Bluesfest Melbourne Day Two: Eric Gales, Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram and Buddy Guy Steal The Day -
Christone 'Kingfish' Ingram at Bluesfest 2023 photo by Bron Robinson

Christone 'Kingfish' Ingram at Bluesfest 2023 photo by Bron Robinson

Bluesfest Melbourne Day Two: Eric Gales, Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram and Buddy Guy Steal The Day

by Paul Cashmere on April 10, 2023

in News,Noise Pro

Bluesfest Melbourne Day Two was a rollercoaster ride. There was so much great music packed into one day that it was impossible to see it all. I expected and received absolute stunning performances from blues legend Buddy Guy and Americana royalty Lucinda Williams and Steve Earle but it’s the least expected that makes you walk away wanting more.

Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram is B.B. King and Stevie Ray Vaughan reincarnated. Kingfish is only 24 years old. He hails from Mississippi and is a second cousin of country legend Charley Pride. This was a gobsmacking performance. His two albums ‘662’ and ‘Kingfish’ are worth devouring now.

Eric Gales says he is not “the new Hendrix” instead he is “the first Eric Gales”. I guess at 48, Gales is a veteran with his first album coming out in 1991 when he was a teenage prodigy. Maybe he is the new Hendrix, he definitely has a lot in common with Prince, but his ‘Back in Black’ was a highlight of his Bluesfest Melbourne performance. Gales was mesmerising at Bluesfest Melbourne.

Eric Gales at Bluesfest Melbourne 2023 photo by Mary Boukouvalas

Eric Gales at Bluesfest Melbourne 2023, photo by Mary Boukouvalas

Buddy Guy’s performance was bitter-sweet knowing it is his last ever tour of Australia. At 86, Buddy has earned his keep. He is doing this tour to say farewell to his loyal Australian fans after touring Australia 12 times since 1990 in 2023, 2017, 2014, 2012, 2010, 2008, 2006, 2002, 2001, 1995, 1992 and 1990. He has also played Bluesfest in Byron Bay nine times.

Buddy told a touching story about his music teacher at school who couldn’t teach young Buddy what he needed to learn so he didn’t take his class. In the teacher’s final years Buddy was asked to come visit. His teacher told him “I’m glad you didn’t take my class”. Buddy honored the great Muddy Waters, talked about his friend Bobby Rush and his early days meeting Eric Clapton. Thanks to Bluesfest we know that when Buddy leaves us, the blues won’t die because we know we have new greats like Kingfish coming up to take his place.

Buddy Guy at Bluesfest Melbourne photo by Mary Boukouvalas

Buddy Guy at Bluesfest Melbourne 2023 photo by Mary Boukouvalas

Keb’ Mo’ was a different flavoured blues. The five-time Grammy winner gave is both Keb’ Mo’ electric and Keb’ Mo’ acoustic with an updated setlist with his latest ‘Good To Be (Home Again)’.

Keb Mo at Bluesfest Melbourne 2023 photo by Mary Boukouvalas

Keb’ Mo’ at Bluesfest Melbourne photo by Mary Boukouvalas

Steve Earle and Lucinda Williams were without a doubt the heart wrenching sector of the weekend. Earle talked opening and honestly about his feeling for his late son, Americana singer Justin Townes Earle who died of a drug overdose in 2020. Steve spoke with great detail of the last moments of Justin’s life as a warning to all about drugs. It was the most solemn moment of the two day event.

Steve Earle at Bluesfest 2023 photo by Bron Robinson

Steve Earle at Bluesfest Melbourne photo by Bron Robinson

Lucinda Williams suffered a stroke in November 2020 and has recovered to the point of performing again as well as recording a new album ‘Stories from a Rock n Roll Heart’ coming in June. Lucinda gave the audience a preview of the new album with ‘Stolen Moments’ and ‘Let’s Get The Band Back Together’. She paid tribute to her friend Tom Petty and was also joined by Steve Earle for two songs, her ‘Drunken Angel’ and his ‘You’re Still Standing There’. She ended with Neil Young’s ‘Rockin’ In The Free World’.

Lucinda Williams at Bluesfest Melbourne photo by Mary Boukouvalas

Lucinda Williams at Bluesfest Melbourne photo by Mary Boukouvalas

Australia had its own Bluesfest treat with Melbourne’s own Henry Wagons on the Naarm Stage out Americanaering most of the Americans. Wagons’ showcased his new album ‘South of Everywhere’ that includes his very Wagons version of Bob Dylan’s ‘Everything Is Broken’ complete with Dylan inflections.

Australian blues legends Chain pulled a good crowd for 10pm on a Sunday night. Chain played at all three Sunbury’s back in the 70s. Chain played their own brand of (as Matt Taylor called it) “Australian Rhythm and Blues” to bring the first Bluesfest Melbourne to an end.

The headliner for Sunday was Scottish singer songwriter Paolo Nutini. Nutini returned in 2022 with his first album in eight years, ‘Last Night In the Bittersweet’ and gave the Bluesfest Melbourne audience most of it. The new music from Nutini is very different to his three albums of 2006 to 2014. He has also turned the live performance up a notch with an electronic sound and light show to match.

Nutini puts on one amazing show. It was way more pop and the most unBlues Bluesfest show there was across the entire weekend making it out of place with this line-up. if I went to see this show as a standalone, it would be incredible. But it wasn’t so incredible as to stop me going to Kingfish. I’m glad I left Nutini when I did or I would have missed the highlight of the weekend.

Paolo Nutini at Bluesfest Melbourne 2023 photo by Mary Boukouvalas

Paolo Nutini at Bluesfest Melbourne photo by Mary Boukouvalas

A special shoutout to promoter Neil Croker who with Peter Noble curated one of the best two-day line-ups Melbourne has seen in a long time. Also a particular thankyou to Publicist Extraordinaire Julie Cavanagh for her continuous access and assistance in helping the media achieve their goals as well as National Publicist Queen Gaynor Crawford just making things happen.

I’m told Bluesfest Melbourne will be back in 2024. Let’s hope so. The venues at the Melbourne Convention Centre are not great for sound but they are great for weather. Melbourne had terrible weather this weekend. Anywhere else and this first Bluesfest Melbourne would have been a disaster. If Bluesfest Melbourne was held around the Tennis Centre venues we would still have a potential issue with bad weather getting from John Cain Arena to Rod Laver Arena to Kia Arena. The Melbourne Convention Centre makes a lot of sense for logistics so until something new comes along, there really is no other alternative.

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