Music Spin Doctor and the latest album reviews
Earlier this week I wrote in The Australian about 13-year-old singer and dancer Mack Holz, a young hopeful from Lightning Ridge in northwestern NSW who is one of the stars of the film Wide
Open Sky, which has its full-length, director’s-cut world premiere as part of the Sydney Film Festival next Friday. The film, by Sydney director Lisa Nicol, focuses on the Moorambilla Voices regional choir, whose artistic director Michelle Leonard’s aim is to bring music education to those in rural NSW who otherwise would have no access to it. Wide Open Sky focuses on the recruitment of 200 primary school children from across the state and their participation in a threeday music camp — many of them away from home for the first time — followed by a kind of graduation concert. It’s a wonderfully uplifting and natural piece of work, displaying not only Leonard’s passion for her task but also how music can open young minds to a whole new world of possibilities. The film’s producers are hopeful of a cinema release later in the year, we hear. A posse of more experienced Aussie musos will get the chance to broaden their horizons next week when they start recording an album with Cuban and Jamaican musicians in Havana. The recording project, which will feature the talents of legendary Jamaican rhythm section Sly & Robbie, among others, is designed to bring together Cuba and Jamaica’s distinctive styles of music and to forge an original hybrid. Australian sound engineer Eric Coelho, who works as an audio lecturer at the Creative Media Institute in Byron Bay, NSW, will be sound engineer on the recording, which takes place at Havana’s Egrem Studios. Also taking part from here are producer and keyboards player Jake Savona, Blue King Brown and Bombay Royale drummer Julian Goyma and percussionist Javier Fredes. Aussies are also filming the recording sessions for a documentary. The album will be mixed and mastered in Australia. Although the large touring rock festival is going the way of the dodo, there are a growing number of boutique-style gatherings across Australia that are attracting quality acts from here and overseas, as well as good numbers. Next one off the rank is the inaugural Bello Winter Music Festival in Bellingen, NSW, which takes place at venues across town on July 2-5. It’s run by Glenn Wright, for years promoter of the successful Mullum Music Festival in Mullumbimby, NSW. Bello, he says, will follow a similar path, combining music with workshops and forums focusing on the environment and renewable energy, among other attractions. Leading the line-up next month is the much-lauded California duo the Milk Carton Kids. Local talent includes Ash Grunwald, Tinpan Orange and Emma Donovan. You can find out more at bellowintermusic.com. Happy birthday this weekend to Carl Barat of the recently re-formed English outfit the Libertines, who is 37 today. Also to gun American guitarist Steve Vai, who is 55. Tomorrow Welsh singing legend Tom Jones reaches his 75th birthday, while soul-pop-funk maestro Prince Roger Nelson, better known as just Prince, turns 57.
Mack Holz with filmmaker Lisa Nicol