Tight and tasty gig

FOR fans of 1970s FM rock boogie with tight-ass harmonies and tasty guitar licks, this could well be the gig of the year.

Southern River Band hits town early next month led by what Perth music bible X-Press Mag dubbed ‘possibly the best front man in Australia’, Cal Kramer.

The band’s latest single Second Best is from the forthcoming album Rumour and Innuendo that will be out mid-September.

As renowned Melbourne rock ‘n’ roll man about town and Cherry Rock impresario James Young attests, Second Best has soul, swagger and power-pop sensibilities.

“Don’t let anyone say that The Southern River Band sound like The Darkness or Lynyrd Skynyrd. They don’t,” Young said.

“When I think of Southern River Band, I think of Countdown on the ABC in the 70s. Colour, movement, magic and a guaranteed global smash hit.”

With a video for Second Best due on release, more new music on the way and some big news to come, Southern River Band are stepping it up in 2019 and ready to take on the world.

Following the release of the album, the four-piece will once again hit the road on a national tour building on the substantial fan base already enamoured with the band’s unashamed celebration of all things 70s rock.

The group will perform free at Six Degrees on Friday, September 6 from 8pm.

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All folk welcome

A NEW casual singing hotspot has arisen on the outskirts of Albany and current frequenters of the venue are encouraging others to come out and join in.

The Albany Shanty and Folk Club sets up camp at the King River Hall on Millbrook Road on the last Friday of each month for a social get-together and sing-song.

Next weekend’s August 30 event will be the third meet since the group began meeting at the Hall and shanty singer Nicky Guretti hopes more people will attend.

“There used to be a folk club that was very well attended at the King River Hall, so they asked us to try and get it up and running again,” the Shantylilly said.

“We try and keep the music traditional and encourage people to put their name on the board and get up and sing a song or two or three, or play an instrument, or both.”

The Shantylillies singing group is pushing for more families to attend their Hall event to improve community connectivity.

During regular club proceedings, The Shantylillies sing a range of shanty songs and songs about the sea, and people are encouraged to join in with these songs or get up on stage and sing their own.

The youngest to grace the stage so far has been Darcy Hamilton, at just two years old.

“There’s no need to get up and sing if you are shy,” Guretti said.

“Just come along and enjoy the entertainment and bring the whole family.”

There is no age limit for people interested in coming along to an Albany Shanty and Folk Club meet.

Entry is $5 per person or $10 for a family, and free tea and coffee is provided.

Bring your own drinks and snacks before the singing gets underway at 7pm.

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Contemporary spin on Bard’s witty play

Review: BELL Shakespeare’s bright and energetic take on the famous playwright’s funniest work Much Ado About Nothing clearly entertained at last week’s debut performance at the Albany Entertainment Centre.

The theatre roared in good humour when prodded, held collective silence when the headier themes pushed to stage edge and felt more like a crowd at a top notch stand-up show than that found at renditions of Shakespeare’s more tragic works.

That’s not to say Much Ado About Nothing did not offer moments of serious reflection and social commentary both surprisingly and unsurprisingly relevant to the modern context.

The twin love stories of the honourable Claudio and Hero and the endearingly love-averse Benedick and Beatrice laid bare the hypocrisies of gender politics in Messina and beyond the page.

It further tiptoed through the big topics of the value of honour, of friendship, the trappings of masculine and feminine expectations and the weight we place on truth, trust and pride.

Perth-born Associate Director James Evan, who has previously proven himself with a largely lauded production of Julius Caesar, managed all this deftly.

His contemporary spin on what many call the world’s first romantic comedy was welcomed in the form of colourful and eccentric costuming, a simple but fitting setting and clever characterisation.

The latter of these was surely bolstered by the talented cast, many of whom switched between multiple roles in a way that was not only seamless, but which added to the narrative in subtle but thought-provoking fashion.

The standout for me, though I find it hard to single anyone out, was Will McDonald’s portrayal of both the young Claudio and the naive but dastardly Borachio.

This may be in part because of the range of emotions he was allowed to explore – pure joy at Hero’s acceptance of his hand in marriage, disappointment sweeping into rage at her perceived betrayal, guilt at the consequences of his quick judgement and confusion.

Duncan Ragg and Zindzi Okenyo were also stellar choices for Benedick and Beatrice and took their quick dialogue in equally quick stride, tripping not once save for when it was intended.

Their characters’ piercing wit felt natural and human and seemed to mask deeper anxieties about the world they inhabited and their place in or outside of it.

Of course, no discussion of Much Ado About Nothing is complete without reference to the slapstick, which was done wonderfully here.

Ragg brought great energy and humour to Benedick’s near adorable discomfort at the thought of loving or being loved by his female counterpart, while Mandy Bishop’s take on the bumbling Dogberry was nothing short of outrageous (in the best way).

One moment widely appreciated lacked dialogue completely and featured a rattled Benedick placing a tiny stool on the grass, taking his time to settle down on it and pulling out, with great exaggeration, a magazine entitled TANKS.

I can’t do it justice.

You’d have to have been there.

But it was hilarious.

There were plenty of memorable scenes like this throughout the two-hour production and each oozed with creativity and wonder; the masked dance party pumping modern pop and disco lights was another highlight.

Packed with these and with excellent performances across the board, Bell Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing was a hell of a crowd-pleaser and a trip I’d soon take again.

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Glowing talent on show

AUGUST will wrap up with a bang at the Albany Entertainment Centre with a massive performance planned by secondary and tertiary music students.

The ninth annual Radio Active concert combining the talents of Albany Senior High School, Great Southern Grammar and WA Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) students will be held on August 30 and WAAPA Head of Contemporary Music Mike Eastman is excited to be a part of it.

He said WAAPA students would spend the week leading up to the main performance working with schools and the community in a variety of workshops, lending a hand with vocal and instrumental techniques, and stage presence.

One workshop will be held at Vancouver Arts Centre on August 27 from 5.30pm for anyone to attend.

“There’s so much talent in the Great Southern,” Eastman said.

“It’s why I love coming down and am really thrilled that Albany continues to support this project.”

Keely Brittan, current fourth-year WAAPA student and former Denmark Senior High student, is keen to perform in Radio Active for the first time after watching it as a teenager.

“I think it’s going to be really great working together with the high school students,” she said.

“Hopefully it will give them that drive and motivation and inspire them to come to WAAPA.”

Tickets to Radio Active can be purchased via the Albany Entertainment Centre and more information about the workshops can be found on the Vancouver Arts Centre’s Facebook page.

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Drawing on life

THE human form is the focus of a new art exhibition at Denmark’s Butter Factory Studios.

Life Lines is on display now until September 8 and features the work of resident artists Robyn Lees, Annie Nutter, Genesis Gutierrez, Ruth Halbert, Jasmine Heslop, Victoria Castiglione, Marie Kerr, Kerrie Wakefield, Suzie Kettle, Jessie Gloede and Jen Mitchell.

The artistic collective is part of a larger group called The Bodyliners who practise life drawing.

Mitchell regularly co-ordinates life drawing sessions at her home studio and said she was excited for the group to showcase their efforts.

“We have a wonderful time creating together, so this is a real joy to bring our work to a larger audience,” she said.

“I feel so lucky to have a large space that is perfect for this kind of session, and it is beautiful to be able to share it with other artists once a week.

“We put on old French records while we draw or paint and pause for morning tea – it is a lovely experience.”

Fellow artist Lees reiterated the importance of life drawing to artistic practice.

“Drawing and mark making is at the root of all visual communication,” she said.

“Life figure drawing in particular trains the eye to observe form, emotion and gesture; it teaches one to appreciate body language as a powerful form of communication.

“It can be a vital building block on which to base an art practice.”

Life Lines is on display now until September 8 at Butter Factory Studios Denmark.

Anyone interested in joining Mitchell’s life drawing sessions can reach her on 9848 2343.

 

Image: Robyn Lees’ work ‘Bodyliners’.

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Horse breeder into finals

ALBANY woman Stephanie Mitchell has a one in two chance of taking home one of the country’s most prestigious horse breeding awards.

The current Horse Operations Manager at Mungrup Stud was named as a finalist in the Dedication to Breeding category of the 2019 Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards (GSSSA).

Ms Mitchell, who was nominated in secret by her boss Ann Croucher, said it was both a total shock and an honour to be recognised.

“I got a call that I was a finalist at the end of July and I was completely blown away, I was quite teary actually,” she said.

“There were over 20 nominations in my category and the fact I’ve made it as one of two finalists is phenomenal.”

Ms Mitchell took her first step into the industry when she began working at the stud south-east of Narrikup straight out of high school a decade ago.

Her list of responsibilities has grown considerably since then and she now finds herself in charge of everything from the breeding season to weening.

“My main job is during the stud season which is from now until December, organising all of the wet work, mating, pregnancy tests and helping with the foals,” she said.

“I’m really passionate about horses, working with them and all the different facets of their personalities and I’m really passionate about the breeding industry and how to move it forward and improve it for every- body from the breeding to the racing.”

Ms Mitchell said she credited her successes to the support she received from her “amazing team” at the stud, describing them as more of a “family” than friends or work colleagues.

“I’m very thankful, I absolutely love them all and couldn’t do anything without them,” she said.

Winners of each category will be announced at a ceremony in Randwick on September 6.

If Ms Mitchell takes the Dedication to Breeding category she will receive $10,000 for herself, $3000 for Mungrup and a trophy.

Chairman of the Awards’ judging panel Johan Petzer said these awards marked the GSSSA’s fifth year running and was a great opportunity for participants.

“It rewards the talent, dedication and commitment of those in our vibrant racing and breeding industry,” he said.

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Donation boosts artists’ creativity

COCOON Store and Studio volunteer Billie Cunningham believes a recent donation of goods to the Albany-based store will help create a multitude of new artistic projects for the creative minds who volunteer there.

Empire Blue owners Carmel and Evelina Daniele donated a range of stock to Cocoon Store and Studio this week in the name of community spirit.

Cocoon Store and Studio operates as both a retail outlet and creative workshop space, where community members can donate goods to be resold or upcycled by volunteer artists practising in the store.

Its beneficiary is the Albany Community Hospice, with all profits made at Cocoon going to the hospice.

Ms and Miss Daniele hope other local businesses will follow suite to help the cause.

“Cocoon is such a great idea,” the mother-daughter duo agreed.

“It’s a fantastic way for aspiring artists to sell their goods and to put their names out there, so we encourage everyone in the community to help out and donate when they can.

“And Hospice is so important; we have to support it.”

Ms Cunningham was appreciative of the donation, which included pillows, scarves, photo frames and baskets.

“These are wonderful,” she said.

“We will be able to re-sell these and give the money to Hospice, and some of our Cocoon artists can spruce them up as projects.

“Like this pillow for example; it could sell as it is, or one of our girls might think, this is a great blank canvas to sew onto, and it gives the pillow a new look.”

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Road name changes afoot

PUBLIC comment is now open regarding proposed road name changes to portions of five streets in Little Grove.

Parts of Queen Street, Marine Terrace, Rushy Lane, Stubbs Road and O’Connell Street will be considered to form three larger streets – Rushy Crescent, Friend Court and Stubbs Close.

City of Albany Acting Executive Director for Development Services Jan van der Mescht said the City was considering the road renaming in response to feedback from local residents.

“The aim is to remove any confusion to emergency service responders, service providers and visitors to the area while also bringing the street addressing into alignment with current road naming practices as outlined in the Geographic Names Committee Policy and Standards for Geographical Naming in Western Australia,” he said.

Mr van der Mescht added that the proposal also addressed road name duplication, such as Marine Terrace – there is one in Little Grove and one in Middleton Beach.

He reiterated the proposal was in its very early stages of community consultation and changes to street numbering would be addressed through this process.

To see if you could be affected by these name changes, visit albany.wa.gov.au/council/have-your-say/public-comment.aspx

Public submissions regarding this proposal can be made to the City up until October 4 via mail – Zoe Sewell, City of Albany, PO Box 484, Albany WA 6331 – or by email – staff@albany.wa.gov.au

 

Image: Courtesy City of Albany.

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Linking lineages

PRINCESS Diana, King Henry VIII, actor Chris Pratt and even the Viking King Rollo – it turns out Albany is home to distant relatives of a host of famous figures past and present.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ Family History Centre has for decades been helping people navigate their family trees.

At the end of this month the church will throw an open day to show others how it’s done.

Family history consultants Christine Paisley and Helen Cope spoke with the Weekender about some of their greatest successes so far.

“It can be really overwhelming, it can be mind blowing,” Ms Paisley said.

“A lot of people don’t know where they belong and yet when you start family history and you’ve done a little bit of research, you find stories, you find photographs, and you can relate to people in your past.

“They don’t become so much names as they become part of your life story.”

The team at the Family History Centre convenes at the Church every Tuesday and Thursday from 10am and utilises websites like Ancestry, Find My Past and My Heritage.

Ms Cope said their combined efforts with the Albany Regional Family History Society had traced familial lineages as far back as to the times of Richard the Lionheart in the 12th century.

“It gives you some sort of background, a lot of families are fractured these days,” she said.

“Doing family history is really important for self-esteem and has a lot of psychological benefits.”

Ms Cope added that a number of “ordinary people” they had worked with had followed their tree all the way “back to royalty”.

“She’s one of them,” she said of Ms Paisley.

“I make sure to bow down each time I see her.”

Recent investigations into Ms Paisley’s tree have found her to be a distant relation of the late Princess Diana, King Henry VIII, author of Little Women Louisa May Alcott and even Chris Pratt from Guardians of the Galaxy fame.

“I mean you might be 16th cousins but when I told my 14-year-old grandson [about our shared lineage] he was just so blown away. I laminated the tree for him so he could see where he fit in,” she said.

She added their work had also helped people discover relatives that were still living and said one lady told the group she was a child from Fairbridge, a Farm School in Pinjarra migrant children from England were sent to in the early 20th century.

“She said she was a child from a big family and was told she was going for a holiday in Australia, but of course she never went home,” Ms Paisley said.

“We got into the phone books in England and we found out her cousins had lost their husbands and we went through the marriages and deaths.

“There were three phone numbers and she phoned them and came back and said she found her cousins. Honestly, I felt like I could cry.”

The group’s open day will take place from 10am to 3pm on Saturday, August 31 at 81 Seymour Street in Mira Mar.

Those attending are encouraged to bring with them any information that could aid their search, such as dates and places of birth.

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Shark deterrent proves attractive

GREAT Southern water users have claimed more than 200 government rebates for personal shark deterrent devices since 2017, with the uptake in Albany typically surging following media reports about shark attacks.

State figures released last week indicated a total 221 claims had been lodged in the region in that time and showed the seaside city ranking fourth in the top 10 locations in Western Australia utilising the $200 subsidy.

Owner of surf shop Aido’s Boardroom, Aido Shepherd, said he had sold about 40 Ocean Guardian Freedom devices, which are usually attached to surfboards to keep sharks at bay, since the program began.

“The media paint a pretty awful picture about shark attacks, which they are, but it scares people into buying things,” he said.

“Once it’s out of the news it becomes old news and people tend to say it’s fine until something happens, then the uptake will happen again.”

Mr Shepherd said he believed the “proven” devices were the best option available for dealing with sharks and that a lot of his customers were compelled to make their purchases by loved ones worried about their safety.

“Parents that are concerned for their kids, wives that are concerned for their partners. There are a whole lot of reasons why people do it and I understand why they do it,” he said.

“Obviously they want a bit of security in the water and I think it’s a wonderful initiative by the government.”

Mr Shepherd has been surfing for 50 years and said that in that time he had not had any dangerous encounters with sharks.

He said he did not use the device himself in part because it can change the weight and balance of a performance surfboard and because Albany didn’t have “too many problems” with sharks.

“Probably 99.9 per cent of the time they will swim straight past you. Yes, it’s a frightening experience but they’re not out to eat us,” he said.

“For me as a seller of these items, there’s not much money in it. For a month or two we’re actually out of pocket while we wait for the rebate … but I do it because people want it.”

Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly said it was pleasing to see surfers and divers in the Great Southern taking their safety seriously.

He said about a third of rebates claimed in the state were claimed in regional areas like Albany.

“Our beach culture is the best in the world and we want to continue to see people enjoy the ocean with confidence,” he said.

“Using a shark deterrent makes good sea sense for your personal safety, as is checking the SharkSmart website before you head to the beach.”

Member for Albany Peter Watson echoed Mr Kelly’s sentiments and said the devices “take the worry out of staying safe in the water”.

A total 15 people have been the victims of fatal shark attacks in WA since 2000, with 13 of those being surfers or divers.

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