BLUESFEST: ARTISTS and activists display a banner against the Adani Charmicael coal mine project for Central Queensland during John Butler trio's performance.
BLUESFEST: ARTISTS and activists display a banner against the Adani Charmicael coal mine project for Central Queensland during John Butler trio's performance. Sarah Ndiaye

Bluesfest Day 4: John Butler went on stage to #stopadani

A GIANT banner across the Mojo stage read 'Stop Adani, Coral Not Coal' was the culmination of a concerted action throughout Bluesfest 2018 to demonstrate against the Adani Carmichael coal mining project in Central Queensland.

During John Butler Trio's set, sometime after 10.15pm, the artist invited a group of people to display the banner, as part of the #stopadani campaign, organised by an organisation called Green Music.

The banner was displayed by artists such as Lismore's The Hussy Hicks, Michael Franti and William Crighton plus a number of activists.

While John Butler Trio played some percussion and the banner was displayed, musician and activist Adrian Burragubba, a Wangan and Jagalingou man, from the area where the mining project has been proposed.

Mr Burragubba said the group is determined to continue their work until the project is cancelled.

"No means no," he said.

"We will continue to fight because we are responsible for those who cannot speak for themselves: the environment

"The environment is so fragile that if the mine was to progress and go ahead, it would devastate the whole of Queensland.

"It is our responsibility to turn against this fossil fuel industry," he said.

Earlier that evening, ahead of his show, John Butler told The Northern Star the reason why he allowed the demonstration to go ahead on the day of his 43rd birthday.

 

John Butler at the 2007 Bluesfest
Photo Yohanna Dent / The Daily Examiner
John Butler at the 2007 Bluesfest Photo Yohanna Dent / The Daily Examiner Yohanna Dent

"After the Kimberly campaign shutting down that big gas plant that they wanted to build (Woodside Petroleum's ambitious $40 billion floating LNG project in the Browse Basin off Western Australia's Kimberley coast), and then the massive amount of fracking junkies that are roaming our country, I've been occupied with that," he said.

"It felt for a long time like the campaign was on the other side of the country and there seemed to be a lot of people involved.

"But I was asked to get involved by some friends that are activist and it felt like the right time."

Asked for the reason why he felt he had to participate, he offered an interesting answer, maybe linked to his latest original single, Bully, from 2017.

"What always gets me is when the bully comes into town with its big bucks and its cronies and its f*** paid-off politicians, and its legal bending of, you know, retro-active legislation," he said.

"When those cowards roll into town with our police officers and they move people off their country, with no social license, that really gets me.

"I don't like bullies, I don't like people pushing other around, and that's what I see happening here."

 

John Butler does an announced visit and performance at the Bentley Protest site in Lismore. Photo Doug Eaton / The Northern Star

Photo Doug Eaton / The Northern Star
John Butler does an announced visit and performance at the Bentley Protest site in Lismore. Photo Doug Eaton / The Northern Star Photo Doug Eaton / The Northern Star Doug Eaton

On April 20, 2014, John Butler Trio, Mama Kin, Nahko and Medicine for the People, and Nicky Bomba were some of the Bluesfest artists that travelled from Tyagarah to Bentley to support the anti-fracking movement against CSG exploration at Bentley, near Lismore.

John Butler said the work musicians against the project is only a small side of a campaign like this one.

"In all the campaigns I've been involved in the last 20 years, it's such a multitude of different arrows all pointing in the same direction," he said.

"Whether is the knitting nannas, or the hard-line activists, or the people looking for funding, or the publicists, so many people are involved in making a campaign work, sometimes it takes decades, this is just a moment among many in along campaign, we hope is a pivotal moment.

"Really all I am doing is looking for opportunities to join the people, I feel, care about my country," he said.

Oh, yeah, the music

It is normally by Day 4 of Bluesfest that the event reaches 'peak music': when a set is so good, so round and so well done that it looks effortless and matured.

Not many can 'peak music' at a festival like Bluesfest.

Melissa Etheridge can, and the crowd loved it.

The American offered yesterday a show that rocked so much that I decided to listen to her music with my children, particularly my daughters, so they never doubt that rock'n'roll was invented by Sister Rosetta Thorpe and then perfected by Etheridge.

At the other side of the festival, Tash Sultana wowed the punters that missed her Thursday show, while Skye Edwards from band Morcheeba took people to the chilled 1990s and offered some new songs from their upcoming album, to be released in June.

A bit earlier, English singer Seal started his show with songs from his latest Standards album, to then jump onto hits such as Kiss From a Rose in an elegant, chilled and jazzy set.

 

Highlights for Day 5

  • Hayley Grace and the Bay Collective at 1.30pm
  • Con Brio at 3pm
  • Dan Sultan at 4.30pm
  • William Crighton at 4.30pm
  • Chic featuring Nile Rodgers at 6pm
  • Jimmy Cliff at 6pm
  • Lionel Ritche at 8pm
  • Michael Franti at 8pm
  • Morcheeba at 9pm
  • The Califorina Honeydrops at 10.30pm

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