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Afronauts, Kaurna and Rob Riley rock AMC Session


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One of the best things to come out of the Adelaide Music Collective sessions at the Goodwood Institute is the opportunity to see such a wide variety of musical styles presented by some crazily talented South Australian musicians.

AMC Session #4 was no exception. The opening act featured the sweet acoustic sounds of Kaurna Cronin with his tales of travelling through Germany and Scandinavia shared in both song and anecdote.

A terrific performer who has just returned from 50 gigs in Germany, he was ably supported by his good buddy Dom Symes on the delicious-sounding bass ukulele and harmonies.   These guys are a classic example of the new musicians in Adelaide, their music drawn from experience and their stage-craft fine-tuned by playing a thousand gigs around the country and the world.

The middle spot was filled by the outstanding Shaolin Afronauts, an eight-piece including baritone sax, trombone and trumpet, providing potent blasts of brass and brilliant solos. Two highly skilful guitar players, left and right-handed, bookended the rest of the band at either ends of the stage, working together beautifully in cleverly arranged dual guitar parts and still more extraordinary solos.  All this was driven by a supremely complex rhythm section of drums, bass and percussion.

The Afronauts’ music is based around Afro and Cuban rhythms, with avant garde jazz and soul leanings. It’s been done before, but then, what hasn’t?  These guys are amazing exponents of a very difficult craft and are at the peak of their powers, having just returned from two months  touring Europe, including the popular Glastonbury Festival.

After the interval, David Day inducted the latest members of the Hall of Fame. Among them were Mark Meyer, outstanding drummer for Richard Clapton, Renee Geyer, Moving Pictures, Stylus and many more; Carol Sturtzel, country music queen and live television pioneer; and brilliant technician and innovative recording maestro Max Pepper, whose pedigree dates way back to the early Masters Apprentices recordings.

Joining the Hall of Fame on the back of a five-decade-long career was Doug Ashdown, who performed his hauntingly beautiful “Winter in America”. Bob Francis was also among the inductees, but unfortunately arrived late, interrupted the flow of proceedings and then left immediately after receiving his award.

As good as all this was, the night was dominated by and belonged to the colossus that is Rockin’ Rob Riley, the ultimate rock ’n’ roll bandit famous for his long involvement with Rose Tattoo. They don’t make ’em like Rob any more.  He is down-to-earth (and then some), has a stage presence as formidable as his massive frame and trousers held up the only way possible – with the trademark braces.  He prowls the stage, snarls and swears like a trooper – though beneath this gruff exterior lies the biggest teddy bear you are ever likely to meet.

Most importantly, he dishes up authentic, loud, passionate rock ’n’ roll. He almost lifted the roof off the Goodwood Institute, and among all the proud inductees to the AMC Hall of Fame, I doubt any have been more sincere in their gratitude than Rockin’ Rob Riley!

Special mention must go to Rob’s band: the outstanding Garret Costigan on pedal steel, AMC founder Enrico Morena on drums and formidable bass player “Mitzi” Bryant.

The musicians participating in these events tell me the thing they like the most is the rare opportunity for the different generations of musicians to mix backstage, before, during and after the performances.  I am pretty sure that is one of the things Morena had in mind when he created the AMC.

The next event – featuring Glenn Shorrock and a list of new Hall of Fame inductees – will take place on Friday, October 10.




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