Talent to shine at WAMFest

A CELEBRATION of local original musicians is set to draw crowds to Albany’s White Star Hotel on October 29 for the WAMFest Live Regional Showcase.

“It’s been a few years since WAMFest has been in Albany, as it is usually a metropolitan event, but we are lucky to have incredible venues in Albany to showcase local talents,” WAMFest coordinator Mark Neal said.

The Western Australian Music Festival, commonly known as WAMFest, has a primary focus on promoting opportunities and representing Western Australian musicians, becoming one of the most sought-after platforms for young emerging artists.

“We have quite a few young artists involved this year and we are really excited about having them,” Neal said of the Albany showcase.

The evening will include the likes of Kris Nelson, Mary Jayne and The Smoke Detectors, Alison Parade and Short Lived Ministry.

“We have taken a few artists from the recent project ‘Sounds of the Great Southern’ to give them the chance to take the next step,” Neal said.

“We want to encourage them to expand their circuit.”

The free event will kick off at 5pm on October 29, and give audiences the chance to rock out to heavy metal, reggae and solo acts, amongst many other genres sure to provide a great night of entertainment.

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Playwright takes the plunge

EMERGING Albany playwright Sam Kemp is wearing his heart on the sleeve of his black denim jacket – there is barely a week to go until the curtains open on his second big play and he is visibly on edge.

There is a lot to fall into place before the preview of A Place Not To Stray at Southern Edge Arts on October 12.

The construction of the set is yet to be completed and the final run of rehearsals and last- minute re-writes add to the overwhelming sense of doubt about the production’s readiness for the opening night.

It’s déjà vu for Kemp.

He was plagued by the same doubt in the lead-up to his debut play in 2014.

Take the Plunge gained unexpected attention with its strong themes and took on a life of its own.

“When it got close to the first performance, I started to doubt what I had written and whether I’d done the themes justice,” Kemp said, when he sat down with The Weekender.

“By that stage, Headspace had become involved and it was becoming a lot bigger and made to be a lot more important than I’d originally thought it should.

“To me it was a story about friendship and in many ways it was a coming-of-age story. It was centred on some very heavy themes, and those were what everyone took an interest in.

“I don’t think I was quite ready for that, so that in itself made me have some doubts.”

The doubts were unwarranted.

The show was as successful a debut as a young playwright could hope to have.

“The first performance was quite a wonderful show. We had a wonderful audience. I think it helped that my family were there,” he said.

“By the time everyone took their bows I thought it might not have been great, but it was good at least. Everyone seemed to like it.”

Following the success of Take the Plunge Kemp tried to keep the momentum going.

But several self-proclaimed failures at threading a new story together and developing new characters from the shoelaces up led Kemp to realise he simply needed to take a break.

“I found it very hard to find the motivation to write,” he said.

“Early in 2015 I wrote a short one-act play which I never took past the first draft because I knew what I’d written was not any good.

“It took me quite a while simply to get back in to writing something new because I’d spent the last year writing about that single topic so much, and I’d become so ingrained with those characters that I was finding it very hard to switch over to a new story.

“To start writing a first draft again, which is very much different to doing re-writes and doing a second and third draft – I’d been so involved in that process that I almost forgot how to sit down and write a good first draft.”

When the time came to bring a new story to life, Kemp developed the basis for what would become his second major play.

“A Place Not to Stray is set around four friends that go out into the bush camping,” Kemp said.

“It’s the middle of the second night when three of them return back to their town with stories of the fourth friend missing.

“What it then hinges on is that two of the friends have doubts about the third and whether he’s been acting a bit shiftily.”

There is no doubt that despite Kemp’s pre-show apprehensions, audiences will enjoy the opportunity to see an original production that has been developed and nurtured entirely from local talent.

The chance to see the work of a talented young playwright on the rise will also be savoured.

A Place Not To Stray previews on Thursday, October 12, with the premiere on Saturday, October 14.

There will also be one show at the Denmark Civic Centre for Brave New Works on Thursday, November 2.

Tickets are available at southernedge.org.au

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May has an axe to grind

GRITTY guitar-slinging indie artist Abbe May hit the stage at the White Star Hotel on Sunday night and kept an enthusiastic crowd wrapped up with her mix of rock-based originals and covers.

May’s reputation for intense, raw performances drew an educated crowd of live music aficionados for the rare spring Sunday-session triple-bill, even if numbers were a little thin on the ground.

While May delivered enough of her better-known tracks to satisfy those who had done their homework, some of the more memorable moments, song-ending guitar theatrics aside, were out-of-left-field covers.

She was perhaps at her most vulnerable when she put down her Gibson SG mid-set for an edgy cover of K.D. Lang’s Constant Craving.

But the guitar wasn’t rested for long, as the second half of the set lifted off somehow despite May’s restrained playing throughout.

The punchy set was brought to an end with May’s extended version of her hit Triple J Like a Version cover of Ginuwine’s Pony.

The triple-bill kicked off with local singer-songwriter Kris Nelson and WAMI award-winning Perth band Human Buoy.

The local thread continues with Albany’s Carla Geneve supporting May for her final WA show for the year at Mojos in Fremantle on Sunday night.

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Kingfisher show takes centre stage

THERE was not an empty seat in the house for Great Southern Grammar’s Kingfisher Concert at the Albany Entertainment Centre last week, with more than 200 students showcasing their musical talents and dedication at the annual gala performance.

Students aged five to 18 years performed using a variety of instruments and vocals to provide an evening of entertainment for all.

Principal Mark Sawle was proud of his students’ efforts.

“The 2017 Kingfisher Concert was a sell-out success,” Mr Sawle said.

“The concert was a celebration of student achievement, rewarding their hard work and commitment to music, of which I am very proud.

“What is so rewarding is seeing the very young and the graduating students working together on items; it is a mutual learning and performance collaboration in the true sense.”

Great Southern Grammar’s own Suzuki Stars and Tiny Trebles performed, along with students playing hit songs from Beauty and the Beast, Into the Woods, New Orleans and Bach.

“The concert also showcased to the general community the breadth of the entire GSG music program; classical and contemporary, jazz and pipes,” Mr Sawle said.

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Secret between friends is out

IT WAS a spectacular evening on Saturday when Pingaring author Fiona Palmer visited Albany to launch her new book, Secrets Between Friends, at Three Anchors.

The rain held out and nearly 80 book lovers were able to enjoy the night under the stars in the outdoor area of the restaurant.

Palmer mingled with guests as she signed books, took selfies, and chatted about her new book.

Albany Public Library’s Julia Mitchell conducted an interview with Palmer, giving guests an inside look at the successful author’s career, including the process of creating Secrets Between Friends, life before writing, and working with different publishers.

Secrets Between Friends is a change from Palmer’s usual rural romance genre, and instead focuses on women’s fiction.

The heartfelt story follows four friends on a cruise ship from Perth to Albany, and how their intertwined lives are not as transparent as they seem.

A journey of self-discovery and friendship, Secrets Between Friends is an enjoy- able novel you won’t want to put down.

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High tea with the birds

ALBANY audiences will once again have the chance to enjoy the Bird on a Wire Vocal Ensemble, along with a scrumptious afternoon high tea, at Albert Hall on Duke Street on September 16.

“We are a community choir with a more performance-based format,” Bird on a Wire’s musical director Teresa Hughes said.

“We focus on four-part harmonies in a mix-up of upbeat jazz, contemporary and traditional music.”

The Lelebirds and the Trill Seekers will make guest appearances at the show and perform a variety of eclectic songs with their ukuleles and beautiful voices.

All profits from the concert will be donated to Hawthorn House, a service for people living with dementia, and the staff at Hawthorn House will provide a high tea.

“I run a choir at Hawthorn House and they really appreciate our support, so we will be raising money for them too,” Ms Hughes said.

“They also have some really good chefs there, so it looks to be a yummy afternoon!”

Tickets to the September 16 spectacular can be purchased at Paperbark Merchants, online or instore.

The concert commences at 2pm.

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Abbe May at the Star

GUITAR slinging, indie beat-based pop is how local Australian legend Abbe May best describes her genre of song.

Her compelling music will boom throughout the White Star Hotel on October 1.

The singer was born in Subiaco and grew up in Bunbury, where her passion for music stemmed from sibling rivalry.

“My brother KT got a guitar when he was eight and I was about five, and I just wanted whatever he was getting,” May said.

“A few years later I got a guitar, and my brother and I have played music together for 15 years ever since.”

However, it wasn’t until her late teens that May decided to pursue music more seriously.

“When I was a kid growing up in Bunbury, I wanted to be a teacher like my parents,” she said.

“That was all I knew.

“I kind of just fell into music when I was at university.

“Rock and roll and study didn’t really mix, so I really wasted my uni years, but I did learn a lot by being in a rock and roll band and took those lessons into my own solo career.”

May learnt her skills on guitar from the great Kevin Brusachi when she was nine years old.

“Kevin was cool and could play amazing lead breaks,” she said.

“As I started playing in bands, my brother taught me a lot about playing electric guitar.

“When I was lucky enough to perform as guitarist in Peter Garrett’s band last year, I learnt a lot more about playing from Midnight Oil’s guitarist, Martin Rotsey.”

May’s career began in her brother’s band when she was 17.

When she was 23, she decided to go solo.

“By that point, I was beginning to write my own music and was wanting to sing more.

“I found I had to just belt out vocals with the really loud rock band I was in, I didn’t have a lot of creative input and I really wanted to sing with more dynamic.

“So, I left.”

May focuses on the music, and doesn’t let the thrill of flashing cameras and red carpets get in the way of producing her unique, hypnotic sound.

Some of May’s hits include Karmageddon, Kiss My Apocalypse, Cyberpunk Choir and No Sleep Tonight.

“I loved singing as a kid,” she said.

“But when I grew up, there weren’t really any shows like Australian Idol or whatever to corrupt young minds into thinking fame is important.

“So I never saw singing as a thing to do, for any reason other than because I liked it.”

However, her singing career came to a halt in 2013, when she had a seizure out of the blue.

“I was just really stressed and didn’t know my body was screaming at me to have a break and relinquish some control,” she said.

“My body just got pushed too far.

“It got pretty dark during that time.”

It was her brother’s efforts to get her back on stage which drove May to continue singing.

“My brother convinced me to play again by developing a solo set-up with an SPDSX and a guitar, about a year after the seizure,” she said.

“My good friend Andrew Ryan from Mojos gave me a month-long residency where I could develop my set and my comfort with performing again.

“I have always had such incredible support in the WA music industry and I am really grateful.”

The rising star encourages other aspiring musicians to pursue their dreams, no matter what.

“Stop when you need to, but always get back on the horse after you have rested,” she said.

“In other words, remember to rest, but never give up.”

Tickets for Abbe May’s White Star Hotel performance on October 1 can be purchased online via her website, abbemay.com.

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Harvey and Cole open song book

AUSTRALIAN country music superstar Adam Harvey says strumming along to Johnny Cash when he was 12 and having his dad brainwash him with vinyl began his love affair with country music.

Harvey will perform hit after hit with good friend and successful country singer Beccy Cole, when the duo arrives at the Albany Entertainment Centre for their September 21 concert.

The Great Country Song Book Volume 2 Tour will feature famous country duets from the likes of Johnny Cash and June Carter, George Jones and Tammy Wynette, and Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton.

“People still want to hear those songs,” Harvey said.

“They take people back in time.”

When Harvey first decided to put together the new album, he approached fellow Australian country musician Troy Cassar-Daley.

“The first thing Troy said to me, when I suggested doing classic duets, was there was no way he was looking into my eyes and singing the girl parts!”

Harvey decided the beautiful voice of Beccy Cole would be far more suited for the role.

“We’ve been really good friends for a long time, and it has been fun to work with her,” Harvey said.

“Beccy’s great attitude is why I think we connected so well when we met.”

Harvey believes the ultimate goal of a musician is to take people to another place when they attend a concert or listen to an album.

“Our job is to help people forget the doom and gloom and escape the world,” he said.

“If we can do that, then we have done our job.”

Harvey’s musical genes have travelled through to his children, with his son and daughter both aspiring to a career similar to their dad.

“My daughter wants to be an opera singer and my son is into metal, so it’s great to play with them both,” Harvey said.

Harvey encourages ambitious musicians and singers to persist with their dreams.

“If you’re doing it because you love it, and not because you want to be famous, just keep at it and a door will open.”

Tickets for the September 21 concert can be purchased from the AEC Box Office or online at Ticketek.

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Radio Active light shines bright

TICKETS to Radio Active are fast becoming hot property each year, as the collaboration between the WA Academy of Performing Arts and music students from ASHS and Great Southern Grammar continues to bloom.

Friday night’s concert to a near full-house at Albany Entertainment Centre was living proof that there is a deep pool of young musical talent in the region simmering below the surface and ready to boil over into live music venues post-high school.

The show opened with the atomic burst of Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir, and took the audience on a journey through some classic covers and catchy original tunes.
Singling out one performer is not ideal in such a deep pool of talent, including several highly capable multi-instrumentalists, but the crowd clearly dug into ASHS’ Evan Ayers’ medley of Elvis favourites.

If you closed your eyes you heard the King’s voice, but you also missed the signature gyrations.

The backing from the cream of WAAPA’s crop provided the safety net for the local young talented singers as they launched themselves into their performances and handled quick changeovers between songs and a packed theatre.

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Magical night of musicals

FOR a concert thrown together in a matter of weeks, The Magic of Musicals was a stunning showcase of local talent.

Albany Light Opera and Theatre Company decided to host The Magic of Musicals after circumstances beyond their control led to the production of their scheduled show Stepping Out being cancelled.

Determined to keep their fans happy and fill the gap between Sound of Music and ALOTCo’s next major project, Little Shop of Horrors in May 2018, The Magic of Musicals was borne by directors Anne Davidson and Donna Markovic.

Renowned songs from famous musicals were combined to create a collaboration concert to remember.

Airell Hodgkinson’s undeniably incredible voice shot tingles down spines, with his performance of Anthem from the musical Chess being, in the words of MC Andrew Wenzel, no less than ‘anthemic’.

The Staude sisters sang Hushabye Mountain from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to absolute perfection, with beautiful melodies.

Carmen Fasolo again proved her leading-lady status with a gorgeous rendition of Climb Every Mountain from Sound of Music, and later changed to a sultry tune from Showboat.

The concert included other spectacular songs from Kiss Me Kate, Annie Get Your Gun, Jesus Christ Superstar, Cabaret, Sunset Boulevard, Oliver, The King and I, Phantom of the Opera, Mamma Mia, Matilda and Grease.

The concert drew to a close with two numbers from the show-stopping Les Miserables.

James Turner led a heart-wrenching performance of Bring Him Home, with Todd McGregor and John Locke leading the ensemble with Do You Hear the People Sing.

The Magic of Musicals concert was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, and one I wish was available on CD!

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