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The Constellation of Mikelangelo

MIKELANGELO – The Balkan Elvis – Live and Intimate Tour. Polish Club, Saturday 9th May, 2015
by Little Dove 

Mikelangelo's Balkan Elvis

Mikelangelo’s Balkan Elvis. Image by a Lizard’s View

If you like music and you live in Canberra, chances are you know the slick black quiff, hip shaking, heavy breath and deep croon that signify our very own multi talented Mikelangelo. Though he has not been a local for sometime, his consistent gigs here are a tribute to his love of the capital “Canberra, you are beautiful. You’ve got it all going on.” Ever the inventor, tonight he introduces us to Eastern Bloc Rock from his alter ego Johnny Presley AKA The Balkan Elvis. This is the first music gig at the Polish Club since reopening it’s doors after an 18 month hiatus. And it does not disappoint.

In this intimate cabaret style show, Johnny regales tales majestic of a meagre adolescence in Eastern Europe, and his rise to fame in the shadow of his “twin from the Americas”. He and a bunch of friends first saw Elvis when they snuck across town to peek through a window to look at some crazy thing they had heard about – the television. Johnny was hooked on King Creole from the moment he saw him thrusting on the tiny screen.

Mikelangelo cleverly interweaves local references within the stories, and we feel special to be noted. He is funny and self deprecating. One moment when looking theatrically lost as to why we were all laughing, he began a fake laugh, saying in his thick Dubrovnic drawl “I hear you laughing now. And I am laughing too. So I am laughing with you”. It was sweet and funny.

The way he looks is extraordinary, and I often find myself a little star struck in his very large presence and arching eyebrows. From his shiny stripey suit, to his intense stare, to his red suede shoes, this man bedazzles.

And then there’s the music. For the first twenty minutes I can barely move my eyes off his guitar and it’s wielding hands. I am generally entranced and astounded by any musician when they play well. The rolling, tapping, plucking, banging, blowing. It’s frickin amazing. Mikelangelo’s guitar swings and sways in unison like a body part as he moves in ownership of the stage.

His clever reinterpretations of Elvis songs are full of humour and they connect appropriately with the story. His delivery is consistently strong and the air is thick with attention to the breath dense and at times almost operatic strain. Whilst paying respect to The King, Mikelangelo brings his own unique flavour. His rendition of ‘Love Me Tender’ on the squeezebox is beautiful.

Midway through the show he is joined on stage for ‘Viva Dubrovnic’! by some of the talented crew from local bands Brass Knuckle and Moochers Inc. John Gosling on trombone; Thomas Manley on sax; Tim bowyer and Cameron Smith on trumpet; David Abkiewicz on sousaphone; Mark Levers on drums. Their synchronicity is impressive and their sounds bombastic. Man do these guys get around. They play all over town ALL THE TIME and are relentless in their commitment to not only making their own music, but to supporting others. Without rehearsal, they and our serenader are seamless in their collaboration. Mikelangelo is generous in his support as well, shimmying his way around the stage to allow the band their own attention. And we gave it eagerly.

The show ends with a sing-along to ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’ followed by a foot stomping encore of ‘Hound Dog’. And finally a kiss good night for every audience member from Mikelangelo upon exit.

“I’m gonna become a big star. I’m gonna become a constellation”. Indeed.

The Kristabelle’s Review

Kristabelle and The Southern Jubilee Ringers @ Turner Bowls. 6th Mar, 2015
by Chenoeh Miller

Her smooth deep vocals are highlighted by a killer ensemble and a knock out pair of boots, but the crowd is small and the sound is low.

The Turner Bowls club is a favourite local venue. No, really, what’s not to like? There’s a pool table, cheap drinks, a dollhouse stage, the gorgeous CMC welcoming committee and a regular line up of some of the best bands in town. So I was stunned on this particular evening upon my 9pm arrival, to find a mere 23 people scattered around the rounded tables. Perhaps there was another party that night that I didn’t know of. But I wasn’t about to let the vacant space deter me from enjoying a rare parenting free night, toe tapping to one of my favourite recent musical finds. As self nominated die hard fans, my friends and I quickly nicknamed them ‘The Kristabelle’s’.

Within minutes they arrive on stage, each with a sunshine gaze and singin’ of springtime on the range today. I am instantly reminded of the UK band Kitty, Daisy and Lewis. Only these folk are less dirty, less rockabilly and more the pure country sound that I love. Like Patsy Cline and Dolly Parton.

Cary Grant and Beatie Bow on guitars, Clint Eastwood (circa 1965) on double bass and the divine sunshine that is Alice in Wonderland* on violin and banjo with her enviable blue boots. Alice and Beatie wear classic country matchy dresses. They are all heart and poise; their harmony and teeth exquisite in every way.

Cary is smooth with his supportive and constant presence. His winning smile tells me that he loves being here. And his upward facing steel string clangs superb as he expertly manoeuvres central focus from himself to his adoring Belles.

Clint’s relentless energy keeps us enthralled despite the empty space in the room. His legitimate banditry reaches lovely peaks when he tells inter song tales with Beatie.

I want to hear them more. Alas the sound is low. My friend and I discuss who will ask the sound guy to turn it up. She does, to not much avail. The instruments and vocals remain low. The few of us there would have taken a cue from the volume to dance but the softness kept us in our seats.

I first saw this group at a Backyard Bachanalia some weeks before when their energy was much bigger – perhaps incurred by the bigger crowd. Evidently these still sitting few were given a lesser joy on this round.

I love this group, but I crave their possibility and a more consistent energy. Still, they are my favourite local band at the moment and I can’t wait to see them again.

*names changed for no particular reason.
They are in fact: Cary – Kevin Bradley; Beatie – Jacqueline Bradley; Clint – Ed Radclyffe
And Alice – Krista Schmeling
Together they are Kristabelle and the Southern Jubilee Ringers