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Byron Bay Blues Fest

A look at this years Byron Bay Blues Fest through Fairfax photographer Edwina Pickles' lens.

PT1M51S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-385ip 620 349

If there is a lesson to be learnt by those trying and often failing to put on a music festival it may be: don't worry about the kids, get their parents. Or even grandparents.

That's worked a treat for a festival hundreds of kilometres from any capital city, but still getting bigger and still making money on its 25th anniversary - the Byron Bay Blues and Roots Festival. Better known as Bluesfest, though blues is but a small part of the music these days. The festival finishes on Monday after five days and nights of music across seven stages set on a purpose-built site 11 kilometres north of Byron Bay.

Among the 20,000 arriving each day from campsites and hotels nearby is Denise Pickles, 69, who has been coming for five years. Camping this year with two daughters and three grandchildren, she loves the adventure, finding ''there's something for everyone''.

Bluesfest

Relaxed and packed: People of all ages enjoying the music in Byron Bay. Photo: Edwina Pickles

''The energy is amazing around here,'' Mrs Pickles said after a morning swim. ''We were dancing to the Wailers the other night and we had a very late night listening to John Butler last night but we know we can chill out the next day on a beautiful Byron beach.''

You won't find a Pharrell Williams or Katy Perry playing Bluesfest and there's no chance of 5 Seconds Of Summer or anyone from last year's Australia's Got Talent. Instead the line-up includes artists in their fourth or fifth decades making music, such as the Wailers, Jeff Beck, Booker T. Jones and the Black Sorrows alongside younger artists not likely to make the upper reaches of the charts any time soon, such as Beth Hart, Clairy Browne and The Bangin' Rackettes and Devendra Banhart.

''[1960s-70s funk acts] War and Larry Graham have been the stars of the festival this year,'' said Bluesfest promoter Peter Noble, who thinks this may be the most financially successful year ever.

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros entertain the crowd. Click for more photos

25th Annual Byron Bay Bluesfest

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros entertain the crowd. Photo: Edwina Pickles

''It helps when you are a Doobie Brothers and just about every song you play is a hit but I don't think younger people mind listening to music that they grew up with from their mums and dads as long as they are not made to feel uncool about it.''

There's something to be said for the festival's timing at Easter, and its location of course.

And a philosophy of not trying to be the hipster event, creating an atmosphere more relaxed than the packed and intense high energy festivals and line-ups which lean heavily on legendary names has not hurt. The trick may be not to put all your money on the youth vote if you believe Brian Ritchie, formerly of the Violent Femmes and now curator of the arts/music festival in Hobart, MONA FOMA.

Too many festivals are aimed at ''fickle'' youth, he said last year, when older generations are looking for entertainment just as much.

The fact that Bluesfest is now a five-day event tells you something of its success as simpler and in many cases smaller one-day events have struggled, from the Big Day Out (in trouble), Homebake (on hiatus) and Harvest (abandoned) while camping-and-music festivals such as Peats Ridge have collapsed financially. And Bluesfest has been been nominated two years in a row for the international Pollstar concert industry awards