Laid-back experience for this BluesFest first-timer

Ben Harper performs live for fans at Bluesfest Byron Bay 2013 at Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm on Friday. Photo JoJo Newby / The Daily Examiner
Ben Harper performs live for fans at Bluesfest Byron Bay 2013 at Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm on Friday. Photo JoJo Newby / The Daily Examiner Jojo Newby

I THINK the true measure of enjoyment comes when everything seems to go wrong; and yet you find yourself smiling anyway.

My Thursday night was spent at Bluesfest. I had the company of a rather annoying headache, and yet I was still pleased to have music ringing in my ears.

My partner and I spent the first night of Bluesfest setting up our tent whilst listening to the songs of Counting Crows floating over to the camping area.

This was my first Bluesfest experience, and whilst there were the usual festival-goers, I noticed early on that everyone was somewhat more laid-back than at other music festivals.

Nobody seemed to care what they wore, how bad their dance moves were, or that their hair was a mess.

They were there because they loved the music.

On Friday, we woke to the thick Irish accents of our "next door neighbours" - the people in the campsite next to us - talking about the artists performing were on that day.

We cooked breakfast then wandered around the festival site for a sticky beak. It was early on in the day, so most campers were still in bed, and there really wasn't much happening.

I was trying to convince my partner, who had never been to a multi-day festival, that things would pick up and the atmosphere would come once the bands were playing.

By about midday, my point was proven, and the festival was buzzing.

We watched Ben Harper working his magic early in the afternoon.

Shivers ran up my spine as "Diamonds on the Inside" floated out of the performance tent.

Five years ago, my brother moved overseas for twelve months, and gifted me his old mobile phone at the airport as he left.

All that was on the phone when he gave it to me was a very small album of music.

This particular Ben Harper song was one of a handful which I played repeatedly for the year my brother was away, so to hear it live was something magical.

We then wandered over and heard The Beards sing countless songs about facial hair (go figure), and erupted in laughter too many times to count. It would appear they are not only musicians, but comedians as well.

Myself and one of our neighbours from Seelands, Georgia Patterson, spotted Pete Murray in the crowd that afternoon. Though he wasn't playing at the festival, he still willingly obliged to a photo with us.

Later that night, I found myself in the most ridiculous-looking plastic poncho. It was pouring rain and freezing cold, the ground was muddy and our gumboots were giving us blisters, and yet we danced.

We bopped and grooved along to the songs of Santana, each member of the crowd swaying in their own way.

It was one of those moments which could easily have been dreary and sorry, and yet it was somehow just beautiful.

Topics:  bluesfest 2013

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