We rolled into day four of Byron Bay Bluesfest 2023 full of beans for the day ahead. Rockwiz is a perennial favourite at the festival, with Brian Nankervis and Julia Zemiro dishing up the laughs and giving the crowd their chance at 15 minutes of fame. The special guests included Chris Cheney (The Living End) and WILSN, and with the popular Rockwiz band proving their versatility, it was a great way to start the day.
Canadian singer/songwriter Allison Russell has been one of those must-see acts. Her songs and personal stories were moving and poignant, as she sings of rights and respect for all, and the end of bigotry.
Tash Sultana was extraordinary. Bringing so many instruments and sounds together on stage, they were captivating and had the crowd jumping. The precision, the energy and the engagement was something to behold.
Speaking of high-energy, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue brought it in spades. The band was outstanding, each of them partying as though there was no tomorrow. If your feet were tired up to that point, that was quickly forgotten in the whirlwhind they whipped up.
There were many more highlights from the day. Michael Franti holds a special place in the heart of the festival. It only took one song for him to get in amongst the crowd and that set the tone for the rest of his set.
Bonnie Rait showcased her beautiful back catalogue. The legend that is Mavis Staples, delighted the crowd with some special guests – Jackson Browne and Bonnie Rait joined her on stage. Now, there’s a few Grammy awards amongst that lot!
So, with only one day to go, it feels like it has flown by. Time for day 5 and the last hurrah for Bluesfest 2023.
Photos by Bruce Baker