Bluesfest may be over for another year, but the memories will linger much longer. The weather may be unpredictable but you can be assured Bluesfest will always deliver the best Blues, Roots and Rhythm in this world-class music festival.
This was my first year photographing the wonder of Bluesfest and I entered the gate excited. Everything you need is here: it’s a musical city. Get a new festival outfit, a swanky new pair of western boots, your favourite band T-shirt from the merch store and mouth-watering food. The heat and humidity after each rain shower makes a thirsty crowd, and the bars fill, as we top up and head to off to explore.
This year Bluesfest focused on turning the tide on plastic pollution with the international campaign “BYOBottle” sustainable Concerts working group led by Jack Johnson. Bluesfest provided reusable water bottles and refilling stations for artists and encouraged everyone to bring their own water bottle. A press conference on Saturday at the festival with Jack Johnson, Lukas Nelson, Nicky Bomba and Peter Noble discussed the collective and how to get involved and spread the word on the importance of phasing out single use plastics. Check out https://byobottle.org
It’s so hard to see everything, but I did my damnedest. There are so many highlights – the powerhouse rock of Iggy Pop, the godfather of punk, who on the eve of turning 72 rocked the main stage like no other.
Discoveries of new favourites: Lukas Nelson & the Promise of the Real, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats. Irish punks Flogging Molly had us bouncing, Melbourne Ska Orchestra connect and re-energise the crowd. Baker Boy and Dallas Wood hit the stage and and smash into “Black Magic” which was brilliant to watch! Samantha Fish was a must see, with a voice to match her guitar prowess as she mesmerised the audience. St Paul and Broken Bones, Paul Janeway wearing a Black tinsel cape and glittery shoes with a booming soulful voice that made me feel like I was in the church of musical heaven. Vintage trouble was the photographic highlight for me because Ty Taylor jumps, bends, skips and cavorts around the stage like no other.
Kasey Chambers singing with Ben Harper, The Veronicas and War & Treaty was an unexpected treat. She was recognised for her contribution to Bluesfest. Festival director Peter Noble joined her on stage to present a Bluesfest ‘Star’ award. It was an overwhelming moment bringing both Noble and Chambers to tears.
Every day is a new experience with magical moments and discoveries for everyone to see and feels in a different way.
My Bluesfest experience ended with The Saboteurs (Jack White & The Raconteurs) “Steady as she goes” which seemed perfect. Sharply dressed stagehands wearing matching outfits and an array of guitars on stage. Armed with ferocious songs and a mesmerising stage presence they are a band everyone needs to experience live.
As the post Bluesfest blues started to sink on Tuesday morning, I got the email and FB event to attend next year! Yes Please!
Words Lisa Gough
Images Lisa Gough & Kirra Pendergast