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Report: Greg Phillips Photos: Jason Rosewarne

It’s day three, Easter Saturday at Bluesfest and by the afternoon we’ll have reached the half way mark. It’s been such a struggle for the promoter and team to get here and to get to this point is a remarkable effort.

Hussy Hicks took to the stage with an air of celebration. Leesa and Julz were hit hard by the recent floods but never lost faith in the power of their music and forged onwards and upwards. It’s a fact that wasn’t lost on this appreciative crowd. Their fun new single Same Boat went down a treat.

It was the first time Australian Musician had time sit down and enjoy The War and The Treaty and absorb the vast amount of joy the husband and wife team of Michael and Tanya dispatch from the stage. At one point Tanya seemed so overwhelmed by the audience reaction, that it brought her to tears. They performed this time on the Delta stage, which is no using the old Mojo tent, a much larger space, which I’m sure comes with the spirits of performers past.

Mama Kin Spender featuring Mama Kin and Tommy Spender impressed with their epic set. The chorus of singers, arranged by Virginia Bott was both visually and sonically stunning.

Casey Barnes and band brought their ‘A’ game and a lot of energy to the Crossroads stage. Check out Casey’s bass player’s leap from the drum riser, caught beautifully Jason Rosewarne’s lens (see below). Nathan Cavaleri and band gave us a heartfelt blues-based set with Nathan being brutally honest about his battles with mental health, helping to normalise those feelings for all.

After a soundcheck delay, American soul, jazz and gospel artist Cory Henry made his Bluesfest debut. Fresh from the Las Vegas Grammys where he was involved in four nominations, showed that he’s going to be one of those surprise finds for many this year. He’s been playing Hammond organ since age 2 and at just 6 performed at the Apollo Theatre in New York.  Cory eases into his set, creating a mood and a groove, playing with musical shapes and emotions. He’s one not to miss this year.

It was a day for Australia’s female headliners to shine. Direct from her acclaimed performances on the Wildflower festival tour, Kate Miller Heidke showed why she is one of Australia’s most talented artists with a voice like no other. Missy Higgins attracted an enormous crowd to the Mojo tent, swapping from her Mini Maton to a Taylor cutaway guitar, Missy is the queen of the arena stage these days. Soon after it was Amy Shark’s turn. Again, following up from an extensive national tour, it’s no surprise she also attracted big numbers to the Mojo tent. Later in the night it was Kasey Chambers turn to blow everyone away with her amazing voice and commanding stage presence. Kasey is no stranger to Bluesfest and I’m sure is a reason that many attended the festival.

Melbourne based local legends, Geoff Achison and the Souldiggers, minus one Roger McLachlan due to covid opened to a large crowd on the Jambalaya stage. Keyboard player Richard Tankard took on the bass parts as well as providing his usual organ magic and Gerry Pantazis offered his usual driving beats and delicate stick work. An extended jam on Rule The World gave the band a chance to loosen up and show us their wares.

Joe Camilleri is probably the hardest working musician at Bluesfest this year, taking on numerous roles. Tonight it was The Black Sorrows in action on the Delta stage playing tracks from his much underrated new album Saint Georges Road. Camilleri compadres Vika and Linda Bull are also everywhere this Bluesfest and it was fabulous to see them sidle up next to Paul Kelly on the Crossroads stage on the headlining show of the evening. Melbourne Ska Orchestra partied on at Delta and local blues icons Chain played to their loyal fans at the Juke Joint. Lachy Doley and the Horns of Conviction fired up at Jambalaya. It’s no wonder Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters has hired Lachy for his next tour. Before you leave Bluesfest this year, you must catch Lachy Doley in one of his incarnations, he never fails to deliver one hundred percent on the Hammond organ.

Check out more Jason Rosewarne photography from day 3 including; Baker Boy, Kev Carmody, Xavier Rudd, Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram, Ash Grunwald, and Morcheeba


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