(to be published in the next 'Songsmith')
On Saturday night 23 May Sydney hosted its third annual Mamapalooza event, the first being staged in May 2006. Mamapalooza is a worldwide event featured during the month of May and is the only cultural event of its kind featuring mom musicians, artists, authors, comics, dancers and filmmakers. The Mamapalooza Festival declares ‘May as Mothers Month’ creating positive, family friendly programming on stages throughout the world during the month of May annually. With an open door policy for mom performers and their families, these festivals celebrate creativity and diversity. The Sydney Mamapalooza concert event for 2008 and previous years was organised by singer-songwriter, filmmaker, scriptwriter & Society member Vee Malnar, and featured excellent artists; this year’s event was held at the Roxburgh Hotel in Glebe. This event was videotaped and will be sent to worldwide coordinator Joy Rose in New York for screening. Vee attended the Mamapalooza festival in New York in May 2007. Again Vee asked me to come and take photos so I happily went along.
I missed the first act, Tracey Trompf, as I was held up during the day due to inclement traffic owing to all things, a football game at the Sydney Showground (don’t get me started!) From 2007 I recall Tracey’s soulful bluesy voice and great stage presence, similar to Renee Geyer. Tracey hosts the ‘Life Matters’ program on Radio National.
Alex Seal was up next; she was performing as I got to the venue. Alex was a fluid and solid bassist and her band played a pleasing and rousing set of covers from 70s through to 90s.
Rock Chikz were up next featuring Vee Malner and her band. Sometimes they are called Ana Key and the Minority group though tonight they were performing songs from Vee’s musical F. Ana Brita Nilsson has left the band and Vee carried the front-woman’s role brilliantly, performing with energy and humour. Songs such as ‘Fucking my way to the top’ and ‘Pubic hair on the toilet seat’ were excellent post-punk style songs with great humour and well-written lyrics, and all well-crafted and memorable songs. Vee, without her acoustic guitar, was able to really rock out and act the songs as she sang them. The band were tight and loud and enjoyed every minute of it, brilliant!!
Girlz@Play featured 3 percussionists and performed percussion based instrumentals. Each song carried its own flavour and rhythmic signature and the three women swapped instruments with each song. They had the audience enthralled with their tight musicality and their obvious enjoyment of performing – it was a terrific set!
The Mothers of Intention took to the stage next; they were an lovely and invigorating blend of traditional & Celtic folk. They featured Rosie on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, and she was accompanied by violin, recorder, boran & backing vocals. They were just brilliant; while mixing covers with originals they did a particularly good version of Neil Young’s ‘Heart of Gold’, it was a fresh and spirited take on the song featuring some beautiful harmonising. Later I approached Rosie because her guitar sounded so good I wanted to ask her about it; she had it especially made for her by Sydney luthier Gerard Gillet and it featured Australian blackwood back and sides – it was the finest acoustic guitar I have ever heard!! Partly, the depth and beauty of the group’s music was related to the sound of that astoundingly celestial acoustic guitar!
Next up was Hiske who, on electric, got up on stage with her teenage son who accompanied his mum alternately on bass & drums. In the previous year’s concert her other son was performing guitar with them (Hiske was singing lead and playing bass) so that they were a bone-fide rock 3-piece! Hiske performed good strong underground Euro rock though I miss the full line-up of the three-piece as they appeared in the 2007 concert - now that’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen, a mum rocking out with her two sons in a band!!
All up it was a terrific concert although I did miss the presence of My Hearts Dezire (Pennie Lennon & Bruno Koenig), and other singer-songwriters such as Rebecca Moore, however time constraints do play a part in all of this. The concept of Mamapalooza is brilliant – mums do rock, more than anyone else perhaps; this was a concert full of excellent performances, writing and musicianship – everyone had a great night. Check out the Mamapalooza website (http://www.mamapalooza.com/) for more details about worldwide events, and stay tuned for 2009’s event!