Byron Bay Blues and Roots Festival, Australia.
2014 | 25th anniversary.
Photos by Carly Brown (shot at sunset over 4 evenings)
Story by Spell Pennefather of Spell
Another year, another wonderful Blues Fest. My husband Dougall, loves his statistics and sometimes gets carried away with quoting numbers (we love him for it). But this number is true. This year was his 25th Byron Bay Blues and Roots festival. It was held in Byron Bay 25 years ago, in a little pub called The Piggery at the Arts Factory hostel, (now the Byron Bay Brewery at the Arts Factory Hostel which, if you’ve visited Byron Bay as a backpacker, you may have stayed in one of their huge Tee-Pee dorms). So my hubby was there, 25 years ago, at the 1st ever Blues Fest, where they played nothing but blues to a crowded room of passionate locals, as they passed around hand rolled ciggies and smoked who knows what. And he’s been to every Blues Fest since.
25 years on and the Byron Bay Blues and Roots festival a world renowned, 5 day festival, set in the fields of Byron Bay, bringing in 25,000+ crowds to our small town. Think Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Ben Harper, George Clinton Parliament Funkadelic, Michael Franti, Dave Mathews Band are just a few who’ve played over the years… (I’m still waiting for Fleetwood Mac to appear on the line up! Fingers crossed!!)
Blues is such a relaxed, happy ‘family‘ vibe, ‘bring a rug and a fold out chair’ kinda festival. And of course there’s that fashion festival style that we all love to see and be a part of!
Blues Fest folk are a diverse crowd… there’s rockabilly, country and western folk, biker chicks, cool crew (or the A-Team as we call them), total hippies, ravers, backpackers, mums, dads, kids, babies, oldies, youngsters. Some are there to listen to the music and that’s it! I prefer to check out the fashion stalls (highlights were Goddess of Babylon and Celeste Twinkler), grab some food and let the ambient blues floating through the air run over and around me. And better yet, pull up a hay-bail in the Chai Tent and crab some honey cake and spicy Chai after the sun has gone down.
This year I managed to see the John Butler Trio who are one of my favourites, and KC and Sunshine Band, Joss Stone was so full of soul and Kasey Chambers singing a duet with Powderfinger front man Bernard Fanning was a highlight for all. And Michael Franti, long time Blues Fest fave (is he there every year or what??) always whips the crowd into a loving frenzy.
I was lucky enough to have local photographer, part-time-mermaid and generally all round angel traipsing the festival grounds with me, documenting some of my adventures. I met up with her every evening at sunset and we had so much fun prancing around taking pictures as the sky turned lilac. We both love festivals so much and I think you can see that in the moments we captured.
The Byron Bay Blues and Roots Festival is a warm, humble, honest and beautiful festival. If you ever find yourself in Australia at Easter time, it’s well worth hitching a ride up or down the coast and joining in… Here’s to next year, number 26! (I know my hubby will be there again, and I’ll be right there by his side!)
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