Luckily for Melburnians, Bluesfest has finally landed in the live music capital

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Luckily for Melburnians, Bluesfest has finally landed in the live music capital

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Words by Ebony Weston
Photography by Lucy Andrews

From melancholic melodies to heartfelt harmonies, blues and its roots have forever been a staple in the history of music and one that continues to inspire up and coming musicians to this day.

Luckily for Melbournians, Bluesfest has finally landed in the live music capital, and we don’t need to make the yearly trek up to Byron Bay to catch a glimpse of some phenomenal Aussie and International artists such as Buddy Guy, Paolo Nutini, The Doobie Brothers and many more perform some of the blues biggest hits.

If you were lucky enough to score a ticket to the first ever Melbourne Blues fest then I’m sure you would agree, it was nothing short of spectacular. Although, an odd choice of venue from the usual mud and porta potties at Byron Events Farm in Tyagarah, on a rainy Easter weekend, the indoor choice of Melbourne’s Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) wasn’t the worst thing with the added bonus of it being completely accessible to all.

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With three stages that had constant tunes going from 1pm to 11pm, there was never not something to do. Along with the bands, were market stalls selling vintage clothing, henna and offering free massages for when those shoulders get a little bit tired.

Food trucks and kiosks were also spread throughout the venue offering a range of great cuisines such as Mexican, Indian, or even a classic fish and chips. And if you were feeling parched, you had a range of alcoholic options with wines from the Yarra Valley to Tasmania to try. However, if you were taking the sober route, there were plenty of free water stations throughout the venue or cafés selling anything your heart might have desired.

Day one saw Australian blues powerhouse Mahalia Barnes and The Soul Mates open up the Planetary Theatre with some classic blues to get the vibes started for the two days to come.

Headlining night one, we were lucky enough to see the Doobie Brothers, who are currently touring worldwide in celebration of their 50th anniversary tour, rocking out and playing huge hits such as Listen to the Music, Long Train Runnin’ and Black Water. Whether you were bopping along at the back or boogying on the dancefloor, we can all admit that the Doobie Brothers truly know how to put on a show.

Day 2 saw some true Blues icons with Buddy Guy, Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram and Steve Earl playing incredible sets throughout the day. However, the one that pulled our heart strings the most was that of Steve Earl, who dedicated a beautiful song to his son who passed away from a fentanyl overdose in 2020. Earl went on to tell the crowd that there is “more to life than cocaine. The bad shit is everywhere nowadays”.

On a lighter note, to end day 2, Paolo Nutini’s psychedelic set was an unforgettable experience. Not only did he hold a fantastic stage presence but the light show to accompany his phenomenal sounds was a light show that set the mood from 90 to 100. From geometrical shapes bouncing about to the accurate colour scheme accompanying every song mood, the performance itself wasn’t the only artform on stage.

Overall, the first ever Melbourne Blues Fest was an absolute hit! Being its first year there is always going to be unexpected hiccups and things that are unpredictable but I tend to find its always a little bit more fun when you add a bit of chaos to the mix.

Check out everything Bluesfest here.