THAT’S ETTA

THAT’S ETTA

An accomplished jazz/opera/contemporary vocalist with a unique talent for song interpretation Etta D’Elia has made an indelible impression in Perth in the decade since she moved here from her native Italy. 

And with a new fringe show in the works, this spirited performer and teacher is looking to expand on all that she has done before. It’s taken hard work but in so many ways it’s about destiny.  

From an early age, it seemed that Etta was naturally theatrical, so much so that by the age of five visiting relatives would pay her money to tell jokes and stories. It wasn’t all for laughs, however, the power of music was also taking hold.

“I always wanted to sing and perform,” Etta states. “My mother says that since I was basically three or four, I wasn’t really walking, I was dancing and performing all around the rooms in the house and out in the street. My games were always to create shows to perform for an audience. I was pretending to be Liza Minnelli singing into a duster. So really, it’s always been in my blood.

“My grandfather, my very beloved Nonno, was an opera lover and he used to play piano for me. It has always been basically clear to me since I was a baby that I would become a musician and a singer and a performer in general.”

By the age of six, Etta was taking piano lessons, a dedication to craft that was complemented by her enrolment at The Conservatorio to learn classical singing followed by a Master’s Degree in Music Education. Her academic focus had been strictly classical but encouraged by a lecturer to branch out musically she discovered a love for jazz and was soon performing with Italian pianist Gianni Lenoci and his jazz quartet, featuring the French double-bass player, Joelle Leandre.

It was the first page of a musical love letter. A truer calling.      

“I felt that that was really my dimension because I felt free, really free to express myself,” Etta explains. “I’m not the person that writes music, but I love the freedom of improvising and scatting. That’s my creativity.”

Even so, at 23 Etta won first prize in an international opera contest, so work and further success opened up in that environment. But, she says, “still there was something missing.”

In 2012 Etta moved to Perth, Western Australia. It was a bold step and a big change.

“The impact that living in another country has on an artist is huge,” she says. It’s a huge transformation that can happen.

In Perth, there is not a huge demand for opera singers. I got more involved with the language, with the expression, and I felt a stronger connection with English and everything that is related to English expression.

“So, I want to go back there, and I decided to start slowly putting some more jazz songs in my act.”

Etta worked for several years with popular accordionist Nikki D’Agostino as a duo called Prima Donna. “It was a bit of classical music and a bit of jazz and a bit of pop all coming together,” she says. “We did a lot of work together. It was all based on Italian music and Italian humour.”

In 2021 Etta made a conscious decision to focus on jazz, adopting her grandmother’s nickname with a nod to Etta James. “It’s less aristocratic than Antonietta D’Elia and more direct,” she notes. “It’s more who I am now. It’s my jazz identity.”

She has pursued jazz performances all around WA as a guest vocalist and as the featured performer in duos, trios and quartets at venues such as Perth Concert Hall, The Crown, Pan Pacific, Ritz Carlton, Duke Of George, The Volstead Lounge, Velour Lounge, Kalamunda Jazz Club and more.

What jazz also offers for Etta is a sense of fun. The six-year-old jokester is still very much present, and even in her opera days – specialising in Mozart and Puccini – her voice and demeanour saw her cast in the more comedic roles.

“I would never be the big romantic, dramatic character,” she recalls. “I would always be the one that makes people laugh. So I decided to bring all that experience and knowledge in theatre into my shows, and that’s why they’re probably in between a jazz singer and a comedian, a stand-up comedy person. I always make a lot of jokes and try to interest people. That’s the other big component of it, the fun.”

With that in mind, Etta is working towards her Fringe Show to be staged in early 2023, a humorous melange of Italian music and jazz.

“There will be all the popular Italian songs,” she says, “love songs that belong to our culture that are not necessarily very popular here in Australia, but still very representative of our culture and our customs. This is a show where I explain a lot of curiosities and things about Italian culture through the songs.”

Going forth, Etta feels stronger than ever as a performer by acknowledging her past experiences and taking them with her as she evolves constantly as an artist. 

“I believe that making a stylistic choice when you are an artist reflects who you really are, and I believe that I’ve been through different phases of my life because I was discovering myself,” she says.

“I’ve reached this point where I’m happy to call myself a jazz singer and this is the point in my life in which I understand who I am. I like this dimension and I want to be here because I want to be free to use everything that I’ve got from my past to create something new.”

www.antonietta.com.au

www.facebook.com/e.delia.vocalist

ROCK’N’STROLL

ROCK’N’STROLL

RTRFM FREMANTLE WINTER MUSIC FESTIVAL

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Nevermind the water, there’s something in the coldening air that makes a melodic stomp around Fremantle on a musical evening out such a fine thing indeed.

A few weeks back the Harbour Road Porch Fest eased South Freo into the winter of our content and now it was North Fremantle’s shot as RTRFM strolled back into The Shire once again with its annual Winter Music Festival across the hallowed stages of Mojo’s, the Swan Lounge, Swan Basement, Port Beach Brewery and the footpaths betwixt and between.

There’d been a wee dust-up out the front of Port Beach Brewery, but rest assured it was a gaggle of day-drinkers raining fists like cats and dogs and not any of the cockle-warming RTR massive, who were already imbibing to Mal De Mer’s laconic takes/tales of suburban lives interestingly powered through an indie-funk propulsion and the words of vocalist/keyboardist Saskia Fleming, whose voice seems somewhere between Missy Higgins and Stella Donnelly but whose intent and tone is all its own.

‘Maybe not today but one day’ Fleming pondered in a poignant moment during the alluring Pray To You. Perhaps that one day is July 8 when Mal De Mer launch their second EP, Sanguine. Catch the video for the first single from it, Mirage, here.

On the outside stage (pictured above) the genre-diverse sounds of Romeo Walker were filling the night air, which was gratifyingly wind and rain free. Benjamin Witt’s music on the other hand, carries many elements both earthly and ethereal and with members of Grievous Bodily Calm serving as his backing band, they sure do make a lot of intricate stuff look effortless. The set referenced earlier solo moments such as the delicate-to-dangerous sounds of 2016’s Future Reset, but mainly focussed on songs from recently released album, The Shape Up. As such Transformer and Ketchup conveyed menacing film noir brushstrokes, whilst Everlasting caresses you all feathery like a love song for the ages.


Inside the Railway Hotel Bar Hector Morlet and band – a pleasing presentation of hairstyles and hats – were rolling out his blend of sophisticated yet fun lo-fi pop, with the most exquisite falsetto ever heard at 9.50pm on a Saturday night. “They’re more a 12 o’clock/1am band,” someone uttered between songs. You take it when you can get it, would be my thinking. Hector Morlet’s presenting a Variety Night at Mojo’s on Tuesdays in July/August. Go get some!

Ra Ra Viper give off an impression that they’re mainly just a bunch of mates having a laugh, but it’s more likely a shared confidence that comes from their experience with previous bands (Pissedcolas et al) and the clear fact that they simply love playing and performing. Clearly it’s infectious, as their recently sold-out show at Freo.Social attests.

A version of Alt-J’s Breezeblocks (‘Please don’t go, I love you so’) was sweet fun, even if vocalist Oliver Bolt decided to stop the song to announce to everyone that he couldn’t sing the high part. The highlights came from their own material in any case, current single, Big Surrender, is modern indie rock at its most charming. Ra Ra Viper are taking their good times on an East Coast tour at the end of the month. What could possibly go wrong?

Over at the Swan Lounge it was feeling like a cool night out somewhere in Melbourne. WAM Song Of The Year nominee Anna Schneider’s solo set was just sublimey. Her lilting confessional songs have an alluring, caressive nature to them and are well worth diving into. Down in the Swan Basement it couldn’t have been more different, with Electric State romancing the rock with a balls-out set that was met with literal screams of delight and a good deal of folk singing along word-for-word as frontman Rob Viney prowled the front of the stage locking eyes with almost every individual in attendance. Let’s hear it for hard rock showbusiness.

Over at Mojo’s Otiuh were bringing this thing to a salubrious close.  Touting themselves as ‘men of leisure and your favourite rappers you haven’t heard of yet’, Cesare Papa (wearing the biggest safety glasses you’ve ever seen) and Jahmeil Baker have been RTRFM favourites for a while now, and they were the perfect choice to end proceedings. The dancefloor was full, the venue was vibing and with guest appearances by the likes of Downsyde’s Optamus and Super Ego’s Nelson Mondlane, this block party was on for young and old… well, not that old.

This was but a portion of the line-up, what we happened to catch on our little rock’n’stroll. It was the warmest cold winter night you’d like to imagine.

BLACK AIR – A Sapper’s Song

FeaturedBLACK AIR – A Sapper’s Song

It’s a theme that we all too commonly see in movies – the returned solider, traumatised by what they’ve seen (and done) whilst at war, struggling to come to terms with adapting to being back at home, or even just civilisation in general.

It’s made some Hollywood studios a lot of money, but the reality of the problem is more stark and real than any film. In Australia returned servicemembers from tours of Afghanistan suffer in plain sight from PTSD, often turning to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain of the aftermath, which while occasionally diluted, never goes away.

“It’s something that needs to be talked about,” says lyricist Jon Roberts, who has penned A Sapper’s Song, about the plight of returned soldiers.

“It’s not in the news cycle, Afghanistan is over and nobody’s talking about it but the guys who’ve come back and the people left behind are… fucked.”

Roberts wrote the lyrics to A Sapper’s Song following conversations with a young workmate. “I was on a plant shutdown and shared off-site accommodation with the crew tearing the kit down. Good bunch so we’d have a few beers most nights. I’ve got 20 years on the eldest and am telling tales of a misspent youth in South East Asia. One’s about an ex-medic in the US 101st Airborne who I met in Burma. First action in Vietnam he’s in a village after it had been “pacified” patching up a local woman when his sergeant comes up, puts a gun in her face and shoots her head off. He freaks but the sergeant shouts him down and says they’re all killers blah blah…The medic was seriously wounded in one of the Hill battles. I met him not long after Saigon fell and he seemed alright but I questioned how anyone could live with that.

“Josh, the young bloke, had his own story. He’d started drinking and taking whatever in his early teens but had always just managed to keep it together and keep working. At the end of 2019 it caught up and he was unravelling fast but, by some miracle, his folks got him into rehab.”  

The facility was in NSW and was counselling about a dozen people, a number of whom were active servicemen who had done multiple tours in Afghanistan. Josh realised very quickly that they were all suffering PTSD.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has been described as a normal response to a completely abnormal situation. A 2019 report co-authored by Orygen and Phoenix Australia states that:

‘… while young men and women make up only a quarter of full-time serving personnel in the ADF, they have the highest rate of mental ill-health among their colleagues, including conditions such as panic attacks, alcohol-use disorders and depression.
 
‘Ex-serving male personnel aged 18–24 have a suicide rate twice as high as other Australian men of the same age’.

The military recognise this and have psychologists in the field for debriefing and free phones so soldiers can call home at any time. But, as Roberts says, “It’s hard because it’s their job. Soldiers see and sometimes do things in war that they don’t want to think about so they’re not going talk about them. In the field there are mates to lean on but home can be very alone.”

Accommodation at the facility was in shared rooms and Josh ended up with The Sapper. In group counselling Josh heard his story, told in the song, and saw him fighting with the memories early most mornings.

‘..the scene re-runs every night

And I wake in fright

It’s stained

On my brain’

– A Sapper’s Song

Halfway through his treatment, Josh was rushed to hospital with a twisted bowel. It was the week the first Australian cases of Covid-19 were reported and having been in a public hospital he wasn’t allowed to return to the safe haven of the rehab facility.

That was the last he saw of The Sapper. Roberts says, “The shutdown was in early 2020 and Josh was in great nick when I met him. He said that hearing their stories and seeing the shit the Afghan vets went through changed his life. He’s a coiled spring so I hope he is still straight. And I hope The Sapper and his mates are out of the army and doing okay. I don’t think there’s anywhere else to go for a lot of these guys.”

Roberts has written lyrics and occasionally complete songs for decades. “Never done much with them, although the Balding Men video with Dick Haynes (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvuVGcKMzd0) nearly got us a contract and the RooBeeDooAh album of kid songs I wrote with Brett Townsend actually did okay commercially. Still great little songs (type in RooBeeDooAh on YouTube) – sort of an antidote for the Wiggles.

“The disastrous abandonment of Afghanistan in mid-2021 bought back the sapper’s story. Apart from the bit about locking up refugees at the end of the last verse, it’s the sapper’s story as Josh told it. I wanted to say something about treatment of refugees because this government keeping people whose “crime” was to seek a better life isolated and muzzled for years brings great shame on this country.

I’m blessed with a family band. Step-son Sam Air is an incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist who’s co-written, arranged and played on just about everything I’ve done for the last 20 years. His brother Ben has a huge voice and has provided lead vocals on most of the songs”    

Ben Air was teaching in the Pilbara so Roberts asked Pete Black, the son of one of his oldest friends, to join the project.

“Pete’s got a great voice for dark songs. He was really helpful with the lyrics, as was my daughter who spent 15 years in the air force. Pete also added a line of music to Sam’s tune and it worked well.”

The name of the band, Black Air, doesn’t require too much of a stretch of the imagination.

“We wrote the song round the table at home and it appears that the chorus is really catchy because pretty soon half the street was singing it.”

 ‘What You See is what you get

Another burned-out Afghan vet

With nothing left but regret

What you seen is what you get’

– A Sapper’s Song

Hard hitting lyrics and a catchy tune make this a song worth listening to.

As such, A Sappers Song by Black Air is now available on Spotify and most other streaming services.

ERROL H TOUT Of Time And Space

Errol H Tout in his “modest but tidy studio”

Acclaimed West Australian guitar virtuoso Errol H Tout has released his new album, Dancing About Architecture, a labour of love recorded over a period of three years.

And he knows what he’s dancing about. Tout was Head of the Department of Architecture & Interior Architecture at Curtin University of Technology until 2008, then was more latterly a Senior Lecturer and Chair of the Science and Technology Stream. Then again, he’s also a graduate of King Crimson icon Robert Fripp’s Guitar Craft school.

For the one-time career architect and long-time musician, many things lie within the name of the new LP. Variously attributed to the likes of Frank Zappa, Elvis Costello and comedian Martin Mull, Tout dug further for this, the perfect album title.

“The first quote that I’ve been able to track down from 1931 in the New York Times,” Tout explains. “It was a journalist who actually said it in the context of writing and music being two different artforms and you shouldn’t try doing both at the same time. So writing about music was as stupid as dancing about architecture.

“Laurie Anderson used it too, I think,” he adds. “It’s been used and abused! For me, it just made a lot of sense. Once upon a time, being an architect and now I’m being a musician. So it fits well.”

Similarly, while music and architecture may be regarded as two different disciplines, architectural concepts play into the way Tout thinks about music…

“Very much so,” Tout says. “There’s a perception as you move through something. The perception of space is that you see it as you move through it. The perception of sound is that sound moves past you. So things move though each other and there’s should be a level of being able to discuss clearly about how it actually does it.

“You certainly have to do that in Architecture school. So architecture is about moving through space, and music is about moving through time.”

Dancing About Architecture follows up 2013’s The Post-Tumour Humour album and 2017’s Luminous. These three albums have been written, recorded, and released during Errol’s 10-year battle with cancer and are testament to the drive, creativity, and good humour of the man amidst that challenge. The new LP has been on the go since 2018, between surgeries and various hospital visits.

“I did it a very long time ago, some of it was done three years ago. There’s definitely one song on there that’s about me squaring up to the C-Bomb, a song called Seconds And Moments.”

The song features a rare vocal by Tout, complemented by an unexpected collaborator. “I sampled Bruce Lee talking about how he deals with an opponent in a martial arts competition,” he explains. “And it kind of made sense with what I was doing. So I took the sample and popped it in. I then wrote away and asked permission to use it, but they never wrote back so I assume it’s okay. So there’s one piece about the C-Bomb, the rest are about all sorts of different things.”

All sorts, indeed. Backed by a dynamic music video directed by Tout’s son Sam (who also contributes keyboards and bass to the album) The Black Dance recalls the alternative nightlife experiences of Tout’s musical past, when he was an emergent post-punk guitarist in the ‘80s.  

“There used to be a nightclub in Perth called The Red Parrot,” he recalls, “and in this den of iniquity people used to wear black and they had a certain way of dancing. This reminds me of that. It’s kind of a Cabaret Voltaire kind of vibe, but with guitars. It’s a really old piece and I feel it sounds fantastic in this version that we’ve recorded.”

Album opener Spiders sonically evokes the arachnid onslaught that terrified Tout’s wife in their kitchen. “So I made something that has these little things that scatter and run across the stereo picture,” he says. “It also fulfils my objective of trying to make bright, cheerful, and sometimes witty guitar music without sounding like a complete tosser. So it’s a funny little thing about spiders that get bigger and nastier as the piece goes on. It’s got a real groove to it that I really like.”

Slice Me Up Baby, meanwhile, “is a really old piece about my first visit to hospital to have various things cut out of my body. There were so many people in the theatre and so many bits of gear. I thought, ‘is that all for me? Well, slice me up baby!’ It’s about trying to get on top of things and not let things get on top of you.

“It’s really hard to find a sample of someone cutting a piece of liver, because it doesn’t make much noise. I had to compromise and use bits of timber being cut and chopped around!”

Dancing About Architecture also sees the return on the inimitable rhythm section of Roy Martinez (bass) and Ric Eastman (drums) whose tracks were recorded in an impressive two-day session at Lee Buddle’s Crank Recording Studio (the rest of the album was captured in Tout’s own “modest but tidy studio”). Fellow guitarist, Mike Gorman, a player who complements Tout’s playing in a very niche manner, is also back. They come and go from places that many haven’t been before.

“Mike brings all sorts of stuff with him,” Tout says. “He’s done courses with Robert Fripp and all kinds of stuff as well, more than I have done. That’s how we connected. He kind of came over for a cup of tea and stayed ever since. He brings a lot to the table, there’s ideas that I had – on Secret Agent Theme and Surf Action – that Mike could execute better than I could.

“So it’s really nice working with another guitarist because we’re kind of on the same page. I worked with lots of other guitar players and thought differently to them, but the fact that we’ve both been to Guitar Craft courses keeps us on the same page.”

Tout states that he had 45-50 pieces from which to choose from for a place on the album. Given that it’s predominantly instrumental music, the 14 tracks chosen made their presence felt due to an interesting set of selection criteria.

“The selection criteria was that you should be able to sing most of the pieces,” Tout explains. “Which was a good kind of benchmark. Some of the pieces are really catchy, and I was really trying to do that. There’s other ways that guitarists do things, and they all have their merits, but I was after something that sticks and maybe has a little bit of humour and wit.

“It’s an area that I like to inhabit, and I don’t know an awful lot of people who would have done stuff like that. It’s slightly outside of the rock mainstream, but still with a fair bit of energy and fun in there as well.”

Dancing About Architecture is available on vinyl for the first four months of its release and will thereafter be accessible on all major streaming platforms. With his eye already on his next release, Tout is well pleased with how his latest chapter has turned out.

“It’s a part of a continuum of one’s life work,” he considers. “It’s another chapter, and there’s lots more to come. I kind of like that – doing stuff and moving on, then moving on and moving on. Doing something better and different and in other ways than before… but it’s nice working with these same people because they’re just so bloody good!”

Errol H Tout launches Dancing About Architecture at Ellington Jazz Club on Tuesday, September 7.

THE LONESOME LOCAL LOCKDOWN

FeaturedTHE LONESOME LOCAL LOCKDOWN

(First published on Facebook – July 3, 2021)

I’ve spent the last fortnight staying in a room upstairs at The Local Hotel on South Terrace, South Fremantle. I’ve been in the throes of moving house, and as a new place fell through just before my exit date, my dear friends at The Local sorted a room for me to stay at in the interim.

I practically live there already. I’ve hosted a weekly talk/performance event on Thursdays off-and-on (mostly on, 28 shows to date) since last October; regularly find a spot to write on my laptop there, and constantly enjoy drinks with folks from the wondrous Freo musical scene. I dearly love the creative community around South Freo, and The Local Hotel is both a heart and hub for this.

In the last week it’s been oh-so-quiet everywhere along South Terrace due to lockdown. While my first week staying at my favourite pub was incredibly social, the second lot-of-seven-days has been a contemplative experience, to say the least.

Week-2 has seen lockdown and the realities that hit a venue such as this. The constant murmur of bubble and squeaks and beats and basslines from DJ sets squirreling from downstairs-to-up; the tales and riffs from local musical heroes, the laughter of fond friends and even the hints of early romance in the front bar have made way for radio silence. It’s all rain and wind outside and faraway footsteps within. THE LOCAL HOTEL HAS BEEN CLOSED.

At times I’ve felt as though I’m the only person in the whole pub. There are other people staying here, but no-one is doing anything or going out. I only hear people and never see them. It’s like they’re ghosts. Which means I am also a ghost. In a Ghost Hotel.

I endeavour to be Casper (The Friendly Ghost, if you recall). It helps a bit as early in Week-2 I develop minor cold symptoms, resulting in a refreshing day trip to Fiona Stanley Hospital.

Turns out she’s not even related to Paul Stanley. Even so, I’m open to being thoroughly doused and dubbed then directed to go home and self-isolate. In a closed pub, during a lockdown. Quiet stuff. My test result comes back within 12 hours and is reassuringly negative. Such a mild experience compared to the scenarios of so many.

But I’m left with this playground. This lovely/lonesome Local Hotel which has been so good to me. So I take a mid-morning to take a walk-around (masked, mind) to capture the quiet, closed moments. It will open its arms and doors to its charming, salt-of-the-earth staff and clientele, but for this moment and all the moments (and the new memories, and the old ghosts), it literally has become my favourite haunt. And I love it now more than ever.

Pandemic or not. Support your Local. Whatever it’s called, wherever it may be.

(Vax, also).

NORTHERN BACKYARD EXPOSURE

NORTHERN BACKYARD EXPOSURE
Pic: Dan Howls and Julia Weller perform in Tania Hennah’s backyard

Local music ultra-fan, Tania Hennah, brings live music on home with iso gigs in her backyard.

While venues and artists alike have turned online to stream in the COVID-19 era, music fan Tania Hennah opened up her own backyard to live performances once the Level 2 Restrictions played out, hosting live gigs at her Padbury home to small audiences of friends and fellow aficionados.

Word goes out via her Facebook page and a small door fee is charged, which goes directly to the artists.

“I actually got on the front foot with this as soon as restrictions were set at 10 people,” she says. “On the day of the 10 peeps announcement I contacted four artists and asked if they’d be interested in a live backyard, socially-distanced gig at mine, as soon as the restrictions were lifted to allow 20 people. I had all respond positively by the end of the day and lined up for the next our Saturdays as soon as the Government made the call.”

Last Saturday, Dan Howls with Julia Weller kicked off proceedings in just the kind of fashion that Hennah knew they would.

“It was amazing,” she says, happily. “It’s been so long since we’ve been able to see and hear live music and have a beer together. The weather was a balmy 26 degrees, so perfect too, to kick back on the lawn and chill and enjoy local live talent. We even danced too! Dan and Julia delivered as always and had people in the palm of their hands.”

It’s all a step in the right direction, but it’s not a first for Hennah, who is no stranger to hosting gigs in her home in the pre-iso past. She especially loves the Fremantle music scene and has never subscribed to the North/South divide.

“Myself and my friends have such a love of local, live and original music and want to support our artists,” she says. “And I have the room. So, it’s no-brainer really. It’s a relaxed environment, my neighbours are awesome and happy for me to do them. Plus much of our local talent, and speccy venues, are in Freo, but I live in Padbury, so very selfishly it’s also perfect for me because I don’t have to drive or uber and can party on!”

Hennah originally hails from Guernsey, an island in the English Channel that lies off the coast of Normandy. She felt deeply connected to music at an early age for reasons that reflect the experience of local music fandom here in Perth.

“Guernsey, although only a small island – 45 ml square, and 62,000 people – has quite a lot in common with Perth, really. They are both very isolated places, Guernsey being just off the coast of Northern France and a long way from the UK. This made it very difficult for UK and international bands to play there, logistically and financially.

Tania in Guernsey

Tania at Castle Cornet, Guernsey

“So it’s much like Perth’s relationship with the Eastern States, especially going back a few years. We couldn’t get those bigger artists to the Island, or to WA, so Guernsey, although small, pretty much had to create its own local, live music scene, performing at small local venues. And damn we had, and still have, so much talent there. I think Perth had to do the same thing, create its own live music scene as it has been, in many ways ignored by the East Coast due to logistics.”

Hennah is as passionate a live music fan as this writer has ever met. Why has that passion never waned, when for so many people it often does?

“The calibre of the music, I guess,” she notes. “When you hear a new track by a favourite artist or discover a new band that you just dig… I just have to see them! As for so many people, music takes me to another place, and being part of the gig is so much more authentic to me.  I think also that I’m lucky to be very healthy, get by on six hours sleep a night, and I’m not a fan of growing up!”

Hennah’s plans for the rest of iso – and beyond – revolve around her continued obsession with live music. There’s more to come from her backyard and more to look forward to when the world hits upon a new normal.

Jack Davies is gigging in the backyard on Saturday (May 30) evening. Can’t wait for that. How can someone that young be so talented?  Not only musically, but lyrically too. The guy’s a genius!

“Then for the third show on Saturday, June 6, we have Joe Corbin. He isn’t local to Australia, but he’s local from my home of Guernsey, so that counts! A soul, blues, folk singer/songwriter, who should’ve been travelling over East by now, but he also got iso’ed in Fremantle. For the fourth show (June 13) it’s another of my favourite Freo artists. Lincoln McKinnon, with James Elliot doing some percussion. Very excited for that, too. It’s a good thing, I think, that these amazing Freo musos get some ‘Northern Exposure’ too.

“After iso, me and the ‘gig fam’ – a bunch of mates who equally love our live music – will be back supporting the scene wherever we can, and usually will be found dancing at the front of the stage or at the bar. A positive from all the ‘Rona stuff, is that there will be new music to hear too, written in isolation.  And. We. Can’t. Frigging. Wait.

“And on a side note, if you have the room, and want to support our artists in this financially crippling time for them, organise a bunch of guests/mates to come over and request they make a donation to the artist. Everyone can BYO drinks, nibbles and rugs… too easy!”

 

VISA LAS VIRUS Advice For Temporary Visa Holders

VISA LAS VIRUS Advice For Temporary Visa Holders

As the population of Australia awakens each morning to new and often confusing updates about the coronavirus, permanent residents are clearly wondering what’s ahead. What hasn’t yet been widely broadcast or considered, however, is the impact that the virus may have on the 2.2 million temporary residents currently living here.

 While panic seems to continue in Australian supermarkets, both the Department of Home Affairs and the Immigration Department are operating on a business-as-usual basis. Each department expects Temporary Visa Holders to maintain a lawful status. For those with a visa that is soon to expire, it is important to address the situation so that their status in this country remains lawful.

“Australian visas don’t have the facility to be extended, so you need to apply for another visa,” says Jessica Edis, Principal Lawyer of Perth-based specialist migration law practice, Putt Legal.

“What you need to do is plan ahead and look at what your visa options are. It may be that the only option you have is to apply for a visitor visa to allow you to stay on. If that’s the case that’s fine, you’ll get a bridging visa to cover you in the interim, but whatever you do, don’t let your visa expire.”

Temporary Visa Holders should also bear in mind that even if an application is refused, the potential remains for reviews of onshore applications. This will enable the applicant to remain in Australia with a maintained legal status as their application is reviewed. The important thing is to source the right advice and be prepared.

“Once your visa has expired it makes life very difficult for you,” Edis says. “Even the Migration Act says that you might end up in a detention centre. Just make sure you get advice well before your expiry date.”

Concerns have also arisen for those holding a Travel Pass, otherwise known as a Bridging Visa Class B. This pass is made available to people who are waiting in Australia for a visa to be processed, but for some reason have had a need to travel offshore.

“They have a finite travel period,” Edis notes, “so you may find that you’re stuck offshore after that travel period expires. The Immigration Department has indicated that if you’re in that position then you will be able to apply for a visitor visa to come back. They’re well aware that there may be individuals who are stranded in that situation. So as long as you apply for a visitor visa and explain the circumstances, I feel comfortable that the Department will let you back in.”

With the number of foreign students on Temporary Visas in the Australian tertiary system, there is also a lot of concern within that sector in regard to the possibility of lockdowns. If universities and schools are shut will student visas be affected by a lockdown?

“In this respect I understand that the Immigration Department is working together with the education institutions,” Edis explains. “They haven’t advised of any new policy yet, but I expect there to be a great deal of flexibility.

“I don’t anticipate that there will be any cancellation action taken because you end up in breach of your student visa conditions. I think that the department is likely to publish new policy, to cover students who are affected by the coronavirus situation.”

With the increased demand on supermarket retail at this time, many overseas students who are employed in the industry may be offered additional hours. The worry here is that extra working hours may be in breach of their temporary visa.

“My understanding is that it’s very clearly confined to students who are already working for the large supermarkets, so that would be Coles and Woolworths,” Edis says.

“I understand that some supermarkets will be able to apply to the Immigration Department for their employees to have their hours extended, but at this stage it really is only if you have an existing employment contract with a large supermarket. However, I would suggest that you check directly with your employer rather than making the assumption that you could start to work over the hours that you’re normally allowed to.”

From students to those on working holiday visas, the uncertainty reigns. This is especially so for the many European travellers intending to work while in Australia who are unsure if their applications will go on hold or if the Government will refuse them.

“I don’t anticipate the applications being refused,” says Edis, “but I do anticipate that obviously you won’t be able to travel at a time that suits you. You’ll have to wait for the travel ban to be lifted.

“Working holiday visas have a generous entry date on them, so from the date of grant you actually have 12 months to enter Australia and the period in which you are allowed to be in Australia is 12 months from that first arrival.  If you’ve just recently been granted a Working Holiday Visa, you’ll have plenty of time to come to Australia when the coronavirus situation has been resolved.”

While being specifically tested for coronavirus is one thing, the possibility of it becoming part of a regular health examination has become a concern for those simply undertaking one in accordance with their visa conditions.

“I think there’s two things to be aware of if you have a health examination booked in for your visa,” Edis states. “Firstly, if you are feeling unwell, I suggest that you simply reschedule it.

“Secondly, there isn’t any suggestion that they are testing for coronavirus, but even if it turns out that you may have it, it is a temporary condition and the examination is intended for permanent and long-term medical conditions that can significantly increase costs on the public health system.

“So I don’t think the corona virus will affect any health examinations, but as I said, if you’re not feeling well then certainly reschedule the examination until that time when you feel a bit better.”

For Temporary Visa Holders who would like to find out more, or who may have specific questions about their legal status in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, Jessica Edis will be part of a Facebook Live Q&A Session with Immigration Lawyer & Registered Migration Agent, Amanda Valenti, on March 18 and 20 as part of an Online Summit presented by Putt Legal.

For Emem Udo, Senior Visa Coordinator for EasyMigrate, an Australian migration and citizen service, the Online Summit comes as welcome news. “I’m glad professionals are making the effort to address the situation of temporary visa holders during this time of uncertainty,” she says. “Australian citizens and permanent residents do not understand the struggle.

“If you were born in Australia as a citizen or permanent resident it is almost impossible to understand how unsettling the visa process is. The visa process is already very destabilising and stressful. Often times temporary visa holders are waiting for months or even years for a decision before they can fully start to make future plans and many visa holders are already restricted by their visa conditions.

“With the added panic and uncertainty surrounding the implications of COVID-19, it’s important for there to be a forum for temporary visa holders to share their concerns and get advice.”

A diversity of topics will be covered including visa cancellation, fears about deportation if this occurs, status while awaiting a return home, travel restrictions, immigration health checks, government response and much more.

“If you have any questions that come to mind now, please submit them before the live stream and that way we can include them and make sure that they’re covered.

“Please understand that information continues to be rolled out and we are communicating directly with the Immigration Department. So, with any of your queries that come in beforehand we will try and submit them directly to the department, so we can answer them for you.”

Access to the COVID-19 Online Expert Webinar & Q+A Session is only $27. Register now and submit your questions at ausmigrate2020.teachable.com.

MATTY T WALL Speaking Volumes

MATTY T WALL Speaking Volumes

With a well-deserved summer break behind him, Matty T Wall is all set to return to the stage for the new decade, more motivated than ever.

This is in no small part due to the worldwide acclaim that was brought upon Transpacific Blues Vol. 1, the collaborative album that saw Wall duetting with blues guitar greats such as Kid Ramos, Walter Trout, Eric Gales, Kirk Fletcher and fellow West Australian, Dave Hole. The album was released internationally via Memphis label Select-O-Hits and by Only Blues Music in Australia.

Transpacific Blues Vol. 1 was met with rave reviews around the world, hitting the Living Blues chart in the US and making the grade in none other than Joe Bonamassa’s ‘Cutting Edge Blues – Best Of 2019’ Spotify playlist. The great man of blues guitar handpicked Wall’s run through Hi Heel Sneakers with Eric Gales. For Wall, it’s a great shot in the arm.

“When you’re playing guitar with one of the best in the world, Eric Gales, he does a solo that blows you away then you go and do your best on that track,” Wall says. “Then it comes out and you listen to it and you hear that you have kept up with it… it does give you confidence in your own ability, definitely.”

While the various guitar duets have captured the attention of all sorts of blues fans around the world, Wall is pleased to note that his own take on the classic Stormy Monday has travelled the miles especially well.

Stormy Monday has really grabbed people’s attention,” he enthuses, “which is really cool because they’re saying it’s not just the guitar but also the singing, and that gives me a lot of confidence as well. I kept it in a similar style to Eva Cassidy’s version and being able to sing it with good chops is something I’ve been working on, so I gain a lot of confidence when people appreciate that.”

It seems that the whole Transpacific Blues Vol. 1 experience has given Wall a new template to work with. After every release an artist has to go back to the drawing board but in his case it’s a whole new drawing board…

“It is,” he concurs. “It’s a side-project that I want to pursue, definitely.  I don’t know if anybody’s done this too much in the past here in Australia before, working periodically with guest artists from the US on blues covers albums. It’s quite a fun adventure and I want to keep doing it, for sure.”

Indeed it’s a side-project that doesn’t distract from Wall’s original music career, or dare we say, his brand. It’s an outlet that signposts his love of blues music for all to see and hear.

“I wanted my fans to know that I love the blues and this is me playing the blues, so they know where my roots are and what I want to play,” he explains. “I mostly play my originals, but I always throw in blues covers at a gig. People see that at live gigs but I wanted to share that with fans around the world who don’t get to see gigs.

“The funny thing is when you’re in the studio recording an original album, you think more compositionally, I really try to structure everything to make the songs work. I don’t structure all the solos, there’s probably 20 per cent of them that I do, but when it comes to jamming on blues songs I feel very free. It’s a lot of fun.”

Matty T Wall.2

So where to from here? How does Wall take a life-affirming and career boosting experience onward to his next album of original material?

“They are two different things,” he states. “I am working on originals for the next album, they’re probably going to have a little bit more of a blues flavour than a rock flavour. Doing those songs helped me in that direction.”

Wall is looking at potentially releasing a live album or EP this year – it’s already been recorded, but just needs mixing. He’ll also be recording an original LP for release in 2021, by which time he’ll be working on Transpacific Blues Vol. 2, with some big-name collaborators already pencilled in.

As for where he is at the moment, Wall played his first show of 2020 at The Basso on Sunday, March 15, and will perform at the Perth Blues Club sharing the bill with Michael Damani of the Original Chicago Blues All Stars.

The momentum is strong and positive, with Wall recently building a recording studio in his home. More than ever, he can keep the creative home fires burning.

“I can record albums for as long as I want,” he laughs. “I can do another 10 or 20 albums, I’ve just got to write the songs! There’s a lot of promise coming, I just don’t know what that looks like at the moment.

“This year for me is all about having fun,” he concludes, “that’s what I want to do. Whatever that means is how it’ll come out and I’ll enjoy that ride.”

www.mattytwall.com

WOMEN’S FEST FREO

WOMEN’S FEST FREO
Photo: Addison Axe of Axe Girl, Women’s Fest Freo 2020 headliners. Pic: Marnie Richardson @ Three Gates Media

Julia Weller exudes both confidence and an infectious positivity. Many Freo music community folks will know her not only as a friendly neighbourhood barkeep at Mojos, but as a personification of that venue’s open and equal charm.

That’s not all, however, Weller is also a musician and an activist for gender equality. She is the organiser of Women’s Fest Freo, which returns this weekend to Clancy’s Fish Pub after debuting in 2019 with great success.

“Last year was a crazy whirlwind, and exceeded my wildest expectations,” Weller says. “I was – like this year too – amazed by how many people jumped on board for gender equality. Every day leading up to the event last year I had more new ideas and just did them all. It taught me to ask for more help and made me realise I’ve got a really nice community to lean on. I basically went through the roof when I found out how much the event raised for UN Women Australia, with over $6,500 we were one of their biggest individually organised events of the year, whilst having a huge party!

“With so much local female lead talent playing and Abbe May headlining last year, all of the people helping out and donating to the festival, we had a colourful, safe and amazingly fun event. I could never have done it without the help of everyone involved.”

While ongoing steps towards equality in the music industry still need to be made, Weller feels that progress continues.

“Looking at the average line up of gigs nowadays, I can definitely see people are starting to think more about making gigs more diverse,” she states.

“Playing music in the Dan Howls Band and working at Mojos I definitely feel like women have stepped it right up and have been motivated to follow through in whatever way they uniquely choose to express themselves; and that is being celebrated more and more.”

Along with her own work Weller feels buoyed by the efforts of WA artists strongly flying the flag for gender equality.

“There is of course our very own Lucy Peach, Perth’s all ‘round legend feminist within her own right; informing the masses about the power of the period with her fantastic TED Talk and writing beautiful, empowering music,” she notes.

“Another person that comes to mind is Perth talent Stella Donnelly, for being such an outspoken and inspiring women in the music scene. I really appreciate her powerful songs about real things that happen and in my opinion, encouraging everybody to open up the conversation and make a change. That’s really inspiring.”

Julia Yemaya

Julia Weller performing at Mojos. Pic: Tashi Hall

Weller was born and raised in Holland and upon turning 18 felt compelled to head to our shores upon meeting some exuberant Australians at dinner. A few months later she landed in Sydney “and went north, from there on I slowly made my way across, living in the rainforest and the Kimberley along the way.

“When I came to Freo it was my first reintroduction to a ‘city’ – I had been living out of a swag for about two years. I started busking and made my way for a good couple of months before having to get a job. From there onward I started to integrate into the Freo community more and more, working at the Freo markets, coming back every summer, the bubble had started to take shape.

“Then I started playing music with Dan Howls and working at Mojos and I really started to be a part of the music industry. It gave me the confidence of pulling something like this off, something I probably wouldn’t have dared even in my hometown. That’s why I love Freo!”

Mojos has offered Weller a front seat to the music scene, from grass roots to touring icons. She likes what she sees.

“I’ve seen amazing gigs at Mojos of any gender,” she notes, “and I feel like diversity is definitely being promoted and encouraged. Also it’s a zero-tolerance venue, which is actually really amazing. Anyone who feels uncomfortable can come up to the bar, and the issue will be taken seriously and dealt with.”

Women’s Fest Freo features 11 female-led acts – Lois Olney Freaya (solo) Tanya Ransom, Joan & The Giants, Freddie Mai (Bass Lemon), Smol Fish, Bexx, Hannah Smillie (Psychotic Reactions), Grace Armstrong, Lucy Peach and headliners, Axe Girl.

“I love how the main thing connecting these bands is the celebration of women,” Weller says. “We’ve got loads of different genres on the same line-up which promotes diversity in itself. From 60’s inspired garage to jazz, feminist folk/pop to soulful blues/country to indie pop, we’ll go on a musical journey!”

Women’s Fest Freo will also feature a pay-as-you-like second-hand clothing stall, glitter, good cheer and, well, beer. Weller reinforces the fact that the event is a safe space for free expression.

“Absolutely everybody is invited,” she says. I hope people feel comfortable and encouraged to express, dance and dress how they like, celebrating diversity and bring these vibes along to other events too.”

Women’s Fest Freo takes places at Clancy’s Fish Pub Fremantle this Saturday, March 7, from 6pm. Pre-sale tickets are $25.50 (including booking fee) available here or $30 on the door. All proceeds go to UN Women, the biggest gender equality advocate worldwide.

More details on Women’s Fest Freo – Facebook.com/womensfestfreo