Wash my Blues Away ~ Thredbo, Australia

Finn Blues Band, House of Ullr, Thredbo

Rocking the Blues in the Fresh Air
This is the music of my youth: it would be at home in a dark, smoky bar. But we are all older and wiser now, and can enjoy our festival sounds in the crisp fresh air of Thredbo, in Australia’s Snowy Mountains. The Sydney-based Finn Blues Band centres around drummer, singer, and song-writer Jim Finn, and has been performing internationally since 1999. Looking at the members, I have a feeling they had ‘other lives’ before becoming rocking-blues stars!

“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”

~Berthold Auerbach

I count my many blessings daily –

But, some days are still harder than others.

I always experience post-holiday (Christmas-New Year-Birthday) blues: a greater-than-usual melancholy that is at least in part the consequence of too much food and alcohol and too many late nights.

This was more the case than ever this year. My husband and I had a wonderful – but exhausting – holiday season hosting children and grand-children, and then, before they had all even left to return to their respective homes, he went into hospital for a major operation, and stayed for ten days. The hospital was quite a distance, so I “lived” in a hotel room for the duration. We finally returned, injured and enervated, in mid-January to our home and our Christmas decorations, which were looking forlorn and out of place in the record-breaking heat-wave that was washing over Australia.

Under the circumstances, we very nearly forfeited our pre-paid Thredbo Bluesfest tickets. 

I’m so glad we didn’t!

We might have both been exhausted, but after a mere three days on the coast, we packed a bag, crawled back into the car, and drove into the mountains. There, thanks to a weekend of good food and great music, we started smiling again. 

Singer Roshani, Cascades Restaurant, Thredbo Village, Australia

Roshani
Thredbo Bluesfest utilises many of the restaurants and bars in the tiny village as venues. This presents unique challenges for the the performers – and the audience – as the venues are not all particularly well-configured for sound. Lighting is also extremely challenging – with over-lit walls and under-lit performers. Sri Lankan-born Australian-raised singer-musician-songwriter Roshani met the challenge, and kept us well entertained over dinner.

Steel Guitar in purple light, Cascades Restaurant, Thredbo Village, Australia

Steel Guitar

Guitarist Tim in purple light, Cascades Restaurant, Thredbo Village, Australia

Guitarist Tim

Singer Roshani and guitarist Tim, Cascades Restaurant, Thredbo Village, Australia

Roshani and Tim
Partners in music – and in life – Roshani and Tim check sound levels before moving on to the next song.

Roshani on harmonica, Cascades Restaurant, Thredbo Village, Australia

Roshani
Billed as “a harmonica wielding songstress”, Roshani grew up immersed in music.

Roshani Priddis, Cascades Restaurant, Thredbo Village, Australia

Roshani’s Smile
The multi-talented Roshani was an X-Factor participant and a finalist in the International Songwriting Competition. She also has a killer smile.

Lachy Doley, Keller Bar, Thredbo Australia

Lachy Doley
We didn’t stay for all the late-night bands, but we did manage to enjoy Hammond Organ and Whammy Clavinet maestro, Lachlan Doley, as he put his modified Hohner Clavinet through its paces.

Lachy Doley, Keller Bar, Thredbo Australia

Lachy Doley
Dubbed the Jimi Hendrix of the Hammond Organ, Lachy has released his own albums and played with some of the country’s greats.

Mary Jane Guiney performing at the Thredbo Alpine Hotel, Thredbo Australia

Mary Jane Guiney
We started our next day with fresh air, sunshine, and Irish-born, Sydney-based, New Orleans-rooted singer-songwriter Mary Jane Guiney.

Mary Jane Guiney performing at the Thredbo Alpine Hotel, Thredbo Australia

Mary Jane Guiney
“Small in stature, yet big in voice and heart,” thirty years of performing have given Mary Jane a cheeky confidence I thoroughly admired and enjoyed.

Rory Ellis with Andrew Toner, Eagle

Rory Ellis with Andrew Toner
We rode to the top of the Kosciuszko Express Chairlift to have lunch at Eagle’s Nest Restaurant where one of our favourites, Rory Ellis, was performing. We enjoyed him at Thredbo Bluesfest several years ago (see: Cool Blues, Hot Jazz) and were thrilled when we heard he was back – and especially excited when he replayed one of my favourites: The Woodstore. It is so melancholy in live performance: I cry every time! The recording is less poignant, so I’ve uploaded a title track instead: Twisted Willow.

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Andrew Toner on his (backwards) guitar, , Eagle

Andrew Toner
Guitarist Andrew Toner has great skills – frontwards and backwards.

Finn Blues Band, Burger Bar, Thredbo Australia

Jim Finn
This is the blues-rock I grew up on! Even Jim’s original tracks felt like old friends.

Michael Vdelli on guitar at the Thredbo Alpine Hotel, Thredbo Australia

Michael Vdelli
More of the music of my youth: Vdelli ROCKED!

Sound Mixing,Thredbo Alpine Hotel, Thredbo Australia

Sound Mixing
Of course, the performers don’t do it alone.

Michael Vdelli (black and white) ,Thredbo Alpine Hotel, Thredbo Australia

Michael Vdelli – Guitar

Michael Vdelli (black and white) ,Thredbo Alpine Hotel, Thredbo Australia

Michael Vdelli – Voice

Hussy Hicks, Kosciuszko Room, Alpine Hotel, Thredbo Australia

Hussy Hicks
Killer combo! We saw Hussy Hicks at Byron Bluesfest in 2016 (Back to the Roots) – not once, but twice! They were as good as I remembered. Another audio file is attached below – if you are ready for it:

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Tracy Bassy on bass, Hussy Hicks, Kosciuszko Room, Alpine Hotel, Thredbo Australia

Tracy Bassy
It’s the quiet achievers in the background that let the stars shine.

Mike Elrington, Santé, Thredbo Australia

Mike Elrington
We shared our dinner with Mike Elrington;  …

Mike Elrington, Santé, Thredbo Australia

Mike Elrington
… he was fantastic – …

Mike Elrington Abstract, Santé, Thredbo Australia

Abstract (Mike Elrington)
… – but the acoustics weren’t! Between the people talking behind me and the bounce off the walls, I had to go outside, where both the view and the temperature were cooler.

Mike Elrington, Santé, Thredbo Australia

Mike Elrington
Mike is a wild man on the guitar – …

Mike Elrington, Santé, Thredbo Australia

Mike Elrington from the Outside
… and on the tables!

Miss Whiskey, House of Ullr, Thredbo

Miss Whiskey
Sunday morning saw us back at House of Ullr, on the lawn, with Miss Whiskey, a Melbourne duo …

Miss Whiskey, House of Ullr, Thredbo

Miss Whiskey
… who represented the city in 2016 in Memphis, Tennessee at the International Blues Challenge.

Tattoos and Hats, House of Ullr, Thredbo

Tats and Hats

Marji Curran Band, Thredbo Village Square

Marji Curran Band

Sound Mixing for Blues Preachers, House of Ullr, Thredbo

Sound Mixing for Blues Preachers

Dancing Feet in flip-flops,Thredbo Alpine Hotel, Thredbo Australia

Dancing Feet

Keyboard, Soul Roots Revival Band,Thredbo Alpine Hotel, Thredbo Australia

“Did I Hear you Say you Love Me?”
Back poolside, we found the keyboard and vocal stylings of the Soul Roots Revival Band.

Kerrie Sweeney with Jim Finn, , House of Ullr, Thredbo

Kerrie Sweeney with Jim Finn
We finished as we started: with the Finn Blues Band, this time with vocalist Kerrie Sweeney helping them out, and rounding out our long weekend.

Text: To the Music

It was a lovely time out, a temporary refuge from everyday realities.

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”

― Maya Angelou

To the Music!

Photos: 19-21January2018

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