Report: Greg Phillips Photos: Jason Rosewarne
Easter Monday brings the final day of Bluesfest, a rain free day and gratitude that we have all managed to get to this point. Well, most of us. Of course there had to be some Bluesfest covid casualties. Matt Taylor couldn’t front Chain. Vikki Thorn wasn’t able to join The Waifs and Geoff Achison and The Soul Diggers bass player Roger McLachlan, didn’t get out of Melbourne, leaving keyboard player Richard Tankard to provide the bass lines for the band on the keys. And they are just the covid cases we know about. Now we find out that Crowded House has postponed the remaining four dates of their tour after Neil Finn has come down with the spicy cough, soon after the band’s triumphant Bluesfest performance this year.
Meanwhile back on the Bluesfest grounds, Jeff Lang, ably supported by Danny McKenna on drums returned to the Juke Joint stage and eased into his set with a slow burner, followed by a fabulous song he co-wrote with the late, great Chris Whitely. If you liked Jeff’s gigs at Bluesfest, you should also check out High Ace, his other project featuring his wife Alison Ferrier.
Glenn Shorrock played a set full of Little River Band favourites. It was an emotional performance, having recently lost LRB’s manager Glenn Wheatley who was integral to the band’s international success. Songs were sung and tears were shed, as Glenn brought back the memories with LRB hits.
Eleven piece Melbourne band Fools impressed with a huge sound, thrilled to be making their Bluesfest debut. Their blend of Americana, blues and soul, led by commanding frontman Luke O’Connor made many a new fan for the band this weekend.
Congratulations to Bluesfest Busking Competition winners Buttered Band, featuring Scott Dalton and Jackson James Smith, who won themselves a slot on the Jambalaya stage. May we see many happy returns to the Bluesfest stage in the future.
Fresh from his tour with Ian Moss, Troy Cassar Daley appeared with his full band on the Mojo tent stage today. Troy’s warm, captivating voice and amiable storytelling make for a most enjoyable show. Troy’s wife Laurel also joined him on stage for a song. The band’s stunning, soulful version of the classic People Get Ready was a crowd fave.
A couple of American Bluesfest debutants, Cory Henry and Christine Kingfish Ingram, stamped their authority on the festival and you just know that they’ve created a home that they can keep coming back to for years. Corey Henry can shift a mood in a minute, going from esoteric jazz one minute to Prince’s 1999, using voice box … always compelling and always locking into a groove.
The first day we caught Christine Kingfish Ingram, he played to a smallish audience. By festival’s end, they were flocking to see him and he showed his appreciation by venturing into the audience and right out side into the streetwalk. Kingfish is one of the world’s most exciting guitarists in the world at the moment and it was a pleasure to see him up close at Bluesfest this weekend.
Mark Seymour and The Undertow are now over ten years old and gave their all as usual, playing many Hunters and Collectors classics sans horns, which just made the bass and drums thump harder. Unsurprisingly, the audience all threw their arms around each other. A powerful performance by one of our national treasures.
The Teskey Brothers kicked off the set with Man of the Universe and proceeded to woo the audience with their impeccable soul and blues tunes. The much loved and respected Kylie Auldist joins the band on stage to sing a duet with Josh Teskey on the Archie Roach tune Give Back to the Land and the crowd are loving it. A 15 minute psychedelic jam featuring Hammond Organ, showed how well these talented musicians on stage jell together. As the final act on the Mojo stage this weekend, the crowd just can’t get enough of this world beating, classy act.
There were just a few more acts to see before the festival finally came to an end, including Chain, Pete Murray and Hiatus Kaiyote. Our photographer Jason was impressed with 12 piece collective The Regime (Some pix later in the gallery below). Australian Musician left the building before stumps to a joyous version of Jammin’ by The Wailers in the Delta tent, a fitting end to a superb festival. Bluesfest 2022 will forever be known as a celebration of Australian music and for the resilience of the Australian music loving public. Congratulations to Peter Noble, his whole team, the volunteers and the artists for accomplishing the near impossible under such trying conditions. Surely it signals the moment we can all just get on with our music-loving lives now. Thank you Bluesfest.