Report: Greg Phillips Photos: Jason Rosewarne
After four glorious days of musical excellence, punters may not have had much left in the tank but Bluesfest day 5 delivered again anyway. It was such a pleasure to enter the venue yesterday to be met with the sweet, soulful tones of UK singer-songwriter Laura Mvula. What a delightful performer with an incredible voice. Like most of the artists this weekend, Laura seemed genuinely sad to be leaving the festival. Meanwhile over on the north side of the venue The Wilson Pickers and audience were getting their jig on. Local singer songwriter Glenn Cardier was a sentimental favourite with many who recall his quality songcraft from the 70s. Glenn’s 2014 Bluesfest appearance was the inspiration for further recording and shows and it was great to see him back this year. It was also fantastic to see a procession of Australia’s finest blues guitarists on the Delta stage one after the other. Ray Beadle & the Silver Dollars motored through their set, followed by Lloyd Spiegel with his nimble fingerstylin’ and amiable stage patter. In his first Bluesfest appearance, I’m sure organisers saw enough to know he needs to be a regular from now on. Jeff Lang took to the Delta next and not surprisingly blew everyone away with his lightning guitar licks. On such a lazy Monday afternoon, Tony Joe White’s swamp rock worked a treat. Dynamic local hip hop artist Remi brought something a little different to Bluesfest this year and the crowd lapped up his vibrant beats and rhythms. The Miles Electric Band added a regal element to the day, paying tribute to ‘The Chief’, Miles Davis with a band featuring many musicians who played with Miles back in the day. Rolling Stones bass player Darryl Jones played some sublime bass notes to Funkadelic’s Blackbird McKnight’s intricate fretwork, while Davis’ nephew, Vince Wilburn Jr was stunning on drums. Stay tuned for an Australian Musician interview with Darryl Jones soon.
Fresh from our video interview with Melody Angel, the Chicago singer, songwriter and activist rocked the socks off the Juke Joint stage. Angel told us she was having the time of her life and it showed in her on-stage energy. For many, St Paul and The Broken Bones were ‘Best in Show’ band for 2017. Following up on their 2016 Bluesfest shows, the expanded band delivered some wild and passionate performances. Also to be found in the wild and passionate category is Beth Hart, whose incredible lung capacity seems unlimited. The Record Company’s final Bluesfest performance occurred this time on the more intimate Delta stage. Recognising that the remaining day 5 crowd were the hardcore, true believers, lead singer Chris Vos promised to lay it all down for them, which they did.
Crossroads tent headliner for the final night was the much adored Neil Finn. On a balmy Bluesfest night, with so much global tension happening elsewhere, it was comforting to be part of Finn’s glorious Private Universe. Featuring a set list from all points of his career, Neil is not only a master songwriter but is also an incredibly engaging performer.
Well Bluesfest, you served us well. You delivered bonafide music icons, legends in the making and proved that it’s the music that matters, not the hype nor the accumulation of social media likes. It’s the real-time experience of seeing something thrilling happening before your eyes on stage, being engaged and in the moment … and my god … there were moments! See you same time next year.