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Maccain09
Posted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 2:31:40 PM

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Just read Drum Media review of the festival

The review in the blues roots section was spot on - As it was posted by someone who clearly understands the festival

The review in the "reviewers" section was another story.

Jack Johnson quoted as the most mediocre man in music ruined Saturday night as did the Gipsy Kings.

Also quoting 10cc as f.cked up ! Also noted that she dislikes JB3 and Blue King Brown before the acts even started? hmmm. but according to this reviewer JB3 pulled it off ! Im sure he'll sleep well tonight.

Like them or not from all accounts and judging by the crowd reaction all these acts nailed it.

She had no idea of who 10cc were? and she is chosen by Drum to review this festival?

17,500 people attended Jack Johnson sat night & close to 17,000 were at JB3 on Friday night, ah the ignorant masses that no nothing of real music.

10cc packed out the Crossroads - all there by accident?

Here is my take on what you need to be a music reviewer.

Any Aussie battler band or unsigned act plays the annadale, 45 people show up -Drum reviewers will give it "gig of the year" every issue.

Sending this young lady - and we should not even quote her name for risk of her considering herself a real reviewer to review Bluesfest was like John Howard to a Amnesty International meeting.

It reminds me of the episode of the Simpson's where Homer becomes a restaurant reviewer - Use the just pooh pooh everything and people will think you know what your talking about!

Drum dont print criticism just letters on Huey Lewis so I wont waste the price of a stamp. Luckily this magazine costs nothing - but it seems to be a sounding board for Uni students to dump on popular acts before these kids sell out and get real jobs.

I recall Kronos Quartet at the Opera House - (4 men clearly taking the p#ss out of an Opera house crowd) I unfortunately being one of the victims,

This was the biggest p#ss take of all time - metal fencing was erected as members of this group indiscriminately bashed the wires making offensives noises being cheered by idiots for 20 minutes.

Drum Media reviewer noted it as "one of the concerts of the year"

It faces becoming irrelevant if the teenage uni kids printing this stuff continue to masquerade as reviewers.
richo
Posted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 4:35:40 PM
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17,000+ at JJ or JBT? I don't think so... probably that many at the festival those days, but you can guarantee that anywhere from half to two-thirds of the crowd were elsewhere.

I was walking past Mojo as JBT started it was a decent crowd but certainly not bursting.
waffles
Posted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 6:25:11 PM
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reminds me of the local north coast paper THE NORTHERN STAR review of bluesfest was that supertramp frontman ROGER DONALDSON ??????????????????
AND THIS IS OUR MAJOR NORTH COAST PAPER.
i told them what i thought.it just cant be that hard to get simple things right.

I don't want to hang up my rock n roll shoes
I get a good time feeling every time I hear those blues.
Maccain09
Posted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 6:42:39 PM

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Okay let's say a conservative 10,000 at Jb3 - still a whopper of a crowd. I would never get a job working in an industry I clearly and admittingly have no knowledge of - Music is for everyone not just Uni kids that categorize every artist to being cool and not cool, Johnson aparently did variations of the same surf tune for 2 hrs - I confess to never having purchased a single album but I along with everyone else in the Mojo left satisfied and impressed at the quality of the music / lyrics. I rather that than listen to some teenager singing in his parents studio about robots , which seems to be the type of tripe pushed by this once relevant magazine !
littlewillie
Posted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 6:45:53 PM
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Yes Waffles that was pitiful, especially when they repeated the incorrect name several times during the review.
c0kebloke
Posted: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 3:28:23 AM
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waffles wrote:
reminds me of the local north coast paper THE NORTHERN STAR review of bluesfest was that supertramp frontman ROGER DONALDSON ??????????????????
AND THIS IS OUR MAJOR NORTH COAST PAPER.
i told them what i thought.it just cant be that hard to get simple things right.


ROGER DONALDSON ? Didn't he do some singing in SUPERTRUMP??
littlewillie
Posted: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 6:51:46 AM
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c0kebloke wrote:
waffles wrote:
reminds me of the local north coast paper THE NORTHERN STAR review of bluesfest was that supertramp frontman ROGER DONALDSON ??????????????????
AND THIS IS OUR MAJOR NORTH COAST PAPER.
i told them what i thought.it just cant be that hard to get simple things right.


ROGER DONALDSON ? Didn't he do some singing in SUPERTRUMP??


You may be thinking of Donald Rogerson there Coke
ScottM
Posted: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 8:42:01 AM
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Maccain09 wrote:
Okay let's say a conservative 10,000 at Jb3 - still a whopper of a crowd. I would never get a job working in an industry I clearly and admittingly have no knowledge of - Music is for everyone not just Uni kids that categorize every artist to being cool and not cool, Johnson aparently did variations of the same surf tune for 2 hrs - I confess to never having purchased a single album but I along with everyone else in the Mojo left satisfied and impressed at the quality of the music / lyrics. I rather that than listen to some teenager singing in his parents studio about robots , which seems to be the type of tripe pushed by this once relevant magazine !


I saw 15 minutes of Jack on Thursday night - I could tell that basically the only thing to change since I saw him in 2003 was that his hair was longer. Each to their own though.....

For the record, I managed to get a letter published in this week's Drum Media. Not specifically about Bluesfest, more just a self important rant about the Sydney live music scene though.
Maccain09
Posted: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 9:48:30 AM

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Seems to be a trend with a lot of artists - saw seasick steve do the exact same show 5 times now - blind boys same cept way cheezier last yr - still love both artists - Franti keeps it fresh each time he plays but u can be sure DM will dump all over his show next time he plays or releases an album cause it's cool to dislike sucessful indie artists as opposed to struggling indies ! Mark my words album will come out by end of the year and some Nathan barley drum media type "reviewer" will belittle it for being positive. Same reviewer will give some nonsense regurgetator album recorded in 7 mins while each memeber bounces on a trampoline album of the year kudos.

They never print my letters - I think I know why - looking fwd to reading yr letter!
ScottM
Posted: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 12:38:11 PM
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I should also point out that there was a review in the Roots Down section of the Drum this week written by Dan Condon (one of our board alumni I believe?) that did a far better job of encapsulating the festival.

Reviews generally in the street press publications are far from perfect. I used to get wound up by parts I disagreed with, but really, there's no future in that. Much easier to chuckle at anything you think misses the mark then go on having your own opinion.
Maccain09
Posted: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 2:42:48 PM

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[quote=ScottM]I should also point out that there was a review in the Roots Down section of the Drum this week written by Dan Condon (one of our board alumni I believe?) that did a far better job of encapsulating the festival.

Reviews generally in the street press publications are far from perfect. I used to get wound up by parts I disagreed with, but really, there's no future in that. Much easier to chuckle at anything you think misses the mark then go on having your own opinion.[/qu

I did note at the begining of my rant that the roots section had a review written by someone that understood where he was. I suppose by even making reference to this too cool for school uni kid review I am paying her some type of respect. A comment re 10cc that the music made her want to cry because she couldn't understand what she was supposed to be listening to said it all. After panning these artists she then backtracked and stated the festival was about musical horizons - she should have stayed in newtown and left the music reviewing to someone with a shred of credibility, okay I'm chuckling now..
Dan...
Posted: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 4:53:32 PM
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i think the time off review is pretty damn solid

http://www.timeoff.com.au/html/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5549:bluesfest&catid=13:live-reviews&Itemid=22

haven't had a chance to read the drum media one but will do so tomorrow.

The poster formerly known as Dan
littlewillie
Posted: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 6:59:43 PM
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Even though I only saw about 30% of the artists reviewed there Dan I think you pretty much nailed it. Well done .
RaucousReg
Posted: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 8:08:09 PM

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Dan... wrote:
i think the time off review is pretty damn solid

http://www.timeoff.com.au/html/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5549:bluesfest&catid=13:live-reviews&Itemid=22

haven't had a chance to read the drum media one but will do so tomorrow.


This site is unsafe. Eight threats to your computer on this site!!! or so says Firefox!

namaste
RR
Dan...
Posted: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 10:57:47 PM
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haha wow, that's discouraging to say the least! it sure is ugly but i've never had any virus issues on it!

The poster formerly known as Dan
RaucousReg
Posted: Thursday, April 15, 2010 1:14:11 AM

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Dan... wrote:
haha wow, that's discouraging to say the least! it sure is ugly but i've never had any virus issues on it!


Eight threats puts in on a par with that Chinese Olympics site! LOL Seriously, Mozilla totally wet itself over this one...

namaste
RR
greybeard
Posted: Thursday, April 15, 2010 4:42:20 AM

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Well my Firefox was OK with the site, so here it is

BLUESFEST PDF Print E-mail

BYRON BAY BLUESFEST
TYAGARAH TEA TREE FARM: 01.04.10 – 05.04.10

Turning 21 is a big occasion in anyone’s life, even if you are the world-renowned roots festival Byron Bay Bluesfest, so what better way to celebrate by holding a massive party at brand new digs? The line-up for this year’s Bluesfest is nothing short of phenomenal, and combined with the excellent new site – which is just off the highway some 15 minutes north of Byron Bay and easy accessible by the ceaseless flotilla of shuttle buses for those not camping in the vast surrounds of the festival grounds – and a weather forecast that is most un-Bluesfest like with its lack of predicted precipitation, means that a massive throng of typically diverse and restrained and punters have enlisted for another dose of phenomenal music from all over the globe. Time Off sent a team of scribes down to capture a taste of the action that went for five full days over five stages.

THURSDAY
With the Arakwal Welcome Ceremony – blessing the new Bluesfest site and thanking the land’s traditional owners – going over time, the first ever Australian performance by North Carolina’s country-rockers The Avett Brothers is delayed a little, but this just means that the crowd has swelled considerably by the time they kick off with the beautifully poignant ‘Laundry Room’, and all in attendance seem totally smitten with the four-piece by the end of the first track. The four-piece exude charisma as they swap instruments throughout the abridged set, the focus being on the otherworldly harmonies of brothers Scott and Seth Avett and their captivating tunes such as ‘Head Full Of Doubt’, the gorgeous ‘Shame’ and the incredibly uplifting ‘January Wedding’. They play the older ‘Yard Sale’ before finishing with the stomping ‘Go To Sleep’, having provided one of the greatest festival openings imaginable.
Legendary Louisianan pianist Dr John strolls out on stage in a dashing purple suit – complete with hat, sunglasses and hand carved voodoo walking stick – and kicks straight into New Orleans standard ‘Iko Iko’. Backing band The Lower 911 are water tight, providing perfect backing for Mr Mac Rebennack’s blistering boogie piano. After a solid ‘Wild Honey’, Dr John kicks into ‘Mama Roux’ from 1968’s Gris Gris and it just falls flat; too slick, too slow and a real energy killer. When this is followed by the classic ‘Walk On Gilded Splinters’ from the same album, we start to worry. But we shouldn’t as the snaky, spooky rendition takes us deep into the bayou, you can smell the swamp. After a quick interlude of ‘Gris Gris Gumbo Ya Ya’ the band belt out ‘Right Place, Wrong Time’ and a very special version of the timeless ‘Big Chief’ to cap off another killer set from one of the true greats.
The Caba Caba Ray Tent hidden gem of Bluesfest 2010, Poor Man’s Whiskey, don’t disappoint. They take the stage dressed in Wizard Of Oz costumes (complete with a bearded Dorothy) and deliver their interpretation of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon in hillbilly glory, aptly named ‘Dark Side Of The Moonshine’. Each song starts out a recognisable Pink Floyd track from Dark Side... but then descends into banjo and mandolin-filled sock-hopping silliness. Their cover of ‘Money’ (named ‘Whiskey’) is most memorable, with them cleverly recreating the sound of cash registers with the opening of several beer cans and clinking whiskey bottles. True genius.
The 22-piece Jools Holland and His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra bring the party with some serious big band swing. Jools takes care of the main vocal duties but hands over the mic to Ruby Turner for a sassy rendition of ‘Mojo Working’. Louise Marshall also gets a turn, slowing the pace with a gutsy R&B ballad, but only enough to rest our tired feet few a few minutes before getting back into the boogie woogie. It is impossible not to swing your hips to, and fittingly, one has never seen so many middle-aged whities move their behinds with such conviction!
Jack Johnson wanders onstage with a relaxed air that could be interpreted as lazy apathy. His set is full of peaceful roots tunes and included an array of tracks from his soon to be released album and others dating back to his debut LP, Brushfire Fairytales. While the set is very melancholy and Johnson gives the impression he’d rather be at home, things amp up a little when he invites special guests Matt Costa and members of Ozomatli to join him on stage. ‘Flake’ is the highlight track of the evening with a guest lap-slide guitarist giving Johnson’s first hit new depth and energy.

FRIDAY
A huge crowd gathers at the Caba Caba Ray tent for a live episode of SBS TV show, Rockwiz. The complete cast of characters are there including the captivating Julia Zemiro, funny-man Brian Nankervis and even Dugald the Roadie. Musical guests, Jen Cloher and Brisbane’s own Andrew Morris, take the stage and are led by their incredibly adept audience team members, who have been carefully picked through a series of rounds prior to the show. The audience has to be shushed by Zemiro on several occasions for calling out the answers (which is awfully hard not to do) and Morris and Cloher duet on Loretta Lynn’s ‘Portland, Oregon’ to wrap up the boisterous set.
Ozomatli deliver a pumping set of Latin-fused dancehall/ salsa/ funk with infectious energy and excitement. This collision of sounds is topped off with hip hop lyrics, making for a booty-shaking atmosphere that sends vibrations though the massive tent adorning the Mojo Stage. ‘Como Vez’ is a highlight track and the boys end with a conga line through the crowd, allowing everyone to get up close and personal with these Los Angeles Latinos.
Matisyahu fills the tent with his epic reggae which is clearly fuelled by his love of music and his religious commitment. The set consists mostly of new tracks from his Light album which has dancehall rhythms at its core and includes the hit track ‘One Day’, which he recently released with Akon. While it is a little disappointing not to hear the famous ‘Jerusalem’, these dancehall-rooted, ska-influenced, pop-rock reggae sounds are nonetheless a highlight of the day.
At 32, Joe Bonnamassa is one of the younger guitar greats on show this year, but he proves that he has packed a whole lot into his time. The freakishly talented New Yorker has a clear respect for an ability to channel the great playing of past electric blues legends but does so in a contemporary manner. He’s a consummate showman too, charming the crowd as the blazing solos shoot from the speakers into the soul of those looking on. While he definitely errs on the hard rock side of the blues, a rendition of ‘Woke Up Dreaming’ proves that he can shred on an acoustic just as well!
Glen Hansard of The Swell Season is brimming with a slightly unsettling intensity for the better half of their set, this nonetheless makes him all the more fascinating and a truly captivating performer. Marketa Irglova remains calm and understated, the much-needed yin to Hansard’s yang. They move through a heart-breaking collection of songs including ‘Low Rising’, ‘When Your Minds Made Up’, ‘Falling Slowly’ and Hansard goes solo on his beaten up acoustic for ‘Leave’. Irglova joins him back on stage with a cover of Michelle Shocked’s ‘Folk Town’ which sounds suspiciously like ‘efuceekay’ town – it’s hard to tell whether they are playing it up or it’s just a consequence of Hansards thick Irish accent but it’s a much-needed break in the tension. The mood stays fairly jovial from here on in and audience erupts for set-closer, an impromptu cover of Empire Of The Sun’s ‘Walking On A Dream’.
The Avett Brothers are back for another dose of love, performing a completely different set from last night to a vastly larger crowd. They seem genuinely trilled to be playing at the festival – and they rapturous response they receive – as they power through gorgeous numbers such as ‘The Weight Of Lies’, ‘And It Spread’ and the rollicking ‘Slight Figure Of Speech’. The brothers Avett are clearly the focus of the adoring throng, but bassist Bob Crawford and touring cellist Joe Kwon play their roles to perfection, and the overall result is a dervish of infectious fun and phenomenal music. ‘Pretty Girl From Chile’ – complete with the answering machine message from the album – and ‘Paranoia In B Major’ are further highlights of this incredible performance, which given their reception won’t be the last time we host them around these parts.
Buddy Guy just keeps getting better. There is no bullshit tonight as he walks straight onto stage and wastes no time kicking out his classic brand of blues. ‘She’s Nineteen Years Old’ is always going to sound a little creepy coming from a 73-year-old, but the song is performed perfectly and is quite powerful, while ‘Someone Else Is Steppin’ In (Slippin’ Out, Slippin’ In)’ has the entire crowd singing along with gusto. His backing band is hot as hell as they play with the dynamics impressively – particular mention must go to keyboardist Marty Sammon – and even though Buddy’s guitar playing is the sloppiest we’ll see all night, it’s dripping with soul and passion. Buddy Guy looks like he’s having the time of his life tonight and is in fine voice as he smashes out a sensational ‘Damn Right I Got The Blues’ and cover of Willie Dixon’s ‘I Just Want to Make Love to You’ before crooning the soulful ‘Skin Deep’ from his latest album. The dedications to John Lee Hooker, Albert King, Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton are there as usual and while there’s no doubt recent performances have been an improvement, it’s great to see the rambling, sloppy Buddy Guy of 2002 perhaps gone for good. We like this Buddy so much better.
Tijuana Cartel fill the tent at the APRA Stage with their original dub sounds, pumping out an hour-long set of tracks that fuel your feet into dance mode. Heavy bass lines are accompanied nicely by tight trumpet playing and outstanding Latin guitar riffs as this Gold Coast quartet play songs from their last album and give the crowd a taste of some tasty new new tunes. They oblige the crowd’s requests and play the favourites with energy and charisma.
All the way from the tiny island of Seychellles, Grace Barbe plays a captivating set of culturally-inspired tunes. Her sound is unique and although her band could be a little tighter, her enchanting stage presence makes it hard to walk away.
Thousands glare on in awe as the masterful Jeff Beck brings a set of highly technical progressive blues, funk and rock to the Crossroads stage. The band are impressive, particularly bassist Rhonda Smith, but after the charm of Buddy Guy, it all seems a little sterile for many to handle. ‘People Get Ready’ and ‘Rollin’ And Tumblin’’ are highlights, but the crowd is most excited when Beck pumps out Beatles classic ‘A Day In The Life’.
Straight off the plane and onto the stage, The John Butler Trio open the set with an energetic rendition of their hit track, ‘Better Than’. The new trio play with electrifying chemistry pumping out tracks from previous JBT albums and their recently released album April Uprising. Percussionist Nicky Bomba brings rhythm and force to the older tracks and, while the big double bass is missed, Byron Luiters holds his own on bass guitar. After a stunning solo guitar piece by John Butler the band end the show on a high with an extended and lively version of ‘Funky Tonight’.


SATURDAY
It’s a comparatively early start for Nashville old-time string band Old Crow Medicine Show, but they don’t let that bother them one iota as they hoot and holler through a brilliant set of bluegrass-infused country. Multi-instrumentalist Ketch Secor is the band’s heart and soul, delivering tunes like ‘Caroline’ with joyous conviction, then showing off his incredible fiddle chops during ‘Shortnin’ Bread’, all the while providing hilarious tongue-in-cheek anecdotes between numbers. His creative foil Willie Watson takes the reins for the riotous ‘Minglewood Blues’, before they nod to their surroundings with a stirring rendition of Aussie folk classic ‘Jim Jones At Botany Bay’ which they dedicate to Banjo Patterson. From there it’s back to the Deep South, as they finish off a contagiously fun set with the beautifully restrained ‘CC Rider’, a rollicking rendition of ‘Wagon Wheel’ and a rousing run-through of ‘Tell It To Me’.
The future of New Orleans funk is in good hands, brothers and sisters. On record Galactic tend to come across as proficient, but perhaps a little too clean. But as anyone who loves this music knows that the live stage is where it really matters. The band take it deep and dirty, exuding huge amounts of energy, and when they’re joined by The Meters and Neville Brothers legend Cyril Neville things are stepped up to another level. A bunch of tunes from this year’s Ya Ka May record work well even without their regular collaborators and the band’s ability to control the crowd (even getting the entire tent to be seated) is impressive. As they blast out Cyril Neville’s debut single ‘Gossip’ from 1969, you’d have to be a fool not to have a massive grin on your face.
Newcastle junkyard cabaret act, Mojo Juju and The Snake Oil Merchants offer up a half-baked burlesque gypsy rock showcase. The idea of mixing jazz, punk, circus cabaret and tall tales seems like a good one in theory, but the eight-piece just can’t quite execute. The audience are committed however, and most stick around for the majority of the set.
The ‘Fold-Out Chair Army’ descend on the Jambalaya Stage tent for Australia’s most likeable man in Country Music, Troy Cassar-Daly. This is straight up, no bullshit, mainstream country rock. Cassar-Daly talks to the audience like they are a group of close friends and they love him for it. His band looks like they just been dragged out of the local shopping centre and put on a stage, certainly no pretence here. Feet firmly on the ground, the down-to-earth nature of this performance is clearly driven by Cassar-Daly – he is humble, genuine and nothing but a top Aussie bloke. There are smiles all round when he ends with crowd pleaser ‘Big Big Love’.
Newton Faulkner is endearing, charismatic and humorous, quite a feat considering he really is just a guy with a guitar. He invites the crowd to be a part of his original tracks, encouraging punters to imagine they are “pirates with rabies going to fight the mother-kissing barbarians”. He plays covers ranging from ‘Tear Drop’ to ‘No Diggidy’ and makes good use of the screens with imaginative and creative projections accompanying each track. The set ends with a rendition of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and Faulkner can hardly be heard over the punters’ singalong.
It’s sad that The Flecktones aren’t out on this occasion, but we know that anything Béla Fleck is involved with will be of supreme quality. His African Project featuring Oumou Sangaré and her band is absolutely electric, an afrobeat explosion matched with his virtuosic banjo that offers one of the weekend’s more uplifting experiences. Singing, dancing, traditional dress and a whole heap of massive smiles contribute to make this a joyous celebration of life, love, peace and music. The only issue comes midway through the set when Fleck stands on stage alone for a couple of solo banjo pieces. They are stunning, but completely kill the set’s energy and it’s quite difficult to build it back up. A separate solo set would have been perfect.
It was always going to be interesting to see how Peter Green and Friends performed on their first Bluesfest visit. The Fleetwood Mac founder still plays pretty incredibly and can sing pretty well, but everything else is a little depressing. The artist has dealt with schizophrenia for decades now and it becomes obvious straight away that he is unwilling (or perhaps unable) to engage his hefty audience, his friends do all of the talking. His rendition of Roy Roberts’ ‘Blues Get Off Of My Shoulder’ is restrained but intense, while trundling out ‘Black Magic Woman’ doesn’t seem to draw too much out of Green at all, one imagines he’d far prefer not to play it.
Lyle Lovett may be forever tainted as “that strange-looking guy who was married to Julia Roberts”, but tonight he and his five-piece band show exactly why he is so revered in the world of American country music. Here in Australia for the first time despite a decorated career, the dapper singer-songwriter positively oozes class as he works through a string of timeless tunes such as ‘LA County’, ‘I Will Rise Up’ and ‘Fiona’. ‘If I Was The Man That You Wanted’ is beautiful in this idyllic setting, while ‘Pantry’ provides a light-hearted aside and the classic ‘If I Had A Boat’ getting the adoring crowd singing along en masse. By the time he is joined by Joe Ely for set closer ‘My Baby Don’t Tolerate’, many people’s perceptions of this incredibly talented performer have been expanded to take in far more than a long ago romantic liaison.
Tonight the Gipsy Kings prove they have still got it, playing a set of wild rumba gitano and setting the dancefloor on fire. While 20 years of singing, dancing and life in general has worn Nicolas Reyes’ voice, he still has the power to mesmerise a crowd of thousands putting wailing French and Spanish lyrics over the top of the Gypsy King’s epic combination of rumba and flamenco guitar. The set ends on a high with their hit track, ‘Bamboleo’ absolutely going off!

SUNDAY
Rapidly-rising country impresario Justin Townes Earle has an early slot today but has clearly built up a strong fanbase over recent visits because he performs to a healthy crowd, who lap up his solo versions of ‘South Georgia Sugar Babe’, ‘They Killed John Henry’ and a fast-paced version of ‘I Don’t Know’ which shows off his incredible fingerpicking skills. The beautiful ‘Mama’s Eyes’ goes down a treat as does a trance-like rendition of ‘Midnight At The Movies’. He seems to be in a good mood despite the early hour, especially when he’s joined onstage by former Drive-By Trucker Jason Isbell who accompanies him, on acoustic guitar for a frenetic burst of tunes including The Replacement’s ‘Can’t Hardly Wait’, ‘If You Ain’t Glad I’m Leaving’ and Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Atlantic City’. What a way to start the day...
Kev Carmody is somewhat uneasy about being accompanied by an improvised band, which includes The Break’s ukulele player Jim Moginie and drummer Rob Hirst (both Midnight Oil alumni), but they open beautifully taking back Carmody’s original ‘Thou Shall Not Steal.’ Carmody introduces each song with an anecdote, allowing the punters to feel further connected to his well-known and inspiring tunes. The set includes famous tracks such as, ‘Spirit Of The Moon’, as well as a few songs from his unrecorded backlog, including ‘New Town Dog’ which the crowd convinces him to record. After a moving didgeridoo solo, the set ends with, ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’ accompanied by Dan Sultan, Troy Cassar-Daley, members of Blue King Brown, alongside an array of other talented ‘friends’.
Raw and dirty blues stream out of the tent as Aussie duo The Fumes rock the stage. Guitarist Steve Merry opens the set solo, before being joined by the zealous percussionist Joel Battersby for a set of pure rock’n’roll, full of fast-paced drumming and raw electric guitar riffs. The crowd is treated to an a cappella by Merry before the duo end on a powerful rock’n’roll high.
The crowd swells at the Crossroads Stage for 60s folk rock legend, Rodriguez. The expectation is high as the man himself joins his three-piece jazz band onstage to a rapturous applause. He recites a brief, barely coherent monologue, wrapping it up with the idyllic statement, “Free love is too expensive”. The crowd love it. He starts out strong with ‘I Wonder’, ‘Only Good For One Thing’ and ‘Inner City Blues’ and the Cold Fact crowd-pleasers just keep coming. ‘Sugar Man’ is rough around the edges, and very nearly falls apart, but the band manage to just keep it together and the forgiving audience are perfectly happy with its free-form nature. Rodriguez smiles like a Cheshire cat, obviously enjoying the attention of a captivated audience, and especially that of the women-folk.?Blue King Brown rock the stage, driving energy and excitement into thousands of punters. Highlights include ‘Water’, ‘Check Your Head’ and a mix-up track of famous riffs from Michael Jackson to Rage Against The Machine. This effervescent roots band play a wicked rendition of The Police’s ‘Red Dress’ and remind the masses that Australia is the only Western country without a treaty with its Indigenous people, with a cover of Yothu Yindi’s ‘Treaty’. The energy and excitement of this set is the perfect introduction to a big night at Blues Fest.
He’s an old Bluesfest favourite, but it still quite a shock to see how many people have turned up to see Taj Mahal tonight. He relishes the opportunity he has been given though, hollering out his tunes in just about note-perfect fashion throughout the set. His distinctive guitar tone is partly calypso, partly blues but 100 percent Taj Mahal and somewhat comforting to hear drifting through the Byron air. He moves to keys for ‘Blues With A Feeling’ before gliding through the awesome ‘Fishin’ Blues’ and ‘Queen Bee’.
Neil Finn sings the opening line to the classic ‘Mean To Me’ and suddenly Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm is transformed into a writhing mass of screaming voices. The oldies, young folk, drunks, police officers – they’re all singing, they’re all dancing and it’s pretty obvious that Crowded House can do no wrong. Finn is beyond infuriating; amazing singer, incredible guitarist, one of the greatest songwriters of our time, funny, charming and, even with a pretty pissweak moustache, a good looking 51 year old man – he’s just about good at everything, but we love him for it. ‘World Where You Live’, ‘Fall At Your Feet’, ‘When You Come’ impress early while a massive chorus of ‘Four Seasons In One Day’ is dedicated to the memory of ex-drummer Paul Hester. Finn goes to the piano for a solo rendition of Split Enz classic ‘Message To My Girl’ before ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ and ‘Something So Strong’ continue to keep us utterly engrossed. Unsurprisingly the band’s new material receives a more muted response, but we’re pleased to report that it is actually of a very high standard. ‘Private Universe’ comes complete with a bit of a psychedelic outro before ‘Distant Sun’ and ‘It’s Only Natural’ close out the set proper.
Of course the band are back for an encore, a beautiful ‘Fingers Of Love’ sends chills down the most hardened of spines. There’s plenty of skylarking around, bassist (and, aside from Finn, only original member) Nick Seymour clearly enjoying being back in action and providing plenty of laughs with his back and forth banter with Finn. ‘Weather With You’ leads into a solitary chorus of Split Enz’s ‘I Got You’ before ‘Better Be Home Soon’ caps off a truly masterful set by a truly peerless band. It’s so good to have them back.
Straight out of New York City, but infused with Eastern European influences, the Kings (and Queen) of gypsy punk, Gogol Bordello, play the most wild and raw set of the night. Skanking, sweating and shouting their way through an everlasting, two hours of hectic gypsy folk crossed with punk rock, Gogol Bordello pump out tracks including, ‘Start Wearing Purple’ and ‘Think Locally, efuceekay Globally’. The band is on fire and the crowd is lapping up their every crazy, chaotic sound. This set is a fantastically epic end to the night.

So there you have it. Due to deadline constraints our contented crew had to pull up stumps early and head back up the highway on Monday morning to get back to the grindstone, so we missed the final day of frivolity. Assuming it was like the rest of the weekend we can only imagine that it was a well-organised day held in beautiful surrounds and attended by a vast throng of passionate music fans who were treated to a world class line-up of diverse music from all around the world, and we presume that everyone involved had a complete ball. Congratulations Bluesfest on a fantastic celebration of a magical milestone in the event’s long and rich history – may there be many more to come...
DAN CONDON, EMMA HEARD, KATE JACOBSON, SAM FISHER, STEVE BELL

Heading out for the East Coast / Lord knows I've paid some dues gettin' through, / Tangled up in blues.
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