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Blog 16c: Byron Bay Bluesfest, Day 3

Sore body, happy soul. A five day festival is a marathon, not a sprint, as our more experienced co-festivallers have reminded us.

Day 3 sweaty selfie

Yesterday we were woken up by the dull roar of a hot air balloon floating over, and saw some skydivers parachuting down over the festival grounds.

We kicked festival day 3 off with checking out Clarence Bekker and his band. A dutch dance music vocalist who has reinvented himself as a passionate advocate and leader for music as a force for good in the world through the Playing for Change foundation. Clarence and his band (including a Spanish guy who was a demon on the bass guitar) played an energising and uplifting set, with a couple of special guests on a heartfelt cover of 'Stand by Me.' A perfect way to kick off the day.

Clarence Bekker Band

From there we wandered over to check out multi-award winning, Australian blues rock darling Mia Dyson. Her sound was tight and slick, but being unfamiliar with her more recent catalogue it was hard to get more engaged with her set. We met a friendly local musician in the crowd who shared some tasty early afternoon watermelon and raspberries with us (yay for accidentally vegan!).

Mia Dyson

After hearing others rave about them we wanted to see a full set for The California Honeydrops. No slouches, they are playing a set every day at the festival. A seven piece funk/soul/horns outfit with busking roots they were a very good time. Plenty of dancing, call and response, kick ass musicianship on the trumpet and saxophone and a dynamic set that felt off the cuff but effortlessly executed at the same time. Did I mention lots of dancing? Cause there was. They even whipped out the wash board for a special honkytonk number. We might try and see these guys again before the end of the festival, they were great!

Refueled with dinner we saw some of Jason Isbell's set with his band, The 400 Unit. A bit too bland country for my tastes. He did his thing well (a bit hard to win four Grammys if you don't) but I couldn't really get into it.

Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit
City of Angels, musical angels.

After the drama at the end of Fridays set by Harts we went to see him play his second set (and possibly his last show as Harts). The first half of the set seemed a bit off, but the band and the man warmed up as the show went on. Darren went on to destroy his guitar in the time honoured rock and roll overhead axe chopping tradition at the end of the set. I can't decide if it was a poignant symbolic full stop to the end of this incarnation of his musical journey, or just a wasteful act. I feel the classier thing would have been to give the guitar to the adolescent boy who was obviously a fan watching from the side of the stage if he was done with it. It will be interesting to see where Darren Hart goes from here.

Darren Hart

We stumbled on weary legs over to the only stage we hadn't been to yet (Juke Joint) to see Darwin native Caiti Baker do her thing. Holy shit that girl can sing! She has a couple of new fans right here. She delivered her songs in the soul / rhythm and blues style of her motown heroines without falling into the vocal gymnastics trap of shitty modern pop singers. A consummate musical professional, she made delivering the songs look effortless. I thoroughly recommend checking her out if you get the chance.

Caiti Baker

Weary, and conscious that today (Sunday) is when most of the acts we are mot excited about seeing are playing, we went back to camp a little early and enjoyed the competing musical stylings audible from our tent. Afro Celt Sound System dominated, with the odd lick from Michael Franti and Spearhead, The Original Blues Brothers Band and Rick Estrin & The Nightcats.

Thought of the day: Bluesfest essentials - Lindt Dark Chocolate Bunnies (vegan) and hot cross buns.

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