Also known by its first line, ‘Is There for Honest Poverty’, ‘A Man’s a Man for A’ That’ (i.e. ‘for all that’) laments the fact that equality does not exist among men. The poem ends with the heartfelt call ‘That man to man the world o’er, / Shall brothers be for a’ that.’ The poem […]
Hello to Bluesfest 2016 dear occasional reader. Hard to think it’s been a year since I last penned an entry on this site. Certainly been some changes in my life in that time that I won’t bore you with other than to mention one; the girls football team I coached won the minor premiership AND grand final for the 2nd year running in September 2015. Sadly, there is no girls competition in our local area in 2016 as not enough clubs have female players. However, all the girls have stepped up into senior ranks and are performing really well so while the junior game is gone, we can rebuild our club’s senior women’s team with these very enthusiastic and talented juniors.
Now, that said, who’s looking forward to this year’s Bluesfest? I’m pretty stoked with the eclectic line-up and very much looking forward to the Residents, the Decemberists, Noel Gallagher, Modest Mouse, Eagles of Death Metal, Brian Wilson, the Wailers and the Selecter to name a few, as well as discovering many other acts that I know little about.
So feel free to check in from time to time as I update this blog in the haze of a morning after and in the company of good coffee and good friends.
See you at the festival!
And so it’s here: the final day of our Bluesfest adventure for another year. The legs are just holding on but with a blue-skied morning greeting us the day ahead was looking good.
Kaylene and I took the time out to try and have lunch at the iconic Byron Bay Lighthouse but with limited parking and an apparent influx of tourists it was impossible to get near. So we tried another paid parking spot close to a beach café where we found it equally impossible to get a table. We ordered extravagantly priced takeaway only for someone to grab our order by mistake. We were forced to wait longer and just dodged a parking ticket…a nice way to start the day.
The festival day started after 3.30 pm for Sandy, Tom and I (John and Steve left earlier). We spent a little time at Angelique Kidjo as we had decided to tent sit for 3 other acts to follow. And while that meant for me that I’d miss John Mayall’s full set, I was certainly not disappointed by what I saw.
There was a brief interlude to draw the winners of the Cystic Fibrosis guitars (I wasn’t one of them), with Peter Noble announcing over $48k had been raised for CF research over the festival. Some effort!
Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires were up first and boy, what a classic soul performance. Bradley changed costumes and continually told the audience how he loved us; when he performed the splits mid-song and managed to keep going to throw the mic stand away and retrieve it with the lead, then used the stand to illustrate his love of Jesus as he simulated Christ’s carrying of the cross it all made for great theatre. When his hour was over I couldn’t believe it; it seemed to be the quickest hour and my feet suddenly weren’t aching anymore. A truly religious experience is Mr Charles Bradley.
Next was Paul Kelly presents the Merri Soul Sessions, a group consisting of Vika and Linda Bull, Dan Sultan, Kira Puru, the guitarist from Even and that drummer bloke from Rockwiz. As well as a few others, including Mr Kelly of course.
What a show. One of the festival highlights for me and another hour flashed by. I could have listened to them all night as the band performed like a soul revue with revolving singers. Vika Bull’s rendition of Sweet Guy had to be heard to believed as she really brought out the darkness residing in Kelly’s tale of domestic violence written from a woman’s point of view. To hear the song performed by this powerful woman was a stirring moment indeed.
There were too many highlights to list here but needless to say if this group comes to your town, you must find some time to check them out.
The final performance for us was George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic. Expecting a lengthy set and not big fans, we planned an early exit. That we stayed a little longer is tribute to the performance of this legendary act. The sound for such a huge ensemble would have been a huge challenge to try and mix right and unfortunately the sound guys struggled in this set to balance the instruments and vocals. A real shame as the players gave it everything and for a music I am not a big fan of, this proved one of the most enjoyable performances of the weekend. I couldn’t get the theme of it all but the sheer number of players all interlocking and playing together was something to witness.
And that was it. We did leave before Clinton’s set finished but that proved a wise decision as we were all tired and fully satiated with our final festival experience. The last day proved a massive winner and the reason we’ll all be looking forward to coming back next year.
A couple of quiet beers at home as John and I reminisced about Status Quo then it was all over.
CYA in 2016.
Hello dear occasional reader, and an explanation for this post’s title. Late nights and pleasant early mornings spent catching up with friends have provided little opportunity for indulging in internet posting the last few days. Regrets? Nah. Not one. But the result is this belated and unapologetically lengthy catch-up. I hope you enjoy.
After a disappointing Day 1 and one brief ‘wow’-like moment when I bumped into a couple of Bluebirds people (shout outs to Baily and his mum), the first full on WOW moment came on Day 2 with uke player Jake Shimabukuru (or as some bloke on his phone called him, ‘Jake…with the really long surname’). Jake was simply amazing, with the most stunning, virtuoso display of ukulele playing I have ever heard. Now the uke is not an instrument I like; I put it up there with the recorder imagining it as some kind of ‘wanna-be’ real instrument.
But I will now happily cease my cynicism and admit that in the right hands it rocks! And to witness a crowd singing the words to Bohemian Rhapsody as accompaniment to Shimabukuru’s instrumental interpretation is something I will never forget. This guy knew how to work a crowd but he had the chops to go with it. Stunning.
Band of Skulls was next on my list of acts to check out and I was hoping not to repeat the 1st night’s experience with Sticky Fingers, given I hadn’t heard BOS before either.
I shouldn’t have worried however as the English 3-piece delivered an enjoyable and dynamic set that left me wondering why I hadn’t heard them before and also why there were no CDs in the merch shop….the numbers of camera people about indicated this band has been tagged as one to watch.
BOS play a radio friendly alternative rock sound with a live ferocity that captures your attention and doesn’t let go from start to finish. They are one of the tightest acts I’ve heard live and the interplay between drums and bass was solid as.
Another enjoyable encounter was 80s ska/pop act the Beat. Lots of tunes that got feet dancing and voices singing along. The abs on singer Ranking Roger, who must be in his 60s, had the younger ladies swooning and the older men guiltily sucking in their paunches….
After a short break for an excellent vegetarian meal it was off to Jeff Lang, another artist who I had heard much about but never seen in performance. And what a performance it turned out to be. Just him and a drummer and the revamped Juke Joint was captivated. Here too was the first blues performance of the weekend that I’d heard and it was like receiving a shot of adrenaline. Another truly ‘wow’ moment. Lang’s voice has been criticised by some as weak and not suiting the music he plays. Well I’m sorry but while he doesn’t have an authentic blues howl the man can more than hold a tune and if that isn’t his strength his skills on various guitars more than over compensate.
The night ended with the Music Maker Blues Revue, a collective of older musicians from the American south being sponsored to try and keep their musical heritage alive. I caught the Revue briefly last year and recognised a couple of the players and boy, could they show younger artists a thing or two about playing together and having fun. Throw in some of the best guitar soloing I’ve heard in blues format and no way could they be worried about their heritage dying. And no one could deny them the use of those chairs on stage that’s for sure.
So a full-on ‘wow’ sort of day. My Bluesfest had well and truly begun.
This day was going to prove interesting. Catching up with some acts seen the day before (BOS, Jake the uke man) and looking forward to some legends (John Mayall, Waterboys). And there were others too of course…
BOS and Jake were stunning again, particularly BOS who played a slightly different set and seemed over their jet lag from the day before. Just plain enjoyable. The rains well and truly came today although we were all prepared this time.
I caught the tail end of Skipping Girl Vinegar as I headed to the Mojo tent to catch Mariachi El Bronx. Unfortunately I left after only a few tunes partly due to not finding them that entertaining but also out of frustration at a group of younger people thinking that the seated area was a place to plonk themselves down and chat inanely – and loudly – throughout the show. This was not the first time this had happened (nor would it be the last) but it is sheer ignorance and people need to speak up and tell these idiots to clear off out of the tent to socialise. Point of notice to those who do this: no on has paid money to listen to you speak so piss off!
There…I feel better now…
Leaving El Bronx early let me see the last half hour of John Mayall’s set at the Crossroads tent (he was down as a must-see for Monday). And wow…this man looked ill but at 80 he still has a strong voice and displayed virtuoso blues playing steeped in history that brought to life all those old records I have. Can’t wait to hear the full set on Monday. Amazing.
The Waterboys were sensational. Thoroughly enjoyed their set which mixed older songs with newish ones although I’m not sure just how big an influence on other acts they have been (stage announcer stated they had influenced dozens…hmm). Anyway, while I always liked one or two songs I found this performance will stir me to listen to more.
If the Waterboys were good then Rodrigo y Gabriela were just stunning. To see and hear acoustic guitars played with such skill and passion will remain one of my all time festival highlights. The use of the guitar’s body for percussive effect is something I’ve seen many a time but not like this. The interplay between these two Mexican musicians is such that I’m sure when one breathes in the other breathes out. A real ‘wow’ moment indeed.
Day 3 was to finish on yet another high with the Celtic folk punk sounds of the Rumjacks. Yes, there’s more punk rock clichés in this lot to last a lifetime but their sheer energy and presence is something to witness. Piano accordion player Sarah-Marie is the highlight as she pogos and bounds around stage, rarely having time to catch a breath, black mascara and sweat running down her face. Doing that with a guitar is one thing but another thing entirely with a heavy instrument strapped to your chest. The whole band though fairly cranks things up and just exudes energy. What a way to end a night which we did after a quick stop at the excellent Burger Park and another encounter with rain. Back to home and beer and olives…
The 2nd last day was a bit of a slower one in terms of the festival with all of us enjoying a pleasant morning at the Beach Hotel. The ladies (and Kurt) spent some time at the markets while the lads spent some time with Coopers Ale…Kaylene bought me a cool paper feather made from sheet music…
The mud and smell from the festival were there well and truly today, begging the question why the once green areas hadn’t been hit with some form of gravel or road base. Quite a sight.
Musically I took in some of the world sounds of Angelique Kidjo (very cool) and Gary Clark Jr (first appearance of an SG) while Sandy’s and my ‘date’ at the cider tent was a fizzer after the cider ran out before we got there. Clark played solid electric blues but for me my focus was on seeing Frank Turner. Turner is someone I missed last time he appeared at Bluefest but after buying a couple of his albums on a whim and seeing DVDs of his live shows I was really keen to check him out. Together with his band the Sleeping Souls he put on one of the most enjoyable performances of the festival. He’s made a bit of a name for himself in the last few years with the result being the audience singing along to nearly every song (except for the new ones). A great gig and for me Turner is fast becoming the Elvis Costello of his generation. Even my tired body managed to get involved!
The night finished with the final performance of the Rumjacks in a sparsely attended Delta tent (most were off seeing Ben Harper). Again, a top and exciting performance from the band with a full on mosh that started to get a little too full on for some. We only lasted half the set ourselves, choosing to leave early to miss the mass exodus that would occur with the end of Harper’s set. Sarah-Marie’s makeup made it past the first song this time…
Tired and weary we trudged through the mud to the car and home. One more day and the Bluesfest shuffle is definitely on..
“Well I hope your hair grows back”. The above ‘insult’ aimed at me for half joking with an Irish patron the reason Tom, Steve and I weren’t hanging around to see Hozier was because he was Irish was the highlight of our first day at Bluesfest 2015. Sad but true. Musically, to be fair, my getting to see Augi March for the first time was pretty darn cool too although the couple behind me did their best to damage that bit of enjoyment by talking and laughing all through their set. I hope their friend ‘Jimmy’ never forgives them for forgetting his birthday! That aside, Augi were majestic. They’ve not toured for sometime but to me at least that never showed. I was a little worried the subtleties that highlight their music might be lost in the vast expanse of the Crossroads tent but they managed to convince and played superbly. But blues? Hmmm. Stretching things a little there and more so on the numerous other acts on Thursday’s bill. I was excited to see Sticky Fingers having read a bit about them recently. But what a let down. You’d think a band named after one of the toughest albums of the Rolling Stones’ career would have some balls but they were as boring as bats piss. A massive rip off of every English pop band of the 1990s with a bare chested keyboard player who looked like a cross between Frank Zappa and a member of Toto their only highlight. A huge let down but the JJJ raised youth dominated crowd loved them! I walked out after 4 songs (Tom and Steve lasted 30 seconds). God I hate getting old…. But a nice day overall. My wife Kaylene made the trip down for the first time and we enjoyed a morning walk around central Byron capped off with a magic lunch at Twisted Sista (and what a top name for a café). Any place that has a poster staying ‘No we don’t have Wi-Fi…talk to each other’ is worth going back to! Unlike Sticky Fingers….might have to check out Hozier and see if my hair grows back…
Hmmm. Sitting here in the peacefulness of a Sunshine Coast morning listening to the falling rain….bliss…except I am on my way to Byron Bay and its annual Buesfest music festival! Why oh why dear reader didn’t I check the weather before I left? Just because my home town of Rockhampton is like dry gulch I shouldn’t assume the rest of the country doesn’t occasionally enjoy the benefits of precipitation.
Ah well…time to find some durable wellies as the show will go on!
Well…what can I say. The U15/U16 girls football team I coach won their grand final at the weekend and what a game and what a way to finish the season. The whole team turned up on the day and played out of their skins. They say you should save your best game for the grand final and the girls did just that. To win 3-0 was a great achievement but to outplay our opposition so much was a mighty effort. The team we played were the most consistent team over the latter part of the season – they are tough too – although right from the beginning I believed that if they could field a full list of players each week they would be very hard to beat. They proved it as well, being one of only two teams to beat us at all during the season (only once though!).
Anyway, I won’t list all the girls here out of respect for their privacy but I do want to say very well done and an amazing achievement, especially after taking out the minor premiership as well! To say my first year of competitive coaching went well is really understating how I feel!