Why I keep coming back. Bluesfest 2016. A snapshot.
Well, I just had a causal glance at the calendar and came to the realisation that my favourite time of the year is a little under a month away. Yes that’s right. The Easter long weekend. And surprisingly, it’s not because of the thrill of hunting for little chocolate eggs amongst the shrubs and rubbish throughout my backyard….although I do love that. No, it’s because Easter means it’s Byron Bay Bluesfest.
Bluesfest, on Tygarah Tea Tree Farm 15 minutes out of Byron Bay. A mythical place where you can lose yourself amongst the wondrous musical vibes emanating from one of five majestic tents. A place where you can eat yourself stupid at one of the dozens of aaamzing food outlets. A place where you can be what you want to be and wear what you want to wear.
Byron Bay Bluesfest 2017 lineup
And I am truly excited because once again this year, Peter Noble and the Bluesfest team have assembled an astonishing lineup to match anything they have produced in recent times. Yes, it was a real shame that the old buzzard, Neil Young, pulled out of his agreed appointment, and to a lesser extent, Barry Gibb as well. A lot of fans were extremely disappointed by that and somehow believed it to be Bluesfest’s fault when venting their anger.
But for regular consumers of Bluesfest hospitality, the festival is actually so much less about the headline acts, and more about enormous amount of talent assembled in the time slots throughout the day. And this year, being no exception, is jam-packed with goodness.
Having said that, the headliners for 2017 have legend status just dripping from them:
- Patti Smith, bohemian punk poet laureate, performing her seminal album, ’Horses’, in it’s entirety, and her last ever performances in Australia, will be a must see.
- Santana, who blew the Bluesfest crowds away only a few years ago, is back once again, to shed his guitar sonic brilliance and Latin party vibes all over us.
- Also returning, the Doobie Brothers, still rocking hard and tight with a set list of classics that other bands could simply dream of having.
- After bailing on Bluesfest a few years ago, the nutty boys, Madness has been welcomed back with open arms and will surely create one of the more fun sets of the entire festival.
- R & B Queen, Mary J Blige brings her urban soul music to grace the Bluesfest stage.
- Also returning, is the Zac Brown Band, one of the USA’s biggest concert draws and one of the major players in the whole Americana scene.
- Hip Hop legend, and one of the pillars of the whole rap movement, Nas, is bringing his tough street poetry and rhyme to Bluesfest for the first time. As a bonus, New Orleans brass giants, the Soul Rebels will be his band for the gig.
- And filling out the festivities on the Monday, is NZ legend Neil Finn, plying us with hits from his solo, Split Enz and Crowded House catalogues.
So if headliners are all that you look for at a music festival, you have a handful of the world’s best right there.
This musical buffet is more than just Blues.
But Bluesfest belies its name, as it is a smorgasbord of genres and styles from all fields of music. And this is the reason why the festival has grown year-on-year from it’s primarily bluesy roots. So scratch a little deeper into the lineup and you will see what a treasure trove it is.
For the jazz cats, we have the wonderful groove and explorations of Snarky Puppy; the very funky and soulful legend of the vibes, Roy Ayers; and performing songs from the Bitches Brew era, the Miles Electric Band, featuring many former Miles Davis alumni.
For the funksters, from New Orleans comes Dumpstaphunk with their overdriven Hammond B3 grooves; also from NOLA, the almost ubiquitous, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue playing their firebrand mix of hard rocking, horn-blown funk; and the punky funky reggae grooves of festival favorites, Slightly Stoopid.
Add to that legends like Ian Anderson playing from the Jethro Tull songbook; Booker T (of MG’s fame) presenting hits from the Stax catalogue; Jimmy Buffett, purveyor of good times and feelgood vibes; Billy Bragg, who will perform both solo and with Joe Henry; country blues queen, the seemingly ageless Bonnie Raitt; the old swamp fox himself, Tony Joe White and the high priestess of gospel and soul and perennial Bluesfest favorite, Mavis Staples
Contempory artists include The Lumineers; St Paul & The Broken Bones; Courtney Barnett; Michael Kiwanuka; The Record Company; The Mountain Goats; Vintage Trouble; Gregory Porter and Gallant.
Apart from those that have already been mentioned, extraordinary female performers include Irish Mythen; Joan Osborne; Corinne Bailey Rae; Beth Hart; Laura Mvula; Ricki Lee Jones; Rhiannon Giddons and Nikki Hill.
Great Blues from which to choose.
Of course Blues lovers are never forgotten. The legend himself Buddy Guy, returns for two exclusive performances; Eric Gales, hailed by some as the best blues guitarist in the world will be making his debut at Bluesfest; Mud Morganfield, son of the late great Muddy Waters, will be honouring his fathers legacy; Devon Allman will be cutting loose with his firebrand blues guitar; Vasti Jackson who spends as much time off stage as on it with his amalgamation of Buddy Guy/Hendrix showmanship. Add to the list Blind Boy Paxton, Aussies Lloyd Spiegel, Ray Beadle & The Silver Dollars and Jeff Lang and we have genuine blues star quality on hand.
Not to forget the good time music from the likes of The California Honeydrops; The Strumbellas; Nahko & Medicine For The People; Turin Brakes; Max Jury, Andrew Bird and a hell of a lot more.
Damn, can you tell I’m excited?!
This is always the best music festival in Australia, catering for all tastes and age groups. It consistently gets recognised as one of the top 5 music festivals around the globe, and deservedly so. The Bluesfest 2017 line up is simply stellar!
If you are still undecided about going you still have time on your hands. 5 day and 3 day passes along with single day tickets are still available. As a great man once said…
“…do yourself a favour! “
You will not regret it. Then, just try stopping at one!
Are you going this year or have you been before? Let us know your thoughts below