Jamaican Music Artists

Ten Albums of 2016 That Made Life Sweeter

Blessed we are for the music albums of 2016 that made this life feel a whole lot sweeter. Thankful are we to the artists who created those albums. Some, like Kendrick Lamar’s untitled unmastered, came quickly after his last and were released unexpectedly. Other albums like De La Soul’s and the Anonymous Nobody, and The Diary Of from dearly-departed legend J Dilla, were an insanely-long time in coming.

Below are sample tracks from ten albums of 2016 that likely brought happiness to lovers of jazz, hip hop, R&B and reggae music. All can be found in hard copy and added to your Forever-After Music Collection if you haven’t already done so- including in their most supreme format, on sweet sweet vinyl.

1. Anderson .Paak- Malibu

Anderson Paak - Malibu

“Heart Don’t Stand A Chance”

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2. BADBADNOTGOOD- IV

Badbadnotgood - IV (2016)

“And That, Too”

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Hear more tracks from IV and watch video footage of  BADBADNOTGOOD performing live here

3. De La Soul- and the Anonymous Nobody

De La Soul - and the Anonymous Nobody

“Drawn” featuring Little Dragon

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Find more tracks from and the Anonymous Nobody here.

4. J Dilla- The Diary Of

J Dilla - The Diary Of

“The Ex” featuring Bilal

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5. Kaytranada- 99.9%

Kaytranada - 99.9%

“Breakdance Lesson N.1”

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6. Kendrick Lamar- untitled unmastered

Kendrick Lamar - untitled unmastered

“untitled 08 09.06.2014”

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Check out live concert footage of Kendrick Lamar performing at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016 here.

7. Michael Kiwanuka- Love And Hate

Michael Kiwanuka - Love & Hate

“Cold Little Heart”

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Find more tracks from Love & Hate here.

8. Miles Davis and Robert Glasper- Everything’s Beautiful

Miles Davis and Robert Glasper - Everything's Beautiful

“Right On Brotha”  featuring Stevie Wonder

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Find more tracks from Everything’s Beautiful here.

9. NxWorries- Yes Lawd!

NX Worries - Yes Lawd!

“Khadijah”

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10. Stephen “Ragga” MarleyRevelation Pt. II: The Fruit Of Life

Stephen Marley - Revelation Pt. 2 - The Fruit of Life

“Scars On My Feet” featuring Waka Flocka

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Find more tracks from Revelation Pt. II: The Fruit Of Life here.

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Blessed will we continue to be in 2017 for the existence of those ten albums in our music collections – as well as all new musical delights coming our way this year. Thanks to all artists worldwide who create, record and play music for us live. Life could be unbearable without them, and hopefully we never have to find out.

Kendrick Lamar live concert 2016

Kendrick Lamar live at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

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Stephen Marley – Revelation Part 2- The Fruit of Life

Stephen Marley has given music lovers a hell of a lot to absorb on his new album Revelation Pt. II: The Fruit of Life.

Stephen Marley - Revelation Pt. 2 - The Fruit of Life

The album has an epic 19 tracks, more if you access them digitally. It features around two dozen North American and Jamaican vocalists and MCs. And it showcases the roots of reggae and the many musical fruits of that tree: including dancehall, ska, ragga, dub, dubstep, electronic dance music and most dominantly in this here mix, the almighty hip hop.

Its featured artists include Damian MarleyKy-mani Marley; Jo Mersa Marley; Wyclef JeanBlack Thought; Busta Rhymes; SizzlaJunior Reid; Dead Prez;  Rakim; Kardinal Offishall; Rick RossWaka FlockaKonshens; Shaggy; Twista; Jasmin Karma; Bounty Killer; Cobra; DJ Khaled; Capleton and, last and definitely least, Pitbull and Iggy Izalea.

They rap, rhyme, toast and sing about a huge range of topics from doing doughnuts in a carpark with a ferrari- to much more pressing lyrical matters like the many social injustices of the world; and how in their context, the celebration of life and music become all the more vital.

The consistent sonic pleasure throughout The Fruit of Life is the one-of-a-kind, honey-sweet voice of Stephen Marley singing positive messages about giving and showing love. As he so perfectly and succinctly puts it on “The Lion Roars” – “it’s the only law that we must obey”.

Stephen Marley - Revelation Pt. 2 - The Fruit of Life

Yep. Revelation Pt. II: The Fruit of Life has a lot to absorb – over many, many listens. From the sexy and sensual vibe of some tracks to the party ones, this album is filled with an incredibly-diverse range of instrumental and vocal pleasures to find, love and make your feel-good soundtrack for dancing, romancing, cooking, cleaning, driving, chilling, partying or anything else you do in this life.

Check out a few sample tracks (compressed mp3-versions) from Revelation Pt. II: The Fruit of Life. If you like what you hear you know the best way to properly know and enjoy all the sounds recorded by Stephen Marley and his collaborators, and thank them, is to buy the full album on vinyl or at least cd 🙂 .

Stephen Marley - Revelation Pt. 2 - The Fruit of Life

Stephen Marley featuring Capleton & Sizzla – “Rockstone”

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Stephen Marley featuring Wyclef Jean – “Father Of The Man”

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Stephen Marley featuring Busta Rhymes & Konshens – “Pleasure Or Pain”

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Protoje & The InDiggNation Live In Amsterdam – Ancient Future Tour 2015

About this time two years ago I was in Jamaica on the hunt to find Protoje’s then-new album The 8 Year Affair. Finding a Summer show on his island home wasn’t an option because Protoje and The InDiggNation were touring Europe. I’ve watched their busy tour schedules since, waiting patiently for a chance to catch a live show.

I finally got it at Amsterdam’s Melweg last week – on the tail end of their tour of the now-new third album Ancient Future (released in March this year) – and amongst the collective’s shows at venues and reggae festivals throughout Europe including Mighty Sounds, Lakesplash, Summerjam, Sunrise Reggae & Ska, One Love and Summer Vibration.

Protoje live at Melkweg, Amsterdam - July 2015

Protoje live at Melkweg

Was I satisfied with my long-awaited live Protoje and The InDiggNation experience? Most definitely and completely. They quenched my thirst for wicked contemporary roots reggae music – and today that’s not an easy thing to do.

I love the sounds, quality, essence and musicianship levels of old – and cringe when I hear bands all over the world doing those sounds and the artists who made them an injustice by unsuccessfully trying to replicate them and creating bad, bland reggae music in the process. But I also want reggae music that sounds fresh, unique, diversified and has an edge to it.

At their Amsterdam show (like on the albums) Protoje and The InDiggNation collective delivered all those sounds I crave from both the past and present, made every part of my being smile with joy instead of cringe – and demonstrated live what an all mighty justice they’re doing for Jamaican and worldwide reggae music. My one of only three passing thoughts at the gig (great live music takes you out of your head) was “I haven’t heard live reggae music this wicked since Sly & Robbie”.

Protoje live at Melkweg, Amsterdam - July 2015

The humble and gentle Protoje himself with his unique hip hop vocal flow that gets my body moving every time, is just one part of the goodness of the live experience. The others, equally as important and talented are their sound engineer Greg Morris plus the seven core members of the InDiggNation on stage with Protoje: Peter “Kongz” Samaru (drums) – Lamont “Monty” Savory and Kevin “Zuggu” Patterson (guitars) – Paris LaMont Dennis (keys & vocoder) – Danny Bassie (bass) – Shenae Wright and Keiko Smith (background vocals).

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At Melkweg the crowd got the extra-special treat of hearing the absolutely stunning live vocals of young Jamaican diva Sevana when she joined the group on stage for three songs – two from Ancient Future (‘Love Gone Cold’ & ‘Sudden Flight’) and her own first single (produced by Protoje) ‘Bit Too Shy’. Sevana’s presence took the show to new heights again.

Sevana + Protoje & The Indiggnation live at Melkweg, Amsterdam 2015

Sevana with Protoje & The InDiggNation at Melkweg

The heavenly vocals of Zuggu in place of Ky-Mani Marley on ‘Rasta Love’ were another highlight amongst the gig’s many.

The Indiggnation live concert at Melkweg, Amsterdam 2015

The second of those three passing thoughts was that Protoje and The InDiggNation seemed a wee bit tired. Totally expected given their relentless tour schedule – and it didn’t stop them from delivering a killer show that brought a whole lot of happiness to everyone there.

A few times during the set Protoje thanked the Amsterdam crowd for taking the time to come out and listen. My third and final thought in response was “Kind words, but seriously? Man, thank you all for bringing your music to us”.

Protoje live at Melkweg, Amsterdam - July 2015

Anyone with a thirst like mine for wickedly-diverse, fresh, unique contemporary reggae music with the qualities and essence of old, needs to find their own sublime live Protoje and the InDiggNation experience. I’ll take another one, and another, wherever and whenever I can. In the meantime we can all keep dancing to our beloved hard-copies (digital if you must) of Ancient Future, The 8 Year Affair and The 7 Year Itch.

Listen here to ‘Sudden Flight’ (featuring Sevana and Jesse Royal) and check out video footage below of Protoje and The InDiggNation performing ‘Protection’ and ‘Bubblin’ in Amsterdam (all three tracks from the new album Ancient Future, which you can buy here).


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Bluesfest 2015 – Nothing But The Euphoric Funk

Five festival days of performances by 89 international and Australian acts at Byron Bay Bluesfest ended for me with three hours at the main stage frontline having what felt like the most euphoric live music experience of my lifetime.

I was, of course, in the company of George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic.

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

George Clinton at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

With the greatest of respect to all other performing artists and the Funk Disclaimer below, everything that came before Parliament Funkadelic at Bluesfest 2015 mattered little to me after the P Funk family arrived on stage – and by the end of their gloriously epic set, even less.

Bluesfest Before The Funk

Up until that spiritual Parliament Funkadelic experience, my Bluesfest time had been challenging.

Lenny Kravitz had cancelled and there weren’t many programmed acts left for my own personal musical tastes – and, so many of the 2015 artists were Bluesfest frequent flyers. An unfounded festival greeting by a police sniffer dog didn’t help. Nor did ugly behaviours I saw by some of my fellow festival-goers. Then there was that disappointing Bluesfester who found my camera with its images and sounds so precious to me, and decided not to return it. And amongst all of that I just wasn’t as successful as others in not letting the rain and its resulting inches-deep, stinky mud slush get me down.

Xavier Rudd & The United Nations live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

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Beyond the negative…moving on to accentuate the pre Parliament Funkadelic positive 🙂 …Bluesfest 2015 had some acts that motivated me back through its gates to experience the goodness of their shows.

Jurassic Five and the awesomely-funky sounds of hip hop created by DJs Cut Chemist and Nu-Mark alongside four stellar emcees (Chali 2na + Akil + Marc 7 + Zaakir aka Soup) who might “sound like one” in unison but individually have their own unique melody and tone which makes your body move in delightfully different ways.

Jurassic 5 live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

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Gary Clark Jr – an absolute monster on guitar whose sounds reminded me of how good the blues can be and how important it is to the past, present and future of music of so many kinds.

Gary Clark Jr. live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

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Fly My Pretties – a talented collective of independent artists coming together again in the live arena to represent the distinctive sounds of Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Fly My Pretties live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

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Jimmy Cliff with his astounding level of positive energy and delightful showmanship so many Bluesfests later – and his super-tight Jamaican band.

Jimmy Cliff live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

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Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires – akin to a placid James Brown bringing the sounds of funk and soul to the stage.

Charles Bradley live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

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Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue who bought his feel-good mix of jazz, funk & hip hop from the lands of New Orleans to get down to in Byron Bay, yet again.

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

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You can check out Trombone Shorty’s take on funk with this here sample track from his album Say That To Say This….

Trombone Shorty - Say That To Say This album cover

Say That To Say This (2013)

‘Get The Picture’ – Trombone Shorty – Say That To Say This

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Paolo Nutini…whose musical style may not be up my personal alley of taste, but who impressed me nonetheless with his engaging live performance.

Paolo Nutini live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

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Rodrigo y Gabriela and the way just two people and the stunning sounds of their guitars can so easily fill the space of an entire main festival stage.

Rodrigo y Gabriela live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

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No doubt the 100,000+ folks who passed through Bluesfest gates over its five days with leanings towards different musical flavours to me, had lots more of their own experiences of musical goodness.

Xavier Rudd & The United Nations live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

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All my Bluesfest 2015 experiences both good and challenging, washed away in euphoria within minutes of George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic arriving on stage to close the festival’s main stage. Some might say that’s a travesty to Bluesfest and its artists to say so, but I do so through the eyes and ears of a long-time devoted Funkateer.

Funk Disclaimer

Funk music has brought me more listening and dancing joy during my lifetime than any other musical style in history. That’s a pretty profound contribution to have made to my wellbeing – one which I am eternally grateful for.

George Clinton and the many incredible musicians, vocalists and visionaries who have flown on the Parliament/Funkadelic/P-Funk mothership throughout its many different historical incarnations have been at the front, centre and side of funk music since the 60’s.

They’ve constantly reinvented themselves and their music to keep it alive in a changing world, musical landscape and life circumstances. George Clinton tells it that all along the way, people in the music industry have repeatedly screwed he and other artists out of royalties and tried to squeeze them down or out.

So to witness and hear George Clinton (at almost 75 years old) on stage in 2015 alongside other P-Funk legends  – still keepin’ the funk alive and fresh – and performing it so energetically and brilliantly for three epic hours, was a super special, blessed thing.

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Amongst those old-school P-Funkers by his side were Robert PNut Johnson (in the P-Funk family since 1976), Michael Clip Payne (since 1977), DeWayne Blackbyrd McKnight, Steve Boyd and Lige Curry (since 1978) plus Bennie CowanGreg Thomas and Ricky Rouse (since “a very long time” ago).

P Nut Johnson - Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Robert P-Nut Johnson

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic live concert- Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

Michael Clip Payne (r)

Blackbyrd McKnight + George Clinton - Parliament Funkadelic concert 2015

Blackbyrd McKnight

Steve Boyd- Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Steve Boyd

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George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Lige Curry (r)

Bennie Cowan- Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Bennie Cowan

 

 

Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Greg Thomas

Ricky Rouse- Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Ricky Rouse

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic Made Me Do It

The priceless value of George Clinton & co.’s music in my life and to the world of music generally, was more than enough inspiration to make me do things I’ve never done before to take full advantage of the Parliament Funkadelic blessing before me at Bluesfest.

The first was lining up for a George Clinton signing before the show – not to get his name on anything – but simply for the chance to thank him for the profound musical gifts he’s given.

George Clinton at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

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The next out-of-character mission was maneuvering my way to the Parliament Funkadelic frontline (in dangerous sound-quality territory) long before their set so I could witness the brilliant chops of each and every one of those artists up close.

Parliament Funkadelic live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

Ricky Rouse and Blackbyrd McKnight

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Bluesfest During The Funk

It was there on the Mojo stage frontline at 8.30 pm that all the funk stars aligned and I found myself directly in front of the mothership collective, surrounded by a posse of multi-generational, devoted Funkateer strangers-became-funk-bonded-friends. For the next 3 euphoric hours we watched and listened in awe, danced, and screamed in appreciation whenever asked, for the super-tight live funk delivered by George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic.

On a different day or place I know that live P-Funk explosion could have been even bigger than it was at Bluesfest.

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

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Long-time musical heroes were joined on stage by a new generation of P-Funk stars who have their own independent music projects going on: Danny Bedrosian – Thurteen – (Garry Starchild Shider’s son) Garrett Shider and George Clinton’s grandkids Tracey “Tra’zae” Lewis-Clinton, Patavian Lewis and Tonysha Nelson

Their presence gives me hope that the funk really can survive long into the future “like it always has” – thanks muchly to George Clinton and so many other artists in the P-Funk family passed and living.

Tra' Zae - Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Tra’zae Clinton

Tonysha Nelson - Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Tonysha Nelson (c) + Danny Bedrosian + Garrett Shider

 

 

 

 

 

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Thurteen (l)

Kandy Apple Redd - George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Tonysha Nelson + Patavian Lewis

Garrett Shider- Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Garrett Shider

Those on stage with George Clinton took their turns to shine – so often at the behest or encouragement of Dr Funkenstein – and unfailingly with his support and appreciation.

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Most P-Funk stars were on stage shining consistently for the whole epic set – including the superb drumming delivered by human funk machine Benzel Baltimore Cowan.

Benzel Baltimore - Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Benzel Baltimore Cowan

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We got tasty funkin’ jams and solos, beloved songs of all ages from the vast Parliament/Funkadelic/P Funk discography. as well as new ones showcasing music of the younger P-Funk members like female duo Kandy Apple Redd.

Patavian Lewis - Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Patavian Lewis

Tonysha Nelson - Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Tonysha Nelson

Carlos McMurray was amongst those youngsters on board the mothership, bringing to life the irreverent but beloved P-Funk character Sir Nose D’Voidoffunk.

Carlos McMurray- Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

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At the end of those three euphoric hours, the final uncharacteristic thing George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic made me do when I realised the experience was really, truly over and the mothership crew had flown away (maybe never to return) – was to shed a tear.  Dramatic yes? But a true story of the profound goodness of funk music in this life!

Then I moved on to simply be grateful for my music blessing, and relish in the buzz I felt in every cell of my body for as many days as it lasted.

For its shockingly-bad sound quality, I’m loathe to include this video footage from my guardian angel/bodyguard friend behind me at the show protecting my P-Funk dance space, but, dedicated Funkateers might find some goodness in the imagery at least…

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“The Mothership Will Fly Just Like It Always Does”

Thanks to the live experience of George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic at Byron Bay Bluesfest, it was five days before I could bring myself to listen to any music at all – for fear it might taint that euphoric feeling I so desperately wanted to hold onto.

To try and comfort myself about the mothership’s departure  – and renew my hope that funk music truly will survive into the future, all I could finally turn to was this here George Clinton and The P Funk All Stars song from their seminal 1996 reunion album T.A.P.O.A.F.O.M.  Its lyrics affirmed the survival of funk then and always, and funk do I hope that the words remain true into our musical future.

George Clinton and the P-Funk All Stars - TAPOAFOM

T.A.P.O.A.F.O.M. (1996)

‘T.A.P.O.A.F.O.M. (Fly Away)’ – George Clinton & The P Funk All Stars – T.A.P.O.A.F.O.M.

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George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

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At Bluesfest I got to thanks George Clinton personally for the crazy-amazing music he’s gifted the world over five decades. I suppose a benefit of cyber-Beavering is that I can put out here the same deep-felt thanks and appreciation to every other Parliament Funkadelic member past and present – and hope that they or their family might receive those thanks.

Blackbyrd McKnight + George Clinton - Parliament Funkadelic concert 2015

Blackbyrd McKnight (c)

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Finally in this long Beaver funk story, thanks has to go to Bluesfest for bringing George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic (+88 other acts) back to perform on its stages in 2015.

Greg Thomas - Parliament Funkadelic live concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 - Australia

Greg Thomas

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Ricky Rouse- Parliament Funkadelic concert - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Ricky Rouse

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic devotees can get the low down on their recent Sydney show here and check in to Beaver’s Facebook page for lots more Bluesfest photos coming.

Better yet, funkateers in the U.K and U.S. between now and August can find their own euphoric P Funk experience at one of their Shake The Gate World Tour shows.

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WOMADelaide 2015: Nourishment Forever-After

Oh WOMADelaide, how I long to be back in your nourishing arms. You came again and gave the people four days and nights of awesomely-diverse arts, culture and music from around the world under sunshine and shady trees in Adelaide’s Botanic Park. You created the space for a vibrant community of friendly, conscious, arts-loving people of all ages to come together and relax; to connect in music, dance, theatre, conversation and food; to smile, be happy and to relish the blessing of being a part of that WOMADelaide 2015 community.

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At the start of the fourth and final festival day it seemed like I’d had a wonderfully-sufficient saturation of festival goodness. On Tuesday though, with the realisation that WOMADelaide was actually over for another year; with the return to “normal” life – those four long festival days and nights suddenly seemed all-too-short.

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“Life moves so fast – the festival will come again soon enough” I tell myself. I focus on the nourishment I feel from the experience of WOMADelaide 2015 and it’s many happiness-producing moments. I remember and feel better for the fact that those enriching experiences are part of my being forever hereafter. Then I go ahead and calculate the remaining days until WOMADelaide 2016! 🙂

Flavia Coelho live at WOMADelaide 2015

Flavia Coelho at WOMADelaide 2015

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WOMADelaide 2015 Moments

I’m sure each festival-goer had their own special moments in different forms at different times throughout WOMADelaide.

Maybe yours was having a make-over by a Spanish stylist in the Osadia salon? Watching your favourite WOMADelaide artist cook up a delicious native dish in the Taste the World tent or hearing them ‘In Conversation’ at the Speakers Corner?

Osadia at WOMADelaide 2015

Osadia

Paul Miller (aka DJ Spooky) - Arctic Rhythms - WOMADelaide 2015

Paul D. Miller (DJ Spooky) presents Arctic Rhythms

 

 

 

 

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Dancing up a storm to the energetic ‘Bofenia Rock’ performance of Congo’s Jupiter & Okwess International?

Jupiter & Okwess International live at WOMADelaide 2015

Jupiter

Jupiter & Okwess International live at WOMADelaide 2015

Okwess International

 

 

 

 

 

Chilling under a tree with the sounds of live music being performed on a nearby festival stage? Climbing that tree for a view above the rest? Or when the music commanded you to get up on your feet and move?

WOMADelaide 2015

WOMADelaide 2015

Reliving the sounds of the 60’s and beyond with Native-American artist and activist Buffy Sainte-Marie? Enjoying C.W. Stoneking‘s unique contemporary take on the blues?

Buffy Sainte-Marie live at WOMADelaide 2015

Buffy Sainte-Marie

CW Stoneking live at WOMADelaide 2015

C.W. Stoneking

 

 

 

 

 

Getting to the front of the crowd for the closest possible view of your most-beloved artist?

WOMADelaide 2015

WOMADelaide 2015

 

 

 

 

Hearing the Romanian brass-frenzy of Fanfare Ciocarlia?

Fanfare Ciocarlia live at WOMADelaide 2015

Fanfare Ciocarlia

Fanfare Ciocarlia live at WOMADelaide 2015

Fanfare Ciocarlia

 

 

 

 

 

Taking the Colour of Time dance and theatre journey with ARTONIK through the festival site?

ARTONIK perform The Colour of Time at WOMADelaide 2015

ARTONIK – The Colour of Time

Going to church of the atypical kind by Sinead O’Connor? Or letting Rufus Wainwright‘s mellow tunes drift you into a feeling of sublime?

Sinead O'Connor live at WOMADelaide 2015

Sinead O’Connor

Rufus Wainwright live at WOMADelaide 2015

Rufus Wainwright

 

 

 

 

 

Browsing the colourful artisan markets or playing around them. Immersing yourself in light and colour inside the inflatable luminarium maze of EXXOPOLIS?

WOMADelaide 2015

Architects of Air - Exxopolis - WOMADelaide 2015

 

 

 

 

 

Being rallied into the party-vibes created by Israeli/New-York based group Balkan Beat Box?

Balkan Beat Box live at WOMADelaide 2015

Balkan Beat Box

WOMADelaide 2015

w/ Balkan Beat Box

 

 

 

 

 

Chilling out for a Chai break or making new friends with like-minded festival-goers?

WOMADelaide 2015WOMADelaide 2015

Experiencing the visual and musical extravaganza of Senegal’s Youssou N’Dour and his band?

Youssou N'Dour concert at WOMADelaide 2015

w/ Youssou N’Dour

Youssou N'Dour concert at WOMADelaide 2015

Youssou N’Dour

Seeing mother and artist Neneh Cherry on stage again post-hiatus? Hearing her acknowledge International Women’s Day before performing ‘Woman’ with Rocketnumbernine?

Neneh Cherry & Rocketnumbernine live at WOMADelaide 2015

Rocketnumbernine

Neneh Cherry & Rocketnumbernine live at WOMADelaide 2015

Neneh Cherry

Or maybe it was later that night when Neneh Cherry joined Youssou N’Dour on stage to sing ‘Seven Seconds’ together?

Excitedly browsing books, vinyl and cds in the Wo Shop to take home music from a newly-discovered festival artist?

Or did your final special musical moments come at the end of your WOMADelaide nights when the music mixed by DJs made you forget you were on your way home and kept you dancing until the night’s very last beat?

Check out a video snippet here of Theo Parrish’s superb set

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Maybe your happiest festival moments had the same musical sources as mine?

Abdullah Ibrahim Quartet (South Africa)

Hearing the stunning sounds of 80 years of life and music expressed on the piano through the [beautifully-freckled] hands of jazz legend Abdullah Ibrahim.

Abdullah Ibrahim live at WOMADelaide 2015

Abdullah Ibrahim

DJ Spooky (USA)

Dancing for 2+ hours to DJ Spooky’s super-diverse set that took me through much of my life’s music collection from The Police to Nirvana to James Brown to Damian Marley to the best-of-the-best old school hip hop and reggae tracks.

DJ Spooky at WOMADelaide 2015

DJ Spooky

Flavia Coelho (Brazil)

Experiencing the super-infectious colours, smile and joyful exuberance of Brazil’s multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Flavia Coelho as she and her band of two performed a fantastic fusion of dub, reggae, ragga, bossa, afrobeat and cumbia.

Flavia Coelho live at WOMADelaide 2015

Flavia Coelho

WOMADelaide 2015

w/ Flavia Coelho


 

 

Flavia Coelho live at WOMADelaide 2015

Flavia Coelho

Al

Al Chonville

Flavia Coelho live at WOMADelaide 2015

Flavia Coelho

Jambinai (South Korea)

That moment at the end of WOMADelaide 2015’s last live set when a member of Jambinai, folk/metal/electro innovators of incredible skill, told the mesmerised crowd “We just want to connect with you in this moment – in this place”. I like to believe everyone else there was thinking the same thing as me: “You have. And I feel incredible for it. Thank you”.

Mista Savona with Prince Alla & Randy Valentine (Australia+Jamaica+U.K)

Hearing the live sounds of reggae represented in genuine One-Love style by Melbourne-based musician and producer Jake Savona facilitating 2 festival performances by the Mista Savona band with old-school Jamaican roots reggae legend Prince Alla and contemporary Jamaican/U.K-based artist Randy Valentine.

Mista Savona live at WOMADelaide 2015

Jake Savona

Prince Alla with Mista Savona live at WOMADelaide 2015

Prince Alla

 

Prince Alla with Mista Savona live at WOMADelaide 2015

Prince Alla w/ Mista Savona

Randy Valentine with Mista Savona live at WOMADelaide 2015

Randy Valentine

Check out sample Mista Savona and Prince Alla tracks from Mista Savona Presents Soul to Sound (Various Artists) here plus videos below from their WOMADelaide shows…

Mista Savona - Soul To Sound by Various Artists (2010)

‘Captive Bird’ – Prince Alla – Mista Savona Presents Soul to Sound

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‘Dub From the Hills’ – Mista Savona – Mista Savona Presents Soul to Sound

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Myele Manzanza & The Eclectic (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

Moments of happiness were aplenty during both of Myele Manzanza & The Eclectic’s festival performances: from hearing the rich, soulful vocals of Aotearoan divas Rachel Fraser and Lisa Tomlins front-of-stage; to the drum-off between Myele Manzanza and father Sam Manzanza; and the solos of every talented Eclectic band member during the set as they played fluid and completely-fresh sounding versions of songs from Myele Manzanza’s debut solo album One along with new ones: all of them delightfully good. Adelaidean saxophonist Adam Page joining The Eclectic on stage was another.

Rachel Fraser with Myele Manzanza & The Eclectic live at WOMADelaide 2015

Rachel Fraser

Lisa Tomlins with Myele Manzanza & The Eclectic live at WOMADelaide 2015

Lisa Tomlins

Myele Manzanza & The Eclectic live at WOMADelaide 2015

Myele Manzanza

Sam Manzanza with Myele Manzanza & The Eclectic live at WOMADelaide 2015

Sam Manzanza

Adam Page with Myele Manzanza & The Eclectic live at WOMADelaide 2015

Adam Page

Check out a recent interview with Myele Manzanza plus sample tracks from One here.

Orquestra Buena Vista Social Club (Cuba)

Cuban lands, people and music have a very dear place in my heart. Hearing the chops of Orquestra members young and old performing Cuban music classics live on stage for the very last time as part of their ‘Adios Tour’ truly was a blessed WOMADelaide moment.

Los Originales de Buena Vista Social Club…

Orquestra Buena Vista Social Club live at WOMADelaide 2015

Orquestra Buena Vista Social Club

Los Jóvenes de Orquestra Buena Vista Social Club….

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Paul D. Miller (USA)

The sound and visual journey taken in the Speaker’s Corner with multi-media artist Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky) presenting Arctic Rhythms in which he traversed a huge scope of fascinating topics ranging from science, politics and climate change through to uncredited music artists of history, digital technologies, the hip hop flow and more – with all roads leading to his multi-disciplinary project work in the Arctic/Antarctic region. The Book of Ice is one part of that project – and the sounds of music are of course another.

Paul Miller (aka DJ Spooky) - Arctic Rhythms - WOMADelaide 2015

Paul D. Miller (DJ Spooky)

At WOMADelaide those sounds were created by Paul Miller’s live sampling of Adelaidean musicians Emily Tulloch and Hilary Kleinig playing his Arctic/Antarctica compositions:

“acoustic portraits of ice” played by “ancient instruments vs an iPad”

Paul Miller (aka DJ Spooky) - Arctic Rhythms - WOMADelaide 2015

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Soil & Pimp Sessions (Japan)

Last but not least was making my absolute-favourite musical discovery of WOMADelaide 2015 in the kooky, frenzied, often-grooving jazz sounds of Japan’s Soil & Pimp Sessions playing their only festival show.

Soil & Pimp Sessions live at WOMADelaide 2015

Soil & Pimp Sessions

WOMADelaide 2015

w/ Soil & Pimp Sessions

Some way into their set realising that apart from a few hip hop vocals on one song, ‘frontman’ Shacho wasn’t going to use the mic to showcase his spectacular vocal chops after the other band members had showcased their own respective ones; he’d actually been performing his role of “Agitator/Spirit” in entertaining style and glory all the way along (and thereafter).

Soil & Pimp Sessions concert live at WOMADelaide 2015

Shacho – Soil & Pimp Sessions

Soil & Pimp Sessions concert live at WOMADelaide 2015

Soil & Pimp Sessions

Soil & Pimp Sessions concert live at WOMADelaide 2015

Soil & Pimp Sessions

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 If you missed Soil & Pimp Sessions’ WOMADelaide show, get a glimpse here on video and hear sample tracks below from Chronicle of Soil & Pimp Sessions…

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Soil & Pimp Sessions - Chronicle of Soil & Pimp Sessions (2013)

‘Sahara’ – Soil & Pimp Sessions – Chronicle of Soil & Pimp Sessions

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‘My Foolish Heart ~Crazy on Earth~’ – Soil & Pimp Sessions – Chronicle of Soil & Pimp Sessions

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Soil & Pimp Sessions concert live at WOMADelaide 2015

Soil & Pimp Sessions

Maybe your happiness-producing moments came from none of the above? From something else I missed completely amongst the many WOMADelaide happenings?

Your moments, mine, there was an abundance of them to be had. Whichever ones brought you the most bliss, all the WOMADelaide 2015 moments were good right? Nourishing for the mind, body, heart and soul, yes?

Music festivals are so, so, so good for us. WOMADelaide 2016 will be so, so, so good for us!

How many more days to go?

Prince Alla with Mista Savona live at WOMADelaide 2015

Prince Alla

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To relive or check out more of WOMADelaide 2015 in the meantime: watch Beaver’s FB page for more photos or click on the artist of your flavour to link to videos of their festival shows: Abdullah IbrahimBalkan Beat BoxFanfare CiocarliaFlavia Coelho – Neneh CherryOrquestra Buena Vista Social ClubPaul D. Miller Prince Alla Randy Valentine Theo Parrish.

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Reggae Still Got Soul With Etana

I Rise starts off gently with just keyboards and Etana’s super-soulful voice reverently singing the Rastafarian lyrics sung by Bob Marley with The Wailers on ‘Selassie Is The Chapel’.

Bring on track two of I Rise and Etana’s calm, emotive reverence shifts to emotional outcry about how very long the people’s suffering at the hands of their leaders goes on. Kick in drums, bass, guitar and horns and if you’re the kind of person who reggae music moves, then the sounds of those instruments will surely penetrate you to the core; make you feel and move inside and out; in that way that good reggae music does.

Etana - I Rise (2014)

Etana – I Rise (2014)

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‘How Long’ – Etana – I Rise

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On every I Rise track thereafter ‘How Long’, you’ve got yourself some consistently well played, light and steady, feel-right reggae with distinctively-Etana-styled splashes of soul, r&b and gospel. You have Etana’s flawless voice singing socially-conscious, positive lyrics themed around Jamaican female pride, unconditional love, friendship, heartbreak, inequality and injustice, spirituality, religious emancipation, liberation, courage, loyalty and strength.

‘Ward 21 (Stenna’s Song)’ – Etana – I Rise

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Etana - I Rise (2014)

The album’s final specialty is a dubbed-out, slow jam track dedicated entirely to Etana expressing admiration, respect and thanks to “the greatest” of artists who collaborated with her in the creation of I Rise. I appreciate Etana for taking the time to acknowledge them. I respect her even more for the fact that in times when so many people choose digital over hard-copy music and won’t have the pleasure of poring over a vinyl or cd booklet and getting to know the names of the people involved in its creation, Etana makes I Rise listeners do so via audio transmission.

Get to know the names yourself here on ‘Jam Credits’:

‘Jam Credits’ – Etana – I Rise

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If those sample I Rise tracks make you feel good, the choice is there to buy the album on vinyl or cd. As well as the chance that gives you to pore over the album artwork and credits in print, you’ll be able to hear and appreciate more of the delightful sounds of Clive Hunt, Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare and other “great, great” artists who recorded I Rise with Etana than you can in dirty, compressed mp3-style.

Etana - I Rise (2014)

Check out songs from Etana’s last album Better Tomorrow here.

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A Better Today And Tomorrow With Etana

If the soulful voice of Jamaican diva Etana over the reggae skank in her music don’t make you feel good, or at least better, I don’t know what possibly will.

Etan

Soul Diva of Reggae

Etana is an Angie Stone, Jill Scott, India Arie or Leela James of reggae music. Like those divas of stature in the soul/r&b world, Etana’s vocal musicality and sublime sounding voice are delightful to listen to time and timelessly again. Also like those ladies, Etana’s lyrics are positive and conscious ones, full of emotion. Because finally like Angie, Jill, India and Aria, Etana is all Woman.

Her 2013 album Better Tomorrow was a refreshing dose of flawlessly played, good contemporary reggae music. It maintained the warm, living, gentle sounds and feelings of old-school roots reggae (helped by the fact it was mostly recorded at Kingston’s Tuff Gong Studios); but also bought the sound into the modern day with subtle flavours of other music genres in the mix.

Etana - Better Tomorrow (2013)

Better Tomorrow (2013)

“Reggae is Reggae”

“You can’t mix reggae with other things. Reggae is Reggae.”  

Those were the words of one Jamaican to me about Jamaican music.

Of course you can mix reggae with any other style of music (some more successfully than others no doubt 🙂 ). Music artists all over the world do so – with very cool musical results. Jamaican artists living outside of Jamaica do so too. Etana is one of them.

Better Tomorrow is reggae music for sure. But it’s reggae infused with subtle, flavorsome sounds of soul, r&b, gospel and funk.

For Etana and the other music artists in the world making fresh sounding ‘reggae fusion’ (as well as for ‘reggae reggae’ artists) the musical world is a much richer one.

Whether it’s ‘reggae that’s just reggae’ or not, listening to Etana’s music and hearing her soulful voice, makes me feel good.   It makes my today a better one. Simple isn’t it? Good ole Music Medicine.

Get a dose yourself with these sample Etana tracks from Better Tomorrow. Don’t be fooled by the compressed mp3 version. Imagine the goodness of the many other sounds you’ll hear in the music if you get it on vinyl or cd.

Etana - Better Tomorrow (2013)

Better Tomorrow (2013)

‘Queen’ – Etana – Better Tomorrow (2013)

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‘Whole New World’ – Etana – Better Tomorrow (2013)

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‘Better Tomorrow’ – Etana – Better Tomorrow (2013)

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You feel good now, right?  Or at least better than before you listened yes?

The good news to make our tomorrow better is that another dose of Etana’s music medicine is coming soon with the October 28th release of her new album I Rise.

Thankfully we can definitely buy this new release in hard-copy – and pre-order it from VP Records.

Etana - I Rise (2014)

I Rise (2014)

Etana has 2 other albums before Better Tomorrow. You can buy each cd separately or get the set of 3 for a great price through VP.

Etana - Better Tomorrow (2013)

Better Tomorrow (2013)

Etana - Free Expressions (2011)

Free Expressions (2011)

Etana - The Strong One (2008)

The Strong One (2008)

 

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Extra lucky peeps can have themselves the live Etana experience at New Zealand’s Raggamuffin festival this December.

Etana @ Raggamuffin Music Festival 2014

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Jah9 – Woman of ‘Good Music History’

There’s not enough female dub/reggae singers or songwriters in the spotlights of our musical history.

I only just realised that while listening to the debut album of Jamaica’s Jah9 – and in each and every track appreciating the jazzy, soulful and refreshingly feminine vocals of She Who Is Jah9: Janine Cunningham.

Jah9 - Janine Cunningham

There’s so much more to appreciate about the album New Name over and above the fact that Janine Cunningham has cemented a place for herself as a successful woman in the contemporary dub/reggae sphere – or as pioneer of  ‘Jazz on Dub’.

To begin there are the positive, socially and spiritually-conscious content of Jah9 lyrics  – and their poetic composition.  Old-school Jamaican roots reggae lovers (and any switched-on new ones) would approve and appreciate, certainly.

Also Janine Cunningham’s stellar vocal phrasing.

Ever so importantly, that those Jah9 vocals are combined with contemporary reggae and dub music that is refreshingly good quality in every way.

Finally there’s the fact that Janine Cunningham not only wrote the songs, but also co-arranged and produced alongside Rory Gilligan of dancehall sound system/label Stone Love.

Jah9 - New Name (2013)

Jah9 – New Name (2013)

Beyond all of that, Janine Cunningham deserves more respect because it seems that she does a decent job of living out in actions, the words she sings. Through her music and lyrics, as well as her human ways of being (check out youth NGO Manifesto Jamaica for example) I’d say Janine Jah9 Cunningham is contributing lots and lots of human and womanly and musical goodness to this world of ours.

That Jah9 goodness is of great benefit to me and the world – because as a human and a woman, it inspires me to try and contribute the same level of positivity to the world in which I live; and because it also means I have the lifelong pleasure of listening to Jah9 music.  You can too.

Check out these sample (dirty mp3) Jah9 tracks yourself and see if you agree that this female artist has earned her place in a spotlight of our ‘Good Music History’…

Jah9 - New Name (2013)

Jah9 – New Name (2013)

‘Intention’ – Jah9 – New Name

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‘Legitimate’ – Jah9 (feat. Protoje) – New Name

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Agreed?

You can buy yourself all the sounds written and recorded by Janine ‘Jah9’ Cunningham and Rory Gilligan on cd to have in your music collection forever after, through Dub Vendor – or better yet, get yourself to Jamaican shores (via Cuba 🙂 ) to find it.  I promise you that Caribbean trip will be filled with a whole lot of musical goodness.

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Byron Bay Bluesfest – Only For The Music

On it’s 25th anniversary, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014 was the best one for me yet.  It was an unusually comfortable Bluesfest experience under unusually clear, blue Easter skies and sunshine – with the usual phenomenal music artists playing on its 7 stages.

Every year that I’ve gone to Byron Bay Bluesfests past, I have moaned about the things that I’m not into about the overall Bluesfest experience.  Each year after where I can, I’ve bought another costly Bluesfest ticket, and gone back again. I’ve done that for one reason only:  The Music.

Erykah Badu live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Erykah Badu – Bluesfest 2014

Sly & Robbie & The Taxi Gang - live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Sly & Robbie + The Taxi Gang-Bluesfest 2014

Despite my grumblings about non-musical aspects of the festival, I always go home from Bluesfest feeling musically satisfied after hearing some of the western world’s most incredible music artists of contemporary history. Just a few of those artists from Bluesfests past are Fred Wesley, Burning Spear, Damian Marley, Ernest Ranglin and Parliament Funkadelic.

Musically, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014 went the same way. I went from one stage to another, finding artist after artist who blew me away with their music and/or musicianship.

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At Bluesfest 2014 I also found I had less of the usual non-musical things to moan about. One of the main reasons for that was because this years festival seemed to have much smaller crowds than in others – making the overall festival experience a much more hassle-free and comfortable one.

“Australia’s Premiere Blues and Roots Music Festival”

This year I heard other people moaning about the festival line-up. “Not enough blues”, “No big name acts” etc.  Well thankfully for lovers of reggae, soul, r&b, funk and hip-hop music, Byron Bay Bluesfest hasn’t been just a blues music festival for many years past.  And lots of the artists that performed in 2014 are big name acts in the musical worlds of many (mine) – just not big in the worlds of the people complaining:  Erykah BaduAaron NevilleLarry Graham (former Sly and The Family Stone) – Sly & RobbieThe WailersIndia Arie.

Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014 poster

The artists below are the ones I caught at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014 who sent me away from their shows as high as high can be on their music and/or musicianship.

Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014 Music

Queen Erykah Badu (USA)

Erykah Badu’s show at the Palais Theatre in Melbourne earlier in the same week of the festival was simply divine. Her festival show, somehow was even more divine again – and for me the top highlight of Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014.

Like in Melbourne, Erykah Badu demonstrated with every sound and movement she made, that she is an incredibly talented artist (and woman) like none other in the world.

Erykah Badu live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Erykah Badu at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Erykah Badu’s powerful stage presence and incredible vocals captivated me and everyone around me from the moment she stepped onto the stage until coming back from some time amongst the crowd to finish the show.

Erykah Badu live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Erykah Badu live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Videos here of Erykah Badu performing ‘I Want You’ ‘…& On’ live at Bluesfest 2014

Aaron Neville (USA)

Aaron Neville and the sounds of his heavenly voice took me to another world.

Now in his 70‘s, naturally his voice has the sounds of life lived. They make that voice ever-so-much richer than in years past when it was of the completely squeeky-clean heavenly kind.

Aaron Neville live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Aaron Neville at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Videos of Aaron Neville’s performing ‘Fever’ + ‘Everybody Plays The Fool’ live at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014 here…

 

Sly & Robbie and The Taxi Gang (Jamaica)

The first part of Sly & Robbie & The Taxi Gang’s Bluefest shows were incredibly tight. Tasty dub and reggae to die for. The energy of the show was high, and rising.

Sly & Robbie & The Taxi Gang - live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014Sly & Robbie & The Taxi Gang - live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Sly & Robbie & The Taxi Gang - live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014Sly & Robbie & The Taxi Gang - live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

The music stayed tasty and tight all through their set. But the energy dropped and the band seemed to look slightly bored (or embarrassed?) from the time they introduced vocalist Bitty Mclean to join them on stage – as “the new Crown Prince of Reggae Music”.

Sly & Robbie & The Taxi Gang - live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014Sly & Robbie & The Taxi Gang - live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Check out this video of a song from the first half of Sly & Robbie’s Bluesfest show to hear these words of wisdom…

 “If you’re hot, you’re hot. If you’re not, you’re not. Use what you got.”

+ 1 more…

Sly & Robbie and the other instrumentalists in their band are musically hot, musically brilliant. They use what they got – and it’s more than enough without needing a “crown prince” to croon amongst them.

Check out this video from the second half of Sly & Robbie’s show to see if you agree…

 “The new Crown Prince of Reggae Music”?  Really?  

Sly & Robbie & The Taxi Gang - live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Bitty McLean

Chali 2na (USA)

“Hands up if you agree with me that all music played on the radio now is shit?  Welcome to the Chali 2na radio station”.

Chali 2na live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Chali 2na at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Chali 2na’s words of welcome to the crowd at his Byron Bay Bluefest shows went like that.

So, everyone tuned in to Chali 2na and his 3-piece bands live radio station and went with them on an energetic journey of the funk, hip-hop and reggae kind. Those 2 live radio programs kept the crowd dancing and smiling throughout the hour – and screaming for more when the end came.  The best and longest dances I had at Bluesfest 2014 were at these two Chali 2na shows.

Chali 2na live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Chali 2na live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014Chali 2na live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Chali 2na live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Videos from both Chali 2na’s Bluesfest 2014 shows here (+ 1 below of him emceeing with Ozomatli)

The Wailers (Jamaica)

What else can I say about The Wailers minus Bob Marley except this: stellar musicianship – and good music that made everyone happy.

Video here of The Wailers playing ‘Three Little Birds’ at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014…

The Soul Rebels (USA)

The Soul Rebels with their brass-heavy soul, r&b, funk and jazz music, hail from one of my dream musical destinations of the world – New Orleans.  A 2015 mission of mine, I’m sure.

The Soul Rebels - live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

The Soul Rebels at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Video here of The Soul Rebels live at Bluesfest 2014…

Larry Graham & Graham Central Station (USA)

The stage show by Larry Graham & Graham Central Station was, well, pretty corny.

Larry Graham & Graham Central Station live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014Larry Graham & Graham Central Station live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

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But if you ignored the group’s white glam outfits and show moves; if you just listened to Larry Graham’s phenomenal bass playing; and looked up to see him playing bass so thoughtlessly and effortlessly as though an extension of his body, you found instrumental gold.  Some Sly & The Family Stone tunes were included in the set.

Larry Graham & Graham Central Station live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Videos of Larry Graham on bass at Bluesfest 2014 here – 1 with the full band + 1 of just he and a drum kit player…

India Arie (USA)

I have loved India Arie’s music for a long time. She was one of those “big name” musical acts that got me to Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014.

India Arie live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

India Arie at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

India Arie played 2 festival shows. I left before the end of the first – and what I heard there didn’t get me back to see the second. The only reason I can figure as to why the show didn’t move me, is the absence of a bass player on stage with her.

India Arie live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014India Arie live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Videos from India Arie’s 1st Bluesfest show here for you to check out…

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 (Nigeria)

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 put on a good show of Afrobeat song and dance of old as well as new from their recently released album A Long Way To The Beginning.

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

You can check out a video here of Sean Kuti doing his thing at the group’s Bluesfest show + a sample track from the 2008 album Many Things

‘Many Things’ – Seun Kuti – Many Things (2008)

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Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Ozomatli (USA)

Los Angeles based group Ozomatli have been around for 20 years playing their mix of hip-hop, funk, r&b, reggae, dancehall, salsa, cumbia, merengue, samba, comparse & more.

That diversity of musical styles and the vocal and instrumental versatility of its band members, have made every live Ozomatli experience I’ve had a special one. Their Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014 shows were no exception.

Ozomatli live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014Ozomatli live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Ozomatli live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014Ozomatli live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Videos here of Ozomatli live at Byron Bay Bluesfest

This one with Chali 2na …
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Ozomatli live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014Ozomatli live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

The Ones That Might Have Gotten Away

The artists whose shows I heard and loved were of course just a handful of artists who performed at Byron Bay Bluefest 2014.

Also in the line-up were Joss Stone, Dr John, Morcheeba, Elvis Costello, John MayerDoobie Brothers, KC & The Sunshine BandMichael Franti & Spearhead, The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra, Jack Johnson, Jeff Beck, Dave Matthews Band, Steve Earle & The Dukes + more.

Morcheeba live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Morcheeba at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra (Australia)

Keeping with some Afrobeat flavours, have a listen here to a sample track from one of the Australian groups in the Bluesfest 2014 line-up – The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra

Public Opinion Afro Orchestra - Do Anything Go Anywhere (2010)

Do Anything Go Anywhere (2010)

‘Future Africa’ – Do Anything Go Anywhere (2010) – The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra

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You can check out another sample track + a video of The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra live at AWME (Australasian Worldwide Music Expo) 2013 here.

Musically I think Byron Bay Bluesfest can rightfully claim to be “Australia’s premiere blues and roots festival” – music found in a large part of the western world at least. I maintain that WOMADelaide festival takes the Australian festival prize for musical quality from all corners of the wider world – and importantly, for the things apart from music that make an overall festival experience an amazing one.

Beaver’s Moaning

“It’s pretty much an event where hopefully the vast majority of people are only there for the music. That’s what it’s all about. There’s not an awful lot of other effects happening at Bluesfest. I realised a long time ago it’s a music festival, that’s all it is. It’s not about prettying the site up and all that. We put our money into musicians”

Peter Noble – Festival Director of Byron Bay Bluesfest (from interview in Melbourne’s Beat Magazine – April 2014)

So, Byron Bay Bluesfest is what Peter Noble says it is.

The festival undoubtedly brings amazing music and amazing musicians to Australia.

Sly & Robbie & The Taxi Gang - live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Sly & Robbie

But for me and everyone I know, a good music festival experience is about so much more than the music.

Personally I’d love to see more festival money spent on those “other effects” and “prettying the site up” – for the benefit of everyone who spends their money on going to Bluesfest to hear its legendary artists.

Bluesfest owns the land where the festival happens – on a beautiful tea tree farm at Tyagarah, just outside the town of Byron Bay (one of the world’s alternative-living, natural paradises). They can make the festival site and people’s festival experience whatever they want it to be.

On a site that is surrounded by trees, I’d love to see some trees inside the festival space.

At a festival that lets thousands and thousands of ticket holders through its gates each day, I’d love to see that tiny site in the middle of the photo become a much bigger space – where people could move around it freely and in comfort – without feeling like a cow being herded slowly between stages.

I’d love to see the creation of lots of different types of meeting spaces inside the festival site where people can relax and hang out together during those long festival days and nights. More than a big canteen-style food court where you eat and run. More grass for people to sit on instead of gravel. Bars with chairs inside them to sit and have a drink. More cafes, and restaurants to hang out in.

For an extra $350 the financially privileged of the world can buy a VIP ticket so they can enjoy some small comforts the rest of the festival punters can’t – a VIP bar and toilets with smaller lines, and some comfortable seats to rest their weary bones upon.

This year for an extra $1590 on top of the ticket price, the ever-so-privileged (and dare I say stupid?) people of the world could “treat themselves to something really special” by buying themselves entry to the VIP Sunset Club. There, in the middle of the festival site, they could “watch the hustle and bustle of Bluesfest from the private balcony”.

VIP Sunset Club - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Bluesfest VIP Sunset Club- as advertised on www.bluesfest.com.au

VIP Sunset Club - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Bluesfest 2014 VIP Sunset Club – as is

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I’d love to see money spent by the festival on making everyone’s festival experience a more comfortable one. We have enough inequalities and class structures in the world already – let’s not create them in our music festivals too.

Byron Bay Bluesfest is what it is, now. We’ll see what it becomes. The festival site at Tyagarah is a relatively new one for Bluesfest.  It will get better with age no doubt.

Hopefully one day I’ll have lots more reasons to give you apart from the music for why I want to get myself to Byron Bay Bluesfest whenever I can.

Sly & Robbie & The Taxi Gang - live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Sly & Robbie & The Taxi Gang at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Before leaving Bluesfest 2014 I bought myself a season pass for Bluesfest 2015 at early bird prices – because next year I know that like always, the line-up will include incredible music artists I simply must experience live. If you want to get yourself to the festival in 2015, the sooner you buy tickets the better – prices will go up and up until Bluesfest comes around next Easter and a season pass is nearly double its cost now.

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A Magical Woodford Folk Festival World Away

Being at Woodford Folk Festival is to live in a beautiful, magical, far-away world of its own.

Woodford Folk Festival - 2013 - www.beaveronthebeats.com

A World Away

You move into a temporary village of lantern-lit streets and paths, nestled amongst the hills. Those paths are lined with restaurants, bars, venues & stages, artisan market stalls, art works and more.  Surrounding them are the many different camping grounds.

All of that is spread across a huge 500-acre festival site.

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Your new home is in the beautiful South-East Queensland countryside…Jinibara Country.

Woodford Folk Festival - 2013 - www.beaveronthebeats.com

You are instantly part of a community of 100,000+ people who come to Woodford Folk Festival between 27 Dec and 1 Jan. They are super friendly, diverse, arts-loving people from all over Australia and overseas.

Woodford Folk Festival - 2013 - www.beaveronthebeats.com

Like you, they become happier and more relaxed with each passing festival day.

Woodford Folk Festival - 2013 - www.beaveronthebeats.com

After landing in the festival village, the rest of the world and its bad news stories feel far away. Selfishly, I don’t want to know about that other world during my festival days and nights. I just want to immerse myself completely in the small utopian world of Woodford Folk Festival, while I can.

Woodford Folk Festival - 2013 - www.beaveronthebeats.com

Endurance & its Rewards

To live in the magical world of Woodford Folk Festival requires endurance. My friend says it’s like being a contestant on the reality television show Survivor.

The festival is (if you choose) 6 days & nights of camping in the extreme Queensland Summer heat and dust, some times heavy rains.

It’s also 6 days and nights trying to squeeze in as much as possible of the goodies on offer in the festival program.

On offer is non-stop live music, dance, theatre, film, comedy, circus, parades, talks, debates, ceremonies, events, and other arts, health & educational activities

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…all happening in over 35 official (+ more unofficial) venues across the Woodford Folk Festival site.

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Woodford Folk Festival is an epic adventure to end the year with, and you’re unlikely to go home from it feeling physically rested. But the rewards of endurance are one week in the countryside with friendly festival people and music – and that means leaving the festival feeling recharged and inspired in every other way.

Woodford Folk Festival - 2013 - www.beaveronthebeats.com

2013/2014 Woodford Folk Festival Music

For me and my personal musical tastes, I can’t say Woodford Folk Festival is my absolute favourite Australian festival.  That has to be WOMADelaide – because of its focus on music from all over the world crossing so many diverse genres.

The Woodford Folk Festival program is like its name says – folk music focused – with lots of other genres on the fringe.

Woodford Folk Festival 2013 - www.beaveronthebeats.com

But with so many different musical (& other) options on offer throughout the festival week (2000+ performers), everyone can find something to love.

Musically what I love most about Woodford Folk Festival, is that just about all day and all night you can hear some type of music played around you wherever you are on the festival site.

Woodford Folk Festival - 2013 - www.beaveronthebeats.comWoodford Folk Festival - 2013 - www.beaveronthebeats.com

Constantly hearing music makes me feel happier (even if it’s music I’m not into). I think it makes other festival-goers happier too – even if my camping comrades mightn’t say so about the music played by our banjo-practising neighbour.

Here’s some good artists I heard at Woodford Folk Festival in my last days of 2013 (keeping in mind that I, like every other festival goer, can only possibly see a small % of the whole program)….

International Artists

Babylon Circus

Babylon Circus hail from France.  They play a fusion of gypsy, punk, reggae, ska, afro-beat and chanson.

Babylon Circus - Woodford Folk Festival - www.beaveronthebeats.comBabylon Circus - Woodford Folk Festival - www.beaveronthebeats.com

Babylon circus have an awesome horns section. Overall the music didn’t move me enough to take the CD home – but both the musicianship and stage presence of all 9 band members made it a worthy and fun live experience.

Babylon Circus - Woodford Folk Festival - www.beaveronthebeats.comBabylon-Circus-Woodford-Folk-Festival-23-www.beaveronthebeats.com

Videos from a Babylon Circus festival show here (impressively played in 40+ degrees heat)

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Beth Orton

I have listened to Beth Orton’s recorded music for a long time. To experience her and her 2 band members play live at the Ampitheatre was special, and felt ever so intimate.

To watch Beth Orton perform on stage in her shorts and her rain jacket, and hear her anecdotes about Australia and Woodford Folk Festival, was lovely too.

Beth Orton - Woodford Folk Festival - www.beaveronthebeats.com

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Videos from Beth Orton’s Ampitheatre show here…

Jaaleekaay

Jaaleekaay was the ‘one that got away’ from me at Mullum Music Festival. This trio is Australian-based Steve Berry on guitar and Gambian vocalist and kora player Yusepha Ngum and Amadou Suso musically united.  They were joined on the Woodford stage by innovative Australian percussionist Greg Sheehan.

I made sure I heard Jaaleekaay at Woodford Folk Festival – and my friend was right about them. Amadou Suso’s playing was amazing. His long lineage of kora players can be heard in every single sound he plays.

Jaaleekaay - Woodford Folk Festival -www.beaveronthebeats.com

Jaaleekaay & Greg Sheehan - Woodford Folk Festival - www.beaveronthebeats.comJaaleekaay - Woodford Folk Festival -www.beaveronthebeats.com

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Video from 1 of Jaaleekaay’s festival shows here….

Julian Marley

What I’ll say about Julian Marley’s Woodford Folk Festival show is that the musicianship was faultless.  I could have stayed on that Ampitheatre hill all night to listen to those musicians play whatever they wanted to play.

Julian Marley - Woodford Folk Festival - www.beaveronthebeats.com

Julian Marley - Woodford Folk Festival - www.beaveronthebeats.com

This show bought back good, good memories of Reggae Sumfest where I was blessed to hear that incredible Jamaican musicianship over three long festival nights.

Beres Hammond - Reggae Sumfest - www.beaveronthebeats.com

The only other thing I’ll say is that Julian Marley’s most interesting music were the songs that weren’t covers of Bob Marley songs – and had dub or groove beats in the reggae mix.

Check out these Julian Marley videos yourself.  Marley fans, what say you?

The Sojourners

Three Canadian gospel singers and their band, on a festival stage.

Sojourners - Woodford Folk Festival - www.beaveronthebeats.com

The Sojourners are talented. I guess the experience I really wanted though, was to hear them in a parish environment, arms and voices raised high amongst the rest of the congregation. I think I need to leave Australia to find that 🙂 .

Video of the festival experience of The Sojourners here...

Australian Artists

Kingfisha

Brisbane’s Kingfisha have developed their own unique sound that sets them apart from other Australian bands creating music in the reggae/dub genres.

Most songs Kingfisha played in their Woodford Folk Festival shows were new ones from their forthcoming album. Each is musically great – an interesting song journey in itself with lots of changes throughout and cool electronic sounds from 3 synths.  That music combined with Anthony Forrest’s gorgeous vocals makes for unique, great sounding tunes.

Kingfisha - Woodford Folk Festival - 2013 - www.beaveronthebeats.comKingfisha - Woodford Folk Festival -2013- www.beaveronthebeats.com

Videos from 2 of Kingfisha’s festival shows here…

The Crusty Suitcase Band with Company 2

Scotch & Soda is an entertaining circus and music show by the Crusty Suitcase Band and Company 2.

Crusty Suitcase Band + Scotch & Soda - www.beaveronthebeats.com

Crusty Suitcase Band + Scotch & Soda - www.beaveronthebeats.com

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The most special part of this show for me was the music by the Crusty Suitcase Band – another brilliant musical project of Australian percussionist Ben Walsh.

Crusty Suitcase Band + Scotch & Soda - www.beaveronthebeats.com

At Woodford The Crusty Suitcase Band had a bass player – but it’s only usually Ben Walsh on drums with a group of some of Australia’s top horn players. They create funky ‘gyp hop’ instrumental music influenced by sounds from some of the world’s best musical sources (Cuba, Africa, Jamaica eg.).

The Crusty Suitcase Band’s music is heavenly for horns-lovers like me. Even with only drums and horns the music sounds full, is missing nothing, and is played with stellar musicianship.

Crusty Suitcase Band + Scotch & Soda - www.beaveronthebeats.comCrusty Suitcase Band + Scotch & Soda - www.beaveronthebeats.com

To my ears this is some of Australia’s finest contemporary music on offer.

Check out this video of The Crusty Suitcase Band in Scotch & Soda at Woodford…

Catch Scotch & Soda at the Sydney Festival this month if you can.

Wild Marmalade

Wild Marmalade’s music has always sounded unique in this world: live, organic, improvised dance music usually created by only a didgeridoo (Si Mullumby) and a drum kit (Matt Goodwin).

Wild Marmalade - Woodford Folk Festival - 2013 - www.beaveronthebeats.com

Their live shows are mesmerizing – and the visibly strong connection they and their music make with the audience is a special thing.

The recent addition of Tijuana Cartel’s flamenco-inspired guitarist Paul George to the Wild Marmalade mix, makes their music sound more diverse, interesting and unique than ever before.

Wild Marmalade - Woodford Folk Festival - 2013 - www.beaveronthebeats.com

Wild Marmalade - Woodford Folk Festival -2013- www.beaveronthebeats.com

Videos from 2 of Wild Marmalade’s Woodford gigs here…

In this one Si Mullumby puts down his didg to play flamenco guitar

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The Ones That Got Away

Like at every festival, especially one with such a huge program over such a large site, I missed a lot of music I’d wanted to hear.

Hearsay I know, but I’m told the Hi-Tops Brass Band (Sydney hip hop with lots of live horns); Yirrmal & The Yolgnu Boys (Indigenous Australian); The Basics (Melbourne based, and including Gotye), were ones I should have caught.

I know from experience The Crusty Suitcase Band playing their own gig on New Years Eve was probably the biggest musical catch of Woodford Folk Festival 2013- one I sadly had to miss.

Back To The Real World

It’s a lovely thing to sit on a hilltop at dawn and watch the first sun of 2014 rise – surrounded by a community of good people you’ve shared Woodford Folk Festival life with.

To sit in the Ampitheatre with those people and thousands more later that night to watch the spectacular closing Fire Event, is another special experience.

The experience of leaving the magical world of Woodford Folk Festival to return to the world of reality, can be a hard one.  It was for me this time.

Woodford Folk Festival - 2013 - www.beaveronthebeats.com

My completely sunny outlook above, comes after an almost rainless 2013/2014 festival by the way.  I also have stories of being there for a rainy, wet, muddy time 🙂 . A beautiful thing is that after 28 festival years, there must be countless Woodford Folk Festival stories that exist in this world.

Share any good Woodford stories you have here…especially if it’s to tell me about some amazing music I missed at the festival last week.

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