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St Paul & The Broken Bones

Report: Greg Phillips Photos: Jason Rosewarne

The weather gods blessed Bluesfest day 3 with even more sunshine and consequently much punter delight. What better way to begin the day than with local guitar powerhouse Jeff Lang. Currently on tour promoting his brilliant new album Alone In Bad Company, Jeff never disappoints. The ukulele is not usually the coolest instrument at a music festival but in the hands of Jake Shimabukuro, it transforms into an exhilarating tool, capable of expressing immense joy and poignancy.

In a world overcome by hype and ‘alternative facts’, it’s always reassuring to experience Billy Bragg in concert. One man, one guitar and real life songs which resonate with everyday people. At the Crossroads stage, late in his set, the crowd were witnessing one of those Bluesfest moments they’ll never forget … Billy Bragg performing a heartfelt version of Levi Stubbs’ Tears. Out from LA for this year’s festival, The Record Company add a little punk grit to their Mississippi influenced blues rock, with spellbinding effects. As the set went on, the crowd grew and so did their reputation. The godfather of neo soul, Roy Ayers had something special going on at the Delta stage. Between his vibraphone playing and the pulsating rhythms he conjures, it was nothin’ short of voodoo we were dancin’ to I’m sure. The Crossroads stage was getting quite the workout with Vintage Trouble putting in yet another supercharged show, followed by intoxicating voice of Bluesfest regular Beth Hart, singing tunes from her new record, Fire On The Floor. As magical as both of those acts were, they haven’t reached the legendary status of the next guy just yet. Buddy Guy personifies Chicago style blues. With that no bullshit Chicago demeanour, Buddy and band had the crowd in the palm of his hands. It doesn’t get any better than tunes such as Hooch Coochie Man or Damn Right I Got The Blues performed live by an authentic blues icon. You could smell the history in the air … well I could smell something potent anyway!

With a career spanning five decades and with album sales over 4o million, The Doobie Brothers never rest on their laurels. In fact so keen was the band to play at Bluesfest that they hit the stage early. Announcing  that Bluesfest is the best music festival in the world didn’t harm their audience acceptance either. Featuring the legendary Billy Payne (Little Feat, James Taylor) on keyboards, the band’s sound somehow seems to get better with age rather than diminish. With The Doobies, you always gets exactly what’s stated on the packaging, perfect vocal harmonies, an extraordinary level of musicianship and hit after hit after hit. Those attempting to leave the venue via the south gate may have been enticed to stay a little longer and witness the punchy, punk-reggae rhythms of Slightly Stoopid on the Jambalaya stage. The beauty of Bluesfest of course is that if you miss an act one day, chances are there will be one or two more opportunities to catch that band on another stage on another day. Bless this Bluesfest!


















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