Byron Bay Bluesfest has long been established as the pinnacle of the blues, roots and soul calendar in Australia. However 2013 is shaping up to be a standout year with the recent announcement that Paul Simon will be headlining on Easter Monday. Paul Simon. Paul. Simon. Seriously. Okay, so yes, I am a little bit excited by this announcement. Just a little. One of the fantastic things about Bluesfest is the calibre of artists it attracts, especially international artists who would probably not tour in Australia otherwise. This year is no exception, as joining Paul Simon is a star studded cast that makes for enviable reading. I'm especially envious, as I won't be attending myself. Each day is brimming over with fantastic acts, but here are my highlights for the whole weekend.
Thursday 28th March Ben Harper - you can't go past Mr Harper for a nice relaxing bit of surfy soul, and what better location than Byron Bay and it's surrounds to enjoy it?
Ben Harper will perform on Thurs 28th March @ Byron Bay Bluesfest
Trombone Shorty - one of New Orlean's pre-eminent horn players, Trombone Shorty is sure to have the joint jumpin. Perhaps you think that horns aren't your thing? Have a listen to Trombone Shorty, and see if you feel the same way afterwards.
Joan Armatrading - this woman is one of her generation's leading singer song-writers, a legend in her own lifetime. Her particular style has influenced several generations of female singer song-writers. It's well worth the ticket price to see her alone. She has a string of awards to her name
Chris Isaak - shoring up a strong line up on what has traditionally been a 'quiet' day at Bluesfest. Chris Isaak will be bringing his particular blend of Cali soul to Bluesfest, and no doubt performing his best known hit, 'Wicked Game.'
Friday 29th March S-A-N-T-A-N-A, S-A-N-T-A-N-A, S-A-N-T-A-N-A. I once heard someone describe 'important' musicians as those who have changed the landscape of music, who brought something to the world that had yet been seen, and in my humble opinion, Santana is one such musician. Enough said.
Carlos Santana will blow the roof @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2013
Jimmy Cliff - another artist whose presence alone justifies the ticket price, and possibly a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness one of the elder statesmen of the reggae music world perform live. Truly a member of reggae royalty, I would go just to see him, I'm sure it would be a 'fine, fine, sun shiny day.'
The Blind Boys of Alabama - fast becoming stalwarts of the Bluesfest lineup, these guys have been together for over 70 years, and have a combined age of, very, very old and it shows in the strength of their sound. Let their dulcet gospel sounds take you to a higher level.
Saturday 30th March
Robert Plant - the "voice" of legendary British rock band Led Zepplin will grace Australian soil with his vocal stylings, and is sure to have the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand.
Status Quo - no explanation needed really. Another high profile band from the UK rock hall of fame. Old school rock and roll fans will be in their element.
British ska boys Madness will take to the stage on Saturday 30th March @ Byron Bay Bluesfest
Madness - what better act to round out the Saturday's lineup of UK acts than Madness? Lead by frontman Suggs, he blue eyed boys (figuratively, if not literally) of Ska will have the 'Our House' rocking to the rafter. This was on the soundtrack of my childhood (showing my age here). Ah, the memories, nothing like a musical stroll down memory lane...
Sunday 31st March
Mavis Staples - another familiar face on the Bluesfest circuit, Mavis Staples is one of the great rhythm and blues and gospel performers of her time. A voice that endures to this day (and she's no spring chicken) and that is an absolute joy to behold. If you haven't seen her perform, I strongly suggest that you take the opportunity now.
If you haven't seen Mavis Staples live, now's your chance @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2013
Allen Toussaint - as well as having a successful career in his own right, New Orleans veteran musician Allen Toussaint has collaborated with legends such as Patti Labelle, Paul McCartney and Robert Palmer. Lady Marmalade which he produced with Labelle is one of the most covered, quoted and karaoked songs ever, and many of his songs have benefited from a resurgence due to being sampled in contemporary hip-hop. Yet another living legend.
Monday 1st April
Paul Simon - the inimitable multi award winning artist will wow the crowds with a selection of his greatest hits (there will no doubt be a few Simon and Garfunkel classics thrown in for good measure too). Expect this one to be packed to the rafters and then some - seeing Simon perform live is most definitely one to tick off the bucket list.
Paul Simon needs no introduction. See him perform @ Byron Bay Bluesfest
Rufus Wainwright - From a living legend to a future legend. American-Canadian songsmith Rufus Wainwright is another hot ticket for the 2013 Bluesfest line-up. Let's hope he's not on at the same time as Paul Simon, as there will be some who'll be hard pressed to choose between the two.
In summary then, this year's Bluesfest will see legends of blues, soul and rock music from the four corners of the globe performing on the same stage(s) across the four days of the Easter long weekend. The music is will be outstanding, the atmosphere will be electric and the weather...Well, that's one element we can't predict, but with a lineup like this, who really cares? Tickets (as well as flights and accommodation) will sell out, so get your wellies and your bucket list out, and get booking now.