknot).

Byron Bay Bluesfest