Monday, July 10, 2006

Bluesfest: Day 3

Jonathan Migneault

Today I had a shorter day at Bluesfest. I didn't volunteer and saw only two sets later in the evening. I was able to bring my camera, though, and took a lot of great pictures.

Both performances could not have been more different. First up was:

Ani DiFranco

DiFranco played at the gigantic main stage to a crowd of thousands. I managed to squeeze my way near the front to get a good photographic vantage point. Unfortunately, I was rather underwhelmed by the show.

She played a stripped down set with only her guitar and an upright bass. Her minimilist approach depended wholly on her ability to capture the audience through her lyrics. There are two possible outcomes that can rise from DiFranco's highly personal songwriting style. First, the crowd relates deeply to her words and they build a special bond together. Second, her experiences are so different from the concert goers' that a divide is created.

Many people in the crowd, of what seemed to be a large female contingent, fit into the first group. They knew all the words to all the songs and could relate on a deeply personal level. I, however, fit under the second category. DiFranco's music has a deep current of female empowerement, that I, as a man, could not relate to. When the girls in the crowd sang along it was as if they were saying, "I've been there... I know how it feels." I haven't been there. I don't know how it feels. Sure, there are universal themes of love, loss and inequality but they are structured in a way that is highly autobiographical.

This is not to say that men cannot enjoy DiFranco's music. Just that it is much harder for them to build that special bond that can connect them to the songwriter. Without that bond, I felt as though I was at a party in which I did not belong. With something as inclusive as live music, there are few things worse than feeling segregated from the experience.

After DiFranco's set I headed to the Blacksheep stage to see:

Amadou and Mariam
The African duet, backed by an amazing band, embodied everything that a summer festival should be. It was like a giant dance party and everyone was invited.

The couple's story is a remarkable one. From Mali, Amadou and Mariam are a married couple, deeply in love, who express that love through their beautiful music. What's even more incredible is that both are blind. When you see them in person you get the impression that they are soulmates and were always meant to create music together.

It is impossible not to love their live show. They combine African beats with rock, jazz and even electronica. There was not one person in the audience that just stood still. Everyone danced the night away with large grins on their faces. I couldn't help but think that the world would be a much better place if every day was as beautiful and inclusive as that show.

It was yet another one of those pleasant surprises that are often some of Bluesfest's most memorable moments.

Ani DiFranco - Anyday
Ani DiFranco - Blackbird (Live)
Amadou & Mariam - La Réalité
Amadou & Mariam - Beaux Dimanches

Ani DiFranco - Knuckle Down
Amadou & Mariam - Dimanche a Bamako

Comments on "Bluesfest: Day 3"


Anonymous candice said ... (11/7/06 12:37 am) : 

What, no Solomon Burke?

You missed seeing me passed out on the ground with my friends dancing around my unconscious body, simulating some sort of random indigenous ritual.

For the record: I was passed out from exhaustion and not from drinking $5 Rickard's Red (or smuggled contraband).


Blogger Calum Marsh said ... (11/7/06 2:15 am) : 

That day did feel ridiculously long. I wanted to see Solomon Burke but Jon's right about how fucking awesome Amandou and Mariam were - probably one of the best live show's I've seen all year. I don't think there were any indigenous ritual simulations at our stage, but I was right at the front so you never know.


Blogger Lauri Greene of New Indie Artists said ... (1/8/06 4:08 pm) : 

If you like Ani DiFranco, you'll LOVE Abigail Kiser. She's a new young artist from Chantilly, Virginia, who's just been signed to my indie label, New Indie Artists. She writes her own music and poems, plays guitar, and sings. She's an 18 year old beatnik queen, and you'll love her stuff.

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