vin­tage ap­peal

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - Front Page - by KYLIE WIL­SON

GRAV­ITY de­fy­ing hair, jan­gling gui­tar, colour­ful cloth­ing, and in­fec­tious rhythms – all of these things come to mind when you think about rock­a­billy mu­sic and life­style.

It is a way of life that Wan­garatta’s Karen Ritchens has em­braced since be­com­ing part of lo­cal band, The Mem­phis Trio, in July 2016.

Karen, who also sings with well known lo­cal band Cutest Lit­tle Mon­ster, said she was in­vited to play and sing with the band at a re­hearsal, and it went so well her in­volve­ment just grew from there.

“It suits my voice, I re­late to it well,” Karen said of rock­a­billy mu­sic. “It’s just high en­ergy and it’s so much fun.” Karen said dress­ing up in the clothes of the era, and recre­at­ing vin­tage hair and makeup looks, is also a big part of what she en­joys about rock­a­billy per­for­mance. “It’s a lovely era,” she said. The band, whose mem­bers also in­clude Greg Clarke, Frank Zaknich and Mark Grif­fiths, hail from across the North East, play a num­ber of tra­di­tional rock­a­billy songs, although Karen said they of­ten play some slower num­bers, such as Patsy Cline’s clas­sic Walking Af­ter Mid­night.

Other artists cov­ered in­clude early Elvis and Gene Vin­cent, just to name a few.

Karen said mem­o­ries of her late brother Gary, who was a fan of rock­a­billy mu­sic and shared the mu­sic he loved with her, helped in­spire her per­for­mances.

One of the high­lights of her ca­reer with the band saw her be­ing com­pared to the “Queen of Rock­a­billy”, Wanda Jack­son, at a per­for­mance in Mel­bourne, by some­one who had toured with Wanda her­self.

Karen said although she does not try to mim­ick other singers, she tries to em­body the spirit of the mu­sic.

“I try to breathe au­then­tic­ity and life into the songs, and give them the right kind of feel,” she said.

karen loves per­form­ing with the band, es­pe­cially when they can per­form at fundrais­ing events to help the lo­cal com­mu­nity, such as a Stan­ley Pri­mary School fundraiser on February 11 and a Moyhu Pri­mary School fundraiser on February 25.

They are also per­form­ing to the pub­lic in Wan­garatta at the All GM Show and Shine Day this March, and she said rock­a­billy mu­sic and fash­ion nat­u­rally go hand in hand with car shows.

Karen added that peo­ple who keep and main­tain older cars – and those who sim­ply ad­mire the ve­hi­cles - al­ready “have a strong con­nec­tion with the 1950s era” and play­ing rock­a­billy mu­sic at events such as the Bright Rod Run and the up­com­ing show and shine “adds at­mos­phere”.

Miss KItty and the Mem­phis Trio will per­form at the All GM Show and Shine Day held by Early Holden Car Club Wan­garatta on Sun­day, March 11 in Wan­garatta’s Apex Park.

The event will have a 9am start with tro­phies pre­sented at 1pm and it will be an alcohol and drug free event.

En­try is free and the dis­play will feature more than 200 clas­sic GMs in­clud­ing Hold­ens, Chevs, and more, and more in­for­ma­tion is avail­able by call­ing Lester on 0427 500815 or Craig on 0428 737788.

Any­one seek­ing more in­for­ma­tion on Miss Kitty and the Mem­phis Trio, in­clud­ing news on fur­ther up­com­ing per­for­mances, can find it on the band’s Face­book page.

PHOTO: Emma Hil­lier

MU­SIC AND FUN: Karen Ritchens has em­braced rock­a­billy mu­sic and style as vo­cal­ist for Miss Kitty and the Mem­phis Trio.

BEAT GOES ON: Mem­bers of Miss Kitty and the Mem­phis Trio per­form­ing.

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