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Byron Shire
May 19, 2024

Deputy Mayor does day 4 at Bluesfest

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Sarah Ndiaye and Michael Franti on the Crossroads stage at Bluesfest. Photo Tree Faerie.

Byron Shire Deputy Mayor, Councillor Sarah Ndiaye, found herself onstage in front of thousands of screaming fans at Bluesfest yesterday when festival favourite Michael Franti invited her to come up and sing.

Sarah Ndiaye when she realised she was singing on her own in front of thousands of Bluesfest punters. Photo Tree Faerie.

Franti, who is renowned for his audience engagement and participation, asked for someone from the audience to come up and sing and immediately looked at Ms Ndiaye. ‘I was surprised,’ said Sarah. ‘I was totally expecting him to grab someone else, anyone else, but I just went with it. Opportunities like this don’t happen very often in life.’

Give it up for Sarah! Photo Tree Faerie.

The Sound Of Sunshine Going Down

Most of Franti’s songs are something to sing along with and Ms Ndiaye had no trouble with the chorus of The Sound Of Sunshine Going Down. ‘There was a sea of people. I was blown away by just how big the audience was and how warm and encouraging they all were. That helped.

Franti is renowned for his audience interaction. Photo Tree Faerie.

Ndiaye said she loves singing but doesn’t get the opportunity very often. ‘I’m in a local choir and find music a very therapeutic antidote to a lot of the other things going on in the world. It can really bring people together.’

Julz Parker and Michael Franti. Parker said it’s great to reconnect with Michael and the band and all the international members of the musical family. Photo Tree Faerie.

Ndiaye, who as well as working on council, spends every Bluesfest onsite. ‘I first worked there about 20 years ago I think. My first job was driving artists to the VIP signings so that was a pretty fun place to start. I worked escorting photographers to the stages for a few years and have been the photographers manager maybe for about 15 years. 

Julz Parker and Spearhead’s Claudio Urdaneta in a battle of the shreds. Photo Tree Faerie.

This is not the first time Cr Ndiaye has graced the Bluesfest stage with an appearance. ‘I actually got pulled up on stage at my very first Bluesfest by Taj Mahal but that was 29 years ago. It was what first brought me to Byron.’

Life Is Better With You

Ndiaye wasn’t the only local to make a surprise appearance with Franti.

Sara Agah, Taj and Michael Franti. Photo Tree Faerie.

Hussy Hicks’ award winning guitarist Julz Parker also jumped up for some casual shredding in Life Is Better With You and a guitar battle with Spearhead guitarist Claudio Urdaneta.

So much more fun than menace Parker and Urdaneta exchanged shreds and laughs as Franti stood by full of the joy of life.

Taj Franti – ‘Dad, what does this do?’ Photo tree Faerie.

Parker said it was good to be onstage with her mates. ‘It’s just so great to reconnect with Michael and the band and all the international members of the musical family again.’

Taj Franti wondering what happens if he pulls this one out. Photo Tree Faerie.

A family affair

Other unexpected guests were Franti’s wife Sara Agah and their young son Taj who thought dad’s foot pedals were way more fun than his music.

Sarah Ndiaye and Michael Franti. Sarah had time for one last hug before she got back to her ‘day job’ which is actually her ‘side gig’. Photo Tree Faerie.

Alas, that was the end of performing for the night for the deputy mayor for the night as she had the photographers to muster around. ‘I had to get straight back to work as there was still Bonnie Raitt, Tash Sultana, Eugene Hideaway Bridges, Lisa Hunt, Jason Isbell and the 400 Uni and the incredible Trombone Shorty to go!

‘But, being on stage with Michael felt incredible and a little overwhelming. But I loved it!’

You can catch Michael and your chance to sing tonight at 7.45pm on the Mojo stage.


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