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,

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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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Strong harvest for film buffs

WEDNESDAY nights at Orana Cinemas just keep getting better, with new and intriguing, creative and mind-blowing films brought to Albany by Film Harvest Great Southern.

A Trip to Spain will be shown on August 30.

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon feature in this light-hearted film about the two mens’ explorations through Spain, touring some of the best restaurants for the UK’s Observer.

September 6 kicks off another strong month with the screening of An Inconvenient Sequel.

Al Gore’s tireless efforts to fight for climate change action reappear 10 years after the release of his first film, An Inconvenient Truth.

The sequel goes behind the scenes and in front of the cameras with Gore as he travels the world, training climate change advocates and influencing international climate change policy.

Ali’s Wedding will be screened on September 13.

Starring Osamah Sami as a teenage Muslim boy in Australia, Ali’s Wedding follows Ali’s life after high school.

His small lie about his exam score being high enough to get into medicine starts to turn on him, whilst he struggles with falling in love with a girl who is not his betrothed and trying to make his father proud.

Toni Collette and Rossy de Palma shine in the September 20 screening of Madame.

Palma stars as Collette’s housemaid in a beautiful Parisian manor house, where Collette hosts a luxurious dinner party for her sophisticated friends.

To her horror, there will be an uneven 13 guests at the table, so Collette disguises her housemaid as a Spanish noblewoman to even out the numbers.

Palma accidentally catches the eye of a wealthy British art broker, and the film follows their blossoming, unconventional romance.

September will wrap up with the intense political thriller Tiyaan on September 27.

This Indian Malayalam film explores current socio-political issues in India and has had strong reviews.

The film crosses different time periods and tells an intense story of how ‘when miracle meets man, epics are born’.

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That’s a rap

YOU get the feeling when there is a barricade set up in front of the stage for any gig that things are going to get hectic.

After zig-zagging through regional WA with his Two Degrees tour and covering thousands of miles to come and see his Albany fans, Aussie rapper Illy did not disappoint at the White Star Hotel on Saturday night.

Sure, the barricade gave those weak-at-the-knees fans that got in early something to lean on when he took to the stage, but fortunately things only got a little bit hectic as friends and foes came together and just got on with enjoying the show.

There is no doubt we should think ourselves lucky to catch head-lining acts like Illy as they rise to prominence and follow the pull of international gigs, making these regional jaunts fewer and farther between.

And it seemed the crowd, spanning at least two generations, agreed, as they crammed into the back room of the White Star, with a lucky few finding a corner to themselves.

While the opening riff of Illy’s first big commercial breakthrough Tightrope got the noise it deserved from the crowd, it was a surprise to find just how many of his songs have infiltrated the airwaves.

And just when you thought the party was over and he might be looking for a quick exit, the humble rapper from Frankston took the time to greet each one of the long line of fans who were keen to pose and post after the gig.

The sight of half a dozen fans riding on shoulders to gain a better vantage point during the performance was proof enough that there is a thirst for these kind of acts in Albany.

Whatever the venue and whatever the act, let’s hope that this kind of support for live music continues to build.

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Lifting the lid on friendship

FIONA Palmer’s delicious rural romances and mesmerising descriptions of red dirt tracks and country sunsets could make any city person want to move to the bush.

Born and bred 300km north-east of Albany in the remote town of Pingaring, Palmer spent most of her early life speedway driving, tractor riding, rouseabouting and doing secretarial work.

Her heart fell for fiction writing after a story idea in 2006 resulted in her first book The Family Farm.

After eight successful rural romance novels, Palmer is excited to come to Albany to launch her new book, Secrets Between Friends, at Three Anchors on September 9.

Palmer spoke to the Weekender and revealed a bit about the novel, dealing with isolated living and her inspirations during an incredible career.

“Secrets is a story of three best friends going on a boat cruise to Albany as a ten-year reunion of their friendship,” Palmer said.

“On the boat, many of their secrets are revealed, even ones they have kept from themselves.

“It is a time to open up, face their secrets and fears, and find out what they really want from life.”

Palmer didn’t have to think twice when deciding on Albany as the stopover point for the novel’s cruise ship, after a trip with her author friend Rachael Johns.

“We went on a boat cruise and oh, those cocktails!

“The history in Albany and its beauty caught me, and I thought Secrets would be a fabulous way to combine them both.

“Albany was my number one place for the stopover point because of my history staying there with my grandparents over the holidays, and I wanted to include the new ANZAC memorial centre.”

Palmer is currently working on her next book, The Piano Tuner.

“I’m nearly halfway through The Piano Tuner, but this title may change yet as it’s still early days.

“It follows the story of William, who was a piano tuner in the mid 1970s, as well as his family in current day.

“Hopefully I’m on the right track and when I finish it and send it to the publisher, they like it!”

In spite of housework, kids, sport, work on the farm, marketing and procrastination, Palmer’s passion for writing is strong as ever.

“I try to aim for 10,000 words a week when I begin writing a book.

“Usually it’s crammed in between seeding and harvest, so I have about 3 to 4 months to get the first draft down.

“Sometimes when I’m close to a deadline I’ll stay up late and write, as I find this is the most productive time with no distractions!

“But I have to be mindful of family, I can’t write every night.

“It’s a constant juggling act.”

Despite living in the middle of ‘whoop whoop’ with poor internet slowing down her research, Palmer’s love for her remote, isolated, rural town and life inspired her career.

“I never had ambitions of being a writer, especially as English was one of my worst subjects and I left school early,” Palmer revealed.

“At the busiest time of my life, running a general store in Pingaring with two babies, I began writing down this story that popped into my mind.

“It began as a form of escapism and before I knew it, I had a story.

“I feel very lucky being an author and being where I am today.

“It’s something I never dreamed of; I wasn’t aware this profession was even possible!

“But now, I couldn’t imagine life any other way.” Palmer said the best advice she can offer aspiring authors is to just get the words down.

“Just write. Don’t think about it; do it.

“I put words on the page without any idea how it was supposed to be done, but it can be all fixed and sorted later.

“You can’t edit a blank page.”

Tickets to Fiona Palmer’s Secrets Between Friends book launch at Three Anchors can be purchased at Paperbarks Merchants or online at paperbarks.

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