One of the premiere blues festivals on the planet is perhaps the furthest away from those of us in the northern hemisphere. But trust me, we’d all pay the fare to get there if we could.
The Byron Bay Bluesfest has been going, somewhere in Queensland, Australia, since 1990. As one of the biggest festivals Australia has to offer, it is astounding that it has only just landed a permanent home, at the Tyagarah Tee Tree farm, a few short years ago. However, although the festival’s location may not have been stable, the line-up of performers has been. The best of the best have welcomed the gruelling travel itinerary from north to south to bring the blues down under.
You would have to be a purist to knock the diverse roster of performers, even though the organizers stretch the definition of the blues a tad. This year, for example, ’70s prog-rockers Yes are headliners on April 9; the avant-garde guitar jazz of Zappa Plays Zappa are in for the weekend and so are Celtic folk-rock bad boys the Pogues.
But do not be discouraged. How about this mouth-watering list to whet your blues appetite: Buddy Guy, Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, David Bromberg, Maceo Parker, Keb’ Mo’, John Hiatt, Trombone Shorty, Seasick Steve, Harry Manx, Canned Heat, Fabulous Thunderbirds and so many more. In fact, jealousy is in order. In North America you’d have to go to a few different festivals to come up with that extensive a line-up.
Funny thing is, if you check out the tour schedule of many of the acts in for the festival’s weekend, they are really only in Australia for about a week. That’s a long way to travel for such a short stay. Many have tacked on a play at a one-day event, the West Coast Blues and Roots Festival in Fremantle, way off on the other side of the continent, near Perth.
AUDIOWorld-blues master, Harry Manx is in Australia this week for the Byron Bay Bluesfest. He speaks about the festival and why it is such a special one to play.
The hospitality must be something special in the southern hemisphere.
The audio is not the best but this fun little video gives teh vibe of being at the Byron Bay Bluesfest.
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on Apr 04, 2012