Death Mars Spectacular Bluesfest Turnout

More than 100,000 turned out March 24-28 over the long Easter break at Bluesfest to see a bill of icons and newcomers. However, the death of a 44-year-old man was a low point and marked the third death at a festival during the Australian summer.

Photo: Joseph Mayers Photography via Facebook

The man was found dead in a car at 2:30 p.m. on the third day of the event. Tweed/Byron Local Area Command Police chief inspector Gary Cowan said the man’s friends raised the alarm. An onsite medic performed CPR but was unable to revive the man. Cause of death was still awaiting a coroner’s report, but police are not treating the death as suspicious.

The festival’s spectacular sets included Kendrick Lamar’s debut and The Cat Empire, which drew the two largest crowds.

Other strong sets came from Tedeschi Trucks Band, The National, Kamasi Washington joined by father Ricky Washington, Brian Wilson recreating Pet Sounds and indigenous singer-songwriter Archie Roach played his 25-year-old debut Charcoal Lane in its entirety.

Eagles of Death Metal’s Jesse Hughes responded to an exhilarated crowd response, “Do you know how good it is to be alive? We’ve had a crazy couple of months but you guys make all that bad shit go away.”

Allen Stone exclaimed, “Bluesfest has one of the best lineups I’ve ever had the opportunity to be part of.”

Bluesfest has a tradition of breaking new acts, and this year’s first-timers including Rhiannon Giddens, St. Paul and The Broken Bones, Elle King, Sturgill Simpson, Blackberry Smoke and The Bros. Landreth came away with new fans.

Bluesfest director Peter Noble said, “If I could book the same festival all over again in 2017 and not change one artist I would be sorely tempted to.”