[MUSIC/Cabaret ~ AUS]
Main Hall at Woodville Town Hall, Thu 5 Mar.
This world is a poorer place due to the passing of John Baker a year or so back. So a reunion concert of the band that features many of his best musical friends including a host of local and interstate singers lining up to sing his songs is something pretty special. And while this was done generally as a celebration of John’s music, the secondary purpose of getting the Cleopatra of the Accordion Gayle Buckby back on stage with her instrument and voice, her charm and her grace was also worthwhile. Gayle had promised John to not let the world forget his music; this gig was a fulfilment of this promise.
While John’s music, especially in partnership with Gayle, has often been described as the folk of the French café, there was a very wide range of singers putting up their hand to sing their favourite John Baker song. From opera to country, to voices sounding very much like John Baker to folks delivery authentic and original different takes – there was plenty of variety in the presentations, but a consistency of quality in the performance and respect for the man and his songs.
John had a strong connection to our local aboriginal and Kaurna people, and the show began with an acknowledgement of country from a young man, Arnold Baird, the son of one of the aboriginal singers of the evening, Jessica Wishhart who delivered Your Dreaming Self as an offering of respect for John, her first guitar teacher. The other aboriginal singer was Vonda Last whose rendition of Big Bill’s Dream was simply stunning.
John has a long history of making and teaching music, both in Sydney where he was for much of his life, as well as in Adelaide, where the rich legacy of many of his songs was created. The Baker Suite had an album produced by jazz wizard Paul Grabowsky called A Quartet For Car Horns And Brakes and more recently has enjoyed the services (and friendship) of violin virtuoso Julian Ferraretto (who also played mandolin and Singing Saw on the night – described as a ‘delightful shiver of noise’). The show was filled with a long list talented and captivating singers and musicians all of whom made this such a special night. Suffice it to say that they only thing missing was John himself – it was a joyous celebration of music.
For me, besides the joy of seeing Gayle back on stage swaying and singing with shaker and accordion, was the respect and connection between her, the songs and the many people who shared the stage with her in voice or instrument, which included previous band mates from Problem Pony – Di Caught and Robyn Chalklen.
This article made available courtesy of Radio Adelaide.