The 30th edition of Bluesfest was held over the Easter weekend and punters got more than they expected when many of the artists buddied up for some pretty special collaborations across the Bluesfest stages.
The backstage vibe was both electric and chilled – artists had plenty of time and space to meet-up and catch-up and some very awesome mixtures came out of that, in particular, collaborations between local and international musos.
Some of the stellar match-ups included Mavis Staples and Ben Harper; Gary Clark Jr. brought Lukas Nelson and Marcus King out, then Ben Harper brought Kasey Chambers and Jack Johnson on stage. Yothu Yindi & the Treaty Project hosted Deline Briscoe, Emma Donovan, Baker Boy, Mojo Juju and Indigenous dancers including Rako and Malu Kiai Mura Buai. Jack Johnson headlined Sunday night and brought Lukas Nelson, Gary Clark Jr. and Paula Fuga on stage for collaborations. George Clinton ft. Parliament Funkadelic invited Little Steven up; Colin Hay brought Chris Tamwoy for his set; Melbourne Ska Orchestra got Allen Stone’s drummer Jason Holt up for a smashing solo. RockWiz brought on Casey Donovan & Ian Moss and Lukas Nelson brought local lass Leesa from Hussy Hicks on stage for their incredible rendition of Shallow. Leesa also had a spot with Bluesfest Busking competition winners Electrik Lemonade.
There were some pretty special moments as folk mixed and mingled their songs and sets and no one was disappointed by the end result.
As one punter said, ‘I wish more musicians would join each others’ gigs at festivals. It’s risky but so rewarding for everyone when it works.’
Speaking of Kasey
Chambers delivered a very special show commemorating 20 years since her breakthrough album The Captain, winning new fans and taking those who have followed her for decades to new musical heights. Chamber was joined on stage by a cavalcade of special guests, including Ben Harper, The Veronicas and The War and Treaty (two of the biggest voices to ever appear at Bluesfest).
‘I just love it; I feel like it’s such a beautiful family to be a part of,’ said Chambers after the show. ‘The people that come back every year, they just love music, and everyone is here for the right reason.
‘It’s just a beautiful thing to be a part of. I feel really lucky.’
Festival director Peter Noble made an emotional speech about Kasey’s long connection with the festival. He presented her with a Bluesfest Shining Star award – it was an emotional set and Bill Chambers stood and played beside Kasey throughout, the classic proud Dad.
Looking to the future
Noble went on to say that there were plenty of new artists playing the festival for the first time who have created a new home in Australia – they included Deva Mahal, Larkin Poe, the Marcus King Band, I’m With Her, Ray LaMontagne, Anderson East as well as Jack White with his band the Saboteurs, the incredible Miss Velvet and the Blue Wolf and so many more delighting the audience.
‘Of course, the headliners were loved and the return of both Ben Harper and Jack Johnson were major moments,’ said Noble. ‘ The list is never ending. But I would like to take a moment to hail Melody Angel who is emerging as a bona fide star at Bluesfest and we expect to see major things for her, just like Lukas Nelson.
‘Our audience is telling us what a great time they are having, and the truth is, we just want to do it all over again.’