Adelaide Fringe 2018: Lutes and ukuleles

I suppose one could fairly say over the last day we’ve gone from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Saturday night it was A Medieval Marketplace. The title piece, performed in two parts, was a haunting experience, as sounds lilted around us. The venue, the Barr Smith Reading Room was used to great effect, the audience in the middle, with the performers all around. Medieval sound surround. It was a generous program of beautiful singing accompanied by instruments of the period. I’d never really listened to anything like it live before and it was especially intriguing that the wooden and thin sounds of the instruments fit so well. I wonder why that is?

Really disappointing that, performers aside, there was nobody there under the age of ancient. I’m mystified by why that would be. And yesterday didn’t get much better. A packed house saw the Ukulele Death Squad at the Grace Emily.  So yeah, a slightly younger demographic, but not by much. Why not???

I had no idea when I bought tickets to this show months ago, that it was the one I didn’t know existed. The only show I’ve seen at the Fringe ever that’s been sold out for every performance well beforehand. It didn’t need promos, reviews, half price tickets. My tickets were an impulse buy – names are everything in marketing? – but it didn’t take long to get why this group has such a big following. High octane ukulele. Who knew?

Well. Ukulele and a sax. Brilliant balance and Reuben Legge is a star. He looks about eighteen, but apparently he’s all grown up. Hard to pick.

Another really generous Fringe experience, we left much happier than when we walked in. I hope that’s compliment enough.



Homesickness. The Audreys.

A friend of mine was wandering around Europe long ago when she suddenly – unexpectedly – heard John Paul Young singing Yesterday’s Heroes. And there she was, listening and sobbing. In recounting the tale she was appalled – JPY??? REALLY?! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, really. Homesickness could make you do something like that too. So imagine the sweet kick in the guts I get every time I listen to The Audreys. It’s bad enough when I play their albums at home, but now and then here in Geneva I hear their songs in cafes and there it is, a surprise ambush, a wave of homesickness as you are surrounded for a few moments by the lilting sound that manages to be both melancholic and wholesome at the same time, some sort of triumph there. And as like as not you are briefly transported to a night at The Gov, or a Sunday afternoon on St Kilda beachfront. It’s lovely. But it hurts a bit too.

The Brunswick Music Festival 2009

Brunswick Music Festival 2009. The headline act is Peter Rowan supported by the Red Stick Ramblers. What a treat to see them together for a few songs at the end.

Red Stick Ramblers and Peter Rowan get together

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Photos by Simon Hinge.

Peter Rowan is living history. To see him is to see somebody who carries an entire music tradition with him. Not to mention he has an exquisite voice and diction.

You can still catch both these acts. They each have a second show….Red Stick Ramblers with Perth’s 10 cent shooters who are a great local talent.

Next night Irish Colum Sands had a tough call…imagine your support act being Greg Champion. I hadn’t realised that Greg had a sensitive side, I’d only ever heard him on Sat mornings, 774, doing The Coodabeens. Not that he wasn’t mostly playing for laughs.

Anyway, Colum Sands did a fine job of the second half of the evening. The most gentle of singer/story tellers with sharp observations about the world couched in soft songs. I gather there are a wide range of Irish accents and Colum has one that is as clear as crystal. Just as well…I wouldn’t have wanted to miss a word.

Next night and it was The Borderers and The Rough Diamonds. I hesitated to put this pics up. The Borderers are non-stop energy. I’ve never seen anything like it. Unlike Shooglenifty who seemed to be pointlessly loud, The Borderers are there to have fun and you can’t help but join in. All of that noise, vibrancy, energy is lost in the pics. As they danced around the venue, playing on the bar or wherever else took their fancy, there was not a moment of stillness.

The audience was a surprising mix. In the middle, front of stage, tables and chairs for the diners-and-show types, mature, sedate. Scattered all around them, the kiddies. To begin with I thought that the kiddies should be sent out the back as they talked through the first song or two, but no! It turned out that they had a strong knowledge of The Borderers’ music and were there to bop. And bop they did, even getting the odd adult involved in their activities. The Borderers do not invite sedateness.

I have to confess that last time I saw The Borderers, the guitarist spotted that I’d nodded off and came off the stage to play literally right in front of my nose. I woke up – I don’t know how long after – rather startled to find a guitar literally in my face, to the great amusement of one and all. Really, I can’t imagine how I could possibly have slept during that raucous revelry….it just goes to show that sleeping is the thing I do best.

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Oh my, the Stiletto Sisters do get around.

I’ve never seen the Stiletto Sisters in drag before, but get this. The setting is After the Tears, the Polish restaurant underneath the Classic Cinema in Elsternwick. Thanks Simon for the pics.

Have babies changed Hope’s life this much?

Attila Kuti...a real cutie of a Stiletto Sister
Attila Kuti...a real cutie of a Stiletto Sister

And as for the doublebassist, Jo:

Rob Mahoney masquerading as Jo.
Rob Mahoney masquerading as Jo.

Judy stayed straight:

Judy playing her usual role of - Judy.
Judy playing her usual role of - Judy.

A good time was had by all:

Oh yes, Cathy's had her vodka for the evening.
Oh yes, Cathy's had her vodka for the evening.

See that sign in the picture above: ‘Geoff come home’. Honestly, Geoff, Truly rooly, Andrea wanted to know if the violinist could unblock drains and if he was happy at home. I told her she shouldn’t have the second vodka, but she’s a stubborn girl, Geoff. If you could take up a musical instrument before you come home next week, that could be a mark for you in the good books. That’s all I’m saying. And it’s just between you and me.

Actually, I thought I’d seen Attila before, but couldn’t place him. Ah yes, the master chef extraordinaire, caught again by Simon, this time earlier this year at the launching of The Stiletto Sister’s latest CD. They didn’t need him to play the role of Hope as she was there herself. That didn’t stop him starring in the show…

Attila the chef at Stiletto Sisters' CD launch 2008
Attila the chef at Stiletto Sisters' CD launch 2008