Gary Clark Jr and Jason Isbell – Day 5 Bluesfest 2014

Read our take on day five at Byron Bay’s Bluesfest 2014

There was a full agenda late tonight so we delayed our arrival until around 3pm.  Atypically, the traffic was very slow on the way and it took the better part of an hour to drive from our Suffolk Park beach house to the festival site at Tyagarah.  Another perfect day, weather wise – we truly have been blessed this Bluefest.

Saidah Baba Talibah has a big voice and a tight, rocking vibe.  A Toronto-bred vocalist, she and the band put on a raunchy, punchy performance – with an attitude.  She released her debut album in 2011.  All Photos By Jim Jacob



Saidah Baba Talibah


I observed Terrance Simien for his opening few numbers, just to get my Zydeco/Louisiana fix for the day, then it was time for some blues.



Terrance Simien


The Music Maker Foundation band was blowing it up at the Cavanbah tent.  This band is backed by a non-profit organisation, the aim of which is to ‘help the true pioneers and forgotten heroes of Southern music to gain recognition’.  The make-up of this year’s touring outfit (different bands have been coming to Byron Bay for around five years) is Little Freddie King , Cool John Ferguson, Pat Wilder, Albert White and Big Ron Hunter.  A terrific taste of traditional blues music with the tent just about at capacity.



Pat Wilder


The Cambodian Space Project was on before Jason Isbell, so my friend Jim and I got to the front, ready for the set following.  The plan was to hang around the whole set and keep our prime position.  However, after five songs of Cambodian surf rock, I was ready for a change – I left Jim there and wandered off for a Brazilian beef BBQ wrap, a glass of wine and four songs from Australian legend band Chain, all of which filled in the time very nicely.

I was back at the Delta tent at the end of the Project’s set and able to perch up the front and bump into Melbourne musician and editor Les Thomas.  I had been looking forward to Jason Isbell almost above anyone at the festival this year.  What followed for me was the best set of Bluesfest 2014.  He is touring Australia on the back of his recent album Southeastern which was my favourite album of 2013 – see here.  He is touring with his band The 400 Unit as well as his partner Amanda Shires on violin and backing vocals.  Many of the great songs from Southeastern were on the set list – “Stockholm”, “Relatively Easy” and particularly “Elephant” and “Cover Me up” were inspiring.  A rousing “Super 8” closed the hour-long set, the quickest sixty minutes of the festival.



Jason Isbell




Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires


One more set to go.

I had not seen Gary Clark Jr perform before.  The vibe about him is extremely high and I love his 2012 release Blak and Blu.  His is a real Blues style – clearly ingrained into traditional blues but he manages to refresh it to avoid the blues guitar cliches that are so prevalent.  Add to the guitar prowess his soulful voice (well removed from the growly gravel vocals of many bluesmen), and you have a potent mix.  His stature tonight was one of a musician at the top of his game.  The song “Blak and Blu” was a killer and the closing song “Bright Lights” was an epic which mesmerised the crowd.  I started the set at front left of stage but decided to prop right behind the mixing desk where the sound was just right.



Gary Clark Jr


So Bluesfest ended where it began – on the Jumbalaya stage.  It was hard to believe that I saw Dyson Stringer and Cloher on the same stage only five days ago – it seems like weeks.

I must admit I stole away from Gary Clark Jr for three of four songs in the middle and wandered around just soaking up the atmosphere of this wonderful event.  This is my fifth year in a row and I may not come back next year, rather perhaps try some other music experience instead.  It would be nice to be able to do everything.

My Top Ten Sets of Bluesfest 2104

1. Jason Isbell

2. Beth Hart

3. Gary Clark Jr

4. Steve Earle and The Dukes

5. Suzanne Vega

6. Robben Ford

7. Devon Allman

8. Valerie June

9. North Mississippi Allstars

10. Garland Jeffreys


Read our take on day five at Byron Bay’s Bluesfest 2014

Read our take on day five at Byron Bay’s Bluesfest 2014

Read our take on day five at Byron Bay’s Bluesfest 2014

Read our take on day five at Byron Bay’s Bluesfest 2014


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Author: Rob Dickens

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  1. try out deni blues it was so easy and relaxing with the picks from byron (but sadly no Jason) other wise a superb list of artist a lot less expense than Byron

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