Another wonderful event.   The world’s finest musicians ignite under blue skies at Bluesfest 2008


March 26th 2008 – The 19th Annual International East Coast Blues & Roots Music Festival in Byron Bay finished up on Monday night, capping off another truly memorable event of music and signature Bluesfest spirit. Around 70,000 people walked through the entry gates over five days of blues and roots music from the world’s finest global and local talent – quite possibly one of the greatest single concert line-ups in Australian history.

Significantly, this year’s event was not held at the Rugby League grounds of Red Devil Park, and returned to the more expansive location of Belongil Fields - where Bluesfest actually spent three years after outgrowing the Arts Factory in 1993.

Bluesfest 2008 was certainly kissed by the sun - with incredible weather averaging 27+ degrees across all five days, and festival goers were treated to a space increase from 8 to 28 acres featuring larger performance tents spaced further apart. This provided easy circular tent access and allowed more people to witness the action up-close and yet come and go as required.

As well as more toilet facilities, Bluesfest 2008 also featured two gigantic covered food courts with the comfort of tables and seating, offering a selection of great cuisine – with something for everyone. All food was served in completely recyclable packaging – underscoring the event’s long-term commitment to environmental sustainability – this year symbolised by an international win in The UK’s Greener Festival Awards for 2007.

But to the music. Festival director Peter Noble and partner Michael Chugg were delighted with reactions from artists and punters alike. As Peter Noble said, “My phone messages and email accounts have been overflowing with praise from punters, the music industry, the local community, and police. The extra space and how well organised everything is seems to be the common theme, and we’re thrilled with how the sunshine and burgeoning word of mouth led to the highest number of people walking up and buying tickets we’ve ever had.

“The music was just amazing. We’ve never had such depth of talent across all five days and all five stages. Somehow, I don’t know how, but each year we seem to top the previous Bluesfest. All I know is we’ve had an incredible run and a peak of great performances over the last several years, and this year was no exception. ”

For 2008, Bluesfest brought people the best the planet has to offer across vintage blues and soul, jazz, Latin, fusion, funk, swing, gospel, African, reggae, hip-hop, R&B, swamp rock, folk and alt-country – a massive selection which created one of the finest line-ups that has taken place in this country.

Peter Noble continued, “The musical highpoints for me were so many and varied: The smaller stages had a number of amazing artists: Tribali, Yunasi, Elliot Brood, and Jason Lowe – all incredible and the talk of the event. Ray Davies was in astounding form, Jools Holland and his 18 piece big band were mind blowing, and Seasick Steve a gonzo-beat discovery, was the real deal. John Hiatt was for me, a humbling experience,
True Live and Sinead O’Connor were both breathtaking – Buddy Guy, inspiring and infectious – and wow, the list just goes on.”

It certainly does with a musical feast of heavy hitters and legends across blues, jazz, soul and funk. Rodrigo and Gabriela ignited the crowd with their dual classical Mexican guitar attack. Creedence Clearwater Revival legend, John Fogerty capped off the event with a blistering set of his songs on the Monday night. Ozomatli and G. Love & Special Sauce created a killer party to remember for those present on the Saturday night. The alt-country afternoon capped off by acclaimed songstress Patty Griffin and featuring Kasey Chambers’ band The Lost Dogs band and The McClymonts was a deserved highpoint for many.

Maceo Parker was simply unmissable with his blend of saxophone, funk and big grooves. The Cat Empire and O.A.R. cemented and began their appeal respectively with Australian audiences. Wilco had people in raptures on the first night – as did big names Stanly Clarke & George Duke, Keith Urban and John Butler. Later in the   event,  sets by  relative  soul  newcomer  Ruthie Foster,  Don McLean, The Cruel Sea  and
Weddings Parties Anything
had punters yelling for more.

It really was a festival that kept on giving. As Peter Noble said, “For several years, Bluesfest has been regarded by many artists who play here regularly as one of a small handful of premier international events. This year
Lee Ritenour told me Bluesfest 2008 was the best festival he’s ever played, and easily the best organised.”

“The whole team here works hard to create a healthy, happy, responsible artistic climate that sparks the imagination and allows performers to play at their highest levels. That’s our reward. And this year’s massive swag of big name legends and thrilling new comers alike, reflect our original ethos and have helped take the spirit, culture and diversity of Bluesfest to new levels.

Another year, another amazing East Coast Blues & Roots Music Festival. Look forward to seeing you next year for the 20th anniversary event!

Article compliments of Gaynor Crawford


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