To quote Bob Marley
“Sun is shining, the weather is sweet
Make you want to move, your dancing feet”
Finally I wake up in ‘Chez 30S’ with the warm sun heating up my palatial digs. Feels like everything is going to be alright! And you know what? I love the smell of baking mud in the morning!
Well, I have made it to day 5 in one piece. 4 days so far of incredible music and real good times. And yes, I’ve worked hard. The pace that I’ve kept, moving from stage to stage all day long, can only be done ‘flying solo’. No one to wait for. No designated meeting points. Just go where I want to go, when I need to go.
Don’t get me wrong, this is probably not the ideal way to spend Bluesfest. This is a place to be having good times with friends and remaining relaxed throughout. However, I blame Peter Noble and the Bluesfest team for once again packing so many unbelievable must see artists into the program, that for a hardcore music fan, I was given no choice!
I’m planning on a much later start today with my first slated performance not until 3:00pm.
So the real decision now is what to do in the meantime? Shuttle back into Byron for coffee and a feed? Go back to sleep? ( can’t see that happening as the tent is operating much like a greenhouse now!)
The humidity is high…even higher in the plastic toilet cubicles! I wonder if Kenny ever thought of designing evaporative air con for those things?
Monday is a real relaxed day at Bluesfest. The numbers are a lot smaller and it’s a lot more comfortable making your way around.
I headed over to the busker stage on assignment but the artist I was meant to see didn’t show. Instead I witnessed a really cool set by Gold Coast up and comer, Jake Whittaker. He and his band delivered some funky soul originals which genuinely pleased the small crowd. I interviewed him afterward.
Over to Jambalaya to see Pokey LaFarge. Pokey and his band are exponents of old timey Western swing with hints of ragtime and early blues. You could imagine them on the back of a truck playing at a County Fair in the 1930’s! The only thing that would make it more authentic would be if they were in sepia tones! The generous crowd in Jambalaya had a good old sing along.
Popped into Delta to see Aussie soul rock legend Diesel. He played a solo set taking tracks off his new album and some of his old classics like ‘Come To Me’ and ‘Tip Of My Tongue’ A beautiful cover of the Nilsson classic, ‘Everybody’s Talking’ as well as a fine version of Neil Young’s ‘Cinnamon Girl’ . He is a seriously good guitarist and wonderful vocalist, and criminally underrated.
Back to Delta to see the old ‘Swamp Fox’ himself, Tony Joe White. TJW is a true legend of music, once a contemporary of Elvis, (Elvis had a hit with Polk Salad Annie by TJW), he has aged well. With his famous deep southern accent, and great blues guitar playing, he can get some evil and distorted sounds coming through his rustic amplifier. Sounds that you only find in the swamps and Everglades of the Deep South.
Next into Jambalaya to check out blues legend, John Mayall. He has a cracking band of fine musicians continuing a long tradition of great players in his ranks. Mayall is the godfather of British blues with his group in the 60’s being the nursery for many of the best British musicians. Great set.
George Clinton is the Overlord of funk. Accept no substitutes! With his band’s Parliament and Funkadelic, he set the template for psychedelic funk rock in the 70’s. And now with his P-Funk collective, they are still settling the standards.
On the Mojo stage, George leads his 14 piece outfit like a big old conductor, pointing to whoevers turn in the spotlight it is next, handing out and taking back microphones and leading the audience chants. His voice may be shot, he must be at least 75, but there are 4 or more vocalists to take the mantle, sometimes all in the one song. It was hot and sweaty and the groove was oh so heavy! They had the big Crossroads crowd funking up! As it says on the cover of the second Funkadelic album…
“Free your mind…And your ass will follow!”
I couldn’t stay for all of his set as I knew he was playing for anywhere up to 3 hours. I had to fit in one more!
And then to finish. For my last gig of the festival I decided I would end with some happy music. And there is no one happier than Michael Franti and his band, Spearhead. A true advocate of peace and love through music.
I positioned myself next to one of the light towers knowing he always spends time in the crowd…and didn’t let me down performing next to where I was standing. He is the ultimate festival performer knowing how to bring the crowd up. Yes, I know…how many times can you ask “How you feeling Byron Bay?”, but it’s nice that he is concerned. He played well over his allotted time, but the crowd couldn’t care less…this was the last performance at Bluesfest 2015.
It was a nice vibe to end the weekend.
So there you have it. All over red rover as they say. Another wonderful experience. The crowds were a fraction down this year but not substantially and the quality of artist was as great as ever.
A big shout out to the phone charging tent at the Southern gate…you kept me charged all weekend long!!
I hope some of you have been inspired to check out some new artists. Try not be a slave to commercial radio. Go forth and discover. You will be better for it. And if your thinking of coming next year…just do it!
^ Editors note. You sure have inspired us Scott! Amazing reports… now go have a lie down son!!