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May 10, 2021

Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014: the video

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Video Sharon Shostak

In something of a break with tradition, this year’s annual Bluesfest, the 25th, focused more on artists appealing to a younger crowd, hence John Mayer, Devendra Banhart and perennial busker Passenger. But festival regulars were not overlooked, with the likes of Buddy Guy, Dr John and the closing-night act Elvis Costello to choose from. 

Check out our Bluesfest photo galleries:

Opening night – Eve Jeffery

Friday – Eve Jeffery

Saturday – Eve Jeffery

Sunday – Eve Jeffery

Jeff Dawson’s Bluesfest


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23 COMMENTS

    • Sharon replies: Youtube has a low res default setting and you can change it via the settings icon – small wheel third from the right at the bottom of the screen

  1. Interesting that organisers chose to focus on a younger crowd – I would have thought they were already well catered for with festivals. As a regular, older punter I noticed the difference this year. Unfortunately what ‘we’ were offered was pretty dismal – Elvis Costello was AWFUL – I’m going camping next year – spend my money on some good blues CDs.

  2. What a surprise from another whinging ‘older punter” – all I heard all festival was whinging from the older generation…. Good take your money and your whinging elsewhere too… John Mayer was amazing so were the likes of Doobie Brothers, Larry Graham, Gary Clark Jnr, KC and the Sunshine band, Michael Franti, The Beards, John Butler Trio, Kasey Chambers, Dave Matthews Band, WAR I could go on about the brilliant line up there was something for everyone!!

  3. This was just an acceleration of a trend we’ve been seeing for some years. It’s a long time since it was a Blues Festival.

  4. Interesting, and a ploy that probably didn’t pay off all that well… I thought that a Silver Jubilee event would’ve had some bigger “established” blues and roots names than it did… while you won’t get better than Buddy Guy, or Jimmie Vaughan (and Jeff Beck was quite the coup, I thought), and while I did enjoy JBT’s Saturday night set, the lineup didn’t excite me as much as 2012 and 2013 did.

    Matt Taylor summed it up down at the Juke Joint on Sunday night when he said “nobody buys Chain anymore”… and more’s the pity…

    I did laugh out loud at the “Mystery Guest” performance at Jambalaya… it was CHOCKERS as the hour neared… and when Saskwatch hit the stage, the tent emptied as if vented to deep space.

    We bought tickets for next year, but given that there weren’t actually all that many in the “big” tents that caught my imagination, I may well be taking my disposable income elsewhere in 2016 if we struggle to find interesting bands in 2015.

    Still, loved the Doobies, Ray Beadle, Grace Potter, Beth Hart… missed Tim Rogers’ set 🙁 but saw him during Rockwiz… Eugene Bridges was great, as were Chain and Booker T…

    While angling at the “yoof” market might boost sales of drink tickets, the atmosphere of the festival will ultimately suffer… most of the young’uns I saw at Mojo once the sun set had no idea where they were, and were not looking for much more than a punch in the head, rather than a good time.

  5. Great video which gives a nice balanced view of what the festival had to offer.

    Jo, were you there for the full 5 days? If so, weren’t Buddy Guy, James Cotton, Dr John, Charlie Musselwhite, Magic Band, Grandmothers of Invention, Doobies, Garland Jeffries, Booker T, Black Sorrows, Jeff Beck, Steve Earl, among many others, enough for you?

    I’m 62 and there was more than enough for me… admittedly I’m a fan, but Elvis Costello, despite being a bit looser than usual, still put on an excellent show. As an “older punter” you should broaden your horizons and learn to accept newer and younger acts (why should this festival be the domain of just the older blues fans?)… younger acts and acts that probably appeal to the younger punters, like Devendra Banhart, North Mississippi Allstars, Claude Hay, Nikki Hill, CW Stoneking, Tim Rogers, Valerie June, Paladins, Gary Clarke Jnr, Sly and Robbie etc, were fantastic and gave the festival a great energy that helped take years off me, if only for a few days before I returned to the real world and daily grind.

    • LOL, Tim Fleming, I had thought that at least half the name you mentioned were there for auld fahts like me! Honestly, I totally enjoyed it, but none of the acts that were hyped the hardest were the ones that I was most keen to see… I guess that’s the beauty of Bluesfest – the less-hailed or more-obscure acts on the bill are often the most enriching

      • You’re probably right D’Urban Poisson 😉 And yes, the acts that I enjoyed the most were those I hadn’t planned to see in advance… Valerie June, Backsliders, North Mississippi Allstars, CW Stoneking, Nikki Hall, Claude Hay etc. Five days well spent!

  6. I didnt mind the music. However the service was dismal. Volunteers needed a attitude check. I have volunteered at festivsls myself and would never dreamed of treating guests with the lack of disrespect shown to me.. I payed big bucks to attend and did not appreciate having it throwen up in my face when trying aquire space at camping ground…. Payed money for vip … No hot water in showers no paper and voulteers didn’t give a hoot. I will not be back. Maybe you need to take a leaf from Woodford Festival. After 25 years one would think you would get it right. On several occasions people who had been regulars told me that it was going down hill. I did get to see some great acts though. Shame about facilities.

  7. I was terribly disappointed with the lineup this year. Some blues in the smaller tents which was a little strange but would have been ok if you weren’t getting muffled noise from both juke joint and cavanbah at whichever you were at. No big blues acts on main stages. Catering for the kids? Yes there were some great acts there but even those were slim pickings. Looks to me like something went seriously wrong in the planning this year. 25th anniversary? … should have been epic but it was not … If this is the way of your future festivals ill not travel 2000km and state lines to patronise the event next year I’ll join my daughter at one of the hundreds of gigs the kids already have available to them . Same same same….and don’t even get me started on the several km hike to the van at the end of the day!!!

  8. Dear Peter and all the Bluesfest staff,
    Well, this was without doubt the best Bluesfest yet. Very, very impressive line-up.I’m personally glad there were some bands that appealed to the younger audience, as it enabled us ‘older’ crowd to enjoy the established acts without any interference from drunken ‘boofheads’. The weather was perfect, the crowds were amicable, the new screens enabled us shorter fans to see the performances, the coffee as ever, was much needed for those of us that don’t drink alcohol and the site and staff were awesome.
    Thank you so much for putting on a fabulous show (again).
    I only have a couple of minor ‘whinges’, and these are, with the exception of Grill’d and The Aztec, that the food stalls were the same again.(Not that the food is bad, I actually enjoy some of them, but a different variety wouldn’t go amiss) Same goes for the market stalls. Do we really have to have the same every year?
    Second minor whinge is that Joanne Shaw Taylor was in the “Juke Joint’, and the crowds at her two performances were much too big for the venue. The last time she performed here she was on the “Jambalaya” stage and was all the better for it. Everybody could see her amazing talent. Unlike this year. 🙁
    And congrats for the plastic seating areas. For the most part they worked a treat. A much needed rest for weary legs and a brilliant view of the screens, but there were and probably always will be, some selfish people still reserving them.
    Well, that’s it from me. Again, many, many thanks for a wonderful and memorable 25th, and hopefully Walter Trout will be well enough to come back next year.

  9. 5 days of amazing music and the amazing weather.
    I have been a regular for over 14 years and travel nearly 1000 kilometres (one way) every year to be part of the fun.
    Sure there are “things” that could and should have been done better, but where else can you, for about $70.00 a day see what Bluesfest serves up every year.

    Highlights were Beth Hart, North Mississippi Allstars, Joanne Shaw Taylor, Booker T, KT Tunstall, Grace Potter, Passenger, John Butler, Boz Scaggs playing The Juke Joint in acoustic mode for the ABC and the Rockwiz guests.

    Was it a worthy line up for a 25 year celebration?
    Most will say no.

    From what I saw, I feel that Bluesfest is at a “crossroads” and to survive and prosper, they have some tough decisions to make in the next couple of years and the survey that was ever present on every festival day, will hopefully provide the organisers with the clues they need to get it right.

    In closing, Happy Birthday Bluesfest.
    See you next year.

    PS. Please elevate the stages in The Juke Joint and Kavenbah (and it would hurt to make the tents a little bigger as well).
    Both had some of the standout performances and we would have enjoyed the music even more if we could have seen more than the back of the people in front of us.

    .

  10. Very happy with our week. Must admit, we did wonder how they’d top 2013 lineup. Still, that was then. This year is now. Great to see The Beards again and Grace Potter. Joss Stone was sex on a stick, Beth Hart as gutsy as ever and Nikki Hill sensational in Cavanbah. Loved catching ‘Royalty’ (Cotton, Booker T, Beck, Allman x 2, Buddy Guy, Elvis, War) but the standout surprise for me was Foy Vance closely followed by Valerie June and Busker winners Eddie & the Phatapillers(?). Crapped off I didn’t catch Charlie Musselwhite or Suzanne Vega. Thanks for a wonderful week.

  11. Well, I am in my late 50’s and I had the best time, as I always do, at the Bluesfest. I have been going for 4 years and it is always the best fun, great music and friendly people. The volunteers at the festival are and have always been really helpful. I love the variety of music and it would be a very stupid person to think that one was going to like each and every artist featured. I feel that I get value for money and I buy a 5 day ticket each year for the next year at pre-early bird prices, which is brilliant, as far as I am concerned. I have no idea why D’Urban poisson states that the young people in the Mojo tent were looking for a punch in the head….sounds like you had the aggressive attitude, not anyone else, because I saw nothing of the sort. I rather saw old farts sitting on their camp chairs with their stone faced wives, I think if they had even tapped their foot to the beat it would be such a shock to their sad, sorry bodies and unhappy faces. I have met some great younger people at the festival and last year when The Pogues were on I met some great Irish kids backpacking. Hope the Pogues come back again, they were the best. I drive a few hours and go to the Bluesfest by myself and sometimes meet up with friends; I dance like crazy and absolutely love it. Sounds like there are a bunch of sad faced whingers commenting here and it would be best if you didn’t come to tarnish the great atmosphere of the Bluesfest.

  12. i thought it was run very well at least there wasnt the seat hustle this year ..crowd were well behaved not much to whinge about at all, in fact i dont know why i am commenting except to say.. well done all the workers the bands the sound and video guys volunteers and the promoters and the stall holders i think its getting better ..and thank god for the younger acts like kate miller heidke, passenger and that american/ islander dude that mentioned the Bentley protectors..anyone that whinges about that massive brilliant festival is a spoiled brat/baby boomer ( is there a difference ?) most of the blues acts like BB King etc are really just too old to make it anymore god bless them ..christ i only just made it myself and i live in Byron.. logistically..absolutely incredible ..again well done and thank you

  13. …just think you were all lucky to be there. A lot of us were there in spirit – circumstances kept us away. Thanks to all comments, positive and negative because your heartfelt comments keep us in the loop.
    Hope to see you there next year and to the bands, thanks for coming. (please come back) xxx

  14. It was a memorable time on Sunday. My 4 other
    experiences at Bluesfest have left me with a joy in my life and totally uplifted by the Acts I could afford to see hear and jump to. I think Bluesfest is an iconic landfall for myself and many others in the world and I thank you for the enduring memories , diversity of Acts and the quality of my experience.

  15. This was my first BluesFest as my wife and I were over from England visiting our son Russ who lives in Byron Bay and works at St Elmo’s Bar & Restaurant. We came on the Friday and saw an amazing line-up. I feel the festival appealed to all generations and was run excellently. I saw: TIJUANA CARTEL (my son’s favourite band from Oz) who I thought offered a very distinctive set, loved the guitar work by the lead singer; THE BEARDS – surely the best ‘novelty’ band of the festival – and that’s not to denigrate them at all, to me they captured the essence of festivals providing fun and good old fashioned entertainment – they would go down a storm at UK festivals; JOSS STONE – not just a sexy lady as someone else has put on here, but for me the real surprise of my day. This lady is pure class and has matured into a wonderful entertainer without seemingly any airs and graces. I will certainly look forward to going along to one of her concerts back in the UK; THE WAILERS – pure party!! You cannot fault having reggae on at a festival and they were superb; BUDDY GUY – I’m not someone who really wants to just watch some blues legend play a guitar as though he’s up his own rectum BUT this guy is certainly not that way inclined. He was amazing, great fun and again another top entertainer; LARRY GRAHAM & GRAHAM CENTRAL STATION – I first heard Larry and his band on a Warner Brothers Sampler Album in the 70s and wanted to see him/them. I wasn’t disappointed. Superb funk soul set. THE DOOBIE BROTHERS finished off my day and just how professional were they!! Eventually playing Long Train Running, Listen to the Music and Black Water. I missed Jack Johnson (as The Doobies took preference) .. and I would have loved to have seen Elvis Costello on the Monday but we flew back to the UK that day. Will hopefully be back next year, keep up the good work. I even managed a cameo appearance myself, not at Bluesfest but in St Elmo’s in Byron Bay! So close, yet so far. You can always check me out for next year Peter!! All the very best!

  16. Stop whinging. The best weather since 2006!!! and a cool breeze down the Bangalow valley. Camp sites were as good as could be. just arrive early for a full hot shower.

    One should realize that this festival will not survive on Blues alone. I have been coming on and off for 20 years and consistently for 3 to 5 days for the last 10 years. If you are passionate about Blues and soul then arrive on thursday and get the Rythym magazine (Free for years, but $3 for first 3 days this year and then given away or online), study the programme in the morning and arrive at midday,get the free water fill, get up front between midday and 5pm. Look to the left look to the right..Hi would you be Mason rack?..Is that Cameron Diaz I see?

    I must say everyone behaved them selves this year. In the Pogues mosh pit last year, shoulder charging and head butting was the norm. The extra screens this year were a bonus. Pity the CD merchandise tent was reduced to a table.

    I met so many people who were there for only one band ( Erykah Badu) and arrived after 5pm or were wandering aimlessly or met while eating and didnt know what to see next.. I asked where are you from? one said Sweden others said newcastle or mackay or Oz. I put them in the direction of “Harmonica blues” Chain the grandfather of the Oz blues (only australian blues band to make #1) and later Mojo Webb (this decades Brisbane Blues band). Mojo offered anyone to pick his guitar we were all that close. What a voice!! where were they?….you could find them in the smaller stages but on Monday they were delegated and hidden in a secret hideway -called the Juke joint

    Joss stone a beautiful person on stage and in interviews gave the older gents up the front a special captivating smile and when they smiled back she lost her place !!! and wasnt Grace Potter special too?

    I sorely missed the Big brass bands with energetic front men like Fishbone OR Trombone Shorty of past years. Pace yourself and by the 3rd and 4th day you can put in 12 hour days. Finish off the night –weave your way through on sunday and monday night and Dance to Saskwatch or Ozomatli.

    Yes I will no doubt be there next year too!

  17. Hey we are traveling a long way to come to our first ever Blues Fest and gotta say some of the feedback has us nervous that we are spending so much money in the hope of a dream holiday good time… Our first concern is the 5 days camping.. Can anyone tell us please if the organisers are strict on setting up a gazebo along with car and tent? We like inviting awesome humans to socialise under our gazebo especially if shade is needed and just needing to take some rest and relax, I can’t see that possible on hot days in a hot tent!!!

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