I arrived just after 2.00 pm missing the official opening by the Minister (media crew were leaving as we were going in). What a great venue, oozing with history and character (and ghosts). First up was East Coast bluesman Isaiah B. Brunt, a very exotic and charismatic performer, ably backed by local musicians, Ronny Davidson on bass (also M.C. on the day) Trapper on drums and harmonica player Ron Kriekenbeek (he was great!) They did a good job “warming up“ the steadily growing crowd.
The patron of ARBA, Master Christopher Finnen performed next. Chris is a consummate showman, guitar virtuoso and all round dynamo on stage; also most importantly, happy to share his immense talents with others. Chris invited Sam (guitarist from “Dream Boogie”) up on stage for the last two songs of his set and it was wonderful seeing them trade licks, Chris’s version of ‘32/20 Blues’ was totally awesome. (He never does it the same way twice!)
Time for a quick break from the main lawn area, on to the eating area around the corner, where the smaller stage was situated. This was a great intimate spot where I caught a little of the Brouhaha’s sweet vocals, a nice contrast to the main area.
(Arguably) Adelaide’s premier blues band, ‘Zkye Blue’ was onstage at 8.00 pm. They did a silky smooth professional set, Zkye was her usual excellent self with her crack band of Damien Steel-Scott, Paul White, Andrew Bignell and the ever tasteful guitar sounds of Nick Panousakis rounded out a fantastic day of Blues!
Good to see plenty of food stalls, a “pop-up” ATM, no queues for toilets that I witnessed. I heard a few people wishing there was a larger selection of alcohol (maybe a mid-strength beer) as well as bourbon, spirits. Having said that, the crowd were extremely well behaved and there seemed to be no problems whatsoever. ARBA had a good presence, props to Mick, Jeff and all the volunteers who manned the tent throughout the day.
All in all a great first up event very professionally run, top production with sound, lighting, great venue, etc.
Talk of Gaol Blues as an annual event would really help put South Oz back on the national blues festival map.
“Mick’s Musings” By Mick Kidd
The festival wrapped up with the Blues Brothers and Sister of Soul, who had most of the audience dancing on the lawn to favourites “Minnie the Moocher”, “Shake a Tail Feather” and “Jailhouse Rock”. It was wonderful to hear a band member on harmonica come forward and take centre-stage; what is the blues without a harmonica? Slick and entertaining, this performance was a terrific way to finish off a day of the blues.