It seems that each year Bluesfest expands it reach, incessantly absorbing the genres which spring from the blues tradition. Yet true to the festival’s namesake, blues appears in every direction. Eric Gale plays up a storm of thunderous and virtuosic solos. Devon Allman answers with his own licks. Both play the blues like its red hot, a spiritual force, not only played but felt through their passion. There’s blues music seeping out of every corner. Its damaged resonance lodged in the festival’s symbolic heart.
Chris Gallant exists as far from the grizzled blues cliché as could be imagined. The slickly attired 24-year-old spins R&B. Flowing pulses of synth pads and hard-edged beats frame his bombastic stage presence. He’s a crowd pleaser, gifted with chameleonic vocals and boyish charm. Skewering a sound somewhere between Frank Ocean and The Neptunes, he seduces and woos in live form. He embraces a fine line between plasticised conventional pop and the tight organic groove of a tightly honed rhythm section. Collectively his band amplifies his manic energy. Gallant lulls his adoring crowd with chest-bursting falsettos, breaking only to engage in an impromptu beach volleyball match before drawing things to a close.
If there’s a musical festival within 10 clicks of good surf and idyllic coastal environs, inevitably there’s Jimmy Buffett. The venerable songwriter’s undertow of melancholic escapism is matched only by a lyrical fixation for food which secures ‘Margaretville’ and ‘Cheesburger in Paradise’ as place as some of the most unlikely additions to rock canon. His smiling charm and relaxed ease beguiles. He’s here to have a good time.
After seeing The Soul Rebels backing NAS on Thursday the prospect of seeing the group again was too difficult to resist. The 8-piece outfit boldly pushes forward a percussive tapestry of sound. Aside from spinning solid groovers, they draw fluidly from a rich history of African American music. The ensemble is spontaneous, slap-dash diversions held together with a razor-sharp musical wit. There isn’t an audience member present that isn’t in motion, enveloped by swinging brass. It’s a musical exhortation to “get on up offa that thing.”
Reviewer: Riley Fitzgerald
Photography: Danny Santangelo