Friday, May 05, 2006


  • Ratings and adventures at Byron Bay Bluesfest !!
  • contacts with ghosts from the past

Firstly, Another grandchild almost here !! Cara and Greg are about to see their first child. Cara is glowing. We all can't wait! Release date is 13 May 2006. Watch this space.


Byron Bay Bluesfest
This year was a feast of music and we were booked in from Friday to Monday. Our piece of turf/accommodation spot was provided by the redoubtable and lengthy Patrick Carty, Cricket Coach to Celts, and golfing and music enthusiast. I was amazed that Pat's six foot six frame could sleep comfortably in his Toyota Rav. Pat does this gig every year and then disappears to Dublin where his cricket coaching skills come to the fore.


I have to mention that a more than slight improvidence in the weather left Len and I, plus Pat's equally lengthy brother Shane floundering about in a river within the tent. The show commenced just after midnight with mega wind, thunder and lightening followed by what appeared to be a typhoon, dumping five inches on us in an hour or so. The tent, provided by Pat and his Sister - "Dry Tents For The Cosy Camper Inc", was severely traumatised by this indignity. It had been a good tent in it's time. Done the right thing, kept the rain out, mostly, and had hosted many jolly camping gatherings. This night it met it's used by date. It sagged, it lolloped and leaked. It was fucked. So were we. Meanwhile Pat was sleeping like a king in his dry warm and comfortable Rav. Not an appearance from Pat. No. Not an appearance. And Shane his bro took off for his own car. All thirteen feet of Carty was warm, comfortable and dry.
Now Len, being mildly euphoric after the Bluesfest, was taking control. His vision was clear, his eye sharp and his aim unerring. "What we need is a contingency plan. I reckon we pull up our small tent next door and put it up in here, take us thirty minutes." Yup, Len and emergency go hand in glove. I suggested that we chance our luck, Len. So then Len focussed on tying the frames tighter outside which did indeed get rid of the saggy water filled bows. Unfortunately while I was merrily splashing about in bare feet looking for rope while being deluged upon, some dislodged waterlogged angry beastie bit the crap out of my toe. Wow! And holy fumigations!! Hey man whydya wanna do that bro, as we say here in Byron? Toe throbbing, couldn't sleep for hours. Fortunately not poisonous. The Great Outdoors, love it.


OK. My Top 10 score.

Amadou and Miriam
Martha Wainwright
The Skatalites
Five Blind Boys
Los Lobos
Rodrigo Y Gabriella
Robert Cray
Buddy Guy
Bob Geldof
Jackson Browne w. David Lindley

Len:

The Skatalites
Five Blind Boys
Amadou and Miriam
Bob Geldof
Damien JR Gong Marley
Martha Wainwright
Los Lobos
Robert Cray
Afro Cuban All Stars
The Cat Empire

Hat Fitz
OK. I sneaked in Hat Fitz because I thought he deserves mention. Patrick was enthused by Hat. Len informed me that Hat lives inland, somewhere up in the hinterland, comes down, plays his gig and lopes back to his den. He's a one off. Looks like Ned. built like Ned, well close to it...plays like he's been to the crossroads, sings like he's blind, looking up like one of those old apocalyptic bluesmen - Blind Willie Johnson, Son House, Willie Brown, or Charlie Patton. Yeah, that school. It's fuckin' unique, here in Oz. I mean, take yer Ash Grunwald, what a powerful voice....but a bit Chris Wilsonish, powerful but a bit refined as well. Like the phrasing is polished. Hat is raw, untutored, just bellows... pretending he can see.


Martha Wainwright knocked me into the corner. Wow. so sensual, sexual, naked emotion. Blown by the song, what a performer!! I had an urge to buy the CD and ask her to write something....what? "Baz, some nights are sooo lonely" Shit, that would have been good. Someone wrote that she has a slightly unhinged stage persona, well maybe so. She had a shot at bassist Brad for starting a song early. Brad appeared miffed, face like stone. He provided the Brad Factor. Musos not happy with their lot. Len noted that the first rule of management had been broken i.e. you don't openly chastise employees. Given the 360 degree performance rating Martha would be well up the creek. Shane McGowan did the same last year with one of the Popes, no... all of them, mind you, Shane had mitigating factors...Shane spots the audience, "Ah so there youse are", well ya can all fuck off..." Not one for sentiment, Shane.


Sir Bob Geldof also tells it straight. "If you saw us the other night, we were fuckin' shite". Well they really put in some work and the crowd loved it. I was amused by an article in the local press about Bob's band being the worst dressed on the program. Well, apart from Bob's sartorial splendour and the chain smoking fiddle player who played in his singlet/vest after divesting his jacket and shirt, the rest must have stepped out of the house in their 70s pub gear.


I must admit that Damien Marley put out a dramatic show, but I'm not really fond of hip hop. However I've since been listening to his Welcome To Jamrock CD and it is very good, including the rap stuff. Had I listened to it beforehand and not have had to grapple with my defective hearing and longing for subtitles, I think I would have rated him higher. Anyway, Len has him nailed at number 5.


Los Lobos, as Len pointed out would have been up the top but we agreed that their set could have been better chosen. It was the last gig on Friday, and those who had wanted to see them had probably caught them on Thursday and were watching Sharon Jones, David Gray or Roy Rogers. So the tent was one third full. It was late and the band did not look enthused, so they may have chosen their set on whim. At one point David Hidalgo asked the crowd to sing along with La Bamba, I think - anyway in Spanish. Shit, here in Oz we're lucky to sing in English nevermind Spanish...I enjoyed the inclusion of the Rascals "Good Lovin' "


A point which Len made about his list was that he is very familiar with songs by Harry Manx, the Backsliders and Jackson Browne who ordinarily, were it not so, would have rated higher. So, disadvantaged by familiarity.


Top 100 Desert Island Tracks.
An interesting diversion. My Desert Island Discs have been nutted out over the years but Len provided me with a disc of his Top 100 songs so I felt that I had to attempt something similar. Collectors are orderly creatures and jump at the chance of classifying and banging things into their appointed boxes. So I'm giving this some thought. Next issue.

Well it's been old friends week. Russell (aka Gus) Thurgate contacted me by e-mail after his name popped up on a web search and we spoke on the phone. Gus and wife enjoy life on the Gold Coast and his boys have left home. It was good to hear from him again after so many years.

Max and Jenny McGrath visited Canberra - Max marched with the Naval Apprentices on ANZAC Day. We hadn't seen each other since the late 80s when we visited them in Muswellbrook so after inspecting each other to make sure we were the same people (we are - some are a bit more grey and robust than previously), we sat outside in the sunny day, had lunch, a couple of wines and discussed families, old times and names from the past. Most enjoyable.


I'd arranged to meet cousin Chris McGloin at the Byron Bay Bluesfest but the fault in the plan was that I didn't have his phone number. Well more than a fault really, Chris steers away from modern technology and is uncontactable. So, I was surprised to spot him walking through the large crowd. "What's this rap crap anyway - it's not blues!" he grumbled in his frank and open manner (Michael Franti was playing). "I only came here to see the Five Blind Boys - this is not my scene". Chris was looking the worse for wear - he'd spent the previous night with an old band mate near Nimbin - and his tolerance was diminishing fast, and it actually departed along with Chris when we told him you had to buy beer tickets in order to get a beer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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