THE annual APRA Music Awards is one of the highlights of the music industry calendar, an evening where songwriters collect accolades without having to pander to the demands of live television. This year the event, hosted by the Australasian Performing Right Association, was held last Monday at Melbourne’s Convention and Exhibition Centre, a venue big enough to dwarf even the most humungous egos in the room (with a few exceptions). There was space, too, for an extra host, with singer Clare Bowditch joining regular APRA MC Jonathan Biggins to oversee the event. Both are tremendously talented in their own ways, but as a team their powers to entertain seemed restricted by each other’s company. On the positive side, one of the highlights in recent years at the APRAs has been seeing guest artists perform the nominations for song of the year, which this year were Tame Impala’s
and Courtney Barnett’s Sebastian’s
Guy and Mia Dyson’s All five were given a good restructuring by, respectively, Architecture in Helsinki, Abbe May with Sam Ford and Kram, British India, Jessica Mauboy and Ball Park Music. Architecture in Helsinki got the nod for most radical take on the original recording, a suitably lofty tribute for the song that won the coveted song of the year trophy. Singer Georgi Kay gave a powerful reading of the Divinyls’
as a tribute to singer Chrissy Amphlett. The best was left to last, with singer Lior joined by the choir of Gian Slater and Invenio to perform the Seekers’
As the Seekers’ Bruce Woodley, Athol Guy and Keith Potger stepped up to accept the Ted Albert Award in recognition of 50 years in the business, their singer Judith Durham, who is recovering in hospital from a brain haemorrhage, had to settle for listening to the standing ovation for them on her phone. BLUESFEST promoter and bon vivant Peter Noble and writer, activist and arts mover and shaker Rhoda Roberts are powerful presences on the Australian cultural landscape, so it will be interesting to see how they fare as a unit. The two have just made the first line-up announcement for a new festival to be held in Byron Bay at the Bluesfest site in October that they hope will bring indigenous culture even further into the larger Australian community. The Boomerang Festival is about more than just music; theatre, film, comedy and dance also will be represented, while actor and television host Ernie Dingo and academic Larissa Behrendt have been announced as speakers at the event. Says Noble: ‘‘We think now is the right time to show the viability and value of Australian indigenous culture in an accessible event which will give all Australians a sense of pride on experiencing the best of the best in indigenous arts today.’’ Leading the music component of the festival on the October long weekend will be Gurrumul and the Queensland Virtuoso Symphony Orchestra. Veteran singer Archie Roach will be joined by Lou Bennett, Emma Donovan and Deline Briscoe to launch a retrospective of Roach’s early work. Also on the Boomerang bill are Shellie Morris, the Medics and Thelma Plum. REVERED American producer, songwriter and performer Todd Rundgren begins an Australian tour next month. He’s 65 today. Happy birthday to him, and to Cyndi Lauper (60) and Primal Scream singer Bobby Gillespie (51).