Local artists dominated yesterday’s Easter edition of the 2015 Byron Bay Bluesfest – both had artivist messages to deliver and both had supergroup backing bands that would make any serious muso drool.
In the afternoon, Bluesfest regular Ash Grunwald reminded everyone about the encroaching evil that is Coal Seam Gas mining before he blitzed his set on the Crossroads stage with not only his own awesomeness and plain ol’ blues grunt, but that of The Living End’s rhythm section of Scott Own and Andy Strachan, Peter and Peter from the Melbourne Ska Orchestra’s horn section, Ian Peres from Wolfmother and two of the best BVs on the north coast in Lisa Candy and Danni Carr.
As the evening turned into night, another local lad Xavier Rudd almost brought the Mojo tent down with a buzz that spread across Tyagarah, when he assembled his incredible new group: The United Nations.
With a new but old but new reggae feel, Xavier washed the crowd with fragrant new tunes from his current release Nanna – Rudd did not leave the audience begging for Spirit Bird – but he did preface the song with a dedication to the people who are being forcibly removed from remote communities at the moment, expressing his disbelief that in 2015 people are still not allowed to live on their country.
With the likes of Bobby Alu, Yeshe, Alicia Mellor, Georgia Corowa, Chris Lane, Pete Hunt, Uncle Eddie and Uncle Tio Moloantoa playing a steaming bass, Rudd did everything right and we all knew it, all rapturously received by a capacity audience in 100 percent humidity.
But is wasn’t only the hometown team and big bands that hit home runs on Sunday.
Earle sang from the very deep places and took those gathered down an incredible path with him in the true spirit of a real bluesman and troubador.
The high energy award went to Angelique Kidjo with her non-stop set raising the roof, and the best enter-stage-right award definitely went to the Melbourne Ska Orchestra whose second show was better than their first and got everyone’s heart pumping.
Nattali Rize and Blue King Brown drew a huge crowd to the Jambalaya stage, and with flags a flying, Natalli sent her message out for everyone to grab on to and satisfied the collective soul.
The big draw card for the day was Bluesfest favourite Ben Harper who was in excellent voice (of course), and who simply picked up the entire audience, held them in the palm of his hand as he sang sweetly to each individual via a direct line to their heartstrings.
Harper could just do no wrong, even when he lowered his mouth to the sound hole in his guitar and sang through the pick-up – the man is a perfect example of why we love Bluesfest…
Today is the last day for this year’s event and with still more fun to be had, punters are in for some special treats.
~ Photos Tree Faerie
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