Last night we went down to Federation Square and caught up with Sue, Dee and Marie for day two of the Melbourne Indigenous Arts Festival. I found the link the other day, quite by accident, and sent it on to Suez who’s a big fan of indigenous music. Only after sending the link did I look at the line up and notice that Casey Donovan was also scheduled to play. And Casey was on right before Dan Sultan (the artist the girls love to love). So I wrote back to Sue and said we’d come along, weather pending because it was supposed to rain all weekend.
Well thankfully our weather forecasters have been off a little of late, and other than a few spits here and there, the rain stayed away.
When we arrived we searched for the girls, but couldn’t find them anywhere. After a good fifteen minutes I sent a text to Sue asking where she was, but there’s no way she would have heard my message over the sounds being made on the stage. And just after sending the message (before she would have gotten it) I look up and across the way is a group of people waving at us, and there they were. At one point in the search we would have been standing right behind them!
They had arrived earlier in the day day, wanting to catch other acts, so they had been standing there for quite some time.
The act that was on when we got there was hip-hop artist Radical Son. He was pretty standard fare when it comes to my exposure to hip-hop, which is extremely limited. He interacted with the crowd well and played a good set, ending with the adage “In judging me, you judge yourself.” Which I thought was a pretty good ideology in life.
Then the break, when David and I ducked off to get some food, and back for Casey Donovan.
Now if you don’t know Casey she, as she explained, was on Australian Idol about 8 years ago. During it’s second year on air. At 16 she was the youngest contestant on the show and she was awesome. In fact in all the years of Idol Casey is the only contestant for whom I picked up the phone and voted. What she didn’t mention last night was that she won Australian Idol. I don’t know why she didn’t expressly point it out, but she beat Anthony Callea (our neighbour at the time) and took the top honors. She was then unceremoniously dumped by the label after they contractually required one album had had its run. And if we’re being honest, like fellow Idol winner, Kate Dearaugo, was dumped because she didn’t fit the cookie cutter “pretty girl” that the industry expects our female artists to be. Talent be damned. Casey has a big, beautiful voice and it’s sad it has remained mostly silent over the past 8 years.
She played a good set that included her idol winner’s track “Listen with Your Heart” and also a favourite from her “For You” album, “What’s Going On”. With these she included other tunes including Mamma Cass’s “Dream A Little Dream Of Me” and Hairspray’s “I Know Where I’ve Been”. I was good seeing Casey Donovan, back on stage and looking happy performing.
After a very brief break it was Dan Sultan’s turn to shine. While he humbly decried his having to follow an artist like Casey Donovan, he was clearly the one the crowd came to see. I’d never seen Dan perform, nor am I previously familiar with any of his work, but I was standing in a mainly empty area, with David, Marie, Sue and Dee, until Dan graced the stage. Then we were suddenly in a crowd.
He’s a great performer, and his work is very well mainstream, not sure why it doesn’t get more airplay on commercial radio stations, maybe they do tend to steer too much away from our indigenous artists. David noted Dan’s performance style was very reminiscent of that of John Mellencamp and I tend to agree. Dan’s songs and stage presence would not be out of place on a Mellencamp stage.
It was a great night, I took a bunch of photos, I think some of them turned out alright.