Big Festival Weekend Downunder

Point Nepean: A Music Experience was one of a series of blues festivals held over the Easter weekend coordinated by Michael Chugg Entertainment, culminating with a Keith Urban and John Fogerty jam.

Urban joined Fogerty and his band for the new Fogerty song "Broken Down Cowboy" and "Cotton Fields" during the jam that provided the grand finale at the festival, held outside Melbourne overlooking Victoria’s picturesque surf coast March 22.

Also on the bill were Ray Davies, KT Tunstall, Buddy Guy, Mavis Staples, Jools Holland, Xavier Rudd, Sinead O’Connor and Eskimo Joe.

The Urban-Fogerty collaboration was watched not only by the 8,000 in attendance, but by a flotilla of luxury yachts, passing container ships and leaping dolphins.

Urban had earlier joined John Butler onstage at the East Coast Roots & Blues Festival in Byron Bay, which drew 70,000 people over the five-day Easter holiday.

Urban and Butler also jammed together at the ARIA music awards last October and put the track online to raise money for indigenous causes.

As many as 15,000 fans watched Fogerty, Patti Griffin and Aussie country crooner Troy Cassar-Daley close the festival. The night before featured local Latin-infused The Cat Empire as well as saxophonist Maceo Parker and Mexican guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela.

Bluesfest’s general manager, Matthew Lazarus-Hall, said that while numbers were down compared with the 83,000 the year before, it was easily one of the event’s best years. Because of an early Easter, this year’s event did not coincide with school holidays.

After 10 years at Red Devil Park, the festival moved this year to the much larger Belongil Fields. As a result, organisers could include camping sites and food halls.

But for its 20th anniversary next year, the festival intends to move to its permanent home at a 120-hectare site near Tyagarah airport, which festival organisers bought about a year ago.

Whether the move happens next year remains to be seen. Residential groups are pressuring the local council to stop the bluesfest and Secret Society & Village Sound’s Splendour In The Grass festival from being permanent fixtures.

They say the laid-back area cannot cope with the numbers such festivals bring. The residents were victorious in stopping Splendour In The Grass from staging this year at its new site in Yelugna. It will return to its site of the past seven years, Belongil Field, on August 2-3.

Business group Byron United fired a salvo at the major anti-festival lobby group Byron Ratepayers Association (BRA), accusing it of spreading misinformation about Splendour planning to stage six festivals in Yelgun.

Byron United offered to initiate a pow-wow between the festival organisers of Splendour and the bluesfest to sort out difference but BRA refused.