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Byron Shire
October 19, 2021

Bluesfest director names his best of the fest

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Bluesfest director Peter Noble (right) with Arakwal-Bumberbin woman Delta Kay at Boomerang. Photo Tree Faerie

Mandy Nolan

It’s not every day you get to sing a duet with Lionel Richie. But Monday night, that’s what around 7,000 women in a crowd that numbered close to 15,000 got to do when Diana Ross failed to show.

The original member of the soul funk band, The Commodores, took to the Mojo stage to perform one of the most memorable shows of Bluesfest, finishing with a rousing rendition of We are the World and of course, followed up with an encore of the song everyone was waiting to hear ‘All Night Long.’

Peter Noble told The Echo, ‘In the microcosm that is our five-day Bluesfest, it’s easy to forget there is a world outside with all the things going on that are. I must admit I forgot about the Commonwealth Games being held, but I would like to wish everyone well. Spectators and participants.’

Boomerang ‘best yet’

Back to Blues – Peter was full of praise for everyone who attended, those who performed and those who worked behind the scenes.

‘We have had an amazing five days and nights. I loved our Boomerang festival and I thought the closing ceremony was the best one yet. Take a bow Rhoda Roberts.’

Tash Sultana. Photo Tree Faerie

Sweet Sultana

One of the other  knock out performances was by 22 year-old Tash Sultana, the one woman band who held thousands captivated on Sunday night. John Butler had to pull out some pretty spectacular guitar work to follow her. Which of course he did.

‘Tash Sultana proved without a doubt why she is Australia’s most popular new contemporary artist’ said Mr Noble.

Robert Plant. Photo David Lowe

Old & new

Bluesfest is about breaking acts, but it’s also about music industry legends, Robert Plant’s Friday show being one of the most anticipated for die hard Led Zeppelin fans.

‘Robert Plant proved he still has the goods’ said Noble. ‘Australia’s great blues band Chain, on their fiftieth anniversary tour, were magnificent and Willie Nelson’s son Lukas Nelson is a superstar in waiting! I have already booked him for our thirtieth festival next year.’

But it wasn’t just the super famous internationals that made the cut. Some of our local talent got to share the bill as well.

‘Miss Renee Simone played our Mojo main stage on Sunday to an adoring crowd,’ concluded Noble.

And that was the festival from the Director’s chair for the 29th Byron Bluesfest 2018.

What were your favourite Bluesfest/Boomerang acts? Use the comments field below to let us know.

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  1. Went to my first ever Bluesfest particularly to see Robert Plant and I wasn’t disappointed!

    What a class line up prior to Robert Plant at Crossroads, with Jimmy Cliff preceding and Youssou N’dour prior. So much energy, heart and passion.

    Loved expanding my horizons listening to Harts and dancing like no one was watching!

    Caught a listen to Andre Symone, Canned Heat, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Little Georgia and The Teskey Brothers as well. What a great opportunity to listen to such a variety of music.

    Disappointed I didn’t get to Boomerang, but planning on heading to the 30th anniversary. I am an official Bluesfest covert!

  2. Clayton Doley was amazing. The Hussy Hicks were hot and Benny Walker were my faves. I’d love to see The Lachy Doley Group play there next year..

  3. This was a festival that, to my mind and tastes, didn’t look that great on paper. But after 25 consecutive years of season passes to Byron Bluesfest, I’ve learned that the acts you don’t know about, or are not a real fan of, can blow you away the most! This year was no exception. The close out set last night from The Californian Honey Drops was the pick of my unknowns. Such a depth of talent, musicianship and diversity. Great way to finish the festival! (As was Rick Estrin and the Nightcats!) That was a party! My overall pick of the festival was Jackson Browne and band. (I’m not really a fan and don’t own any albums.). The sound was impeccable! 9 piece band and you could hear every minutest detail. And I am half deaf! (Best live mix since 10CC in 2010 in my book!) The vocals and harmonies were gorgeous all round. So compelling! 2 of the tastiest guitar/lap/pedal steel players I’ve ever heard on the same stage at the same time! Great band all round. Eric Gale is already a legend! So good. The New Power Generation were amazing. Robert Plant made a great call playing a Led Zep track first up! Got us interested and held it all the way! Cheryl Crow rocked and was so gracious. Chain were as good as I’ve ever heard and Matt Taylor had tears of laughter streaming down my face! That’s a few of my fav’s for 2018. Already got my 30th b’day season pass! Bring that on!

  4. Too many to choose but the beautiful strong spirit present atBoomerang representing indigenous nations, Elder and legend Uncle Jimmy Cliff, Youssou N’ Dour phenomenal experience one of the best in over 25 years of attending! Loved Leon Bridges and my new favourite feel real good dance band the up,ifting California Honey drops! Oh…and the incredible talented Buskers at the buskers comp tent, they where brilliant and brought it right back to where talent begins! Thankyou Peter Noble and Bluesfest for supporting so much community talent as well as the best of International Music!

  5. This year’s line up was stellar despite what a lot of people have said! The likes of Robert Plant, Lionel Ritchie, Sheryl Crow, Melissa Etheridge, Jason Isbell, Eric Gales, Lukas Nelson & POTR and Gov’t Mule were nothing to “sneeze at”, so to speak.

    Jambalaya tent was my favourtie for seeing artists like Walter Trout and Lukas Nelson & POTR! I fell instantly in love with Juanes too, despite not being able to speak Spanish, I loved his performance!
    All our Exes Live in Texas harmonised delightfully in Mojo and Molly Mulligan was a hoot down on the busking stage, loved all her Murder Songs, and surely her song titles could rival all of Nick Cave’s Murder Ballads for sure!
    Loved the new Boomerang area with the seating, pity there was not a bit more seating of the “stadium” variety in say Jambalaya or Delta tents! Morcheeba were certainly worth seeing as I had not seem them before!
    The Iconic band Chain, should be given permanent festival status, always Matt is entertaining and Phil’s playing is unmistakably Australian Blues at its best, it’s precise, clean and brilliantly timed! Certainly would love to see more young Australian Blues players on the bill in future too! Shaun Kirk’s one man show was notable and Rag n Bone man stole the show with his brilliant acapella baritone voice..he certainly had that “WOW” factor.

    My overall festival pick was however, Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real, Lukas’s guitar playing was amazing, wow you can just see the influence Neil Young has has on the persona of this band. They were more engaging that 2 years ago, the band were animated and so engaging. How high can Corey and Lukas really jump and how do they keep playing through this feet is something to see! Beside the acrobatics they were having fun too and this energy also channeled down into the songs, Anthony and Tato on percussion are a joy to watch, and engaged the audience well. The inclusion of Logan on Keys and guitar added new dimension to their own songs as well as the few covers they did too. The tribute to Tom Petty was both moving and insane, Lukas’s guitar work on “Breakdown” was brilliant. You can see this boy has taken note of all the people whom have come into his life, through his association with not only his father Willie, but with many other influential musical Icons by just living and breathing music from birth.. Lukas on acoustic was pure joy and surprisingly his voice ranged from pure sweetness to gravelly infused Texan tones! Just loved all four performances, ranging from technical to pure fun, as in the final show. Lukas also made cameo appearances with Gov’t Mule, whom they have been recently touring with. Lukas has also shared the stage with Sheryl Crow before through the farm-aid yearly event and how great was it to see him join with many others in John Butler’s set, to show their support for stopping the Adani Mine. Yep, Lukas and Promise of the Real, kept it real and won hearts of many, both musically, culturally and certainly spiritually, Well done guys!

  6. Lucas Nelson was great and I’m very very happy he’ll be back next year. For me the Hussy Hicks were the big surprise – I stumbled in to their Jambalaya show and was absolutely blown away – took all my friends to see them again the next day any they took home our group’s Best of the Fest.

  7. YOUSSOU N’DOUR in a peak performance by a performer who is at the top of his game! THANK YOU for bringing the best world music to Bluesfest!!!!!

  8. I adore Tay Oskee! I think he should return with an afternoon show! And please get Steve Smyth back next year- his performances, esp. the last one, were mindblowing! We loved Caiti Baker and Ryan Mc Mullen, and NPG, and John Butler, basically every performance this year was spectacular! I ran away from only two shows… but there’s definitely been something for everyone?

  9. My first Bluesfest in a while and only for the unhygienic ablution block at tent City it was amazing. Favs..def Michael Frenti, absolutely brilliant!! Riff Raff.. California Honeydrops..Youssur Ndour..Chain (incredible) ..and the buskers, Sametime.
    Got my ’19 tickets, can’t wait. At least we know Lucas Nelson in playing… yaaaay!!

  10. Reading between the lines, Peter has booked Lukas Nelson & Promise Of The Resl For next year….as Neil Young’s band. Tell me I’m wrong Peter!!

  11. Walter Trout was my favourite act. Best single song Govt Mule with Lukas Nelson doing “Southern Man”. Biggest surprise was Jackson Browne and his brilliant band. I hadn’t heard of him since the 70’s but he put on an awesome performance. Jimmy Cliff was sensational. I had never heard of Hurray for the Riff Raff but they were excellent. Also i’m not generally a fan of funk music but Dumstaphunk have won me over.

  12. While the line up on paper didn’t look as strong as previous years, as usual and what we love about the festival, Bluesfest handed up some unknown artist to us who we now love. Californian Honeydrop are right at the top of the list, while the traditional main acts, ie Lionel, Melissa, Cheryl , Robert, JBT and Michael Franti produced the goods. Canned Heat just blew us away as did most of the artists. Hats off to the sound and lighting engineers, brilliant job this year. To Peter Noble, please make sure Kasey Chambers is on next year, and in fact a lot of the previous artists who have made this festival what it is after 30 years. On a disappointing note, there are still major issues that need to be addressed with transportation at the end of the night. Also, running out of standard beers supplies on the biggest night (Sunday), was a joke.

  13. John Butler head and shoulders above everyone else, absolutely one of the best in the world. Other highlights, Honeydrops, Teskey Bros, Eric Gales, Canned Heat and Bobby Rush solo gig at Juke Joint and Chic were a bunch of fun as were the Wailers. Special mention to Chain as well.

  14. So much good and great from what seemed on paper to be an average to good lineup. I was there mostly for Robert Plant, Nile Rogers + Chic, New Power Generation, Canned Heat and Steve Smyth. What I got was well above and beyond expectations! The aforementioned were all I hoped for and so much more! I was hesitantly excited for Morcheeba – OMFG!! Just….superb! The Wailers always, ALWAYS deliver, Dumpstaphunk…hell’s to the yeah! Give George and P-Funk a damn good run for their money. Tash Sultana I expected to love, just not how much I loved her sets, was fantastic to see JBT again after so long, never fails to deliver, Clayton Doley was total revelation to me – brilliant! California – what more needs to be said?! William Crichton – mind explosion! Afro Celt Sound System, Asgeir, First Aid Kit, Harts, Caiti Baker, Chain, Harry Manx, Gomez, Jose Gonzales, The Strides, Yousdour N’dour, you know what? the only bad thing about the whole five days was Lauren Hill’s bad attitude and dubious professionalism. Everything else was EXEMPLARY!


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