SD returned a few days ago from the five-day extravaganza of Bluesfest in Byron Bay, an event this year that did not require gumboots, ponchos or an iron will to trudge through the mud to see one more blues veteran or roots renegade strutting their stuff. It was a weekend also, one is relieved to announce, where that demon of the ageing festival circuit, the fold-up chair, was consigned by festival promoter Peter Noble to the back blocks of the main tents. One has written before about the level of psychiatric torment the fold-up chair has brought to SD, so I won’t go on about it here, other than to say that there remains a small part of me that will miss being told in no uncertain terms to sit down by those able-bodied bluesfest regulars whose sedentary bliss was spoiled by the view of my backside in years gone by. WHILE much of one’s Bluesfest duties required one to be out and about, flitting between stages to catch at least a few songs from as many acts as possible, there were some treasured moments backstage and side of stage as well. It was interesting to note, for instance, that during English upstart Jake Bugg’s rewarding main-stage performance on the festival’s last night another songwriter of note, Elvis Costello, was a keen observer from the wings. Perhaps he was encouraged to do so by his band the Imposters’ drummer Pete Thomas, who contributed a few percussive moments to Bugg’s recent second album Shangri La. BLUESFEST favourite Jack Johnson broke into song after an interview for yours truly in the artists’ tent early on the weekend (you can view it online) and as he did so another performer, English soul diva Joss Stone, wandered into view. Stone was coy at first about introducing herself to the Hawaiian star, but did so and quickly started a duet with her new friend. Collaborations among artists are a mainstay at Bluesfest, but this impromptu one was a highlight. BERNARD Fanning was another surprise guest at Bluesfest, although he was there more as a punter than as a performer. The former Powderfinger singer could be seen watching attentively for the duration of American singer Suzanne Vega’s first performance. He then joined country star Kasey Chambers on stage for a duet on a new song that he performs also on Chambers’s new album, which she has just recorded in Byron with Powderfinger producer Nick DiDia. Fanning, meanwhile, is about to up sticks with his wife and family to Spain for the foreseeable future, where he plans to work on his next solo album.
The Jezabels are heading to Byron