Bluesfest 2014 #3: Magic from Grandmothers

…and we’re here.

The morning was spent in slow anticipation and with building excitement as we went about our various ways of preparing for our first afternoon at Bluesfest. A decent breakfast and then packing the snacks was an essential part of my day. Tom and I went in search of a record fair which we learnt later didn’t start until Good Friday. Collectively we all shared a wholesome Silverside lunch with the elder Koivunens and Suters (thanks Bill!) before heading out to the festival mid afternoon. We weren’t in any rush as the entertainment didn’t start til 4 on the first day.

Upon arrival at the grounds and after making our way through the fast filling car parks, we qucikly notice a few things different to last time.

No Berocca tent, no CD tent, no round stage, a couple of new stages, plastic chars in the larger tents and the hideous ‘VIP’ Sunset Lounge. We also notice lots of people already, with line-ups at the bars numbering in their hundreds. At $8 for one full strength beer you can only imagine the money being made. There’s free water too, my drink of choice for the day, but there’s also several tents selling water that look free until you get to the serving area. Not a good look Bluesfest…

We take a look around and decide a meeting place for later when it’s clear we have different ‘must sees’.

I wonder around taking in the atmosphere. I love festivals and the real buzz you get from a collective group of people all out to enjoy themselves. This festival is special and although it’s only me second time here I love the fact that there’s people of all ages and backgrounds here. It really does appeal and cater to a broad spectrum of people. This year’s lineup does pale somewhat to last years but there’s still much to look forward too.

At the back of the Crossroads tent I manage to catch the local Indigenous group’s welcome ceremony which was tasteful, interesting and well received. I stayed and caught some of singer Beth Hart’s set on the recommendation of festival director Peter Noble. Hart opened with Nutbush City Limits which in many ways was such a strange choice but it did get the crowd going. Most of them anyway. The song showed off Hart’s vocal range which is amazing but after four more songs that strangely sounded the same I was bored and left. Hart’s performance looked promising as she took to the stage chuffing what looked like a huge cigar and regularly took swigs of beer but it all looked a little ‘try hard’ for me.

The night was coming in and it was turning cool but at least the rain was staying away.

I headed to the Cavanbah stage (sounds eerily like a venue once cherished back home) which is one of the smaller venues at the festival. Here I wanted to see two acts that I was really looking forward to seeing, the Magic Band and the Grandmothers of Invention.

The Magic Band play the music of Captain Beefheart while the Grandmothers feature two of the original Mothers of Invention, Frank Zappa’s band. Let me just say that these two acts may well end up being the highlight of my festival!

After being part of the Soul Rebels funky jazz tinged set (Beth Hart note: these guys played a cover as an opener two, Sweet Dreams by the Eurhythmics but they really made it their own), I was able to get to the front of the stage barrier for the Magic Band’s set. And there I stayed for the Mothers’ set too.

Boy, what the main guitarist  of the Magic Band (I don’t remember most people’s names) did with a simple 3 pedal set-up was just amazing to hear. He kept coming over to right in front of me as he soloed, playing off someone in the crowd as I know only too well.

A great set and they promise to play a different one for the next two sets they are doing at the festival!

Then there was the GOI: the Grandmothers of Invention. What a show. I must admit to not knowing much of the material as my knowledge of Zappa’s vast oeuvre is limited. But the whole show was entertaining, musically amazing (and the guitarist here was simply astounding!) and just great to witness.

It wasn’t blues, it wasn’t roots, hell it wasn’t really rock either but it was definitely one of the nest sets I’ve ever witnessed. And that’s just ’cause they wear wigs either!

As I left to meet with Tom and Sandy I caught the end of Buddy Guy’s set as he played up to the crowd playing Hendrix and Cream licks and biting his strings, playing behind his back and throwing picks into the crowd.

Bodes well for tomorrow’s session.

We left the grounds discussing our respective evening’s all agreeing we were well satisfied with our first Bluesfest experience for 2014.

Something else new: quick car park exit!

Once home, we indulged in some cheese, olives and ales before crashing in bed.

A top start to my Bluesfest. Looking forward to the remaining days ahead.


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