All day long at the Mojo tent was a celebration of classy Australian Music and by boy what a day it was. By the end of the day I made two great friends who I would spend the following day with as well.
The day started for me at 10am when I jumped on the first shuttle bus from my campsite out to the festival. The “doors” do the festival do not open till sometime between 11:15 and 11:30 but when you want your choice of seats, namely a front row spot you have to be there early. Had a great time in line chatting with other Front Row Bandits about the great day we were going to have, which bands we were looking for and what exactly was Vanessa Amorosi going to do as she was sandwiched between Xavier Rudd and Paul Kelly, both two icons of Australian Music.
At 11:15am the race was on as we run, and then briskwalked after Festival Staff started yelling at us that it was wet and dangerous. We all made it though to the spots we wanted and I ended up sitting beside two great girls who would become my budddies for the remaining days. We would hold each other’s spot when you needed to go to the toilet or grab food in the first 45mins before Ash Grunwald came on and then we would give each pep talks about not drinking too much liquid so that for the rest of the day a toilet break would not be needed as getting back to your front row spot would be tough.
1. Ash Grunwald
Ash Grunwald was first and is one of two one man bands who were playing that day. The next been Xavier Rudd. Ash may not have as a complex setup as Xavier but he is still mighty impressive playing the guitar and then playing various percussion with his feet. Great Aussie act to open the day as he is chilled back enough for the opening slot and upbeat enough to wake everyone up for some dancing and singing.
Stop Taking Life so Serious. You Don’t Even Know what you have.
2. Jackson Jackson
I admitted that the first time I saw them at the festival on Day 3 I was not that sold on them. However they played a much better set on the Mojo and I was loving it. I didn’t get a decent photo of the other guy in the duo, Jan. I guess that will have to happen next time or their funkadelic back-up vocalists the Jackson Jackson 5 or The Genie which were a three piece band who was giving it some extra ommph. Go the their myspace and have a listen.
3. Kev Carmody.
I often heard about Kev Carmody through the years and I finally got to hear him. He was great. Loved his oh so simple set-up. A plastic chair for him and another to hold his bottle of water and slide. Loved how he told the background to his songs and sometimes just got carried away telling a yarn instead of singing another song.
From Little Things Big Things Grow, is a song that I think just about every Australian knows, and was co-written by Kev and one of his best mates Paul Kelly who was on later that day. It was great seeing them both play together and of course having the crowd sing-a-long to Little Things and made even more poignant by Kev and Paul telling the tale of how they came to right the song. Great Stuff.
4. Vanessa Amorosi.
I am still unsure about this. I have to give her credit for having a pretty amazing voice but I think it was hard for the crowd and me included to move past her as a pop princess who had some big hits round the turn of the century and now six years later as a jazz standards singer/whatever she is now. If she was someone that we had never heard of before we would have probably have loved it but I guess we kept on dwelling on who she is. In her time as Australia’s pop princess she had two pretty big singles and 1 really big single. She sang the two big singles (Have a Look and Shine) but the really big one that everyone was waiting for to have a good sing-a-long (Absolutely Everybody) she didn’t do. I can understand her not doing it in wanting to re-invent herself as an artist but I think in a festival setting like this and especially when you have kept a pretty low profile with no new releases over the last six years it might I have been a good idea to pull your big hit out.
Just after Vanessa finished I was craving a Byron Bay Organic Doughnut but I knew that it was going to be tough getting back to my spot. So what did I do? I did a little Doughnut drive and quickly had 10 doughnuts ordered and everyone round me promising to keep my spot. I darted in and out of people, till I got to the back of the tent and up the hill to where the doughnut stand was and the look on her face when I ordered 10 doughnuts was classic though she sadly informed she that they had no bags to carry them in. I grabbed a wad of serviettes and shoved them in one pocked and quickly loaded the 10 bags into my arms and started on the trek back to the front row. Luckily people were happy to let me past when I explained the amount of doughnuts in my arms and I was happy when they let me past because my arms were starting to get a little hot from holding all these fresh doughnuts. As I made the journey back there was quite a few people who wanted to tax me by taking a doughnut and then one guy who was near where we were who didn’t even believe me till the people round him saw me and pulled me through. I made it back just as Paul Kelly was coming on to play and leaning on the barrier with a hot doughnut in your hand and listening to Paul Kelly is a very good feeling.
5. Paul Kelly.
Paul was one of the reasons I bought my BluesFest ticket. I have wanted to see him for sooo long. There was lots of singing-a-long with Paul and his band which really surprised me as most of the tent was relatively young and I don’t think that most people my age have the same slightly eccentric music tastes as me. Hearing him do his classics and some other songs that I had not heard before was just great 🙂
6. Kasey Chambers.
Kasey is such a sweet person and she looks a whole lot shorter in real life to TV. Kasey and her band and her various guests put on a really well oiled show. She played some new stuff and some old stuff and again a fair bit of singing-a-long with the crowd.
Mother, Father and unborn baby or Kasey Chambers (6.5mths pregnant) and husband Shane Nicholson
Who is that? Is that Bernard Fanning? Why yes it is. Kasey brought Bernard out for a song and the crowd went wild. We knew he was about to come on because when you are a front row bandit you can see into the wings pretty well and you spot all sorts of people hanging about off stage.
Kasey’s dad Bill Chambers as played with Kasey at pretty much every gig she has done since she was a wee kid in the family band (The Dead Ringer Band)
7. Xavier Rudd.
The last and first time I saw Xavier play was at the Riverstage in the Gardens when I saw Jack Johnson there back in March 2005. I didn’t really see much of him though because we were a very long way from the stage, loved his music then though and still love it today. He brought his brother along to the Bluesfest to add some extra drums which was mighty cool. I didn’t get many photos of Xavier because the Video guy was set up right in front of us as you can see from this photos 🙁
I have the coolest story to tell though and that is about the sweet little Byron local who was standing beside me, Bella. Bella could dance to the music, she had the music running through her veins and every inch of her body. Xavier from where he was sitting on stage could see Bella dancing and motions for her come up on stage and dance so one of the friendly security guards pulls her over the barrier and then everyone else starts to follow her and join her party up on stage. It was great stuff and what a story for her to tell. When the song had finished and they were all back down in the crowd, one of the guys comes over and tells her again that she started it all with her dancing.
Can’t wait for the new album to come out in June 🙂
8. John Butler Trio.
I saw JBT at Woodford where we were all dancing in the mud and rain in our gumboots and raincoats and having a blissful time, really chilling. JBT at Byron was a whole ‘nother thing. We heard the next day from one of the security guys that an extra 5000 people crammed into the tent for Xavier and JBT, pushing it to about 15000 in the tent give or take a few and believe me we could feel it as people tried to get closer to the front by making crowd surges. What they didn’t realise that the first couple of rows have been there most of the day and know each other pretty well and don’t take well to strangers pushing through. JBT was incredible and the perfect ending to a day filled with fantastic Aussie musicians.
The spot that I had chosen as well was straight in front of JB and man it made for great show, Amy and Bronwyn at the start of the day had chosen the spot beside me as they knew from past JBT concerts that JB would set up in front of us. Them been big JBT fans and me choosing the spot I chose is how we ended up as mates 🙂
Michael Barker, this guy is one hell of a drummer, he was the only drummer I saw at the BluesFest who brought his own kit along for the gig and man did he use it all. He was on fire and towards the end he something like a 3min drum solo which was intense.
If you don’t already have the new JBT album Grand National you should go get it now 🙂