Items filtered by date: March 2013
Monday, 18 March 2013 13:39

The Bamboos: So Funking Cool

After collaborating and touring with the legendary Tim Rogers, Melbourne funksters The Bamboos are back to their old tricks.

Lead by prolific songwriter Lance Ferguson, The Bamboos are riding high on the success of their fifth album, ‘Medicine Man’, and since forming in 2001 have heralded a revival in the classic funk and soul sounds of the ‘60s and ‘70s.

“The Bamboos have been going for so many years; they’re largely responsible for at least Melbourne’s interest in funk and soul,” says drummer Graeme Pogson. “People have been playing it forever, but in terms of the way The Bamboos did it, they went about it in a way that opened people’s eyes to an older sound of funk [to] where it’s progressed to today. It still has those influences but it is more of a rock and soul sound these days. The way the band’s going it’s more of an Ike and Tina sort of thing, real heavy rocking sort of soul music with the funk element too.”

Having already thrilled audiences nationally alongside the aforementioned Rogers, The Bamboos will play a free show at Bond University.

“It sounds great, we’ve never played there and that’ll be great fun,” Graeme says. “It’ll just be The Bamboos … we’re doing a bit of a mash-up tour at the moment, whereas the Gold Coast gig will just be a classic Bamboos gig.”

“We’ve got Kylie Auldist and Ella [Thompson] singing and the nine of us behind so that’ll be a great gig,” Graeme says. “The one we’re doing now is just a one-of-a-kind eight-show tour [but] that’ll be a classic Bamboos line-up on the Gold Coast; that’ll be our first show back after this tour so we’ll be all warmed up by the time we get there.”

They’re also looking forward to playing their music to people who may not have heard of them before and, hopefully, acquire a few new fans.

“We haven’t played up the Gold Coast as much as we have around Melbourne and Sydney. The other week we were over in Perth and we played to a whole bunch of new people who had never heard of us and that’s really good; it’s good that it’s spreading and people are getting used to the new sound.”

The Bamboos play a free show at Bond University Sunday March 24 from 3pm.

Published in Rock
Wednesday, 13 March 2013 14:43

Bach St Matthew Passion: Opera In Preview

Not the same old song and dance, the contemporary revival of ‘St Matthew Passion’ shakes up Opera Queensland. 

Throwing out the book and performing in plain clothes, audiences will get a chance to experience Bach’s cantata on literally a whole new level when seeing the orchestra play not in front of, but on the stage. Tobias (Toby) Cole singing alto says the modern twist will allow audiences to see past the story we know and have the chance to really take in the characters and their emotions.

“I think there’s great potential for it to really connect with audience. We know the story already but we really don't think about the relationships between the characters the way you might think about in a film or play. We think of this guy suffering on a cross, but what does the word suffering really mean?”

Working with director Lindy Hume and renowned conductor Graham Abbott, Toby says 'St Matthew Passion' will be unlike anything audiences have seen before.

“It’s so special. They have such a respect for each other and an understanding and have a history of working with each other on shows together. It’s a very inclusive process and Graham is very involved in following the choreography, and Lindy is very attentive to the music, so it’s great. I worked with both of them on a project thirteen years ago in 2000, so in a way that’s kind of when I did my audition”

Audiences won’t only be able to watch a unique re-interpretation of a classic opera, but there is plenty to be learnt as well.

“The thing that I'm interested in is how the main character is deserted by his followers, and that’s what ends the first part of the passion of Christ. He's taken away by the authorities and no-one comes to his aid. This is really interesting because we see crowd and mob rules taking over all the time and see how people react differently when they're in a group compared to when they are by themselves — it’s a classic thing with youth culture on a Saturday night. You've got to think of other individuals and I think a lot of people find that really hard to do, so this production will really help encourage that.”

As with any well-known performance, there will always be pressure to perform to the standards already held by some audiences. Whilst there is no way around it, Toby says you can only ever really stay true to yourself and give 100% when performing.

“I've got to warm up hugely every day, and warm the whole body. It’s the back, the eyes which really need to be alert, and I have to have gone through the score. I always have to go through every note, it doesn’t have to be sung, but I just have to have visually or mentally gone through every bit so that it’s been refreshed in my mind. It’s definitely a challenge.

“There are hundreds of interpretations out there but I will just have to do my own interpretation and stay true to that and I think people will respect that. That’s a strength and a weakness when doing popular work. People will always compare with what they know, but it empowers the audience in a way because they can say if they like it or if they don’t, then they know why.”

See Bach 'St Matthew Passion' at QPAC March 21 – 23.
Published in Opera
Wednesday, 13 March 2013 14:38

Tom Gleeson: Brisbane Comedy Festival

Heeelllloooo bitcheeeeees, the black label of comedy is back.

“I was doing a spot at a late night club and the crowd seemed rowdy so I yelled 'Hellooooooo bitcheeeeeeeees!' to let the crowd know where they stood. Then it just kinda stuck.

“Sex, religion and iPhones. They seem to be some of the themes that are emerging (at the Brisbane Comedy Festival). If history is anything to go by, I will be promising myself that I will take a break from the booze to spend my days riding a city bike up and down the river. In reality, I will end up pissed in a park rotunda with Sam Simmons.”

As fitting as the comedy stage is for Gleeson, comedy wasn’t his first calling and I rudely implied his band was terrible. Excuse me. “Shit band is a bit harsh. We were very experimental and difficult to enjoy so I would talk between songs to try to explain to the crowd why they might like the songs. These explanations would get laughs and that was my first inkling that maybe I should just do the explanations and not the songs.

Since then his stand-up shows have been a great success. “Nothing is off-limits. A topic might seem untouchable but there's always an angle. I used to do a bit about starting a bushfire. It got a lot of laughs.”

Gleeson also performed in Afghanistan. “I did gigs for people who could be killed the next day. That makes all your concerns about saying the right thing, or not offending people, seem very trivial. After doing Afghanistan, every gig I've done since seems very easy.”

While supporting Louis CK, one of the biggest comedians in the world right now, Gleeson noted content can be generic but also original and funny.

“When I watched Louis CK, his set list might have looked like this: Keeping in Shape, Smoking Pot, Dreams, My Kids, Airplanes. He taught me that it's not what you talk about, it's how you talk about it.”
Now situated in Romsey, Gleeson’s house once served as the town's morgue but he’s not creeped out by that.

“It means the house is cool in summer. Also, I don't believe in ghosts because I'm an adult.”

See Tom Gleeson from March 19 – 24 at the Brisbane Comedy Festival 2013 at the Brisbane Powerhouse.
Published in Comedy
Wednesday, 13 March 2013 14:32

Trevor Noah: Comedy In Preview

Trevor Noah will change the way you eat.

The way you eat tacos, anyway. He's perhaps South Africa's finest stand-up comic or at least that's what the Americans are saying. One thing's for sure, when Trevor Noah takes the stage, you're reminded that life only need be as dull as you make it. His show 'The Racist' reminds us that, if you pay attention, the world's actually pretty hilarious.

"Basically my show is just about funny things that have happened to people around me in the last two years. Most of the time I'm just telling audiences stuff that I've seen. Every single story is based on a true story. Depending on the story, I embellish in order to get it into comedy. But almost 100% of what I talk about is true. It's like Hollywood, sometimes you need a bit of razzle-dazzle to make it into a blockbuster."

Noah's Hollywood reference hardly surprises me given he's recently cracked the US market. Yet he's managed to remain quite modest, evinced by his ability to undersell himself when I ask about his act. The truth is that while on the surface 'The Racist' does appear quite silly (the good kind of silly, mind you), Noah's act is actually a well-planned social study, one which quietly celebrates our similarities while laughing wildly at our differences. It's a show that's heavily informed by his childhood growing up in post-Apartheid South Africa, a background most likely responsible for his fascination with race.

"Race is easily one of the biggest issues in the world, no matter where you are, no matter who you are. Coming from a country like South Africa, race is something that's in your face all the time. Before Apartheid, race was more of a hatred issue and a racism issue. Now we deal with race as an issue.”

Trevor Noah performs at the Sit Down Comedy Club on Tuesday April 23.
Published in Comedy
Wednesday, 13 March 2013 14:24

Escape From Breakup Forest: Theatre Preview

Toowoomba's Mixtape Theatre Collective introduce 'Escape from the Breakup Forest', making its Brisbane debut at the Judith Wright Centre later this month.

Writer and lead actor Steve Pirie, says the production is reflective of his own experience. 'Escape from the Breakup Forest' is a story about Josh and his first love Emma who he has been with for five years. On their anniversary Josh receives an unexpected surprise from Emma — she's leaving him. She won't say why, she won't say who is to blame, she just says goodbye.

“The idea of the play came from me writing a letter to one of my ex partners … and it sort of blossomed into a short story.”

Although the show is based on Steve's experience, he explains that he has tweaked the characters in the play to make it more universal. “To make a show all about me would be pretty boring, no one would want to see it,” he laughs.
Many of the responses the show has received have been from younger men. “Guys who have seen the show will come up to me and say things like 'You could have written that show about me, that's my story' or 'That really gave me a perspective on my divorce'. It's really affecting people on a more profound level … so that's a nice surprise.”

One of the lines in the play talks about the first time you held someone's hand and Steve explains.

“I'll tell you about a moment that we didn't see coming, we were looking out into the crowd and everyone in the audience who had come with somebody was holding their hand.”

There is a really lovely energy in the room when the show finishes Steve says. “Everyone just leaves happier than when they came in, which is the work we want to create as a company and the work that I want to create as an artist.”

'Escape from the Breakup Forest' will be staged at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts on March 16-23.
Published in Theatre
Wednesday, 13 March 2013 14:13

Tony Royster Jr

When Scene connects to Tony Royster Jr he’s not at home in LA, but in Singapore waiting to play his final show on tour with Joss Stone. It’s not an unusual situation for this phenomenal musician.

Royster Jr regularly tours with artists as varied as Jay-Z, Joe Jonas and Francisco Fattoruso, his skill behind the drum kit an ever-appreciating commodity. But occasionally he also hits the road for different reasons, and in conjunction with producer extraordinaire Young Guru, Royster Jr’s now involved himself in a series of clinics and workshops along the east coast of Australia that aim to greatly expand local students' frames of reference in both music and production.

“When it comes down to the clinics and letting people see me play, it’s about letting people see someone they look up to, or see one of their favourite drummers, if that’s the case,” Royster Jr explains in an effusive, animated cadence. “I love to be able to help out people and just see their faces when I show up and they say that they really appreciate my drumming. Because I do it for them. I love drumming and that’s my passion, but if I can play and really make a change in people’s lives as far as their music is concerned, that’s more gratifying than anything.”

Royster Jr had a different upbringing to most artists. Music was neither a rebellion against circumstance nor forced upon him by his parents; rather, his talent was fostered and encouraged from an exceptionally young age. It’s natural to wonder, then, if this passion for education is merely a case of paying it forward.

“Absolutely,” he says. “But not even just my parents – it doesn’t necessarily have to come from them. I’m a grown man with common sense, and when I view the world, I see things for myself. And when you see how certain people don’t have the opportunity to experience, to go different places, or to see certain musicians that they look up to, and just the opportunity to see them play and even meet them, that’s more than enough to extend my hand.”

Royster Jr’s technique behind the kit is considered second to none, and watching him drum can be mesmerising. But a major part of his success is his versatility – something he learned at an early age. There’s hardly a musical genre that he can’t engage himself with.

“I think it’s really important for musicians in general to be as versatile as possible,” he says. “Once you’re limited to a certain style of music, that limits your workflow. If all you can play is rock, then there’s no way in hell you’re going to be able to do a funk gig or jazz gig and keep the gig. You just have to really open yourself and open your mind to be willing to learn. It might be harder for other people because they might not have had the same upbringing as I had or had different things to put them in that position to learn different styles of music. I don’t know what their situation is, but for sure I think it’s very important – extremely important – to be as versatile as possible. It’s definitely helped me in my playing, because I can pretty much go into any situation, and even if I haven’t played that style of music in a long time, it takes me maybe a few minutes or so to snap into it.”

Just don’t arrive at the clinics thinking you’re going to blow Royster Jr off the court. Firstly, you’re not, and secondly, he’s passionate when talking about the need for musicians to learn from each other, rather than engaging in a battle of skill sets.

“We’ve got our own community and I don’t want us to think of our playing as a battle. Because it’s not, and I hate that,” he says definitively. “That’s another thing I try to stress when doing these clinics: it’s about us coming together and learning from one another. Everyone has something to give, regardless of how good they are and how much they might suck – at least they’re trying. That’s just what it is and that’s the type of message I try to bring across when doing these clinics. It’s all about listening and enjoying one another and helping each other out and encouraging each other to do well.”

But it’s also about supporting a cause, Royster Jr once again differentiating himself from the average touring musician by actively engaging with some of the local partners behind the clinics.

“Added Flava Audio Labs – they’re the brains behind the whole collaboration and the educational seminars – as well as JMC Academy. But also, supporting Father Chris Riley's Youth Off The Streets foundation – it’s a great situation to be helping empower and inspire young people. It’s really important.”

Tony Royster Jr’s drum clinic hits the Tempo Hotel March 23.  Young Guru’s Audio Workshop will go down the same day across town at JMC Music Academy in South Brisbane.
Published in Urban
Wednesday, 13 March 2013 13:57

Messrs: Group Of Misters

For those who don’t know, messrs is plural for mister, and a group of misters is exactly what Adelaide five-piece Messrs are.

But Messrs were originally called The Touch, as bass player Craig Lock explains. “We've been together for about five years. We were called The Touch … but we changed our name because we went over to Europe, and there was another band kicking off with the same name. Since then, we've changed to become a bit more dance punk.”

Every time the band found a new name they liked, they found it being used already. The band’s name was either going to be Messrs or The Speedboats, Craig explains.
 “It just kind of made sense; messrs are a group of misters. So it made sense for us to use that.”

The band toured Europe last year playing The Great Escape, with life on the road proving to be a rather interesting experience.

“We were living in an RV, five of us and our manager so it was six dudes. Six dudes sleeping in the van together for six weeks, there was no shower and no toilet. There were caravan parks … but we just slept on the side of the road to save money.”

Although the music scene in Adelaide isn’t the size of other capital cities in Australia,  Craig says there are still plenty of good bands emerging from the area.

“Pretty much compared to anywhere else in Australia, it sucks. But there's a lot of good bands coming out at the moment as well, so I can only feel that it will get better.”
When it comes to promoting the band, Craig says the group have all the social media bases covered.

“I think these days a band has to be the entire package: you have to have songs, you have to be good live and you have to have good social media awareness. I think it all matters, you can’t have wicked songs and be crap with everything else.”

It helped that they received government funding for the band’s recent music video, ‘Desert’.

“We got some government funding for it, then we got an Aboriginal director to just jump on board … so we gave him our idea, and he just took it from there and it came out one million times better than we thought. We were stoked.”

Messrs play the Live It Up Festival, at the RNA Showgrounds, April 13.
Published in Rock
Wednesday, 13 March 2013 13:51

Regular John: In full Bloom

Aussie psychedelic rockers Regular John are still riding high from the success of their last album, ‘Strange Flowers’, released last September.

“The people that talk to us at shows or when I've seen people out and about, they seem to really like it,” says guitarist and vocalist, Ryan Adamson. “I haven't heard anything bad so it would be my perception that people out there like it; but I like it, so that's cool and I'm happy with it and that's the goal, we wanted to make a record we were happy with and that we could put our hearts and souls behind.”

The new album was a labour of love for the band who plumbed the depths of their musical and technical expertise to write and produce the intricately rich soundscapes that permeate ‘Strange Flowers’.

“We really wanted to explore textures and different sounds and there's a lot of subtleties in there, things you won't notice until the hundredth or thousandth listen, some real subtle things; we make records about things we love,” Ryan says.
Ryan taught himself the art of analogue synthesizers and mastering obscure electronics while recovering from a medical condition that left him bedridden and highly medicated.

“I had really bad curvature of my spine and when I was 16 I got metal rods put in my spine and surgical pins to correct that,” he explains. “Then just toward the end of the first album they got infected so I spent the better part of the year in bed and on painkillers and not spending any money. So in that time I got synths and drum machines and old rhythm boxes and organs and weird things. I love the sounds of that and with guitar pedals — I'm always trying to make guitars not sound like guitars at all.”

Regular John are also touring in support of Birds Of Tokyo as they take their new album, ‘March Fires’ around the country.

“We've done it before. We toured with them maybe four years ago I think and that was great. In between those tours we did a tour with Karnivool so we know Ian [Kenny] quite well and the songwriter/ guitarist, I know him through tours and through some old job at a guitar shop.”

Regular John perform at The Tivoli March 21-22 and the Cooly Hotel March 23.
Published in Rock
Wednesday, 13 March 2013 13:23

Brisbane Queer Film Festival

Don’t just talk about going to the Brisbane Queer Film Festival this year; really go.

Go because you will be shocked, inspired, educated. Go because it’ll be a bloody good night out. Go because you love film. Go because you shouldn’t just be talking about the gay and lesbian community in Brisbane (and the world at large). Go to honour our right to have a queer film festival. GO!

Brisbane Queer Film Festival (BQFF) is Queensland’s largest festival to celebrate queer cinema, and the third largest in Australia, and as such, each year the BQFF promises to showcase films that are for, by and about the queer community. The 2013 BQFF, now in its 14th year, starts early April at its New Farm home, the Brisbane Powerhouse.

The films selected for BQFF rarely receive a mainstream theatrical or television release, something that makes BQFF an important exhibitor of shorts, features and documentaries from all over the globe. The festival this year is showcasing 58 films from Australia, the US, the UK, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Uganda, Iran, Chile, Denmark, Israel, Brazil, Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia and Slovenia.

Celebrating diversity and encouraging a safe space for LGBTI discussion and alliance, the BQFF is a highlight of the Brisbane cultural calendar and is a forerunner in paving the way for a more inclusive city we should all strive for and defend.

‘Keep The Lights On’ (US) opens the festival with all of the internationally acclaimed, gritty, poignancy that one could hope for, but before you even have a chance to wallow in the poeticisms of the film you will be swinging along with drag queen impersonator Liza (On An E) at the New York themed opening party.

According to Festival Director Sarah Neal, the films truly represent the diversity of contemporary LGBTI life, with James Dean, ‘80s rockers, ballroom dancers, nannies, killers, fashionistas, doctors and cabbies all featured on the silver screen. The program will be exhibiting a range of film genres including, but not limited to, drama, comedy, shorts, and documentary. The only Australian documentary on the bill, ‘Ballroom Rules’, is a feature length film that explores the little known world of same-sex ballroom dancing and follows five couples as they prepare to compete at the 2010 Gay Games in Germany.

Nickolas Bird, one of the directors of the labour of love that is ‘Ballroom Rules’, detailed the two-year process that preceded the internationally celebrated documentary. Along with his directorial partner Eleanor Sharpe, Nickolas filmed, ate and danced their way across the globe to bring you their feature-length documentary debut.

“You go in with an idea and a story and it changes and evolves, you just have to go with the flow. We filmed a lot of material and I am pretty sure the dancers were sick of us by the end of it all! I wouldn’t blame them, we filmed them at least once a week for a year,” Nickolas reflected.

Filming a documentary has to be an organic process, something impossible to predict. A really good documentary has the ability to tell a story, to find a sensitive, charged and driving narrative through the droll of the day to day. This is something that ‘Ballroom Rules’ does with the graceful ease of the dancers that it features.

“My favourite thing that came out organically is the quality of the dance. I was really worried about the dancing itself, but it wasn’t long before I realised that we were not making a dancing film, and that we were making a film about the people. And that in some worlds all people are the same and their skill is all that speaks for them, but everyone in this film has their own obstacles and they are very different people, it was very important and lucky to find that.”
Anny Salerni is the owner of Melbourne’s only gay and lesbian ballroom dancing studio, and is a hurricane in same-sex ballroom dancing in Australia. Anny has been threatened in the past by the governing body, though will not abandon the duty to foster a safe dance space for her same-sex dance students. 

Shunned from mainstream ballroom dancing and ostracised by DanceSport Australia, Anny and her students have limited opportunity to compete on Australian shores. Director Eleanor Sharpe is a star of the documentary and a longtime student of Anny’s studio, as well as a source of inspiration for the documentary.

Due to the lack of opportunities for competition in Australia, Nickolas was concerned about the “dancing looking ridiculous, but no one has ever laughed at the dancing. Yeah, sure — they aren’t perfect but they are up there, strutting their stuff. I do have to say that every time they fell or stuffed it, it's in the film. You want them to struggle and find it hard, otherwise why do we care?

“Anny is so protective of her students, I was concerned that she would think we made them look bad or embarrass them,” Nickolas explained.

There is always footage that must be cut, and Nickolas did lament that “in shorter versions critical decisions were made outside of our control and the big thing was that we couldn’t say the stuff about same-sex relationships that we wanted to say. The editing had to cut out sections that I, as a queer filmmaker, wanted to say. I never saw it as a short film but the ABC were headstrong about not making it longer and they had to cut things out. And at that moment I wish I hadn't done it; I wish I hadn't started, I was so gutted. Not many people will be able to watch the film I wanted to make.”

But Nickolas proudly explains that the 75-minute feature being shown at the BQFF will include, “everything! It is the film I wanted to make and I know it’s not perfect and yeah, I could have done a better job in parts but I am so happy.”
‘Ballroom Rules’ is everything that you should support the BQFF for, and Nickolas explains that, “if nothing else, look, it’s really hard to make a queer documentary and it’s really hard to get them up on a screen.”

Once again, in 2013, the BQFF will celebrate the luminous contribution that the LGBTI community bring to the cultural scene across the globe, and it will celebrate the voices of those who would otherwise remain unheard through homophobia, persecution, or lack of funding. It is an opportunity to reflect on simply being human, and being able to appreciate the inclusive country we live in: in the light of how far we’ve come, and on the path to how much further we have yet to go.

BQFF runs April 5-14 at The Brisbane Powerhouse.
Published in Film
Wednesday, 13 March 2013 04:01

School Of Rock: Hands On

Sunshine Coast’s School Of Rock has recently started its new Diploma of Sound Production, with the small school already making big waves.

“Man it's cool. You should see this place, it is just phenomenal,” says Steve Smythe, Director of School Of Rock.

The school, dedicated to bringing the best out of their students, is located at Heliport Studios in Buderim (Sunshine Coast) where he's teaching the Diploma of Sound Production, and he couldn't be happier with the progress so far.

“You work very closely in the industry straight from the get go. It's their first day [last Monday] and they're already in there helping record a session that's going to be released. The guy that double-booked is a metal producer and all the kids are into metal, so they're just stoked anyway. 'So, sorry guys, we can't have class today, but you get to watch a metal band instead.' It's really cool,” Smythe laughs.

Smythe credits his school as having a more hands-on approach to learning and he believes that, in the end, it will be this experience that will give his students an edge when seeking employment.
“You've got far more chance of getting a job when you're out there doing the job. There's courses that will teach you all the tech bits and pieces, but anyone who knows the music industry knows it's who you know.”

Teaching isn't a new concept to Smythe, but his experience is different to what you'd expect.

“I was a maths teacher!” laughs Smythe, “and I ran into Joel [Rademaker] at school and we just looked at each other and said, 'what the fuck are we doing? You're here teaching kids jazz guitar and I'm teaching maths. Let's go start a music school.'”

There are five spots still available for the current semester, but the closing date for sign-up will close in a month.

“You definitely get your money's worth; there's at least 30 days in the studio and then you have all your work experience as well, plus all your live sound. They'll be out working on The Big Pineapple festival with Regurgitator and Grinspoon so they'll be getting backstage with those guys.”

School Of Rock’s Diploma of Sound is now accepting enrollments — places are limited.
Published in Rock
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