Be Kind, Rewind. Double Takes At Bluesfest’s Second Summer
BLUESFEST - Just as the entire festival feels on the verge of slipping into a muddy vortex the sun start’s shining. Patrons find shelter under festival tents as summer hits the blues. More still swelter about the sides.
Leon Bridges is at the Crossroads stage. Relative to Thursday’s performance he’s loosened up a whole heap. ‘River’ plays out a second time. Leon’s a show stealer, but at this festival, there’s as many shows as there are patrons.
Blues’ elemental energy is less than full-on. People run at their own speed. There’s little of the threat and menace of comparably large-scale events. Echoing the fine turn in weather there’s a sunny disposition running throughout.
Andre Cymone’s crowd might only be scraping below a thousand but this band are putting as much energy into as if playing before ten times the number. Cymone’s worked with Prince. Pow. Cut straight from latest LP 1969‘Point and Click’ urges the crowd to put down their phones and get down to it. Shaun Kirk’s lording over the Juke Joint. It’s 6:24 and his easy charm has the crowd eating out of his hand.
A distinctive sound snaps within earshot. Canned Heat are still at it. “We’ve got some vintage Canned Heat for ya.” The group belt out the psychedelic environmental boogie of “So (Sad The World’s In a Tangle)”.
Jackson Brown holds court at crossroads. His music and mindset come from the post-60s collapse. A wife who took her own life and a world that didn’t seem just. Brown’s still runnin’ on empty, his songs a melancholic search for meaning. A millions-selling singer-songwriter that still puts it across.
As past accounts suggest there’s been a lot of funk happening under the Jambalaya Tent. Damn hot and all in The One. Tonight it's Dumpstafunk. They’re no exception.
Micheal Franti carries a message of sunshine goodness. Clap, stomp and dance along. He invites a pair of what looks like ten-year-old kids onstage to sing. Picture it. “Hey, Johnny and Claire you take it from here.” We’re making up the names here. One fan proposes to another, marriage!
On the ball crowd engagement. Sometimes people just want to dig it. Not unpack things, keep simple. A sullen person can take about five minutes of it before ducking for cover, but there’s a capacity audience. They love it, they’ll go all night.
An escape is made. No more smothering positivity. But if that’s the case what’s next? A classic festival walk-in. Afro Celt Sound System are a sight to behold, something you can walk into and be floored. Polyrhythms move the body. Huge props. When these guys lay down the lute they make it speak. They’re not playing in half measure.
Review by Riley Fitzgerald
Photography by Alix Mckenzie