Shaun Kirk – In Control At The Wheel

 

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Shaun Kirk at Byron Bay’s Bluesfest 2013 – Photo By Jim Jacob

 

Shaun Kirk’s New Album

Steer The Wheel

 

Sometime last year I reviewed Shaun Kirk’s The Wick Sessions – you can find the review as well as the backdrop story about this enterprising young man here.  I wrote the piece not long before I saw him perform at Byron Bay’s 2013 Bluesfest (in fact, it was the first set for me of the festival and I was just about front and centre for the whole performance (see above photo by Jim Jacob).

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Best Gigs of 2013

Was 2013 my best ever live music year?

A big call I know but let’s just go through it.

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Bluesfest 2013 – A Jim Jacob Pictorial

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Bluesfest 2013 Medal Winners

The Bluesfest debrief has concluded.

Ten of us house sharers were asked to vote for each artist seen at Bluesfest 2013. The voting options were A (excellent), B (very good), C (good) and D (below par).

The results were tabulated and the winner of the Gold Medal was…

1. The Tedeschi/Trucks Band

Silver went to a largely unheralded…

2. JD McPherson

And in a stunning upset the bronze Bluesfest best performance medal was taken by…

3. Tav Falco and The Panther Burns

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Bluesfest Day 5 And In The End …

Fiercely fighting festival fatigue, we trudged out to the site by about 1 pm, expecting to make an early exit.

Thirty minutes of Melbourne roots band The Wilson Pickers was a fun way to start the day, then I rushed over to the far end of the site to catch the last few songs of another Australian performer, Kim Churchill. I was keen to see Current Swell, not knowing much about them at all. They hail from Victoria, British Columbia and have an earthy blues and roots chord-based feel, with prominent strokes of the surf rock sound with which they originally hit the scene. The group comprises Scott Stanton (vocals/guitar), David Lang (vocals/guitar), Ghosty Boy (bass) and Chris Petersen (drums). They bought an incredible energy to stage and I particularly liked the bluesy “The Dirty Man Jam” which was written in Margaret River (where they lived for five months), the rustic “For The Land” and the moving “Brad’s Song”. Their latest album is called Long Time Ago (2012).

Then I had a quick peek at Kitty, Daisy & Lewis before bumping into the aforementioned Ghosty Boy who will in Melbourne next weekend – we may catch up.

Back to the Rhythms Q&A tent for a quick session with Allen Stone then, deciding that the Bonnie Raitt crowd was excessive, caught a good proportion of a favourite young British singer-songwriter Ben Howard (see previous mentions on this site). I was not disappointed – “Only Love” from his Every Kingdom was magnificent. His brooding, soulful delivery and heartfelt lyrics continue to impress me.

I sat down at the back of the Mojo Stage for Paul Simon but the remoteness and the low volume had me moving to have another look at The Music Maker Blues Revue. There I was, resting on the edge of a planter box listening to The Revue when I heard JD McPherson start up, only 50 paces away. I managed to catch almost the entire set and that was a treat again, with his performance from the previous evening still resonating.

We had agreed to meet for an early departure when we noticed hordes of people leaving – this must be the Paul Simon crowd exiting. So the car park would be clogged and, most importantly, it meant that the crowd for Wilco’s second appearance would not be very large. We willed ourselved to walk across to the other end of the site (again!) and so it turned out – a small crowd and we had the enormous pleasure of seeing Wilco’s entire ninety minute from close up set to close the festival. The band is in career-best form on stage and I was thrilled that there were only a handful of songs repeated from the show I saw two days ago.

And so it was over, we hobbled to the car, got home to our rented accommodation by about one am and had a vibrant and passionate debrief on the day’s events.

A day of rest and then on the plane to Melbourne.

It’s been fun.

Photos below of Ben Howard and JD McPherson by Jim Jacob.

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Bluesfest 2013 Day 4

Day four at Bluesfest was a triumphant one. Not because I saw a legendary, favourite performer. It was the sheer canvas of high-class acts that I was able to capture, most of whom for the first time.

A quick look at Luka Bloom who received a great reception. Then to Chris Smither who’s a product of growing up in New Orleans, the Boston and Cambridge folk-blues scene of the 60’s, a seminal musician the industry and its players hold dear. Eleven albums to his credit and his song “Love Me Like A Man” has been covered by Bonnie Raitt and Diana Krall. His performance in the small Cavanbah tent demonstrated his well-crafted tunes and his dry, somewhat dark humour.

Royal Southern Brotherhood has talent to burn. Cyril Neville poet, philosopher, percussion master and soul singer. A member of The Meters and the Neville Brothers, he has done it all. Devon Allman, son of Allman Brothers band lynchpin Gregg adds a traditional southern rock emphasis to the Neville funk style. Mike Zito is another great guitarist who adds enormous gravitas to this powerful outfit. Playing mostly material from their debut album, their set was excellent.

By now the rain was pretty strong, so time for a strategic move to the Rhythms magazine Q&A where Chris Smither provided an insight into his song-writing style as well as a bonus song for the small audience.

The Lumineers performance matched my expectations. A new band with just one CD release, their star is definitely on the rise – (see previous posts on this site). The crowd was engaged and provided a really positive response. All their album was on display as well as a cover of Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues”. Watch out for this outfit.

J.D. McPherson has been on my hi-fi for quite a while – again see previous post – and he was brilliant. The tracks from his album Signs and Signifiers were played with enormous enthusiasm and it was a pleasure to see bass player, record producer and label owner Jimmy Sutton. The band was fabulous. A cover of Neil Young’s “Farmer John” was very inventive.

All photos – Chris Smither, The Royal Southern Brotherhood, Luka Bloom and The Lumineers – by Jim Jacob.

We are all getting a little weary. One day to go.

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Bluesfest 2013 Day 3 – Wilco Wilco Wilco!

The weather had cleared with no rain for the day.

The priority for the day was Wilco. So we watched Grace Potter and The Nocturnals as they were on the same stage beforehand. I have written about Grace Potter previously on this site and frankly was in two minds about her. She is certainly magnetic on stage, a superb voice and a tight three piece behind her. “Stars” was a high point, showcasing her vocals, a nice version of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” and a soulful “Sugar”. A strong finale with Grace and the band playing on the one drum kit to a frantic crescendo.

We only had to wait for Wilco for 30 minutes but it seemed a lot longer. I have seen them twice in New Orleans so I knew what to expect but was keen to see them perform material from their new album The Whole Love. They did not disappoint. The set list covered almost every studio album – “Hummingbird” and “Handshake Drugs” from A Ghost Is Born, ” The Art of Almost”, the title track and “I Might” from The Whole Love, “Passenger Side” and “Boxful of Letters” from A.M. “California Stars” – Mermaid Avenue vol. 1, “Forget The Flowers” – Being There, “Heavy Metal Drummer” and “I’m The Man Who Loves You” from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and “A Shot In The Arm” from Summerteeth. “Impossible Germany” again was a highlight with guitarist Nels Cline performing a brilliant solo in a frenetic, almost trance-like state. This line-up has been together for a few years now and they are a joy to behold, with Tweedy’s voice rising above majestically. A brilliant and imperious set.

A quick bite to eat and we decided to give Canadian virtuoso guitarist Matt Anderson a listen at the smaller and more relaxed Apra stage. He is certainly a gifted blues player with a good voice. His cover of “Aint No Sunshine” tasteful and soulful. Originals such as “Coal mining Blues” and “Better Man Blues” very well received by an adoring crowd up the front.

We then tried to get near Robert Plant and The Sensational Space Shifters but the crowds were so large that we couldn’t get a vantage point from which we could see or hear reasonably. Time to activate Plan B.

A beautiful way to finish the day was The Music Maker Blues Revue. This blues institution features Boogie Woogie legend Ironing Board Sam, guitar slinging siren Pat Wilder, Alabama bluesman Dr. Burt and Zydeco giant Major Handy, with Albert White, Nashid Abdul Khaaliq and Ardie Dean. “Hoochie Coochie Man”, “Oop Oop Pah Doo”, “Thrill Me” and “Jambalaya” were wonderful. The whole Cavanbah tent was jumping and jiving. My friend Jim still has a smile on his face.
All photos by Jim Jacob.

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