There have been soooooo many new and wonderful experiences in my life over the past three years. Bluesfest 2017 was yet another lucky me!!!! addition.
DD and I nabbed early bird tickets to Bluesfest almost a year ago, before the artists were announced, then sat back with our fingers crossed, waiting to see who would sign up for the five-day music festival.
DD would send me the emails as the performers were announced and I’d think “Well, I’ve HEARD of them, but nup, can’t think of a single one of their songs to hum …”
That’s a pretty embarrassing confession when the names included Jethro Tull, Santana, The Doobie Brothers, Patti Smith and Mary J Blige (who I kept accidentally calling Mary J Bilge). I was dazzled when Barry Gibb’s name briefly appeared before he cancelled. I’d have quite fancied seeing him belt out Jive Talkin’.
A few months out, I finally struck gold: Neil Finn and Madness! I’ve been obsessed with Neil Finn since I was 13 years old and inveigling my way into the lighting booths at licensed venues in Newie to watch him perform.
Neil Finn at Bluesfest! Oooooh exciting!
But mainly I was looking forward to five whole days with DD, because life is too freaking busy and we rarely get more than a couple of hours together.
Sadly, between early bird booking our accommodation and tickets and heading to Bluesfest, I became parlously broke. So we decided to drive up, stock up on supplies from Woolies and skip the Byron foodie scene, aside from a few nice brekkies. But the beach and 10 hours of music a day in a pair of folding chairs were ours to enjoy over Easter. We also had two of DD’s friends for company – Cliff and Sakura. Cliff is crazy about music and a thoroughly nice bloke, while Sakura and I always have a laugh together. We had such a lovely time hanging out with them.
DD is huuuuuuuge music fan, so he was stoked to be at his third or fourth Bluesfest. He has a few electric guitars and was once in a band – phwoar, sexy – that I keep (again) accidentally referring to as the Dead Hamsters. I think their actual name was much cooler. They even played support for Died Pretty once.
Eight hours of live music a day is DD’s idea of heaven. I’m not quite so musically inclined, but I absolutely loved seeing a band called Trombone Shorty, Kasey Chambers turned out to be my spirit musician (she’s hilarious on stage and I was thrilled that she got Sophie Monk on stage to do a duet with her … I’d forgotten Sophie started out as a singer – I used to do photo shoots and interviews with her when I was a feature writer at Cosmopolitan magazine and she was in Bardot), Billy Bragg was great and Neil Finn was bloody brilliant.
It blows my mind when I hear thousands of people singing along to his songs. He played all the big faves, from I Got You to History Never Repeats to Four Seasons in One Day to Distant Sun. My jaw hurt by the end from singing/shouting along.
Madness weren’t quite as exciting as I’d hoped. They came on stage after my bedtime and proceeded to play lots of material I didn’t recognise, so I ended up slouching off early. Though I will say Suggs was in VERY good nick for a 56 year old.
I also got a few surprises along the way. For example, I thought Jethro Tull was a heavy metal band, but it’s a warbly bloke with a flute. And I still wouldn’t know who Patti Smith was if I fell over her – sacrilege – but thousands of people thought her poetry reading on stage was fah-bulous.
I’d planned to catch up with my gorgeous workmate Gaye at Bluesfest, but the place was heaving and I ended up being a little rattled by my T-boning incident, so we just managed a quick hug between gigs.
Surprisingly, as I was wandering through the masses one night, I stumbled across my old friend Nicky, who I haven’t seen for YEARS. We had such a nice natter and hug. She came along again a few nights later and we grabbed a quick drink in the Craft Beer Hall with another mutual friend, Bronwyn, who lives in The Channon and travelled down for the night to see Madness.
Bronwyn threw me when she noted how ironic it was for us to be seeing Madness, considering my ex quoted a Madness song in his speech at our wedding.
He did? I have the WORST memory. But it was a bit spooky hearing her say that. I was so startled I forgot to ask which song it was.
DD was very relieved that I found some old friends for a power chat. He struggles a bit with the non-essential talking thing, while I get high on shooting the breeze, although I’ve learned to find peace in the quiet over the past few years.
I’m not sure I’d have been keen for the fifth day of Bluesfest if Neil Finn hadn’t been the closing act. Five days of live music is rather a lot for me. But I rallied and it was awesome. By the end I was feeling like quite the local as I swaggered around the five circus tents checking out the acts with my folding chair under my arm and a cider in my hand.
DD isn’t the hugest Neil Finn fan, he thinks he’s a bit whiny and cranky. He threatened to pootle off halfway through to watch Dumpstaphunk, who are apparently funk legends. However Neil was SO good that DD stayed … until the last song – Better Be Home Soon – when he decided to go to the loo.
Who goes to the loo for the last song when it’s Better Be Home Soon? I am still recovering from the shock.
And then it was over and we had to drive nine loooooong hours home to the real world.
The real world is hard work. I’m not the biggest fan of it at the moment. I may have cried when I went to bed on Tuesday night. Don’t tell anyone.
Anyways, here are some happy snaps:
Song of the day: David Kiwanuka “Love and Hate” (DD’s favourite song of the festival)