Tag Archives: Captain Beefheart

Bluesfest 2014 #6: Tuning in your own time with Australia’s 127th best songwriter

Good day again dear reader, Happy Easter and welcome to this day four summary of my Bluesfest experience and what a fine one it has been thus far. That is despite the onset of the dreaded Byron Shuffle that happens this far into the festival that even solid well-supporting shoes can do little to save you from. Your feet throb uncontrollably, so hard they burn, no matter what you do to try and relieve them. Only sitting brings but brief respite as you must rise and walk again. Oh the pain.

…all thoroughly worth it of course!

Our 2nd last day was to be spent casually wandering around with only a couple of definite ‘sees’ on our lists. In my previous post I mentioned catching up once again with Scottish singer KT Tunstall but that didn’t happen as we didn’t arrive on site until after her set had started. A delay buying and eating a wonderful chocolate coated frozen banana had some bearing on catching anyone’s set. These bananas are sold to raise money for a local charity called the Uncle Project that mentors disadvantaged young boys with responsible adult father figures. A greater reason to buy a frozen fruit there can’t be.

We headed for the small Juke Joint stage, passing a packed and closing KT’s show at the Cavanbah. We were checking out the Candye Kane Band, someone I knew nothing about. As we made our way to the stage left side of the barrier, Tom explained that Candye was a large bosomed black lady who sang down a storm, playing piano with her breasts. Hmmm…this should be interesting I thought. Through a gap in the back stage curtains, I caught glimpse of a lady dressed in retro looking, 1930s like garb, talking with the stage manager. I wondered if this could be Candye but as she was neither large and big bosomed let alone black I wasn’t so sure. After the band warmed up with an instrumental intro (and what a top guitarist BTW), this same woman appeared stage right to the announcement ‘welcome the love of my life, Candye Kane’! The look on Tom’s surprised face was priceless, although I’m not sure he was happy with my jibe about oncoming Alzheimers…anyway, turns out this was the same Candye he had seen 12 years ago but she had fought off cancer which had clearly left its mark on her. She was quite a performer although we both left Sandy to see out her set after a few songs as we wanted to catch Tim Rogers.

I confess. I love the work of Tim Rogers. He is one of my favourite song writers and one of my reasons for looking forward to coming to this year’s festival. Why he hasn’t had more commrcial success is a discredit to the music buying public and radio programmers of this country. Apart from his career with You Am I his solo and other collaborative work is  always of the highest calibre. He is witty, self-depreciating and a clever wordsmith, all facets on display during his performance on the Delta stage with friend Shane O’Mara whom he jokingly refers to as his ‘son’ at one point. Rogers seems a little surprised at the large gathering for his set and he really shouldn’t be. He jokes with the audience, has digs at his lack of ability to forge a bigger career because of his ‘depressing’ songs (interrupting one tune to state that one great line was why he was Australia’s 127th best songwriter), all the while more greatly endearing himself to the appreciate crowd. Something was bugging him during his set though as he managed a couple of sarcastic barbs that seemed aimed at the stage crew but for anyone who has attended a You Am I show this prickliness is part of who Rogers is and only to be expected. The crowd loved him all the more for it and demanded one more song from him but as he left the stage saying he didn’t want to go over time for Booker T, I could only admire the ragged dignity he carries himself with.

The only other act on today’s bill we all wanted to see was the Magic Band (yes, my third time) so we wandered around, catching a couple of drinks, enjoying the food and general atmosphere of the festival.

My friend Sandy insisted I get a photo with an Easter bunny following an earlier comment made by me about the Easter Bunny overlooking Byron…sorry, it was the best I could do…

We wandered around in and out of tents catching some great performances (Saidah Baba Talibah was full on funk and rock), some not so great (sorry but someone has to tell James Cotton his harp playing was off) and the pleasant but not worth hanging around for (Jimmy Vaughn) with throbbing extremities (that’s FEET).

Of course witnessing the Magic Band made everything that came after seem redundant, like the time I saw the Stooges at Big Day Out and left as the White Stripes came on. I mean, how could you top that? The MB were just sublime, an intoxicating mix of off beat takes on blues and jazz, all played with great expertise and humour, singer ‘Drumbo’ Ford forgetting the words to a song and then making that a performance in itself. Absolutely wonderful and a great way to close off an evening. Sorry Jimmy, you just couldn’t maintain my interest after them.

We also took time to check out a guest advertised as Mystery Performance. The large crowd gathered in the Jambalaya tent were abuzz with who it might with comments ranging from Joss Stone to a close forensic examination of all the gear and mic stand placements. Alas, for the performers I feel as well as the majority of the audience, the ‘mystery’ guest were none other than Australian funk/soul act Saskwatch. They are good but clearly not what many in the crowd wish to see as they leave in masses before even one song had ended, with us in amongst them.

We headed home, another quick exit favouring us yet again. A top day yet again and for all the talk of this being a weak line-up this year, I am feeling well satisfied with my Bluesfest experiences. The last day coming up and one I feel will be just as good if not better than the days before.

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.