Grab your capos and lets go allegro for part two of my Bluesfest review! For those that missed it, here’s the crescendo.
Day 2. It’s Raining Again.
One of the problems camping on site with no mode of transportation is that you become somewhat marooned and reliant on the venue organisers to provide early morning vittles. The Bluesfest General Store served hot coffee, fruit juices and scrumptious bacon & egg rolls to hungry campers every day. Sitting in the sun with other bleary-eyed members of the great unwashed was the perfect way to meet people and pass the time waiting for the show to begin. We received some excellent recommendations for bands to see, and offered the same back. Other topics of discussion were the inevitable Bluesfest rumours. Would Bruce Springsteen show up? What about Neil Young? In the end they were only that – rumours, but we had fun pondering the possibilities.
When the gates opened at midday we were first in line. I headed straight to the Berocca tent for a free pick me up before checking out the local vendors. Hats, boots and clothing in leather, hemp, and cotton, the styles ranged from urban cowboy through laid-back vegetarian and onto steam-punk aficionado. We even sampled some of the locally produced beef jerky, which provided both a chewy chili flavor explosion with exercise for your jaw.
With a drink in hand we wandered in to watch ladies favourite, Seth Lakeman, set female hearts a-fluttering with boyish charm and a mean fiddle. The stage bounced high. The girls bounced higher. After an hour of dancing we crept off to slow our afternoon down with some contemporary blues from the Taj Mahal Trio. Soulful, mellow and brilliant are the best words to describe a polished performance from the elderly statesman of blues. I left the show early though to go see a young Hawaiian kid called Jake Shimabukuro who promised to play a version of The Beatles ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ on ukulele. He did so after covering The Eagles ‘Hotel California’ and it was pretty good.
In the evening we caught up with Joan Armatrading, the Steve Miller Band and Santana. Joan’s voice was as powerful that night as it was early on in her career and Santana fingers glide along the fret board in such an effortless manner it almost looks too easy. But my personal fave was the space cowboy. Steve Miller played all his old hits from the seventies, note perfect, and had the crowd pumped. Everybody sang from the tone deaf to the happy drunk.
The rain arrived in time with Steve Miller and Bluesfest became bog-land. That didn’t quench the fun though. People splashed and danced in the puddles, often losing their thongs in the mud as they squelched from one stage to another.
Fred Wesley’s trombone was the last sound we heard as we headed back to the tent.
Day 3. Trampled Underfoot
On Saturday we awoke feeling somewhat stodgy and decided to take a run into Byron town. A four kilometre jog to the beach ended with an ominous incoming tide, but we figured we could make it. We were wrong. With the township in sight we were forced off the beach by hip high waves that were not getting any smaller. Thankfully the people whose backyard we invaded, didn’t own a ferocious dog.
After doing the typical touristy things like visiting the lighthouse, looking for dolphins and wandering the provincial markets, it was time to head back to Bluesfest for some mellifluous tones.
We stretched out our picnic blanket at the back of Mojo stage and began the afternoon with white wine and Wilco. With a catalogue of alternative rock classics stretching back to the mid nineties, Wilco had something for everyone. And everyone enjoyed them, in spite of the fact that not many new the words.
Status Quo got the older hippies pumped and bopping. They were ok, but Australia produced better rock in the 70’s thanks to bands like the Angels, Billy Thorpe, Daddy Cool and ACDC, to name just a few. The best thing about Status Quo’s performance is you could guarantee there would know at least one song to sing along to. I knew several, yet was disheartened to hear them play the Coles supermarket tune 😉
The Blind Boys of Alabama were….well….not good. But Robert Plant was exceptional. Not much in the way of Led Zeppelin in his playlist, but tons of good tunes nonetheless.
Iggy and the Stooges rounded out the evening and I have to say, for a withered old Egyptian mummy, he sure can belt out a song. I don’t think the audience was quite ready to open up a vein as Iggy suggested though 😉
Come back Friday for the espressivo encore to Blues, Bog, Beers and Beards!