Bluesfest 2016 was an absolute banger. With a line-up almost too impressive to beat, giant doughnuts worthy of all our hard earned dollars, and the sun shining down for 4 out of the 5 days, there isn’t much to complain about, except for Brian Wilson being as underwhelming as the Adidas tracksuit pants he was wearing.
Here are 10 of the best moments from this year’s festival, moments that crept up, and hit us right in the face, soul, and other important areas. Moments that are sure to be lingering in our minds whilst we all get back to the depressing reality of non-festival life.
For those that missed the incredible onslaught of festivities that washed over the Tea Tree Farm over the Easter Weekend, here are 10 crucial moments of Bluesfest 2016 – from reunions to Tom Jones’ doing what he does best.
10. Jackson Browne performing Running on Empty
Having spent many a mornings singing along to Jackson Browne records with my mama, it’s no surprise that as soon as he walked out on stage Sunday afternoon, my stomach had dropped down to the floor, and my heart was pumping faster than a breastfeeding mother with a thousand errands to run. I had successfully managed to hold back the tears until Running on Empty busted through the amps – I was GONE, and as was each and every soul around me. It was an evocative performance that sounded even greater than it did on vinyl. YES, even greater than the vinyl, and that says a hell of a lot.
9. Eagles of Death Metal dedicating Cherry Cola to a young fan
EOD put on an intoxicating show on Saturday. Seemingly happy to be performing at Bluesfest (or at all) they roamed around the festival all morning, talking to fans, and generally being the bad asses they are. When they dedicated Cherry Cola to a young fan they’d met before the set, and launched into the song full throttle, a myriad of positive energies were thrust right around the tent. A gorgeous moment that united the band with the peeps that love em.
8. Matt Taylor ‘suckin’ and blowin’ on his nine inch
When Matt Taylor whipped out his nine inch harmonica during Chain’s set it’s safe to say, shit got real. There wasn’t a still body in the house. As he played his harp it was like a monsoon had hit, people were wooing and knees were a knockin’. They may be a little older than they were back in ’68 but their playing was nothing short of intense. A good ol’ authentic dose of some much needed Aussie Blues.
7. Kendrick working the crowd like the King he is
To be completely truthful this was all I witnessed of Kendrick’s set, but it was more than enough to astound me. Like most Blues lovers, I was a little sceptical about rap’s newest ‘genius’ being the headliner but having been a part of the crowd for these few moments threw every bit of scepticism out the window. Kendrick worked the crowd like it was life or death, getting everyone to ‘jump, jump, jump’ during Momma. There was an energy enshrouding the audience that I didn’t witness in any other set. It was god damn fucking magical and I ain’t ashamed to admit it.
6. St Paul and the Broken Bones rendition of I’ve Been Loving You For Too Long
Of all the performers on this years’ line-up, St Paul and the Broken Bones was the name on everyone’s lips. Their robust, fever heightening set caught a hold of every spirit in attendance, and caught me hook, line and sinker during a soulin’ rendition of Otis Redding’s I’ve Been Loving You Too Long. Falling to his knees, and crying out like he’d lost everything he owns, front-man Paul Janeway belted out what I dare say could be the greatest Otis cover I’ve had the pleasure of hearing. His naughty little dances didn’t go unnoticed either… oh what a man, what a voice, what a band.
5. The Pierce Brothers’ somersaults mid performance
Anyone who witnessed one or both of the Pierce Brothers’ sets would know just how high energy, low key, and completely captivating they were. During their final set on the Crossroads stage they broke out into rollie pollies mid performance, moments after using the stage foundation for percussion, and seconds before breaking out the digeridoo and harmonica. These Melburnian twins were every bit as impressive as the bigger acts to grace the stages’. Raw, humble, home-grown and full of talent – what’s not to love?
4. Taj Mahal’s first solo performance in 20 years
Technically Taj’s set was more than a moment, but as his first solo performance in 20 years it deserves a spot on my list. With guitars, a keyboard, and his hearty vocals in tow he swept us into a batch of ‘finger picking, country style blues’. The standout was his performance of Lovin’ in My Baby’s Eyes a cosmic hymn that shows exactly what the blues is all about; a man, his guitar, and a whole lot of feel. As the legend himself said “… it doesn’t matter who you are, or where you been, you’re a human being and you’re gonna get the Blues”, it just so happened that he could cure our case of ’em with a simple song about loving his woman.
3. Jason Isbell tearing through a solo on his glittery red Stratocaster
Jason Isbell’s live performances are transcendent, he’s known for taking the conscious on a journey through his story telling, and that’s exactly what he did on Monday night. In amongst his heart tugging works of art, things took a turn for the heated when he switched from his acoustic, to a gorgeous, glittery gal and ripped through a solo on Never Gonna Change, a song from his days with Drive By Truckers. Every inch of my body was with him as he moved round those six strings like a dog on heat. He’s evidently a man of many talents, and that particular moment had me gasping for air.
2. Witnessing Derek and Susan do their thang
EVERY SINGLE MOMENT of the Tedeschi Trucks Band’s set was ethereal. Derek didn’t speak to the crowd but instead gifted us with spiritual slide playing that when combined with Susan’s vocals was powerful enough to reach the good Lord himself. Along with being a complete powerhouse, Susan teared through a number of Blues solos, officially making her the woman of everyone’s dreams. I already figured they were god amongst men, but seeing them live is a whole new ball game. Impressive is an understatement.
1. Tom Jones singing Sex Bomb
It’s surely no surprise that the moment Tom Jones broke out into Sex Bomb was the finest, sweatiest, and most tantalizing of them all. As underwear went flying (including my own) the boy beside me blissfully explained that he didn’t need to take his briefs off, for witnessing this revered legend in the flesh meant they were ‘already around his ankles’. We danced, we sang, and fangirled something fierce. It was a moment that could simply not be topped. The man with the golden voice had cast a spell that couldn’t be broken. The perfect ending to another cracker of a festival. Kudos for the good times, flying G-strings, and invigorating tunes Bluesfest. Until next year.