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The Good the Bad and the Ugly... Options
Posted: Tuesday, April 02, 2013 1:26:25 PM
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Thank you Bluesfest team for what is an outstanding event. Which could be even better if you attend to a few things below...

The Good (actually the Great)

1. fantastic music at every turn. Across many genres. To assemble such a line-up is something to be proud of. For the performers to deliver is also great credit to them.
I saw only 2 dud acts in 5 days, and one of them was on the buskers stage Monday - surely the worst version of "Another brick in the wall" ever performed...
(And I really tried to find something nice about Saskwatch, but frankly, they were out of their depth in musicianship and didn't belong)

Mavis and Bonnie together, Plant "Going to California", Fat Freddy - 5 songs in an hour, but 105 new ideas, Wilco - two completely contrasting sets, both great, Matt Andersen - wouldn't you love to take him home (although you'd have to lock the fridge), Current Swell - best new discovery, Allen Toussaint's beautiful piano, Ruthie Foster's beautiful singing, ditto Michael Kiwanuka, Grace Potter proving that it's possible to sing great with a roll of gaffer tape wrapped around your thighs, Royal Sth B'Hood, 3 awesome singers in one band, Bamboos, Tedeschi/Trucks doing "Midnight in Harlem" and so much more....

2. Again, excellent range of food at reasonable prices

3. Site held up pretty well to some decent showers

The Bad

Generally - a lot more people this year across all 5 days but, apart from addition of Lotus Palace, seemingly no corresponding increase in infrastructure. Which in turn led to some pressure points...

4. Not enough womens toilets near Mojo and Crossroads.

5. Chairs. They belong and can and should co-exist. I'd like to see staff ushers who, in between acts, re-adjust the lines to ensure that the gaps between the rows of chairs are kept narrower. I'm sure everyone would move closer if requested, but until they are, many take advantage and stretch out like it's their living room. Which is unfair and creates angst among those trying to squeeze inside. Doing this would provide space inside for hundreds more.

6. same ushers should ensure that entranceways into main tents and pathways up past the mixing desk are kept clear. The irony for many stuck outside the tents is that there is usually plenty of room once you make it up past the blockage areas.

How about it Bluesfest team? Enough in the budget for some ushers? Not heavy handed security types, but easily identifiable staffers who understand what is required and can be firm and friendly at the same time. I've seen this sort of thing work at movie theatres with no difficulty and good humour.

The Ugly

7. Car parking. No problem at peak time taking 20-30 minutes to exit as part of a fair, balanced parking management strategy, where each block takes a run in turn. But to sit for 2 hours stationary and watch others leave the venue 90 mins after you and drive straight out by virtue of being in a different block or on the other side of a fence, is just wrong. There was no evidence of any clear plan.

Even yesterday, car parking staff were still in denial, blaming accidents in Byron as the source of the problem on Saturday - when other lucky friends had driven straight past the bus accident without any delay, and which also didn't explain why the same problem existed on Thursday. My concern is that the Bluesfest team will accept this b/s excuse as truth and not actually do anything to fix what is a major downer for many and a deal breaker for many others.

8. Alcohol. How is it possible to run out? Why was there no contingency to have extra supplies available to be shipped in when it looked like stocks were going to run low?
Assuming that there isn't a quantity limit attached to the licence, why can't supply be arranged on a returns basis? Surely the major suppliers are falling over themselves to pick up this contract, and would do this?

9. Alcohol tickets. It is against trade practices to sell tickets for something you can't supply and then not provide a refund. It is also unethical. It is also not in the spirit of customer service, and not becoming of this event.

Spirits tickets were still being sold on Monday when only one type was available. To be told by a young staffer upon refusing a refund request "it's not my fault you don't like Bourbon and Cola" is insulting and wrong on every level.

Businesses who care about their customers smile at any fair request and say, "we're sorry about that" and provide a refund. Does Bluesfest care about it's punters? And its staff? I felt sorry for some of the staff who I saw being abused - they were hung out to dry by a policy that is inflexible, unfair and in all likelihood, illegal.

It would be interesting to see the revenue line on the P & L for unredeemed tickets. It would be many $000's. Fair enough for people who buy too many tickets or lose them in their pockets, that's bad luck. But to keep selling tickets without advising purchasers that there was limited choice only, or even no choice? Wrong, wrong, wrong! This will have added many more $000's to the profit line. But at what cost to goodwill?

In summary, thanks again - I'll remember this festival for the many good/great things. But I'd love to come back again with the flaws acknowledged and addressed.

Posted: Tuesday, April 02, 2013 1:43:03 PM
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Blues fest has turned into a joke end of story. Peter is a money hungry person and has done his dash with me I shall never return. Ripped off the whole time. Worst blues fest in 9 years for me. Trust me things won't change it's more important to make money these days than look after the patrons. Shame shame shame!

Dear Skot,
Are you going to be a goose all your life?
Posted: Tuesday, April 02, 2013 2:09:53 PM
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Location: Gold Coast
I saw Peter on Monday walking around Mojo in the mud like everyone else,
checking out the vibe and generally keeping an eye on the place,,,
I also heard him speak at Cavenbah and saw him occasionally backstage in the wings during sets,,,
I think Peter takes an active interest in all things bluesfest and I know he also reads these forums because he often replies,,,
I am very grateful to Peter and the whole bluesfest family for bringing some of the best musical experiences of my life into one place, there is still no other festival like it so thank you thank you thank you Bluesfest,,,

Ok, it may not be as cruisy as it once was, but I am twenty years older from when I first attended at Belongil fields and the festival is much much bigger than it was then, I still had a great time and have changed the way I view the whole experience,

Write a wise saying and your name will live on forever,,, Anonymous
Posted: Tuesday, April 02, 2013 2:57:35 PM
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Quick replay as my wife and i will be spending much more time writing a more in-depth email/letter to bluesfest admin.

i agree with you skot20_58. We're bluesFest regulars who camp as well most years. What an un-organised mess. I am always touting to others how Bluesfest is Clean, Friendly and well run. Not this year! rubbish and beer cans everywhere, very few volunteers anywhere to be seen. close to none in the camping area along with very little security into camping/apra entrance. i cant believe how much it went down in 12 months!

Thankfully there was the music. Although i don't think artists had enough time - few actually mentioning this - just way too many acts, and shocking sound on some as well. Bluesfest has been successful because of the type of people that attend (based on the mix of acts and the atmosphere) that makes sense doesn't it?. This is why artists want to play it and say its the BEST festival. Bigger is not always better guys. too many tickets sold though in my opinion.

I really think BluesFest admin are shooting themselves in the foot.

Alcohol ran out! If thats true then that would have been one of the positives! I'm 30 something and by no means square but you ran out because of the type of crowd - Jim Beam girls, a Bundy Stand as well.. uhumm ( oh, but please drink responsibly ya oxi moron ) ....ok maybe a bit harsh. Beer cans every here but a message about the little ring pulls.. seriously?

...gone are the days it seems when bluesfest had a chilled out happy crowd... 35/40 dollar bluesfest shirts, mostly empty Diamond stands...oOOh diamonds (there was a day where the stands where free - money grab!). Yep all about the money! and that wasn't such a quick replay was it. I'll take some deep breaths now and remember the great acts we caught up with. Taj Mahal, Ben Howard, Steve Miller, Allen Stone, blues revue just to name a few.

I doubt we'll be doing another EAST coast bluesFest.

Posted: Tuesday, April 02, 2013 5:18:44 PM
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bambambam, I share your belief that Peter and his team care and will ensure that they attend to the aspects which don't work so well.

This is just like any business which grows over time and needs to adapt and reconstruct itself to ensure it's longevity, continued profitability and relevance. With that in mind I have no difficulty with the size and length of the festival, and the obvious effort to attract a younger crowd. Anyone pining for the good old days when they had acres of space to themselves, listening to traditional blues only, should take care to leave a tip for the guys who sweep their chimney, and deliver the milk bottles to their door.

Similarly, I get the Diamond category. It's all about yield, airplanes are full of people who all pay different prices for the seat, depending on when they bought the ticket and the level of service they require. Maybe the set areas were too big and there was too much wasted space, but the concept is a valid reality for 2013.

It is possible to run a professional and profitable business and retain your soul. I believe Bluesfest aspires to both. I just hope they are smart enough and open enough to be honest about where they can improve the customer experience, and put these measures in place.
Posted: Tuesday, April 02, 2013 5:44:58 PM

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Location: Umina Beach. Central Coast NSW
I loved it! If you take the good with the bad it was a good festival and I had a blast!!

When you're lost in the rain in Juarez
And it's Eastertime too
And your gravity fails
And negativity don't pull you through
Don't put on any airs
When you're down on Rue Morgue Avenue
They got some hungry women there
And they really make a mess outta you.

B. Dylan
Posted: Tuesday, April 02, 2013 7:27:42 PM
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The exit strategies ( no strategies actually) were a joke. i left the venue on thursday night at 1130 to be stuck in a car park for an hour and 20mins until my sober partner phoned blues fest admin to quietly tell them there was a riot about to happen in the car parking area and alot of people were getting ugly.

We did receive a reply call to say the traffic wardens were on their way. ON THEIR WAY!!!!! well the the hell had they been doing for the last 3 bloody hrs????? these guys were volunteers without traffic con trol tickets guiding us out , no wonder thursday night was a nightmare.

So we left the sth gate at 1130 pm to arrive at home in Ballina at 230 am. Not impressed at all.

The next night we decided to take the bus and what do you know.......the same shitfight occurred. We had 10 buses to byron pass us while 120 people going to Lennox and Ballina were just left standin for 1hr and half just for the driver to take the scenic route through byron, suffolk and broken head. Its not rocket science.

The music was great, the set up was adequate, food was unreal, no problems getting in but the end of the night was a major let down.
Posted: Tuesday, April 02, 2013 8:38:42 PM

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adamplooy wrote:
The music was great, the set up was adequate, food was unreal, no problems getting in but the end of the night was a major let down.

Bluesfest seems to only learn one or two lessons each year. It took them a couple of years to work out that not allowing campers' cars out on after entry meant that they needed to operate the general store and bus services on Wednesday. And now that they have discovered how to turn the simple act of camping into a major money spinner, it may take a while to find the right balance of reserved/tent city/teepee sites. I was staying in the reserved area and saw people setting up a small village full of home comforts. I have yet to work out what the purpose was of having a religious group operating a youth outreach service in the middle of the camping group.

My overall view of BF #24 (My 11th) is that while I enjoyed the music just as much as ever, I didn't find myself discovering as many acts as I have in previous years. There were still enough blues acts to fill the headline spots, but the rest of the weekend seems filled with rock/pop/country acts that I expect to see touring at other events or on their own bill. While I can understand how getting acts like Paul Simon and Robert Plant is a major signing for BF, if it keeps going, it will become too expensive to attend as ticket prices are jacked up to cover the expense of these signings.

I would much rather see acts wanting to jump through hoops to get on the BF bill than have BF jump through hoops to sign artists who could tour on their own if they wanted to.
Posted: Tuesday, April 02, 2013 11:04:15 PM

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Couldn't disagree with you more "' mpember''. The main reason to go to Bluesfest is that it embraces a whole range of musical styles. I'd be bored to death if it was all blues acts. Paul Simon was a major reason for me going, as was The Lumineers, Trombone Shorty and most of the other acts. A single concert these days costs over a hundred bucks so this is an ideal way to experience such a variety at a more affordable price so your argument is simply rubbish. Divide 5 days into the ticket price and I can assure you wouldn't see any major act for that price . I think Bluesfest is amazing!
Posted: Tuesday, April 02, 2013 11:31:36 PM
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skot20_58 wrote:
Blues fest has turned into a joke end of story. Peter is a money hungry person and has done his dash with me I shall never return. Ripped off the whole time. Worst blues fest in 9 years for me. Trust me things won't change it's more important to make money these days than look after the patrons. Shame shame shame!

Couldn't agree more. It was great when Bluesfest was a music festival years ago. Great acts this year and for a great entry price. The rest was all downhill. Get back to your roots Bluesfest! and make it a music festival again

Posted: Wednesday, April 03, 2013 1:49:35 AM
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I've already commented on the chair issue in another thread. To me if you bring a chair you take it with you when you leave the venue. End of story. Empty chairs should be folded up and put outside the tent. And they should have a consigned area. If that area is full then you have to take your chair outside. Why should empty chairs take precedence over paying customers? And I say this as someone who had to take a chair last year for health reasons. The only time I left it unattended was if I had to take a quick pee break during a set and couldn't wait till it finished.

The ladies toilets have been a nightmare every single time I have attended so no surprises the issue continues. I think Peter should only use the public ladies toilets one year and see how he copes and come up with an actual solution. We can't help it if we need to pee more and if we need to sit down (or hover over the seat!) and take longer. That will never change so something else about the system has to.

Artist wise - well I get as excited about seeing Australian acts as I do international ones. For me it is an opportunity to discover new artists who I may never have had the chance to see live before because they haven't played in my town. This year I was more excited to finally see The Snowdroppers live than I was to see Ben Harper for the billionith time. Every year I fall in love with a new artist and I really don't care what their musical genre is. For me there is nothing better than music and camping!

My only other comment relates to people smoking in the tents, particularly when it rains (yes, including you cigar smokers!). Just because it is raining (or you are comfy in your side of the tent seat) some people think it is then ok to smoke inside the tents. No it is not! I'm an ex-smoker who now gets asthma and then bronchitis from cigarette smoke. Every single year (if/when it rains) I go home from the festival sick. Your cigarette smoke simply hangs in the air inside the tent. You are also more likely to accidentally burn someone walking by you in a crowded venue. There are also a lot of people who go barefoot who could stand on your still lit butt. And what about people with health issues or young children - you are affecting all of them, I suspect without really meaning to. I know it is inconvenient for you but I need my lungs to actually breathe and stay alive, not just dance and sing at concerts. Plus it means time off work after the festival and bills for medication so I can get better. I shouldn't have to ask you to stop doing something you shouldn't be doing there in the first place. And even when I was a smoker I had no interest in sharing your brand of cigarette if it was different to mine. Stop stinking up the tents. When it rains that toxic gas just hangs in the air. I'm not saying don't smoke, just don't make me unwillingly smoke it with you.

Sorry for the rant - I hate being the fun police and do love the diversity of the people at Bluesfest but not when they make me sick. Sleep deprived I can cope with!
Posted: Wednesday, April 03, 2013 6:49:08 AM
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The No Smoking in the tents policy has been largely effective in the last couple of years. There are so fewer smokers who are ballsy enough to ignore it, but there were always an occasional smoker wherever I was.
My strategy, if I was standing close enough to them and saw them preparing to light up, was to tell them, with a really big smile, that if they were thinking about lighting that cigarette then it was only fair to warn them that I squirt people who smoke with my water bottle. I would then wave my water bottle at them in a 'make my day' kind of way. It worked every time and I got a few 'nicely done' thanks from other people standing nearby.
The only time it got a bit ugly was when one of the photographers who was waiting in the side area decided to have a smoke and he got really shitty when first one bloke and then I asked him to put out his cigarette. We ended up asking the security dude, who was standing next to him, to do something. The photographer then bitched to the security guy about how 'this is a blues festival' as a defense for why he should be allowed to smoke.
Posted: Wednesday, April 03, 2013 7:02:37 AM
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anitra wrote:
The No Smoking in the tents policy has been largely effective in the last couple of years. There are so fewer smokers who are ballsy enough to ignore it, but there were always an occasional smoker wherever I was.

"ballsy enough" - I'd say ignorant and thoughtless rather than ballsy
Posted: Wednesday, April 03, 2013 8:38:40 AM
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mpember wrote:
[quote=adamplooy] I would much rather see acts wanting to jump through hoops to get on the BF bill than have BF jump through hoops to sign artists who could tour on their own if they wanted to.

spot on , imo. I also notice quite a few posts have been deleted from other threads eg 'since when'

bit of control of the negative feedback......thought i'd left that behind after leaving China....LOL
Posted: Wednesday, April 03, 2013 9:17:47 AM
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The good:Seth Lakeman on Thursday night; Frank Turner;Playing for Change; Steve Miller;Iggy;Mavis;Dropkick Murphys;Jon Anderson in the Lotus;Roger Hodgson;Bonnie Raitt, Paul Simon and the Beards.
The weather & surf; the company; the pies.
The bad- the thin veneer between the good the bad and the ugly is blurred when it rains heavily and the chair people will not let you inside; and form a reef of vacant space in the middle that deprives good people of an opportunity to share a performance and heightens agitation and anger. My response was to seek out smaller venues and find the bluesfest of old. the blame however for bad behaviour must come back to crowd numbers and lack of flexibility and forethought in adapting to crowd management.
The ugly: the complete lack of forethought in respect to getting people in and out on buses. The preparation from the Dylan BF was absent last year and a distant memory this year. Nothing like arriving in Byron at 2.00am on friday after standing in the rain for 2 hours and doing so again on saturday. Takes the gloss off a fine day, even for the tolerant.
The idiot who climbed the staunchions during dropkick murphys threatening the life and limbs of hundreds of innocents.
The queue to the women's loo. BFadmin wants more women performers. Maybe getting back to basics on the womens' loos, [and the entry and egress issues (huge queue for 5 day tix on day 1 whilst many other lines stood idle- no flexibilty)] will re establish credibility which was definitely lost this year; aggressive people who headbutt others; the mud on the left hand side of the mojo;
Posted: Wednesday, April 03, 2013 10:00:01 AM

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The Ugly
Taking TWO HOURS to crawl through Grafton on Wednesday afternoon, due to an accident up near Ballina apparently!!!!!! then to have to take a back road.
That badly poor excuse for an alternator in my car that delayed my departure on Tuesday for 8 hours (whilst the NRMA diagnosed the problem arranged a tow and waited for part to be sourced)
The toilets, one is scared for life after each visit, or till the next shower, which ever comes first.
The Disappointing
The Rails crowd, Mr and Mrs Bambambam and I were rather lonely on Thursday noon to 2pm ???????
The number of acts missed due to not being able to be everywhere
The Good
The staff at Warren Simmons Mechanical B.B for getting me on my way, despite it being their busiest day of the year, the towie and NRMA
Fellow campers who attempted to jump start my "flat" battery.
A completely dry festival, no queues for tickets/beer/toilets,
Sleeping in my own bed again

Heading out for the East Coast / Lord knows I've paid some dues gettin' through, / Tangled up in blues.
Posted: Wednesday, April 03, 2013 10:27:36 AM
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The Good was the Music and the original Blues and Roots Spirit

The Bad was Mojo tent full of chairs ,many empty and people pushing through where there was nowhere to go in the limited standing space.Leaving many out in the mud.Also no big screen outside the Mojo tent for those unable to get in the tent

The Ugly was the oozing toxic looking black mud we were forced to stand and wade in.
Posted: Wednesday, April 03, 2013 11:10:09 AM

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Good : the music and Thursday's beautiful weather

Bad : Over half an hour wait at the gates to get in on Thursday afternoon, there was a huge crowd which was just not moving; 8 dollars for a small bucket of chips which probably cost less than a dollar to make.

Ugly: The fact that I could only go on half day Thursday this year and missed so much

Posted: Wednesday, April 03, 2013 12:52:49 PM

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The Good: Paul Simon (simply the best Bluesfest atmosphere I’ve come across, it not very often you can hear a pin drop in the crowds outside the tent)

The Bad: The Drum kit “solo” during Santana?

The Ugly: The freak that tried to start a blue during Paul Simon when I tried to get past him.

He could have done with some happy high herbs…

Where did that wonderful little stall go this year?

Posted: Wednesday, April 03, 2013 5:11:12 PM
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The good
I had a great time (13th year camping for the five days)
the music was superb - Manu Chao, Ruthie Foster, Iggy, Chris Smithers, Ben Caplan, Lumineres and Melbourne Ska were stand-outs in a very good line-up

The cameraderie in the camp-site was great - one of the pleasures is making new friends each year
The male showers and camping toilets in our area were the best they've been (timing is everything) and the urinals inside were reasonable
The food was great as usual

Another benefit of camping is that you can travel light - a water bottle, a program and some cash- forget the wallet, jumper, raincoat, blanket, chair etc - scoot back to the campsite and chill for 15 minutes if you need a break

Chairs continue to be contentious, but the policy of designated areas especially on wet nights is improving (albeit slowly) the Mojo and Crossroads
It would help if the gate stopped the entry of oversize chairs and allowed only one chair per person. Also it would ease friction if at the close of a big act, the MC asked sittters to make way for people trying to leave

Improve the cloakroom service for the snails who like to carry everything with them - its not just the empty chairs that take up space, its also the poor souls trying to stand up the front with chairs, backpacks, cameras and god knows what else strapped to their front, back and sides. An easy to access cloakrooom would improve everybody's experience

Ít was hard to get into Jambalaya when it was busy as the left side was pressed up against the boundary and it didn't seem to have a chair policy.

Bluesfest needs to consider what its optimum size is - the tents seem to be getting bigger each year - to my mind Crossroads is the size of Mojo 5 years years ago and Jambalaya the size of Crossroads

The Ugly was the oozing toxic looking black mud we were forced to stand and wade in.
Give us the serenity to accept the thing we cannot change.
It is Byron in Easter.
It is going to rain.
The site is a black mud swamp.
Enjoy it. Let your inner child out. Splash around.

Looking forward to next year. Thanks Bluesfest and Peter Noble.
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