28 January 2022

Multitudes indoors

Again it was at the Harmonie German Club and the event was called Australia in Harmonie : Collaboration of Cultures.  But these were the indoors acts.  It's different, indoors.  It's darker, cooler, there's a bar in the corner and people scattered at tables, seated.  The stage is big and the sound system impressive.  Noone on the dance floor, unlike some previous visits to this venue.  It's Covid, after all.  First up was a Maori Cultural Group, but I must have arrived at an odd time, for I only saw one guy talking.  Then a bit later, The Famouis (sic).  Pretty sure the spelling is correct, given the introduction.  This was a trio, all three males singing with two playing guitar and the core singer on cahon.  These were some truly lovely harmonies, most impressive, on pop tunes.  Then Anton Wurzer, our local exceptional piano accordionist.  I've heard him at CIMF, playing jazz and classical, solo and in groups.  He's a very capable player.  This day he proudly displayed his background wearing Bavarian lederhosen but his performance was more popular tunes done with wonderful authority.  All the hits, from Hey Jude to Sesame Street and Hava Nagila and then into a string of Aussie day hits, not least Waltzing Matilda and Still call Australia home, and a finish on Pier Gynt Hall of the Mountain King and Still talking about a revolution.  Now that's telling: a muted commentary played with authority and good vibe.  Great stuff!  Then a break and a return to Nancy Bates, solo artist, guitar and vocals, leading a string of singalongs (at least when we knew the lyrics), a strong voice and strummy guitar and wonderful presence with Aboriginal references.  Songwriter and singer with Archie Roach for several years, so there's experience here.  It shows in a genial presence but also a telling story.  That's one thing I am noticing of contemporary indigenous arties: the personal stories, not carping but honest and open and welcoming.  Then to a mate of Nancy's although they may have just met singing together on Aust Day stages in Canberra over recent days, Monica Moore and her blues band.  Well, I love the blues and I know these characters from Blues Society jams over the years and this was a blast (and I must admit my fave for the event).  Authentic, tight, loud blues.  What's not to love?  Sharp Strat solos, reliable, solid blues bass and drums.  The guitar gets the show here along with vocals; it's not a music of conspicuous virtuosity for bass and drums, as necessary as they are.  I liked how just bass and drums could hold the groove when guitar sat quiet and no vocals.  Then Monica with her firm and strong voice and telling interpretations.  All blues standards - Take me to the river and slow blues and Sweet home Chicago and the like - not originals that I noticed.  But so much a driving whole.  Great stuff!  It's a difficult act to follow but it was a different act that did follow.  Dale Huddlestone and the Riverbank Band was a big outfit, guit/voc, bass/voc, guit/voc, guit, drums.  Dale sang his own songs, stories of family and place, of his first nation parents moved from NT to Narrabundah for cuclones and more, about fishing with his grandfather (as I remember).  These are good and true stories as is wont with country music, and the band was tight and clean and satisfying, even if country is not a field I've yet discovered.  It was amusing that I noticed some warmup drum rolls that floored me, but they didn't appear in performance.  Not apt.  Neat and true and clear and again, telling.  So the indoors was a different world in some ways, more a listener's stage with more settled audience.  Even if the singalongs and joving in seats hinted towards other.  But an interesting way to while away some hours for Australia/Survival/Invasion Day.  Much enjoyed.  Thanks all.

Performers on the indoor stage at Australia in Harmonie at the Harmonie German Club were: Maori Cultural Group, The Famouis, Anton Wurzer, Nancy Bates, Monica Moore Blues Band and Dale Huddlestone and Riverbank Band.

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