The 26th annual Bluesfest, which drew more than 100,000 people to its purpose-built Tyagarah site over the Easter weekend and featured almost 1,000 performers in 89 bands, wrapped up last night, with organisers and performers hailing it a big success. Not even the occasional shower failed to dampen spirits lifted by many of the inspiring artists.
Video Sharon Shostak
The five-day Bluesfest closed last night with a 90-minute performance by crowd favourite and regular big drawcard Michael Franti, who, as usual, captivated his audience and involved them in the show.
The final gig featured an on-stage marriage proposal by a middle-aged couple, a crying mum who had lost her child (which was found again soon after), scores of children joining him on stage for a song or two, as well as other performers renowned for spreading their social message of peace love and understanding, joining him for a number or two.
The packed audience also lapped up the attention when Franti did his trademark walk-through the masses, embraces all round.
Franti has been a mainstay of for Bluesfest audiences for years, inspiring many young local musicians and singer-songwriters.
Bluesfest organisers say the event ‘delivered another stellar long weekend of quality music, on stage collaborations and special cameo appearances’.
It hosted 89 bands, a total of 908 artists and their tour party members and reported 105,000-plus attendances over the the long weekend.
Festival director Peter Noble said ‘The rains came, some of the headline artist didn’t come however it seems like we just had our second biggest festival ever because the Blues and Roots fans know that Bluesfest is the place to be at Easter’.
‘There were magic performances by so many artists from Brittany Howard of the Alabama Shakes, Paolo Nutini, David Gray, Jurassic 5, Playing For Change, Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals and many many more,’ Mr Noble said.
‘The legend shone, Jimmy Cliff was magnificent, Mama Africa Angelique Kidjo danced the house down, Mavis Staples and Charles Bradley showered us with Soul music.
‘It was just a magnificent festival. Special mention must go to Steve Smyth, an Australian artist who will be a household name soon.
‘On the last day we had a huge yoga session headed up by Michael Franti and Jay Bowman.’
Mr Noble said 2015 was a year for impromptu artist sit-ins (and he even joined Melbourne Ska Orchestra on stage).
Daily wrap-up videos by the Bluesfest crews:
Day 1 highlights video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czfb8HMYbyY
Day 2 highlights video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NadKkt0Jd0&feature=youtu.be
Day 3 highlights video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuCb-1ryabo&feature=youtu.be
Day 4 highlights video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqeBjVZ8gE4
Day 5 highlights video: Check out the Bluesfest website or Facebook page for this clip soon plus a full festival highlights reel coming soon.
Busking competition: The annual Bluesfest Busking Competition saw Central Coast’s Grizzlee Train win the title for 2015 and earn a spot on the Delta Stage on Easter Monday. The very happy winners were even joined by Kasey Chambers for their Bluesfest debut. Hoo8hoo impressed with their incredible guitar work and took home the Grommet Comp.
Charity highlights: Cystic Fibrosis raised $48,000-plus throughout the duration of the festival through their guitar raffles of donated Gibson guitars. Over the last 16 years Bluesfest has raised around $422,000 for the charity.
Volunteers: A total of 500 volunteers aged from 18-75, contributed to the success of the festival, with a remarkable 43 per cent volunteer return rate reported.
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