Take three and the 33rd
annual Bluesfest actually happened, much to the relief and joy of the entire
Bluesfest community. Five days of celebrating some of the world’s finest
musicians amongst old and new friends came to an end on Monday night. The
festival grounds will be glad to see us gone, the trodden grass can regrow and
the wildlife can get some much needed sleep.
Crowded House lived up to their name at the Crossroads as they could have filled two
big tops with the amount of people trying to get close to the action. Parking
sold out early for what was this year’s biggest day at Bluesfest. Pretty much
the entire festival patronage gathered to see this much loved band. Despite most
people choosing to sing along with Crowded House there was still plenty of awe
and devotion for George Benson over
at the Mojo,where he was filling
the cool night air with romance and nostalgia, perfect for lovers.
Well it’s not a dream,
it is real and it’s happening again. After so long without festivals it doesn’t
seem possible to see live music, five consecutive days in a row. Day three and everything
is smooth. The parking and traffic situation has been sorted, the long queues are
a thing of yesterday and everything just feels a bit more relaxed. Families are
out with their kids, many having their first ever festival experience.
Bluesfest has been reborn in full glory after years of pandemic restrictions preventing the festival from going ahead. Friday’s epic line up saw the venue packed with music lover’s eager to feast on the gods of Australian rock music as well as welcoming international artists who have waited a long time to grace our shores.
The final day of life in a village designed especially for fun looked magical as sun showers and rainbows illuminated the sky in true north coast style. Relaxed patrons roamed the grounds enjoying their last tastes of festival foods and music for the soul. Many of the visiting performers comment in their shows about the blessing of coming to this festival, the great time they have, and the beauty of the land and nearby ocean. Continue reading Live Review : Bluesfest Byron Bay 2019 – Day 5→
The 30th anniversary of Bluesfest would not be complete without Australia’s most soulful singer songwriter Archie Roach. This afternoon’s Mojo highlight was Archie sharing stories of his life and his ancestor’s lives interwoven between powerfully emotive songs full of well earned wisdom. His beautiful lyrics punctuated by distinctive vocal tones, depth and vibrato that can move even the most stoic man to tears. Time seems to slow down in his presence, plenty of space for contemplation as Archie brings into focus issues such as the fight to protect a Djap Wurrung sacred birthing tree in Victoria currently threatened by highway expansion. His song ‘A child was born here’ perfectly illustrating the importance of birthing trees to Aboriginal people across the country. Such a gift to spend time listening to this great man who demonstrates so well that the greatest strength can be found in gentleness. Continue reading Live Review : Bluesfest Byron Bay 2019 – Day 4→
Saturday got of to a great start with Rockwiz in the Jambalaya where hopeful players were spilling out the sides of the venue. After the quiz contestants were chosen the show got underway with an endless stream of guests including Ian Moss and Sarah McLeod arriving to play a song and join in with the teams. First guest for the day was Casey Donovan performing a cover of Queen’s ‘Don’t stop me now’ that Freddy Mercury would have been extremely proud of. Julia Zemiro hosted a witty and fun afternoon, artfully mixing music and politics making sure everyone was entertained and laughing. Turn up early for your chance to be a contestant when Rockwiz returns Sunday 1pm at Jambalaya. Continue reading Live Review : Bluesfest Byron Bay 2019 – Day 3→
Gazing out over a sea of happy faces all staring at a source of inspiration is one of the highlights of Bluesfest, a religious experience of sorts. Finding togetherness in appreciation for another’s artistic expression is the kind of non denominational worship that can heal old wounds and start new friendships. Whether you like an an artist or not it is hard to ignore the passion, talent and commitment required to build a career around music that lets you travel the world. What greater way to spend a designated holy day than watching people who have risen to god/dess status in our lifetimes and listen to the gifts they bring. Continue reading Live Review : Bluesfest Byron Bay 2019 – Day 2→
Bluesfest Day 1 – 18 April 2019
If you are wondering why people keep coming back to Bluesfest year after year for 30 years, it’s because there is always new and exciting music to discover here. Whether it be seeing an artist for the first time that you have never heard of that has actually been around for decades and is really famous somewhere else, or having the opportunity to see recently emerged artists from right here on your doorstep. Day 1 brought the Bluesfest crowd a taste of what is hot in Australia right now with Dallas Woods, Baker Boy and Ocean Alley all on the menu. Continue reading Live Review : Bluesfest Byron Bay 2019 – Day 1→
Bluesfest 2018 – Saturday 31st March – Day 3
Day three was feeling pretty cruizy and chilled as people in for the whole music marathon were recovering from two huge days of sonic feasting already. No long lines for food and moving around the festival was pretty easy compared to the day before. That was until Jackson Browne was about to start at the Crossroads and then trying to move towards the other stages became an extreme effort as all roads and traffic pointed to Jackson Browne. The Crossroads was completely filled to hear his beautiful clear sound and heartfelt lyrics which unfortunately were slightly impacted for people at the back of the tent by sound bleed from a particularly energetic set by Harts over at the Jambalaya. Not so bad for the crowd at Jambalaya who were being engulfed by Harts powerful sounds.
Juanes at the Mojo had a small but extremely dedicated and appreciative crowd cheering wildly between songs. This Columbian singer sang the entire set in Spanish and at one point thanked the crowd for appreciating and respecting this. His music is diverse and ranged from ballads to hard rock with plenty of danceable tunes in between. All with a distinctly Latin flavour. Having won 20 Latin Grammy awards he is a legend in Spanish speaking countries worldwide but not so well known in Australia. Juanes being a social justice and peace activist was invited to join like minded Michael Franti on stage at the Mojo later in the evening.
The New Power Generation played their final show for the festival at the Mojo so they ramped up the vibe to 110%. Clearly enjoying their Bluesfest experience they gave the audience a show they will never forget. The bigger stage suited their performance and the 10-piece band had the room they needed for synchronised dance moves and expression. Prince’s songs were brought to life by his former band with epic synths, brilliant bass and outstanding vocals by André Cymone, Kip Blackshire and Támar Davis. Támar especially hits those high notes that sound impossible but oh so sweet. Bassist Dwayne Thomas Jr. was dressed as a human billboard advertising himself. His bass and clothes covered with Mono Neon signs, clearly an invitation to google him and find out more. No shyness about self promotion here. People of all ages enjoyed this uplifting and soulful tribute to an artist that has given us so much and departed way too soon.
People were finding it impossible to walk past Chain at the Delta stage, they had to dance walk and groove instead. As Peter Noble said while asking them to do an extra song “Chain are Australia’s greatest Blues band” having formed in 1968 they celebrate their 50th anniversary this year. The Afro Celt Sound System brought a dynamic mix of cultures and instruments to the Delta stage delivering a high energy set filled with sounds and influences from Indian, African and Gaelic traditions. I’m looking forward to dancing with them again today Sunday April 1st at 3pm at the Jambalaya.
Michael Franti and Spearhead had the honour of headlining at the Mojo under the full moon and will play again on Monday night the 2nd of April at the Crossroads at 10pm. As always Michael delivered positive and purpose filled messages through accessible upbeat music to an ever expanding fan filled audience.
Feeling completely satisfied from three huge days of Bluesfest already it was good to be reminded by acrobatic vocalist Ziek McCarter from Con Brio earlier in the day that “this is not a show, this is a party” and the party goes on. Sunday is looking to be massive. Crowds are expected to swell for the big acts coming on tonight – Melissa Etheridge, Sheryl Crow, Seal, John Bulter Trio and Tash Sultana. It’s the last day of Boomerang Festival today so if you haven’t checked this out yet make sure you are in early enough to catch the magic happening at the Boomerang dance ground and near by tents from 12:30pm.
Bluesfest 2018 – Friday 30th March – Day 2
Mesmerising singing in language, dancing and didgeridoo emanated from the Boomerang Festival dance grounds from early in the day. Smoking leaves scented the air around people gathered to watch Jannawi Dance Clan and Muggera Dancers. Setting the tone, for a day filled with crowd participation, the lead song man invited the audience to learn a few dances. Connecting with, honouring and protecting the land was a strong theme in the movements and intention of the dances we were invited to learn. Continue reading Live Review : Bluesfest Byron Bay 2018 – Day 2→
Bluesfest Byron Bay 2018 – Thursday 29th March – Day 1
Rain cannot keep away the dedicated amphibious Bluesfest patron happy to withstand a bit of discomfort for the annual feast of music, artfully curated by Bluesfest director Peter Noble each year. The festival opened along with the sky, as the fertile fields of Tyagarah became the scene of another epic gathering of masters of sound from around the globe.
Five consecutive days in the sunshine was a rare treat for Bluesfest regulars who have endured years of mud to listen to the incredible artists invited to perform at this world class festival. Day five felt very relaxed as the big crowds had thinned and lining up for a bite to eat or something to drink seemed almost instant in comparison to previous days. Weary stall holders still served customers with smiles and delicious concoctions but understandably they were looking forward to the event drawing to a close. Continue reading Live Review + Photo Gallery : Bluesfest Byron Bay 2017 – Day Five→