Bridgetown is about 270km (168 miles) south of Perth (a two and a half to three hour drive depending on traffic) and the town hosts an annual Blues music festival on the second weekend of November, starting on Friday afternoon and running for all of Saturday and Sunday. This year was the 24th festival and featured a line up of local, national and international artists.
We drove down on Friday afternoon and by the time we got down unpacked and had something to eat it was already fairly late. So we ended up getting some sleep so we could make the most of Saturday. Next time we will go down Thursday night and come home on Monday, so we can enjoy the performances on Friday night and for all of Sunday.
Saturday sees the main street of Bridgetown closed to traffic and an all day street party with stalls, live music, street performers and lots of food vans. We spent the first couple of hours helping sell raffle tickets at the Blackwood River Valley Marketing Association (BRVMA) stall. If was meant to be Jennifer helping out, but she had lost her voice in the days leading up to the weekend and so I had to step in. The association promotes businesses in the Blackwood River Valley region including the towns of Bridgetown, Greenbushes, Balingup, Nannup and Boyup Brook. The raffle of a collection of 16 signed CDs by artists performing at the festival was very popular and even though I bought ticket number 42, I did not win. 😦
The street party had lots of interesting products for sale including some local creations of art and crafts.
There were also some vintage and custom cars on display, one in particular caught Jennifer’s eye. Not for the car itself but for the tiny “Snail Trailer” Caravan it was towing.
We then got some lunch and went to the Blue Owl’s Nest outdoor venue and caught the second half of a performance by Juzzie Smith, a One-Man-Band from Byron Bay, NSW, Australia. After lunch, we stayed and listened to Ross Ward and Wards Xpress, who had Juzzie play guest harmonica with them for a couple of songs. Juzzie really impressed us with his ability to sing and play harmonicas (from his collection of eight on his belt), Cigar Box Guitar, Slide Guitar, Box Drum and Chuka Chuks musical juggling balls. He produced an amazing amount of music for only one person. We made sure to catch him again at his next performance.
We then went back to Tweed Cottage for a rest before going out again for the evening. The rest did not really happen as I took the opportunity to do a little maintenance and replace a gate latch that had broken, and of course the new latch could not use the same screw holes as the old latch!
Saturday evening was split into two halves. First we went to the Blue Owl’s Nest again to see Hat Fitz and Cara (from Byron, Australia and Belfast, Northern Ireland, respectively). Hat Fitz was a solo performer until he met Cara and together they make a great team. Hat Fitz has a very deep voice and plays blues guitar and Cara sings beautifully and plays drums and a custom made fife.
They were followed by Eugene Hideaway Bridges (from New Orleans, Louisiana, USA). The son of Hideaway Slim, Eugene has become a regular at Blues at Bridgetown and plays some genuine traditional Louisiana blues.
We then moved to the Festival Club indoor venue which is more intimate and always has a great atmosphere. There we saw Juzzie Smith’s second performance which was fantastic. He kept the audience laughing throughout while demonstrating his talent. By the time he finished the venue was packed full. You can tell that he spent time as a street performer because he really knows how to get the audience participation going. Check out his Facebook page.
The final band for the night was the Vibrolators featuring Miss Peta Lee (from Perth, WA, Australia), who were joined for a couple of songs by Moondog J (from Denmark, WA, Australia) on harmonica. On the program they were written up as “The Vibrolators feat. Miss Peta Lee”, and Jennifer found it hilarious that the MC for the evening introduced them three times as “The Vibrolators Feet”. 🙂
Sunday ended up being very lazy with a late start followed by a little shopping and then listening to Tom Fisher and the Layabouts (from Fremantle, WA, Australia) at the Geegelup outdoor venue. They played a song that was meant to be about “smoking weed”, but as they were playing during the day when children would be around, they changed the lyrics to “drinking tea”. It made the song quite funny.
We then started the journey home, stopping at The Cidery on the way to pick up some excellent Soft Cider and Sweet Rosie Cider. We also stopped at the Bunbury Farmers Market, which has got to be one of the best fresh food markets I have seen… highly recommended if you are down that way.
I videoed some of the performances and have created a playlist on my YouTube Channel. However, I want to include some of the best videos here, so you can see how talented Juzzie Smith is. He was my favourite artist from this year’s festival. Watch this US advert which uses his song Simple Road.
Juzzie Smith – Jamming with juggling Chuka Chuks (Blues At Bridgetown 2016) (direct link)
Juzzie Smith – Playing 6 instruments at once (Blues At Bridgetown 2016) (direct link)
Juzzie Smith – Happy Birthday with nose (Blues At Bridgetown 2016) (direct link)
To see the rest of playlist including more of Juzzie, click below:
This article was originally posted on http://www.winthropdc.com/blog.