My first taste of the Noarlunga Deep South Blues and Roots Festival was the opening night performances and ARBA awards at the Pt Noarlunga Arts Centre, a fabulous concert venue and gallery. The evening was important to me for a number of reasons, one of which was my presentation of the Paul Hay Award, to this end a long overdue haircut and a new shirt were in order! Another was to see my good friends and respected musicians open such an important festival.
Lazy Eye were first on the amply appointed ‘Rootsy Tootsy Club’ stage. The sound was clean, balanced and full from the first grunt of the Hammond to the clear spacious tones of Erica’s guitar. Between bands, and with the help of touching words and acknowledgements from Chris Finnen and Mary Harrington, the Paul Hay award was presented to a very excited Dave Stoekel. Next up, Kings and Associates, some of the tightest, dynamic funky neo blues you will hear, again the sound was A1. The ARBA Blues Album and Roots Album of the Year were next, going to Nikko and Snooks for Way Back Home and Kaurna Cronin for his roots styled album, Euphoria, Delirium & Loneliness.
Congratulations to all honoured recipients. To close the night, the Streamliners, with their southern stylings. Each song a beautiful journey, soulful melodic meanderings, soaring solos and solid swung grooves. World class acts and all South Australian!
In the mean time the surf lifesaving club (The Delta Room) hosted the women of blues on this opening night with the cream of South Aussie female vocalists, Laura and the Organics, Gail Page band and Zkye Blue.
At concert’s end and after many farewells, it was time for the good wife and I to head home, ready for the big day to come (Saturday) and back to duties at the Arts Centre, manning the merchandise with Mick and catching sizeable chunks of the free workshops and youth performances. Unfortunately Greg Baker was unable to make it to the festival, however our own Bobby Blues held a relaxed and informative insight into tin sandwich art, inspiring me to pull mine out of the drawer (Blues harmonica that is!)
I shuffled through the masses at Bec’s Bakehouse, grabbed a coffee and pie and an ice-cream for my gorgeous granddaughter, Lily, whom I was duty bound to introduce to the blues, found a seat outside and enjoyed Ciaram Granger. We had just missed catching the affable and talented Brenton Manser. The bakehouse was over-flowing during lunch and into the afternoon. What a great atmosphere with families enjoying their tasty complimentary blues treats, finishing off the afternoon with the masterful JJ fields. It was time for me to head back home, load up, freshen up, drop the granddaughter off and head up the hill to the ‘Harmonica House’ at the Pt Noarlunga RSL. My turn to take the drummers seat.
The Jam Jets got the crowd jumping with their ‘rocka-bluesy’ stylings. Double bass, stand up drums, honking harp and rockin’ guitar. Then it was our turn, Shades of Blue. Very happy with the stage sound, much improved from previous outings at the RSL, down to the velvet drapes hung behind us that also added an arty back drop for the bands and further atmosphere to this cool,old school venue. There was a generous crowd that ebbed and flowed between acts as people moved from venue to venue catching their favourite performers with lots of excitement and talk in-between. Many staying to swing along to the masterful Jesse Deane-Freeman and his Rhythm Aces.
I had a great time chill’n out in the wee hours at the Keg & Barrel, joining fellow musos and keen music lovers over a tasty brew or three – lots of laughs! Alan, the manager, was very accommodating, joining in the fun and keeping us lubricated till 3 am! I might add, that I had lunch there that day finding the last seat available in a packed restaurant and tucking into one of the finest pulled pork burgers this side of Texas.
The final day found me again at the Arts Centre for the free workshops, Mojo Webb had me enthralled, although my closest encounter with a guitar is to attempt Stairway to Heaven on a Uke. Mojo’s presentation went a long way in unravelling the mystery that is the much lauded singer guitarist. I found I went away with a far better understanding of the beast. To then witness Mojo Webb and band in full flight at the packed and heaving Surf life Saving club made this fantastic Blues weekend complete.
I wasn’t able to get to all the venues, and heard favourable reports of the hidden gem that was the aptly named Oasis on the Dunes located at the South Port life Saving Club. To get there was a walk across the Onkaparinga River and over the sand dunes, but well worth the journey for those that made it.
I must say the experience and privilege of seeing bands perform more than once in different venue settings i.e. the full concert presentation with exceptional sound and lighting at the Arts Centre, then up close and sweaty at the SLSC or RSL, was a unique insight into the scope of these fine bands. I personally can’t wait till next year, and it will be back! A boon to local businesses and an unparalleled treat in its quality, diversity and beautiful surrounds. I am very confident this Festival will be a must-go on the Australian Blues festival circuit.
Many thanks go to Jeanette Howell and the Port Noarlunga Business & Tourism Association, Festival director Dennis Kipridis, The Blues Festival Committee, all the volunteers and local businesses that helped make this great Blues festival happen … take a bow folks.
“Absolutely fantastic. Book me up for next year. The highlight for me was the Sunday night interplay between Chris Finnen and Phil Manning on stage. The veteran guitar players sounded and indeed were playing off the same page such was their artistry. Just a nod between them and one would take over the lead duties and then the other would back it up in the next phrase Just stunning”.
Danny Ryan 5TCB Radio