BluesFest Day 5 – The Final Day

The final day and by George it was a long one. I rose shortly after 6am and started to strike camp, cursing the rain when it started and smiling when it stopped. 2hrs later and the car was packed and I made my way over to where Bronwyn and Amy were camped to help strike their camp and pack all their gear into the car and for the rain to stop. Shortly after 9am we were driving into town, where I checked in at the YHA where I would stay that night and a visit to Woolies to stock up on half-price Easter eggs and food for the mission we had ahead of us. By 10am we were in the line and busy chatting to the people in the line who were also going to be Front Row Bandits for the day or who we would collectively refer to as our family and making sure people didn’t push into the line because pusher-inners are never tolerated. 11:30 and those who were not carrying the bags made the dash and spread out along the front barrier whilst those of us who were carrying the bags walked briskly to the tent. After a toilet trip was made we all started the long day of drinking the bare minimum because the tent was way more packed at noon than it had been the other days and each and every person wanted to be as close as they could to the front.

1. Timmy Curran.
Another pro-surfer turned singer-songwriter, all that salt-water must put songs in their brains. He reminded me of Paul Greene in his stage presence, very much “man, I can’t believe I am here, pinch me please”. Great opening act for the final day. I reckon he will become a BluesFest regular in the next couple of years.
Timmy Curran

2. Piers Faccini.
I really liked this guy but I think it was poor programming to put him as the 2nd artist on the last day and should have either been later on in the day or on an earlier day in the festival as on the whole his music was laid back and after a couple of songs most people sat back down and conserved energy for later on. This guy has so much potential and would love to see him at a better time next time.
Piers Faccini

3. Flogging Molly.
OH MY GOSH! These guys were incredible. Loved them. Similar to the Dropkick Murphys in that they play Celtic-Punk but still very different, more folky. Couldn’t get enough of these guys and still can’t today. When they started playing If I Ever Leave This World Alive, I instantly knew that that is a song I want played at my funeral. The other song I know I want is Dropkick Murphys doing Amazing Grace. You knew that you were not getting your run of the mill BluesFest band when the roadies came on and were placing the drinks round the stage, no bottles of water or just one beer but more like four Guinness on this amp, some more on that one etc. It was classic and Nathan Maxell the bassist was showing his true colours, he had to be half-cut when he came on stage and I have no idea how he managed to play and sing and scull four Guinness. I had respect for him.

You can watch a Flogging Molly concert from July 2006 at Paradiso Main Hall, Amsterdam on FabChannel (which is a great site for watching concerts, they have a great interface and 100’s of great concerts)

Flogging Molly 3 Flogging Molly 6 Flogging Molly 5 Flogging Molly 2

4. The Waifs.
The Waifs, where to start. One of the main reasons I went to the BluesFest was to finally see them live and by george was it worth it. Like many Australians I first heard them when their song London Still was getting serious airplay on Australian radio and they then went on to win four Arias for the release London Still came off Up All Night. After that I started to explore their other songs and very quickly became a huge fan. With songs such as Bridal Train to Lighthouse to The Waitress and scores others, I was hooked. The Waifs write songs that are 130% pure Australian. Songs that every Australian can connect to and scores of other people around the world also. They played a stack of new songs which was really cool and a whole stack of old ones πŸ™‚

Josh, Dave and Vikki 1 Josh, Dave and Vikki 2 Vikki Donna of The Waifs Josh Cunningham 2 Dave on the Snare Donna, Josh and Vikki

The Waifs have just returned from a two year break to have kids and write new songs. Through out the set, Vikki and Donna could be seen looking into the wings and giving a little wave to respective kids. One little boy however was not content to watch Mum from the wings and escaped the clutches of his watcher, made his way onto to the stage, picked up a tambourine and joined in for a song. Which won quite a few aww’s and cheers from the audience.
Donna Simpson and Frankie

5. Missy Higgins.
Going into Day 5 I wasn’t much of a Missy Higgins fan and I left the festival really loving her. Her debut album The Sound of White was flogged to death on the radio, which is probably why I wasn’t that fussed (it stayed in the top 100 charts for over two years!!). Hearing it all live, wow. I came home and now Andrea and I both have tickets for her show in a couple of weeks to promote her new album On a Clear Night.

Missy Higgins 4 Missy Higgins 1 Missy Higgins & Josh Cunningham Missy Higgins 6

The last photo was taken during either during Scar or The Special Two, to which Missy forgot the lyrics twice or perhaps even three times which made everyone crack up as we were all standing there singing it, whilst she was playing the piano and after a couple of restarts she was able to sing again which was a crack up. Really looking forward to her show in a couple of weeks. In the meantime you can listen to all the tracks off the new album on her myspace page

6. Taj Mahal.
Ben Harper had requested that Taj Mahal “open” for them and man they were great. Real Blues with a capital B and plenty of soul mixed in. Loved how he would say that such and such a song was for all the ladies with critical mass in their back field. Lol.
Taj Mahal

7. Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals and Special Guests (Bonnie Raitt, John Butler, Piers Faccini and Jack Johnson).
Ben and crew possibly deserve their own post because man, I could have died happy at the end of that set. 2.5hrs of sheer musical bliss.

The highlight would have been to when he sang Where Could I Go up on the speaker stack by himself to a tent of 15 000 people. Wow. The girl beside me was crying, it was really quite emotional, I was blown away by it. The photos only show half of it.

Ben Harper 11 Ben Harper 12

Setlist is as follows
Well Well Well (w/Bonnie Raitt)
Dressed In Black (w/Bonnie Raitt)
Jah Work/Exodus
With My Own Two Hands
Ground On Down
Waiting For You
Sexual Healing
Steal My Kisses
Diamonds On The Inside (w/ John Butler)
Where Could I Go (just Ben and his voice, no mike, no band, no nothing)
Masters Of War (w/ Piers Faccini and Jack Johnson)
Burn One Down
Black Rain
Get Up, Stand Up
Better Way

Ben and Bonnie.
Ben Harper 1 Ben Harper 3

Ben Harper's special friend #1

Ben and Jack
Ben Harper 13 Ben Harper 14

Leon Mobley – This guy rocked and he knew the crowd was loving him and played that.
Ben Harper 16 Ben Harper 2 Ben Harper 17

Juan Nelson
Ben Harper 8

Ben, he truly is a special person.
Ben Harper 6 Ben Harper 4 Ben Harper 10 Ben Harper 7 Ben Harper 5 Ben Harper

At the end, there was no time for an encore due to the curfew the festival has πŸ™ As they were leaving Ben said something along the lines of “Thank-you, Byron has given me and this band a present that will take a lifetime to open”. He is widely regarded as the “patron saint” of the festival and the BluesFest is credited with making him as well known and popular as he is in Australia.
Ben Harper 18

BluesFest Day 4 – Aus Music Day

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.
Ash Grunwald 2 Ash Grunwald 3 Ash Grunwald 1

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.
20070408_Jackson Jackson

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.

Kev Carmody

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.

Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly

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.
20070408_Vanessa Amorosi 2 20070408_Vanessa Amorosi 3 20070408_Vanessa Amorosi 1

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 πŸ™‚

Paul Kelly 2 Paul Kelly 5 Paul Kelly 4 Paul Kelly 3

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.
Kasey Chambers 1
Mother, Father and unborn baby or Kasey Chambers (6.5mths pregnant) and husband Shane Nicholson
Husband, Wife and Baby

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.
Bernard Fanning & Kasey Chambers

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)
Bill & Kasey Chambers Kasey Chambers 6

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 πŸ™
20070408_Xavier Rudd 1

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.

20070408_Xavier Rudd Bella 20070408_Xavier Rudd 2

Can’t wait for the new album to come out in June πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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.
Michael Barker

Shannon Birchall, The Bassist
Shannon Birchall Shannon Birchall

JB aka John Butler.
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If you don’t already have the new JBT album Grand National you should go get it now πŸ™‚

BluesFest Day 3 – The Roots

Keeping the party going after Fishbone and Ozomatli was The Roots, a lot more hip-hop and rap than any of the other acts at the ‘Fest but they lay it all down over some pretty jazzy tracks which kept the tent going. I probably wouldn’t go see them at their own gig but they did a really good job of capping off an awesome night.

Black Thought of The Roots Leonard Hubbard of The Roots Kamal Gray of The Roots

BluesFest Day 3 – Ozomatli

Dip, dive, socialize, get ready for the saturday night

I have respect for a band that can get 10 000 odd people to get down, down, down on the ground in the middle of a concert and even more when the same band would proceed to bring percussion into the crowd at the end of the set and start a conga line. This band is Ozomatli. Another band who I didn’t know what to expect and it was perfect programming to have them follow Fishbone. Not only were these really great and diverse in their range of music from some ballads to rap to down right funk, they were a great band who put on a fantastic show. Lots of photos with this one as not only is there 9 or 10 guys in the line-up but they all liked to show-off.
Wil-Dog Abers

Look Mr Angelo Moore from Fishbone has joined the show.
Mr Trumbone and Mr Fishbone Ozomatli Ozomatli

Keeping the crowd going with a beat.
Jiro Yamaguchi

Getting in the crowd to party

It’s party time in the crowd.
Hello Crowd

Man, I can’t wait for these guys to come back to Australia

BluesFest Day 3 – Fishbone

The middle night of the festival at the Mojo Tent was a night where the crowd got down and danced and danced and danced. First up was Fat Freddy’s Drop who started the vibe and then it was Fishbone who were back in Aus after a 11 year wait for long time fans and ready to convert a whole new generation of kids to the Fishbone madness. I hadn’t heard of Fishbone before so I was in for a treat and man. They went off especially the lead singer/saxophonist Angelo Moore who by the end of the set was missing his jacket, tie, shirt and his suspenders were barely holding his pants up. Sigh he is an entertainer. They also managed to spend a fair bit of time either crowd surfing or hanging out in the crowd and I don’t think security really knew what was happening most of the time because they would jump up on the speaker stacks one minute and the next be down in the crowd. Sigh they were great.

Fishbone Dr Maddvibe Fishbone

I can’t find any recent videos on youtube but here is an oldie – only two of these guys are still in the line-up today but it is a goodie.

BluesFest Day 3

The half way day and the day it all started to get better, I was getting to know the festival and had finally tuned into the vibe of the festival and now knew what to expect.

1. The Gin Club
The Gin Club 4 The Gin Club 1 The Gin Club 3 The Gin Club 2
The Gin Club are a local Brissie band that I have total respect for, not only do they play some pretty cool tunes but they are all multi-instrumental and seamlessly play a game of musical chairs throughout the set which I find mighty impressive.

2. Jackson Jackson Up Close in the Coca Cola Live n’ Local stage
Jackson Jackson
I ended up seeing these guys twice. The first was on Day 2 in the Live n’ Local tent with about 200 other people and a whole swag of video cameras. I didn’t really get into the music on the first day, however when I saw them again later in the festival I was loving it. They really grew on me. Will talk more about them when they played at the Mojo on Day 4.

3. Alice Russell
This lady has soul I only caught the end of her before Amos Lee started but dang, this lady eats Joss Stone for breakfast. What a voice and a more soulful stage presence as well. The version of the White Stripe’s Seven Nation Army is pretty sweet.

4. Amos Lee
Amos Lee
I wasn’t too fussed on Mr Lee, possibly because of the group of women who pushed their way in front of me to scream and flutter their eyelids at Mr Lee the entire way through the set, continuously proclaiming that they are the biggest Amos Lee fans. Might have to go back and check out some of his stuff to have a second listen.

5. Kieran Kane, Kevin Welch and Fats Kaplin
Kieran Kane, Kevin Welch & Fats Kaplin
110% pure Americana. They had the fiddle, the banjo, the mandolin, tambour and of course the guitar. True storytellers these blokes.

6. Fat Freddy’s Drop
Fat Freddys Drop Fat Freddys Drop 1
Excuse the pun but these guys were phat (the first and last time I will ever use that word). A seven piece roots/dub band out of Wellington, NZ who knew how to get the party started in the Mojo tent. The trombonist Joe Lindsay could shake his body like it was no one’s business.

The last three bands of the night all deserve their own posts as these guys had the entire Mojo tent at their command, from conga lines to getting down or waving those hands.