Good day dear reader. A little late with this morning’s post. Late rise and washing to do…
Welcome again to the daily summary of my Bluesfest. And it is mine. That is the beauty of such a festival. Everyone has their own experience and few will be the same.
This was the day I fulfilled some ‘gotta-sees’, saw some ‘wanna-bes’, encountered some ‘may-bes’, and cheerfully revisted what feels like old friends (after sharing three gigs together surely that means something?) I also felt let down by others.
But first, some quotes overheard from deep within the maddening crowd….
‘So really? They search you for weed?
Yeah. Sniffing dogs and everything. You get caught you get thrown out.
Wow. And no booze in the campsite either?
That’s right. Wouldn’t happen in Austria.
Good thing we’re not in Queensland!’
‘Last year’s line-up was so much better. There are no big names this year.’ [heard at the Buddy Guy gig]
‘MAAAAATE! I’m going for a burger.’ [yelled in my face by a very stoned complete stranger]
Anyway, on with the show….
We started our day with a visit to a Record Fair on the way to the festival. I only made it through 2 milk crates of records before we had to leave but oh my goodness…thousands of things to see and go through! Tom picked up a couple of things but I resisted. Oh for more time (and money).
Coming to the festival, my ‘gotta-sees’ for the day included Scottish singer KT Tunstall, the Paladins, War, Jeff Beck and Robben Ford. I did manage four out of five, foregoing Mr Beck to see one on my list, War. Maybe should have thought that through more…
The day started with Eugene ‘Hideaway’ Bridges, someone I knew nothing about but was a ‘may-be’ as he was on before Ms Tunstall. At my friend Tom’s suggestion we all went to see Eugene from the start of his set and boy, what a surprise. His set was lots of fun and emotion, his guitar playing exceptional and his band very tight and dance friendly. So much so that sections of the crowd took to spontaneous hula hoop dancing, joined by people in various North American Indian garb and small children. Almost as much fun as the musical performance that inspired it. Even the ignorant behaviour of some yobs in the crowd who thought the place their own ‘private backyard party’ (thanks for that quote Tom) couldn’t take away from what for me was an unexpected joyful experience.
I had much anticipated KT Tunstall’s performance being the owner of several of her albums. I enjoy her smart pop songs and observations on relationships. That enjoyment was enhanced by seeing her on stage as she performed solo but with clever use of looping technology that she employed as she played, accompanying herself with beats and vocal harmonies as well as various percussion instruments. It was quite something to see and hear. She was witty, engaging and a fresh sound to the performances I’d seen to date. Did I also mention she’s Scottish?
I stayed in the dusty Delta stage area to see Robben Ford so stood through Devon Allman’s set. The band played typical Southern USA rock and they are great players, Allman’s heritage being obvious. But it was all a little cliché and ‘wanna-be’ for my taste. What killed their performance was one song that went for nearly 15 minutes and included a bass solo and a drum solo as the two guitarists left the stage. I felt like leaving too…please, one bass solo in a lifetime is more than enough. I’ve witnessed at least 4 in two days. Over it well and truly.
I then found a grassy spot to rest and wait for Robben Ford, a blues guitarist of some reputation. My first ‘gotta-see’ let down of the festival. He was plain boring. I lasted 3 songs before I couldn’t take one more lyrical cliché and nursery rhyme.
I’d arranged to meet Tom and Sandy for dinner following the Grandmothers of Invention (GOI) set, what would be my third experince of them at the festival, so I headed off to see the Paladins in the tiny Juke Joint stage. It was packed, with people spilling out on the sides and rear of the stage. I did manage to get well inside and thoroughly enjoyed this ‘gotta-see’ performance. They played fierce rockabilly and old style rock and roll, with the double bass playing alone something to experince. Jolly good fun right round.
I joined Tom and Sandy for the the final GOI performance of the festival as the tale end of Nikki Hill’s set ended with a raucous version of AC/DCs Whole Lotta Rosie. To say the crowd went off is an understatement! Another ‘gotta-see’?
The GOI performance was exceptional and once again a joy to be part of. They are truly inspirational and guitarist ‘Mad’ Max Kutner plays with a mix of ferocity and subtly that defines description. Just amazing.
Following a welcome dinner break in the fabulous burger stand, Tom, Sandy and I went our separate ways as they headed to see Morcheeba while I caught up with one more of my ‘gotta-sees’, War. I have enjoyed much of War’s take on funk over the years, collecting records and cassettes anywhere I found them. While they have had many world wide hits (most people will know Spill the Wine, Low Rider and Why Can’t We Be Friends?), they did lose me during their disco years. They are one funky outfit however and I was looking forward to seeing them.
First up I had to wait for Ozomatli to finish and they had the entire Delta Stage area bouncing with their mix of world music and dance. I found myself enjoying their performance; it was infectious to say the least. However, they played well over time (as a performer who has experienced this type of thing myself at festivals it is extremely rude) so as a result, War went on about 20 minutes later than scheduled. I’m not sure if it was this fact or the growing cold night air but this performance was my second let down of the day. They were simply boring, as much as I wanted to enjoy it. Ah well, there’s always Monday’s performnce to judge them on…
I headed off to meet Tom and Sandy at our designated spot near the Jambalaya stage, and after short wait for the end of Morcheeba’s set and as Jeff Beck blazed away at the Crossroads stage in the distance, Tom and I headed off to join Sandy who had already gone to the car as the night air and tiredness caught up with her.
It had been a mixed but still very satisfying day. Again we managed a quick exit, despite their being many more people attending the Saturday night’s performances than to date. On the way out we picked up a couple of girls looking for a lift into Byron. That they were both Finnish was quite an accidental coincidence (Tom is a Finn by heritage, being born in Australia to Finnish parents) and it sparked a colourful conversation on the short trip back into Byron.
We were quite exhausted but again indulged on olives, cheese and crackers into the wee hours with the sobering realisation that we were now over half way through our festival experience.
A special shout out to buskers band Waxhead. Nice to hear the spirit of Radio Birdman alive and well amongst younger performers!
Looking forward to the Sunday performances in what is more of a mixed, lazy day. I might even catch KT Tunstall’s second performance. Did I mention she is Scottish?