Still More...

Or perhaps we’d care to accompany Tony and Katie to Ballina, where they were headed to meet up with everyone. Asked to define everyone Tony indicated that the definition included both the band and the Hoy Rollers, Stateside fans who’d made the trip across the Pacific, so we were obviously going to be along for the ride.

Around an hour later we were sitting around a table at a swisho resort, chewing the fat with, among others, a San Diego real estate salesman and a Florida dermatologist. While the whole group had travelled to Sydney together the band’s arrangements had taken them from Sydney to Brisbane, while the fans had been able to fly direct from Sydney to Ballina.

Paul Barrere and Richie Hayward got a lift with Marcel, while the rest of the band travelled on the Bluesfest shuttle, so we had various arrivals, check-ins and introductions over the next few hours, and it was mildly surreal to introduce myself to somebody I’d been listening to for close to thirty years and find that they were apparently as buzzed to meet you as you were to meet them. Within eight hours of scrutinising the photos in the box set just in case Madam found herself chatting to Bill Payne’s missus.

A cynic might suggest those reactions were feigned, but subsequent experiences seemed consistent with those first reactions.

On the other hand, as the party broke up and we prepared to head off to the festival, where I was planning on catching Tony Joe White, Emmylou Harris and Taj Mahal, Mrs Payne expressed the hope that next time the band visited Japan it would be nice to have a friend along for the trip.

The following morning in Byron I was buying a weekend paper when Madam was greeted by an American accent that turned out to be coming from guitarist Fred Tackett.

The residents of the townhouse made their way to the day’s entertainment in various permutations, and the consensus was that we’d meet up beside the sound board around nine that night. There wasn’t much else we could do, given the fact that we didn’t have access to a mobile phone.

We arrived in the big tent (there were three in operation) about half way through a set by Joe Camilleri and the Revelators, made our way towards the agreed rendezvous and hung around there through subsequent sets by the Reverend Horton Heat and Midnight Oil, but by nine o’clock Tony, Katie, Marcel and Mark from WA were all conspicuous by their absence. I had a fair idea where they were, but no way of verifying my suspicions.


B© Ian Hughes 2012