Review by Linda Dunjey
The local music scene has done it rough over the past two years of Covid-19 lockdowns but, despite some reports to the contrary, it never died. Starr Special Events‘ 7th Annual Ravo Blues n Roots Festival was testament to a cultural scene that has flourished and grown, despite and even because of the hard times.
The car park of the historic Ravenswood Hotel was packed to overflowing but even in the heat of a Perth summer’s afternoon the line of mask-wearing punters moving through the covid checkpoint was orderly and cheerful.
The legendary Rick Steele – the first act to kick off the festival, laid down the law from the first chord and set the tone for the next 8 acts. Two stages meant there was no lull in the music – the smaller stage overlooked the beautiful Murray River, with houseboats, launches and even dinghies at anchor. People floating by on inflatable inner tubes, added their cheers to the ticket-paying crowd’s applause up on the terrace.
Toby (Beard) & The Band opened the main stage with a powerful set, sometimes poignant with their ode to a fallen friend but ever versatile, the band picked up again the pace again seamlessly.
Proud Mary took to the stage with their own take on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s songbook and blew any pre-conceived notions about “tribute” bands out of the water. This was the moment every festival organiser dreams of when some synergistic magic happens – the whole crowd is dancing and singing along – smiles on every face.
Next on the river stage, Andrew Winton caused some excitement with an instrument he called “Lucky 13”. Winton’s laid-back style perfectly suited the chilled mood, as the sun began to dip and the first breezes drifted in over the river.
Matty T. Wall was up next with a blistering set from his 3-piece band. Overheard in the crowd, there were a few who had come to the festival primarily to see Wall and experience his genius yet again.
For those who haven’t experienced the force of nature that is Blue Shaddy – they were in for a shock. The high energy brilliance of Blue Shaddy has been revered for years in the Australian blues scene and Saturday night was no exception – they were on fire.
Kat Kinley took to the river stage with a change of pace and her own brand of the blues – a consummate performer equally on keyboards and vocals. The stripped back set gave punters a chance to grab some dinner and ease back with the sun set and the moon on the rise.
Dave Hole – much has been written about this world-renowned blues artist with his unique slide playing style but as ever, Hole was as engaging and down home with the crowd as if he was playing for a bunch of friends in their backyard. In his 70s although he no longer moves around the stage as he used to, his voice and guitar playing have never been better. The main drawcard for the festival – Hole was superb.
Final act for the night and with the unenviable task of following Dave Hole, the Australian Blues Brothers halted any ground swell of people leaving and instead had the crowd pushing in as joyfully as with any of the other acts.
Thanks to Starr Special Events for putting on another superb night of the blues and to John Starr for giving The Rockpit access to such a special occasion!