We kicked off the day with an amazing set by Andrew Bird, a multi-instrumental maestro, and his band. With his stunning tones carrying songs like Plasticities Bird manages to keep the tone uplifting, even when he laments the fall of the creative soul. Finishing off his set with Polanski at Night as he fingerpicked a violin and the already voluminous crowd cheered. Wandering away from the Mojo tent, as the sun set, we came across the ABC radio tent. As Courtney Barnett spoke about the importance of telling your story the way you wanted it told, local artist Rebecca Cunningham was live painting a dreamy seascape upon a guitar case.
Night had fallen by the time we made our way to the Jambalaya tent to catch the artist and activist Mavis Staples. A legend in her own right Staples recently finished touring with long-time friend Bob Dylan and performed songs like I’ll Take You There with her signature throaty growl. One of the beautiful things about a festival like Bluesfest is that you stumble across bands you might not otherwise smash the play button on Spotify for; hello Snarky Puppy. This instrumental band led by Michael League fuses an endless variety of music into a smooth soulful journey with tracks like Sleeper, while ensuring no punter at the Crossroads stage was left unsatisfied.
Taking over the Mojo stage Vintage Trouble returned for their second consecutive year at Bluesfest. Blasting out Blues Hand Me Down with their funky swagger the four-piece made sure every sway, wiggle and jump was filled with joy. Connecting with the crowd, lead singer Ty Taylor said, ‘We need to show the people who don’t believe that people who look different and are different can be together; tonight, in this tent, we show them they’re wrong!’ He then launched into Doin’ What You Were Doin’, which features lyrics like: Lay down your arms and alarms | Lower your shoulders and be lovers | The war that tore us apart | Can’t change the fact that we are all each other.
Christie: Hands down my highlight of the Thursday was Gallant! His song writing capabilities are reminiscent of Frank Ocean and his vocal abilities rival Mike Patton. The energy he brings to the stage is outstanding, as he jumps and sways across the stage; he resembles a marionette finally freed from his strings. He ran through most of the tracks from his 2016 album Ology, ending his set with a soaring rendition of Weight in Gold. I can’t recommend him enough and will be going to see his set today as well!
Gina: Patti Smith, I am a changed person. Her performance was so genuine and heart warming; she was excited, exciting and engaging. She played her album Horses in full and dedicated the elegy to different artists who have passed like Jimmi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, Prince, David Bowie, Lou Reed and Fred Sonic Smith. Closing out the night with her cover of My Generation she was phenomenal and I’ll never be the same again.