Unfortunately I was only able to make it for the Saturday performances, but on the upside, I saw a favourite (Jack Johnson!) and so did Jody (Buena Vista Social Club) - and I discovered a new favourite.
Behold - Newton Faulkner.
Here's what won me over:
- He writes his own songs.
- His guitar skills are wicked-cool.
- He played to a tent full of people for an entire hour, solo.
- He has a sense of play and an ease in performing.
- His lyrics are honest yet poetic.
- He has fantastic red dreadlocks.
I bought his second album, Rebuilt by Humans, at Bluesfest. My friend L, already a fan, tells me the background for this title: Newton had to have surgery for a dislocated hand and fractured forearm. Bad news for a guitarist!
I am so glad he was in the Bluesfest lineup, or I may never have discovered him. I highly recommend his music - I can just put the album on and let it play, and that's rare.
Jack Johnson was good, but unfortunately his songs were so well-known, the audience sometimes drowned him out singing along. And he didn't seem to "connect" with us very much - he was just up there, playing. I wasn't as impressed as I thought I would be. But he did do Banana Pancakes, so I went home happy. And he surprised me by doing a cover of The Joker ("Some people call me the space cowboy... some call me the gangster of love. Some people call me Maurice...")! We caught a (poor quality) snippet of that on video, with a shout-out to my sis about 20 seconds in.
Buena Vista Social Club actually had people up and dancing! They were amazing. Of course no one knew what they were singing (they're from Cuba) but we enjoyed it very much. The female vocalist had a lot goin' on, too - she was singing and dancing and playing the occasional tambourine, all while looking smokin' hot in heels and a slinky dress. The lead singer tried to get the audience to follow him with some scat-style echoes, but 3/4 of the crowd was drunk by then and it was pretty much a failed experiment. Oh well, we had fun anyway. I was having fun even without beer, actually, and instead I held out for a chai from one of the coffee stalls. And it was, quite possibly, the bestchai latte I have ever had. It was not from syrup, and was not simply chai tea and milk. It tasted amazing, and on top of the deliciousness, the barista was serving it up despite the generator constantly flickering, which made for some challenging drink-making.
I bought handmade silver rose earrings and an adorable t-shirt with three owls on it from one of the market stalls, and C found a leather thong necklace adorned with feathers. There were food stalls as well, and I had an absolutely delicious meat pie and salad. People were generally friendly and good-natured, except when it came to two of us defending our two chairs and a blanket in the tent while C & M had their turn for a dinner break. I was glad of the tents, because it was a hot day.
On the whole I thought the festival was well-organised, except when it came time for us to leave the parking lot and head home. Let's just say an hour and a half of waiting to exit, trying to get into the excruciatingly slow-moving lineup without running over drunk, bogan would-be traffic controllers, not knowing what was taking so long, and having four grown adults in an Echo was not the most fun you could have on a Saturday night. Add in a failed few rounds of 20 Questions, including Jody's answer of "zombie" (neither animal, vegetable or inanimate object, dontcha know) and me being laughed at for asking if the 80s movie in question had puppets in it. The answer was Gremlins - so I wasn't so crazy after all. Oh, we were glad to get on the open road!
But would I do it again next year? Absolutely.
Side note: While trawling for a NF article I also found this piece on a Sydney composer - and since I do listen to ABC Classic FM, it is entirely possible that I've heard one of her compositions already. But now I am intrigued, and will shortly be finding out more about Elena Kats-Chernin.