There’s a reason why Bluesfest continues to be Australia’s premier blues and roots festival. Celebrating its 30th year, the line up is both impressive and vast with headliners Iggy Pop, Ben Johnson, Jack Johnson and Paul Kelly to choose from over the next 5 days. It’s not possible to see everything but I guarantee you will get your boots muddy and discover lots of new bands to love.
It’s Good Friday and there are 30+ acts on offer. According to those in the know the highlights of the day were Arlo Guthrie, Ruthie Foster, Hozier, Pierce Brothers and Gary Clark Jr. For my money, little known USA band I’m With Her were well worth seeing. First timers of Bluesfest, they charmed the audience with their Americana sound, melodic harmonies and strong vocals supported by guitars and violins. Add them to your list for Saturday
Another lesser known but equally impressive act was Melody Angel from southside Chicago. An incredible blues and rock guitarist she totally owned the stage with her vocals and sheer talent. The band was tight, with a big guitar rock sound and pulsating drums. Their rendition of Hey Joe was loud, fast and pure Hendrix. The crowd went nuts. They’re playing everyday, so add them to your ‘must see’ list, you won’t be disappointed.
Heading over to the Boomerang tent, I caught the incredibly talented indigenous hip hop artist Baker Boy. He was so damn good I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He’s a fun, high energy performer with a powerful message. The crowd loved him with everyone dancing along to Marrryuna. Sharing the stage with dancers and fellow rapper Dallas Woods, it was smiles all round and great to see something entirely different in the Bluesfest line up.
Debuting in the Delta tent, Hawaiian artist Deva Mahal captivated the crowd. This is one talented artist with a big voice, supported by an impressive band of musicians. Easily switching between funk, soul, R &B and indie rock its impossible to pigeon hole her into a single genre. Her performance was joyous and energetic taking the mood in the tent to the next level
A quick break for a bite to eat at Yaman and we are fuelled up and ready to join the crowd to catch Norah Jones in the Crossroads tent. Switching between piano and guitar the set was confident and polished but lacking intensity – creating an ambient atmosphere more reminiscent of an intimate small show than a large festival. Playing songs from her new album, fans were delighted when she played her hits including ‘Come Away with Me’.
Last but not least was the eternal punk enigma that is Iggy Pop. Strutting and cavorting on stage doing what he does best, he started with the anthemic “I wanna be your dog’, jumping off stage to tease the audience. It was an impressive pace, with everyone getting into the vibe and singing along to The Passenger and Lust for Life. For me it was easily the highlight of the day, a capstone moment in my personal list of must see artists. Thank you Bluesfest.
Words by Cathi Margherita.
Images By Peter Dovgan