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Words: Greg Phillips. Photos: Jason Rosewarne

The final day of Bluesfest always comes with mixed blessings. One one hand you never want it to end, on the other … five days of flitting between stages can take be taxing. Day 5 is also chance to catch up on those acts you’ve heard so much about from other festival-goers but haven’t had the opportunity to see for yourself.

Mama Mihirangi and The Mareikura were back again and were definitely one of the most talked about bands at the event. Visually stunning and beautiful sounding, our photographer Jason Rosewarne had a ball shooting them. Thando has been gaining much attention in Melbourne with her huge voice and infectious smile, it was Bluesfest’s turn to enjoy this great entertainer. Caiti Baker was sounding mighty melodic and soulful too under the Delta tent.

Samantha Fish and band used their final performance to confirm that they were one of the most popular bands at the festival this year, with their powerful rock, soul and blues flavours. As Samantha told Australian Musician, she’s begging to come back again.

St Paul and The Broken Bones are eternally a Bluesfest favourite and a large crowd had come to see their farewell Australian performance for 2019. While early in the set, frontman Paul Janeway’s energy seemed lower than usual, little by little he ramped it up and ended up out in the crowd beside the mixing desk to a huge ovation.

Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats play a soulful brand of alt-country rock, part Springsteen, part Mellencamp but certainly no copycats, they’ve got a dynamic look and sound of their own.

Over at the Mojo tent Lukas Nelson and The Promise of The Real were joined by William Crighton and Tracker Pete and blew the crowd away, particularly with their piping hot version of Neil Young’s Rockin’ In The Free World.

Just as I thought I’d seen everything and felt all the feels available from the amazing line up at this year’s festival, then came Vintage Trouble’s final show. From the get-go the band were determined to deliver a memorable set but what they gave us was one of the most extraordinary rock n roll shows I’ve ever witnessed. Frontman Ty Taylor is relentless, he prods, nudges and urges the crowd constantly to get involved. He dances like James Brown, sings like an angel and plays trombone like a muthafather! As St Paul’s Paul Janeaway did earlier, Ty took to the crowd but unlike Janeway, he didn’t walk, he crowd surfed there … and back … doing hand stands over the crowd along the way. The energy in the room was tangible, this was rock n soul at it’s most electric. By the set’s end he was exhausted … but weren’t we all.

Jack White and The Saboteurs followed, almost running to the stage they were so keen to get stuck into it. The band committed to a good time and the audience did too, everyone was on the same rocking’ page. Across the road in the Mojo tent Paul Kelly and friends were preaching to the converted, offering one Australian classic after another.

No matter how hard you plan, it’s impossible to see everyone at Bluesfest that you want to but as sure as hell, you’re going to experience world class entertainment of the highest quality and you’re going to discover one or two artists who will become your new favourite act. Peter Noble’s festival delivers year in, year out and and nobody that attended this year can say they weren’t at the best 30th birthday party they’ve ever been to. Happy 30th Bluesfest and thanks for the memories.


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