I spend a lot of time making music. Most of the time it’s at church, some of the time it’s with the Chorale and every now and again it’s just me and Samantha. Last Sunday, between the three of them I started singing at half past eight in the morning and didn’t stop until four o’clock that afternoon.
The Darwin Chorale’s latest concert is coming up this weekend: Australian Horizons – Songs from the Bush to the Beach.
It’s a weird project for me, because a lot of what we’re singing is not remotely connected to any picture of Australia as I understand it, but that’s largely just because I’ve only been around for twenty-mumble years. The old colonial ballads and rollicking shearing songs are fun to sing and all, but they might as well be from the other side of the world for all the cultural connection I feel to them. And to me, the fact that when they asked us all to come in traditional Australian bush gear, we all had to go out and buy some, suggests that our cultural identity might have shifted ever so slightly at some point during the last two hundred years. Mind you, there’s no getting past it: I look seriously hot in an oilskin coat and Akubra hat. I mean, it’s no red shirt and black fedora, but I can make it work.
We’re doing some contemporary stuff too, but again, it’s not what I think of when I think of Australia. I think of Cold Chisel, John Farnham (The better old stuff. Just ignore anything after about 1995), Powder Finger, or even ACDC, although choral arrangements for that might be a little difficult. We’re doing some Ice House and Graeme Connors, which would be alright if not for the fact that we tend to sing most of it in the manner of a bunch of old women, which to be fair, broadly speaking, we are.
We are also doing an arrangement of Bogle’s Shelter, which is still one of my favourite songs of our country, and about the only one in the repertoire that I feel any real connection with. Still, if I have to pretend like I know things about droving, am frightened of cyclones and have any idea where Gundagai is, then I think I can manage it for two performances. I may be a rubbish shearer and only a mildly capable tenor, but there’s one grand Australian tradition that I have in spades: I’m a thoroughly accomplished bullshit arti… er… yarn spinner.
So come along to Australian Horizons - Songs from the Bush to the Beach, this Friday and Saturday at the Darwin Entertainment Centre’s Studio Theatre. It’s gonna be… a dinky-die, um… true blue…
Look, it’s going to be alright, okay? Make of that what you will.
Garry with 2 Rs