Gumboots, gumboots and even more gumboots. The rubberised footwear was always going to be the fashion of the day after an all-nighter of rain hit the Bluesfest 2015 site. And while the BF staff did an amazing job of filling in the marshy ground, a day of foot traffic had it resembling Flanders Fields by evenings end.
So after yesterday’s frenetic pace, today looked to be a more casual affair.
First up was a Red Bull followed by a skinny latte with an extra shot. With batteries set to fully recharged, I made my way to the Delta tent to once again enjoy the haunting sounds of Kristy Lee and band.
I’ve been really hooked by this Alabama songstress. Her soaring vocals coupled with powerful harmonies make her songs gospel-like in their fervour. Kicking off her set with a song called Hold On To Hope, a song about never giving up, and it was to ring true for me later in the day. The highlight of her set was a beautiful 10 minute rendition of the Bill Withers tune, ‘Grandma’s Hands’. The appreciative crowd was clearly moved.
I was determined to meet Kristy Lee and try and interview her for my column here on Thirty Summers dot com. My chance was to buy her CD and wait in line at the signing tent. And I was rewarded by being first in the queue waiting for Kristy Lee to arrive. With the line of other groupies behind me, I had pride in being in position 1A once again (refer to Day One’s report to put that in context!) There was a delay in arriving, but once she did, my moment came. We had brief chat, I told her she was amazing and I asked if I could set up an interview. She was keen but handed me over to her manager to nut out the intricacies! Her manager advised that as they were leaving early the next day, the only chance we had was around 3:30 when she may do a guest stint on the small busking stage…weather dependent! ‘That’ll do me’ I thought and skipped off into the rain with “weather dependent” running through my head, totally forgetting to get a photo!!
I had 45 minutes to kill and my phone was nearly flat. I needed it charged if I was going to record this exclusive interview. I made my way to the phone charging tent where I was now on first name basis with the girls in there. I paid my 5 bucks for an hours charge knowing that I would have to cut that time short. “What next?” I thought to myself…a quick couple of beers to quench the thirst. As luck would have it, the rain had stopped. Pacing around drinking my lager and with no watch on me, I asked a kind Samaritan for the time. “3:36” he told me. Damn. I was late. I retrieved my phone. It was only on 56% charged but I knew that would have to do.
I raced over to the busking tent and with rain holding off, I was hoping my luck was in. But my luck was out. On the busking stage was bearded hippie with a really gravelly voice. That wasn’t Kristy Lee. Damn. I looked at the whiteboard schedule in front of the tent and it said 3:30-4:00 SURPRISE PERFORMANCE. Clearly she was meant to be here but instead it was Mr Hippie. I asked the girl who was in charge of the stage, “Is Kristy Lee performing at all?” “No” she said. “It was all weather dependent.” I looked up into the grey sky. “But it’s not raining” I said meekly. I decided to wait awhile, hoping that Kristy Lee was out there looking for me, knowing how bad she wanted to do the interview!
As 4:30 approached, I surrendered to the fact that it wasn’t happening. I needed to see some music. I refocused and headed off to Mojo to catch Mariachi El Bronx.
Mariachi El Bronx from Los Angeles are the alter ego of punk/hardcore band, The Bronx. When The Bronx were asked to play acoustic on a TV show, they decided to do it Mexican style and donned their new persona.
And they are brilliant. Lead singer Matt Caughthran is engaging and gets the big crowd on board. They play selections from all their albums with highlights being 48 Roses; Sleepwalker; Wildfires and the very catchy, Everything Twice.
Now that I was back on schedule I had to head over to Jambalaya and catch the laid back and groovy, Donavon Frankenreiter.
On my way over I passed by the busking tent again. A big crowd was gathered. I looked over, and the band that were Kristy Lee’s backing band were playing. Could it be? I looked amongst the crowd gathered and sure enough there she was at the front of the stage watching on with her manager. BOOM! And what’s more, her manager was walking over in my direction…and then past me, over to Potato Heads food stand.
On her way back, I approached her and asked if I could still get that interview with Kristy Lee, and sure enough we were good to go…although I had to wait a bit longer as Kristy Lee had just got on stage to do a guest spot!
So I finally got my interview with the Alabama songstress! Kristy Lee explains the innovative way she secured her spot at Bluesfest 2015, why she loves this Festival and Australia so much, and which famous surfer gave her her first ever surfing lesson in the interview. Click for my Kristy Lee interview.
And if you can, check out her album, Raise The Dead.
With a spring in my step, I floated over to Jambalaya to watch the closing few songs of Donavon Frankenreiter which included guest appearances by Vika and Linda Bull and ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro, on a rousing ‘It Don’t Matter’. The crowd, and I, were buzzing.
On a whim I headed into Crossroads to check out Celtic rock legends, The Waterboys. As I arrived, the entire band were wearing weird and wonderful masks with singer Mike Scott in character as some three-faced hobbit like creature. But that soon finished and they removed the masks. Mike introduced the band and with a quick “ok fellas, let’s nail this muthaf@#%r to the wall” they ripped into their all time classic, ‘Whole Of The Moon’…the crowd went off!
Back to Jambalaya to catch Boston band, Dispatch. They have been around 20 odd years but this is their first time in Australia. They rock out but have a distinct roots element running through their songs. I really enjoyed them and will be checking out their records. The crowd loved them too…especially those crazy cats dancing wildly next to me, probably believing I wasn’t even there. I was.
I arrived at Mojo for the concluding stages of the set by Irish singer/songwriter and current flavour of the month, Hozier. He sounded ‘heavier’ than I was expecting. The crowd was massive with an almost church like reverence, which was taken to higher levels when he performed ‘Take Me To The Church’ and ‘Sedated’ to finish the set. Amen brother.
Alabama Shakes were one of my must sees and their set in the Mojo tent didn’t let me down. A vehicle for larger than life front woman, Brittany Howard, these soulful southern rockers really tore the place down. She is incredible. Think of all of those big powerful bluesy soul voices of the past…Aretha, Janis, Amy Winehouse…all rolled into one. And she plays electric guitar to boot. A highlight for me was the gospel like, ‘You Ain’t Alone’…brilliant stuff.
I nipped out of there just before the end as I needed to get down to the Juke Joint for my final gig of the night, the Music Maker Blues Revue. The Music Maker Foundation is a not for profit charity keeping traditional blues music alive. They make sure that Bluesmen in the Deep South are housed and fed and promoted so they can keep plying their trade. Every year they come to Bluesfest with their showcase of three or four great blues artists. This year was no exception and I had the pleasure of witnessing Vasti Jackson, Alabama Slim, Super Chikan and Cool John Ferguson all rip it up! Wonderful.
And with Cool John still belting out an epic ‘Hey Joe’, I headed out into the rain and back to my tent, wondering how the hell are they going to fix this mud fest by the morning? And can I keep up this ridiculous pace?? Stay tuned music lovers.