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Report: Greg Phillips Photos: Jason Rosewarne

Day 4 at Bluesfest and the rain finally decided to stay away. However the damage done to parts of the grounds meant that gumboots were definitely required.

There was plenty of A-grade music available to early starters including Little Georgia, Kim Churchill, Rockwiz Live, Josh Teskey and Ash Grunwald, Diesel and Hussy Hicks.

Troy Cassar Daley brought his country rock rhythms and story telling skills to the Mojo tent. He’s such a quality performer and has developed a large and loyal following over decades of giving his all.

Henry Wagons, free of his Zevon Accidentally duties gave us his upbeat  solo country rock thang too. Jon Stevens gave us a history lesson of his back catalogue, performing solo material, INXS songs and of course Noiseworks classic such as Reach Out.

It was great to see The Waifs cross the county to appear at Bluesfest. Australian Musician spoke to Vikki Thorn recently about her solo project Thornbird and she told us then how much she loves Bluesfest and all of the memories the festival generates. However, sadly she couldn’t make the festival this year due to covid, leaving lead duties to her sister Donna.

Jeff Lang debuted his new fangled laptop instrument at the Juke Joint and showed why he is one of Australia’s finest exponents of fretted instruments. The Bamboos are a national treasure. It’s impossible to suppress the impulse to dance to their funky brand of soul and the sweet vocal sound of Kylie Auldist is just a match made in heaven. They play again to day and we won’t be missing them.

Ian Moss played his classic Australian blue rock hits under the Mojo canvas and as the sun went down, Fat Freddy’s Drop came out to play their hypnotising dub rock reggae rhythms. Cory Henry keeps amassing new Bluesfest fans. I lost count of the times people asked me “Have you seen Cory Henry?”

The federal election came to Bluesfest at the Mojo tent at 8pm. Introduced as the man representing the working class people, opposition leader Anthony Albanese took to the stage. Initially to a mixed reaction, the cheers gradually drowned out the boos, especially after he told the Bluesfest throng that he intends to support the arts if elected. Also was quick in his message then introduced Jimmy Barnes, who ripped into Flesh and Blood. It only took until the second song Dying To Be With You Tonight for a full on singalong to break out.

John Butler commanded the Crossroads tent. His instrumental tune Ocean is one of the great Australian pieces of music, in which he displayed an amazing proficiency on guitar.

Backsliders are always a lot of fun. Hiatus Kaiyote played to a packed house at Delta and Renee Geyer had plenty of fans fans in the house over at Jambalaya.

There’s a limited amount of international acts at Bluesfest this year due to covid and George Benson was one many had come to see. Opening with Roberta Flack’s Feel Like Makin’ Love, it was a low key ease in for George and his quality band. The legendary guitarist and vocalist is now 79 years old and can be forgiven for slowing things down but perhaps his Vegas type approach to his current show wasn’t such a perfect match for a Bluesfest crowd craving a dance. The upbeat numbers did come but not early enough for many who had  decided that Crowded house was now a better option. Give Me The Night was the kind of vibe people were chasing and it came just before the encore.

Crowded House are just the ideal festival band. Everyone knows the songs and you can guarantee they’ll be played with class every time. Pineapple Head morphed into Have You Ever seen the rain, a quiet nod to the recent floods in the area. Sister Madly had the crossroads tent hopping and Jimmy Barnes joined the band for a rocking Mean To Me.

Elsewhere in the park, Christone’ Kingfish’ Ingram, The Wailers and Melbourne Ska Orchestra provided excellent late night choices. One day to go!


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