The day ended with Chic and Nile Rodgers, they played the Daft Punk ‘Get Lucky’ and Bowie’s, Let’s Dance, both of which Rodger’s co-wrote and played guitar on the recordings. These are fantastic concert songs – and then from side stage 20 or 30 people came on to dance with the band.
I got back a bit late and missed seeing two or three acts that sounded interesting and only managed to see Chic and Lionel Richie, both incredible, especially Nile Rodgers – everyone loves disco. Lionel also brings the party and he ends with All Night Long.
I did a little too much yesterday, went for a surf in Byron Bay and tried a 9′ 4″ surfboard for a change, and actually stood up twice, sort of, momentarily. I’d forgotten how much bloody paddling you need to do. Got sunburnt in the process and thinking next time I’ll just go for a swim.
Bought a few bottles of the famous Byron Bay hot sauces and passed by a hole-in-the-wall cafe in the earthy Byron style, the woman wearing a tie-dye shirt selling Famous Byron Bay Brownies, $5 –who could resist?
My camping neighbours, the Brazilians from Sydney, offered me their tents as they left but I have no room, so in the bin they go. Since then I have been offered more tents and there’s one empty and abandoned just beside me here. The Sustainability Team guy said they fill up dozens of skip bins every year with chairs, tents and gum boots, and everything else.
I’ve been trying to pick my moment to pack down but showers keep coming through.
I gave this flute busker some coins and asked if I could take her photo. She agreed and I love this shot because it’s shows a nice sample of the street life you come across in Byron Bay, well, at least one side of it, of course, there’s other sides, boozy sunburnt guys as well, and there’s incredible wealth here too, looking at some of the houses hidden in the trees. The Industrial Park has sensibly been placed just out of town in it’s own estate, not mixed in with the retail or residential like we sometimes do in New Zealand – Tauranga being a classic example of poor urban planning, in my option.
Byron Bay has the great combination of that glorious golden beach attached to a properous low-rise town with a predominance of owner-operated retail shops, the vegetation is lush, and the weather is warm.
Yesterday about 6 bands I managed to see either the full hour set or just two songs; The California Honeydrops, best soul funk all original. First Aid Kit, young scandi sisters doin’ country pop. Jose Gonzalez, solo classical guitar with floor stomp box and moody singing – 4 songs, Melissa Etheridge, one and a half songs and I’m gone, boring, Seal, totally awesome, starts with Sinatra swing numbers, The way you wear your hat, the way you . ., then takes the roof off with his big hits at the end, gives it everything he’s got, with that lived-in muted voice like Tony Bennett. Sheryl Crowe, 2 songs, she’s looking fiesty and owning that stage. John Butler Trio with percussionists and extra vocalists – frickin’ hell, this guy, really has it, incredible guitarist with multi effects pedals, a huge sound he really rocks the room, tellin’ the truth, included an on-stage mining protest STOP ADANI. He’s at the top of his game, any international artist looking at that show would say you can’t do better than that – he’s the next Bob Marley.
No performer I have ever seen can work a crowd like Michael Franti. He barely does any actual songs he just repeats a lyric, jumps up and down, goes out into the audience, hugs people – you could say he brings the party. It’s a unique performance, he does it all – he brings his beautiful pregnant wife out for a song, he has small children on stage singing a song, cute, then a couple walked out on stage, the man dropped to his knee, the cameras zoomed in and there on the big screen the guy holds out a wedding ring to the woman and asks if she will marry him – the crowd loved it. Don’t think about it too much – it’s all about peace, lurve and humanity. Franti is also a big yoga advocate and sometimes uses the first part of his show to do a mass yoga class – but not last night, this BluesFest crowd is too well lubricated by 10.30pm for that.
On the other hand, there’s Jackson Browne, the serious songwriter. There’s a kind of sadness with so many American folk performers these days I feel, they are all quite obviously uncomfortable with their country at the moment – he touched on the subject, sounding quite weary and bewildered, ‘I guess soon we’ll have a commonsense government’.
He sings all those beautifully arranged songs with meaningful lyrics with an incredible band which includes a pedal steel to give that country sound. He’s a low energy performer – no rocker but his young lead guitarist is so tasteful. It was also a guitar parade, he and his guitarist changed guitar for every song. The Americans are very loyal to their Gibson J45s but they don’t really sound any good as a stage acoustic. I had my little binoculars and see all his guitars are vintage – well, he is Jackson Browne. He played Take It Easy which he co-wrote with Glen Frey from the Eagles, and ends on Running On Empty.
Some great T shirt slogans seen, here’s my pick. You had me at vegan. A DJ is not a musician. Man flu survivor. Free your mind and your arse will follow. It’s a mugs game. Off piste. Who would tattoo this on their back, Such Is Life, ? – an Australian, of course.
I went into Byron Bay town to buy some provisions and the beach was beautiful and there’s always good surf there too, all along the beach. I wanted to go for a swim but didn’t have my togs. Later, an Australian guy I was chatting to said, “No worries, this is Byron mate, you can swim in anything or nothing, just go in your undies – nobody cares.”