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Explainer: the politics of heavy metal

 A Black Sabbath fan on stage at a rock concert  
in Finland. Anssi Koskinen/flickr

The popular mythology of heavy metal begins with an amputation. In the mid-1960s, teenage guitarist Frank Anthony Iommi lost the tips of several fingers in an industrial accident. To compensate for this loss, he tuned his guitar lower, slackening the strings to make them easier to bend. Heavy metal was ostensibly born from this unholy union of dismembered fingertips and a sheet metal factory.

The much-exalted missing fingertips of Tony Iommi, who went on to become lead guitarist in Black Sabbath, highlight how heavy metal’s foundational mythology is rooted in working class masculinity.

In 1991, Deena Weinstein argued that the heavy metal genre was by definition white, young, working class, and male. Such characterisations have persisted, but heavy metal has actually diversified over time, even embracing left-wing and environmental politics with causes ranging from whale protection to labour conditions.

Black Sabbath in 1970. Wikimedia Commons

Metal’s evolution

The term “heavy metal” began to circulate in the late 1960s, denoting a musical style broadly characterised by highly amplified, distorted guitars, and emphatic drums and bass. Metal’s aggressive vocal styles can range from the high-pitched vibrato of Judas Priest’s Rob Halford, to the deep, guttural death growls of Travis Ryan of Cattle Decapitation.

With the emergence of Black Sabbath, the “first” heavy metal band, the mythos of metal started to solidify. Black Sabbath’s origins in the British industrial city of Birmingham were taken to be a core factor in their sound – heavy, chugging riffs and thunderous drums echoed the bleak repetition of factory floors and deafening manufacturing conditions.

 ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’ - Black Sabbath (1973).

Metal as the music of the white working class was a narrative that followed a swathe of English bands that formed the New Wave of British Heavy Metal in the late 1970s – including Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Motörhead – and affirmed metal’s sense of self, even as the genre continued to expand.

Metal and the market

While metal was at the centre of several moral panics in the 1980s, and was chastised by claims of Satanism, sex and violence, tensions within the metal scene itself saw the development of various subgenres. The pop commerciality of glam and hair metal was countered by the “fundamentalism” of speed and thrash metal scenes spearheaded by bands such as Metallica and Slayer, who sought to make metal harder and faster.

The desire in the late 1980s for even heavier, faster metal saw a push towards death metal, grindcore, and later black metal. The enormous success of Metallica’s 1991 self-titled release cemented these subgenres, collectively referred to as “extreme metal”, as the last hold-outs for metal’s anti-commercial aspirations. Extreme metal can appear bizarre or terrifying to the unfamiliar – the series of murders and church arsons which implicated members of the Norwegian black metal scene in the early 1990s have overshadowed the music itself.

 Metallica’s 1991 self-titled album.

here are now over 100,000 metal bands worldwide, playing more than 50 subgenres of metal. Metal fans are the most loyal listeners of any style of music.

Nonetheless, extreme metal has become the dominant movement, with black and death metal accounting for over 72,000 of the roughly 119,000 band entries on metal-archives.com. The splinter genres of metalcore and deathcore, which fuse metal elements with hardcore punk, also account for a substantial market share.

Political activism

Even as thrash metal, and later death metal, encountered moral panics, these scenes were crucial sites for political discourse. US acts Sacred Reich and Evildead protested environmental destruction in the late 1980s, while South Africa’s Retribution Denied spoke out against the lingering corruption of Apartheid in the early 1990s. Although these scenes remained largely white and male, they also offered visibility to people of colour within metal.

With bands such as Mexico’s Brujeria, Brazil’s Sepultura, and Slovakia’s Gladiator, thrash and death metal scenes also became an outlet to express identity narratives which moved beyond the mythologised factory floors of the British midlands.

Metal acts continue to engage with international politics. Environmentalism is a key theme: French progressive death metal band Gojira, alongside British metalcore act Architects, have partnered with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Labour conditions are another concern, in a more explicitly political sense than metal’s foundational acts. Grindcore pioneers Napalm Death and blackened folk metal act Dawn Ray’d are staunchly anti-capitalist and anti-fascist.

 Gojira lead singer Joseph Duplantier voices his support for Sea Shepherd.

Metal can also offer nuanced responses to localised politics. Jeremy Wallach writes that young people in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore have used metal to express anger at uneven economic development. Israel’s Orphaned Land and Palestine’s Khalas toured together in 2013 to send a message of coexistence. In Australia, blackened death metal duo Hazeen have used metal to respond to Islamophobia.

Metal nonetheless battles ongoing issues of racism, misogyny and homophobia. Limited representation for women in mainstream metal press beyond “Hottest Chicks” annuals remains a core concern, as does the proliferation of extreme-right sentiment within metal scenes. Representation for trans folk in metal scenes is also minimal, though metal vocalist Danica Roem’s recent election to Virginia’s House of Delegates may go some way to renegotiate this.

Metal still has much work to do to adequately represent and engage its diverse populations. Yet the increased willingness of metal acts and media outlets to have important discussions around representation and identity points to a vital new era for metal’s public image, beyond its original mythology of working class masculinity.

This Explainer was written by:
Image of Catherine Hoad Catherine Hoad – [Sessional academic in Communications, University of Technology Sydney]




This article is part of a syndicated news program via

Sunday essay: the art of the pinch – popular music and appropriation

 The Rolling Stones performing in Hamburg during 
the ‘No Filter’ European tour: the band’s legacy is entwined with the 
pioneers of black American music. Morris Mac Matzen/Reuters

Everything old is new again. Today the Rolling Stones release On Air, a collection of much-bootlegged BBC live studio broadcasts taped for a variety of programs between 1963 and 1965. The remastered set provides a rare glimpse of the young musicians playing to order the songs that defined their early hybrid sound and telegraphed – much like The Beatles – their love for African-American music.

The recently restored archival recordings map their transition from astute performers of seminal black American blues and roots music to legitimate codifiers of its (mostly white) bastard offspring. From I Can’t Be Satisfied to (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, from Route 66 to 2120 South Michigan Avenue. Full circle, full steam ahead.

The release of these archival recordings, following on from last year’s bristling Blue & Lonesome set and the recent nostalgia-laden #NoFilter tour are a reminder of how entwined the band’s legacy is with the pioneers of black American music. From their Delta roots to their electric spirit animal offspring – Chicago and West Coast blues, Stax and Motown soul and early Sun and Chess rock ‘n roll – the old masters had cast a wicked spell over the young lads from Dartford. This, of course, is in stark contrast to the saccharine radio programming Mick Jagger and Keith Richards had grown up with in the 1950s in which appropriating another person’s culture and creative output had turned an artistic endeavour into a form of soft-manufacturing.

Music production became a lucrative industry with straight-edge white performers like Bill HayleyPerry Como and Pat Boone cutting sanitised versions of Little RichardBig Joe Turner and Fats Domino records when the original renditions were still fighting their way up the pop charts. As Richard explained in the Chuck Berry documentary Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll:

Then here come Pat Boone. The white kids wanted mine, ’cause it was real rough and raw, and Pat Boone had this smooth version. And so, the white kids would take mine and put it in the drawer and put his on top of the dresser. I was mad. When Pat Boone covered my record, I was mad, I wanted to get him. I said, ‘I’m goin’ to Nashville to find him’.

Cultural appropriation in a musical context doesn’t have to be at the exclusion of the original artist or the culture from which they carved their path. Pinching musical phrases and stylistic approaches – when done thoughtfully and with a desire to connect with the original work’s unique properties – has always been a part of the art making process.

And yet, as artists like the Stones and the Beatles have demonstrated, it should not be a closed circuit. It should manifest itself as a social and artistic conversation across languages, across media, and across generations – a form of cultural exchange. Although, as Keith Richards discovered when working with Chuck Berry in the late 1980s, getting it right ain’t always easy. There is inevitably a price to pay, and Richards more than anyone knows the score. For every lift, there is a link to the past – a debt owed and a palm to grease. With every lick comes a nod and a cheeky wink.

A medium of social exchange

The production of culture is very much informed by the technology that enables it. The Philadelphia and New York disco movement, for instance, were as much a technological evolution as a dance floor phenomena. Legendary DJs such as Frankie Knuckles and Larry Levan would isolate, cut, loop and layer sounds using reel-to-reel tapes to create extended remixes to maximise a track’s dancefloor credentials.

In much the same way, hip hop culture helped facilitate the emergence of the remix as a technological act via turntablism, scratching and later sampling. Inevitably, pinching the break or the intro or a signature moment and re-purposing it would evolve into an art form. By dropping musical fragments into new material arrangements, disco and hip-hop DJs from the Bay to the Island devised an accessible production methodology that would translate seamlessly into the post-analogue world.

Producers like Danger Mouse (The Grey Album) and The Avalanches (Since I Left You) and mash-up artists like Girl Talk (Feed the Animals) and Tom Caruana (Black Gold) are the millennial cut and paste inheritors of this practice.

The digital remix not only accelerated modes of cultural exchange but made possible an almost infinite splintering of sub genres and associated sub cultures. What makes hip hop culture so important – and this is analogous to the Stones – is that in the beginning, DJs like DJ Kool Herc borrowed from music that was not only underrepresented on mainstream radio, but was made by revered funk and soul artists – the so called “the sacred crates. Kool Herc championed records by James Brown, The Jimmy Castor BunchCymande (UK), The Incredible Bongo Band and Baby Huey & The Babysitters.

Music is also a medium of social exchange, we can see (and hear) this in the evolution of not only disco and hip hop but also in Jamaican sound system culture of the 1950s. Sound clashes were inherently socio-political events organised as mass gatherings around big speakers and big sounds and big ideas. In essence, a sound clash was a competition between sound system crews who marshalled speaker stacks, often on the back of trucks, spinning imported American R&B records and later dub plates of exclusive Ska and Rocksteadymixes. It was sonic warfare. DJs and MCs – like Count Machuki and Clement “Coxsone” Dodd – became local superstars who cultivated their own sounds. From Jamaican Sound System culture we can mark the emergence of brand new sonic techniques like scratching (Lee “Scratch” Perry), beat boxing (Machuki), the break (Kool Herc) and the remix (King Tubby).

These musical innovations became statements of Caribbean identity. Like African and Cuban rhythms that migrated to the Americas, these sounds became migratory too, travelling with West Indian migrants to the UK, leaking into the sonic palette of predominately white groups such as MadnessThe Pretenders, The Specials, The Police and of course The Clash. These would later mutate into more distilled contemporary forms such as Dub, Jungle and Drum & Bass.

A cultural awakening

The release of On Air by the Rolling Stones is indicative of a recurrent theme of the group not only appropriating African American musical stylings, lyrical patterns and performative techniques but pointing audiences to the source. Whether it be in the mimicry of Chuck Berry guitar phrases, the jungle rhythms of Bo Diddley, the vocal mannerisms of Jimmy Reed or the lyrical misogyny of Sonny Boy Williamson, the band has always worn its passion for the source material like a badge of honour.

The Stones’ breakout tours of the US and Europe (1967-72) are indicative of this dogged commitment to the form. They stacked their support act packages with African American artists such as Taj Mahal (1968), Ike and Tina Turner (upon whom Jagger is rumoured to have based his raunchy stage persona), BB King (1969), Buddy Guy (1970), and Stevie Wonder (1972). As Guy remarked recently

They were bigger than bubble-gum … when they came to America, they recognized some of the greatest musicians that I had admired – Ike and Tina Turner, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf – and let America know who we were. They let white America know what the blues is. We owe those guys all the thanks in the world.

The American tours of the early 1970s took place in a politically charged atmosphere of racial division, sexual awakening and inter-generational conflict. A time when white American audiences were still reconciling with the notion that culture was a form of identification, of exchange, a mode of storytelling rooted in race, identity, faith, sex and – after Dylan via Guthrie – politics.

It was also a period of cultural awakening, as a rich lineage of African American music – which had given the world fiercely original artists such as Robert Johnson, Billy Holiday, John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Chuck Berry – was now being commodified for new audiences by a new industry and a new genre of musical expression.

An open source ‘cookbook of rock’

The musical tool kit the latter artists laid bare – open tunings, a swinging back-beat, bending notes, long form improvisation, call and response, vocal phrasings, urban storytelling, spiritual empowerment, stage theatrics and of course overt sexual bravado were all mutated into this musical progression.

Bands like the Stones, The Animals, Fleetwood Mac, Cream and later Led Zeppelin, The Allman Brothers Band and the Grateful Dead appropriated many of these elements to design an open source Cookbook of Rock – flexible enough that it would facilitate decades of experimentation and manipulation, yet well-enough defined so that it would require devotion and authenticity to pull off a lick with your chops and dignity still intact.

Bo Diddley, the original “guitar slinger” – and by his own admission, “the man” – was one of rock and roll’s true technical innovators who has a very different take on this.

Speaking to the New York Times in 2003, he made it quite clear who were the beneficiaries of this process: “I opened the door for a lot of people, and they just ran through and left me holding the knob”.

Accusations of appropriation have, of course, dogged Led Zeppelin, with several claims that they lifted song parts and lyrics without accreditation or acknowledgement (although a court cleared the band of plagiarism in relation to Stairway to Heaven in 2016). The argument they proffer in their defence, that the pinch was more like a sample and that the result was a considerable transformation of the original, is consistent with the conceit of musical appropriation as an artistic prerogative. Yet it would seem that Zeppelin were more brazen than most.

Cultural forms as fashion accessories

The brashness of Page and Plant displays a degree of insensitivity and perhaps white privilege that lies at the heart of the contemporary cultural appropriation debate.

We have seen recently – from bindis at Coachella to American Indian regalia at Burning Man – how racial and cultural forms have been commodified and trashed as fashion accessories to serve bizarre notions of connectedness, freedom and belonging. Most prominently, this is exploited by art directors and marketing departments to window dress pop music by highly visible major label music acts who probably should know better in the Twenty-Teens.

Indian and Hindu culture gets the full treatment in the ethno-confused art direction of Coldplay and Beyoncé’s promo clip for the song, Hymn for the Weekend, that portrays Indian stereotypes – like “levitating gurus, slum dogs, and throwing coloured powder” – in a manner that, according to Rashmee Kumar, stifles critical thinking about India’s social and political climate.

Coldplay’s video romanticizes Hinduism to further exoticize India as a westerners’ paradise unsullied by harsh realities.

We see this time and again in the mish-mash of Asian referencing in productions featuring Major Lazer & DJ Snake (India), Iggy Azalea (India, again) and Katy Perry’s bizarre appearance as a Geisha at the American Music Awards.

Epitomising this trend is John Mayer’s video clip, Still Feel Like Your Man, a musical performance he confusingly labels “disco dojo” and “ancient Japanese R&B”. Although the clip is emblematic of this creative clumsiness by major artists, the music press at the time went along for the ride. Rolling Stone magazine called the clip “colourful” while Billboardmagazine repeated Mayer’s mixed Japanese metaphor, adding that the Mister Whitmore directed clip is “decorated with kimonos, dancers in panda bear costumes, swordfighting and bamboo trees” despite the obvious contradiction that Panda bears are traditionally from China.

Music journalist Touré cuts to the chase saying Mayer is “not racist, he is dumb on race”. In just one tweet Touré calls out Mayer’s ill-informed approach to not only the video’s production design but even the song’s origins, which evidently have more to do with Katy Perry’s old shampoo bottles than the origins of global Asian culture. The West’s colonial view of the East however has always been perverted, as Malek Alloula wrote in The Colonial Harem back in 1981, the Orient

has fascinated and disturbed Europe for a long time. It has been its glittering imaginary and its mirage.

Pop culture is the messiness between the concentric orbits of personal identity and collective history. When appropriation is done well, with a quest for knowledge or to seek out an emotional core or a narrative truth, this messiness can create new meanings and new partnerships. It might even construct new narratives and spawn new beginnings.

When it is done in an ill-informed, shallow, tokenistic manner, it only serves to perpetuate tired yet stubbornly persistent colonial, racial and patriarchal stereotypes.

An informed practitioner

Jagger and Richards are not alone in their quest for authenticity and musical integrity. Many productive relationships were forged between African American musicians and their British disciples in the Sixties. Studious artists such as The Beatles, Eric Burdon, Ray Davies, Eric Clapton, John Mayall and Peter Green well understood the burden of institutional oppression and the insult of segregation that framed the Blues narrative. Eric Clapton in particular, when not flirting with radio schmaltz, has spent a large part of his career trying to perfect the performance stylings and musical arrangements of artists such as Freddy KingRobert Johnson and Lowell Fulson.

Listen for instance to Clapton’s extraordinary vocal performance and brutal guitar playing on his late career electric blues covers album From the Cradle.

In the swinging London of the Sixties, Clapton’s chariot swung low, he understood better than anyone the importance of cultural exchange – of being in the moment, of finding the sound, of going deep. For Clapton, the moment had to be real. He devised his own version of the power-trio band format after seeing the Buddy Guy trio tear up a club in London in 1965.

A year later, at the Regent Street Polytechnic, the roles were reversed when he witnessed the Hendrix phenomena first hand. At the bequest of manager Chas Chandler, Hendrix was invited to jam with Clapton’s new outfit, The Cream. However, Hendrix’s incendiary version of Killing Floor shocked Clapton so completely that he retreated backstage, later confronting Chandler with the immortal line: “You never told me he was that fucking good.”

Clapton was knowledgeable enough, however, to understand the lineage back to Buddy Guy and to Otis Rush and the rarefied realm within which these artists operated. Like Clapton before him, Hendrix’s brief London period was very much about research and experimentation. He grabbed what he could – sounds, rooms, gadgets, people, the air itself – to create the colours he saw in his head and by doing so blowing everyone’s mind in the process.

Keith Altham a writer for the New Musical Express at the time, remembers Hendrix as

a magpie. He would take from blues, jazz – only Coltrane could play in that way – and Dylan was the greatest influence. But he’d listen to Mozart, he’d read sci-fi and Asimov and it would all go through his head and come out as Jimi Hendrix.

Today, if Hendrix were to be studying his Masters at the Melbourne Conservatorium, we would call him an informed practitioner. Back then he was a seasoned professional working in relative anonymity in the hotbed of London with the support of Misters Clapton, Chandler, Jones and McCartney.

Today, magpie extraordinaire Bob Dylan – rock’s first poet Laureate, pirate, cowboy, the joker and the thief in the night – has spent the last two decades reverting to the ramshackle rhythm and blues template of the old masters. His Never Ending tour has become a quest for authenticity via a re-imagining of his back catalogue through the DNA of rhythm and blues. Purists take note.

So, it comes down to this notion of being informed and knowledgeable about the origins of cultural idioms that are being appropriated that defines music making and performance. Its evolution is an often lawless and contested process of cultural and technical mutation – a hack of the circuits, a pinch of the code.

In the first instance, something has to be identified as being worthy of emulation or adaptation, and in turn, something then has to be gained from the act of appropriating it. The art form must evolve, diversify, move forward, or – as the case is with Hendrix – take a giant leap into the future.

This essay was written by:
Image of Mitch GoodwinMitch Goodwin – [Curriculum Design Lab, Faculty of Arts, University of Melbourne]






This article is part of a syndicated news program via

Announcing the Australian Premiere of HAND TO GOD



The Smash Hit Broadway Comedy


By Robert Askins

February 22 – March 18, 2018
The Alex Theatre St Kilda 

The critically acclaimed American play HAND TO GODabout a demonic sock puppet that wreaks havoc on relationships and faith in a small Texas town, will have its Australian premiere at The Alex Theatre St Kilda from 22nd February 2018, for a strictly limited season

In this pure black comedy, which received five Tony Award nominations in 2015 including Best Play, something devilish is lurking in a church basement puppet show in Cypress, Texas. And his name is…Tyrone. He may look like an innocent sock puppet, but when he infiltrates the angst-ridden church youth group and takes possession of Jason’s arm, all hell breaks loose. Spectacularly foul-mouthed and wickedly scandalous, Tyrone shocks the congregation with his outrageous insinuations, exposing their deepest secrets—and teaching us all about love, grief and what it means to be human. Following on from Broadway and London runs, this darkly delightful and wildly funny comedy will equally shock and delight audiences.

The Australian premiere season of HAND TO GOD will feature Gyton Grantley as the shy and awkward Jason, whose seemingly lifeless hand puppet, Tyrone, begins to take on a life of its own, Alison Whyte as his mother Margery, Grant Piro as Pastor Greg, Jake Speer as Timothy and Morgana O’Reilly as Jessica. The creative team includes Gary Abrahams (Director), Jacob Battista (Scenic Design), Amelia Lever-Davidson (Lighting Design), Chloe Greaves (Costume Design) and Ian Moorhead (Sound Design).  

Director Gary Abrahams said “When I first read the script I knew I had to do it. I hadn’t laughed so much or so loudly in ages, and I was so taken with the daring of Robert Askins writing. It’s an incredibly smart and very funny new play that reveals itself to be something quite special. I absolutely see why it’s been such a hit worldwide and I’ve no doubt audiences will love it just as much here. Maybe even more so, Australians have a real love of risque and irreverent humour. What could be more fun than a wild than an irreverent comedy that dramatizes the battle between good and evil in such a surprising way? Hand To God is truly outrageous—there are moments that make you scream with horror and laughter at the same time. I guess you could say it’s a simple story about a puppet who takes over the handthen the lifeof a small-town teen, tearing up the stage as he does it. But as you watch it, you see that playwright Rob Askin has also got something important to say about hypocrisy, belief, and grief—and the ridiculous pleasures of bad behaviour. The play is filthy and hilarious and perverse and also a little bit heartbreaking.” 

Producer Aleksander Vass remarked, “Gary Abrahams has a feel for comedy like very few people I know and Hand to God requires a director who can unleash its subversively brash and outrageous spirit. Gary previously directed Bad Jews for us and I knew he was the perfect choice to helm this production.”


Flat-out hilarious. A true tour de force. – New York Times

Sesame Street meets The Exorcist  New Yorker

It can’t be outdone – and shouldn’t be missed. – New York Daily News

Nothing is more exciting than a new play that takes you by surprise. – Wall Street Journal

A maliciously delicious black comedy…Tyrone is offering the breakout inanimate-object performance of the year. – Washington Post


WARNING: HAND TO GOD is definitely for mature audiences due to its rude, raunchy, and riotously funny content. You’ve been warned. 


By Robert Askins

Directed by Gary Abrahams

Previews: Thursday 22 & Friday 23 February 2018

Opening Night: Saturday 24th February 2018

Performance Schedule: 

Tuesday at 7pm, Wednesday to Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 5pm and Saturday matinees at 3pm

Website: handtogod.com.au

Ticket Information: ticketek.com.au | 132 849

Tickets range from $58.20 to $67.90


The Alex Theatre

135 Fitzroy Street

St Kilda VIC






Since graduating from QUT, Gyton has forged a remarkable career in film, theatre and television. His feature film credits include The Dressmaker, Don’t Tell, The Reef, Beneath Hill 60, Balibo and Prime Mover. Gyton is renowned for his television performances and has appeared in House Husbands (Series 1 to 4) as series regular ‘Kane’, Fat Tony & Co, Cliffy,30 Seconds, True Story With Hamish and Andy, Rescue Special Ops, East West 101, All Saints, Bond and Underbelly where Gyton’s portrayal of Carl Williams garnered critical acclaim with an AFI Award for Best Actor in a Television Series and a Silver Logie for Most Outstanding Actor. He was recently seen fronting the animal loving programme Pooches at Play and will soon be seen in a telemovie based on the life of Olivia Newton-John. Gyton’s most recent theatre appearance was in Opera Australia’s production of South Pacific in the role of ‘Luther Bilis’. Othertheatre credits include Domestic Bliss for the Old Fitzroy Theatre, Vincent in Brixton for the Ensemble Theatre, The Removalist for La Boite Theatre, The Blue Roof for Jigsaw Theatre Company and Vertigo and The Virginia for Tamarama Rock Surfers. He performed the title role in La Boite’s production of Ruben Guthrie, where he received a Matilda Award Nomination for Best Male Actor in a Leading Role.



Alison Whyte is one of Australia’s most accomplished and celebrated actors, with an outstanding reputation in theatre, film and television. On the small screen, Alison has been seen in numerous productions, including The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Tangle, Satisfaction, City Homicide, Marshall Law, Sea Change, Good Guys Bad Guys, G.P. and the critically acclaimed Frontline, amongst many others. Alison has most recently been seen in The Kettering Incident and Glitch. Amongst her numerous films include The Dressmaker, Centreplace, The Jammed, Subterano and Saturday Night.

Alison has worked with many mainstage theatre companies. Her most recent performance was in Melbourne Theatre Company’s production of Faith Healer, starring alongside Colin Friels and directed by Judy Davis.  This critically acclaimed production originated with Belvoir St Theatre. Appearances with Sydney Theatre Company include The Testament of Mary, Love and Information and Travelling North, as well as Australia Day for both the Sydney Theatre Company and the Melbourne Theatre Company. Also for the Melbourne Theatre Company, Alison appeared in Last Man Standing, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Clybourne Park and All About My Mother and for the Black Swan Theatre Company in Rising Water. For the Malthouse Theatre, Alison performed in the production of The Bloody Chamber, Tartuffe and Eldorado, as well as Optimism which toured the Sydney Festival and the Edinburgh Festival.


Alison is the recipient of numerous awards: 2009 ASTRA Award for Satisfaction, 2008 TV Week Logie for Satisfaction, 2005 Green Room Award for Dinner, 1997 TV Week Silver Logie Award for Most Outstanding Actress, as well as many nominations. Alison won both a Green Room Award and a Helpmann Award in 2010 for her outstanding portrayal of ‘Elizabeth’ in Melbourne Theatre Company’s production of Richard lll. Alison won the 2013 Green Room Award for The Bloody Chamber. Most recently, Alison won a Sydney Theatre Award and a Helpmann Award nomination for her performance in Faith Healer.




Grant Piro’s vast experience over the past 35 years has allowed him to work in every facet of the industry, appearing in well over one hundred productions, as well as being one of Australia’s busiest voice-over actors.  His work has been recognised with several Green Room Award nominations and two wins (The Producers and The Merry Widow) along with both Helpmann and AACTA nominations.

Grant began his career at age 16 with the soap opera Sons and Daughters during the early 1980’s. Since then, his thriving television career has won him roles on Janus (AACTA nomination), Correlli, GP, Wildside, Seachange, City Homicide, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, and many, many more. Most recently, Grant has been seen in Newton’s Law, The Ex PM, and as Dustin Hoffman in Hoges: The Paul Hogan Story. Grant also wrote and hosted the 90’s cult television programme Couch Potato.

He has appeared in more than twenty movies. Among them are Bad Boy Bubby, Darkness Falls, The Outsider, The Condemned, Crime and Punishment, Crocodile Dundee in LA, The Lighthorsemen, and most recently Mormon Yankees: The Spirit of the Game


On-stage highlights include Realism, Moby Dick, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, The 39 Steps, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, His Girl Friday, Hairspray and The Odd Couple, as well as appearing opposite his wife Marina Prior twice, in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Hello Dolly!



Jake Speer is a graduate of NIDA. During his training Jake made a memorable impact as Richard in Shakespeare’s Richard III, amongst other roles. Following graduation Jake booked a series regular role on Australia’s highest rating drama series, Home & Away playing Oscar Maguire. Between graduating from NIDA and signing on to Home & Away, Jake also found time to produce, direct, write and star in the documentary film, LEETON: The Formative Years.  Jake was most recently seen in the musical Kinky Boots for Michael Cassell. Other theatre credits include Barefoot in the Park (Ensemble Theatre) & The Government Inspector (regional tour). Film Credits include Backyard Ashes directed by Mark Grentell.




Morgana O’Reilly has enjoyed a flourishing career in film, theatre and television in both Australia and New Zealand. Since graduating from UNITEC School of Performing Arts New Zealand in 2006, she has work consistently on stage, television and film between New Zealand and Australia.

In 2014 she gained much applause for her role as Kylie Bucknell in NZ horror/comedyHousebound which premiered at the South by South West Film Festival in 2014.

In television, Morgana was a series regular in iconic drama Neighbours as ‘Naomi Canning’ from 2013 to 2015. Following this, she appeared in Rake, Wanted, Offspring and the Aunty Donna pilot Chaperones. In New Zealand, Morgana held the lead in the Screentime NZ telemovies Safehouse and in Comedia Pictures/TVNZ’s Billy, playing the wife of iconic New Zealand comedian Billy T James. Other television credits include Sunny Skies as core cast member ‘Nicky’, This is Littleton, Nothing Trivial, 1000 Apologies and The Jacqui Brown Diaries. 


Renowned for her exceptional theatre performances, Morgana’s theatre credits include Streetcar Named Desire, When the Rain Stops Falling, Bare and The Ensemble Project with Silo Theatre, as well as the recent Amadeus and Venus in Fur with the Auckland Theatre Company. Other credits include Managing Carmen with the Ensemble Theatre, Othello with Peach Theatre Company as ‘Desdemona’, and The Height of the Eiffel Tower performed in the Auckland Fringe Festival, the New York Fringe Festival and most famously, in people’s homes all over the world as part of ‘The Livingroom Tour’. This enormously successful solo show was devised and written by Morgana O’Reilly and Abigail Greenwood and has received much praise wherever shown.



Since graduating from The Victorian College of The Arts Gary has worked extensively as a director, writer and dramaturge. He is a recipient of THE GRACE WILSON TRUST AWARD for writing, THE JIM MARKS SCHOLARSHIP for Artistic Practice and THE MIKE WALSH FELLOWSHIP for directing.  He has recently directed and produced “Angels In America: Part One: Millennium Approaches and Part Two: Perestroika” with Cameron Lukey productions, the Australian premiere of the hit broadway play “Buyer and Cellar” for The Melbourne Theatre Company , the Australian premiere and national tour of “Bad Jews” for The Vass Theatre Group, “Resident Alien” for Cameron Lukey Productions, and the national tour of his adaptation of “Therese Raquin” for his company Dirty Pretty Theatre.  Other recent credits include “ROAM”, “The Pride“, “Day One. A Hotel. Evening“, “Laramie.10 Years On” and “Oh Well Never Mind Bye” all for Red Stitch Actors Theatre.

For his own company Dirty Pretty Theatre he has directed and written the plays “The Lonely Wolf” Acts Of Deceit (Between Strangers In A Room)” , “Something Natural but Very Childish” , “The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant”  and “Therese Raquin”.  He received a Green Room Award for Best Director in Independent Theatre  in 2010, and was nominated in the same category for his work in 2014.

He has worked as an assistant director at the Melbourne Theatre Company on the plays “All About My Mother” (2010),”Songs for Nobodies” (2010),  “The Gift” (2011) ,“Australia Day” (2012) and the Melbourne Theatre Company and Chunky Move Melbourne Festival collaboration ” Complexity of Belonging” (2014).

Robert Askins (Playwright) was born in Cypress Texas in 1980. He moved to New York in 2005. Rob’s play’s include “Princes of Waco”, “Matthew and the Pastor’s Wife” and Doll Parts”.


The Australian Road Crew Association (ARCA) releases incredibly rare recordings – New Desk Tape Series

 Now rare and classic Aussie tracks will help 
the roadies who supported the bands who recorded them

The ARCA Desk Tape Series is an initiative of the Australian Road Crew Association (ARCA). ARCA is an Australia-wide not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the welfare of live production crew in Australia, past and present.

Without roadies to pack, unpack, carry, maintain and set up music artists gear, the shows simply would not go on.

Largely unsung heroes of the music business the work of a roadie is tough, hard and very time consuming. It often requires considerable travel and long hours and can be brutal on the body.

Yet, their welfare has largely been ignored by people in and out of the industry, until the formation of ARCA.

Many roadies are in crisis, presenting an alarming suicide rate many times the national average, and facing other serious health issues. It is ARCA’s intention to address this. Please see link here: https://www.entertainmentassist.org.au/our-research/  

To build up resources to assist roadies, past and present, in need The Australian Road Crew Association (ARCA) early this month launched its new Desk Tape Series of classic Australian live gigs.

Now roadies have been amassing a trove of live recordings over the past 40 years, consisting of bands they have been working with. 

Much of this music now being released on Black Box Records, with MGM Distribution handling digital and physical releases.

The series kicked off on Friday (November 10) with a Redgum tape.

Other recordings are coming include material from Australian Crawl, The Church, Cold Chisel, Crowded House, Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons, Wendy Matthews, Men At Work, Mental As Anything, Midnight Oil, The Models and Paul Kelly.

The Redgum release came from a 1985 show in Amsterdam’s legendary Melkweg (Milky Way) club.

Hot on the heels of hard touring around Australia behind the ‘I Was Only 19’ and “I’ve Been To Bali Too’ hits, Redgum were on fire when they hit Europe for a three-month tour – extended to four after airplay in the UK and the Continent.

The tapes were recorded by their sound engineer on the tour, Mark Williams, now running his own production company in Melbourne.

ARCA founder Ian Peel said, “These live recordings are culturally important especially of the pub rock era of the ‘70s and ‘80s

They remind the music industry that roadies are the backbone of this industry and without them, there’d be no show, no band.

“They demonstrate the creativity that road crews display every day, as they put the show together, In the early days when equipment was really primitive, the road crews virtually had to build the gear themselves so the show could go on.” 

Peel came up with the tapes initiative five years ago after he heard a road crew’s tape of a Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons show in the late ‘70s and was struck by its high quality of sound.

A call went out to the crew fraternity, and Peel now has 2000 cassettes. Many told him, “My kids are most likely going to throw my tapes out after I die, so I might as well assign the rights to ACRA.”

A meeting with MGM founder Sebastian Chase led to plans to put them out for commercial releases.

Each release acknowledges just how important roadies have been to making our live performance industry a stand out success. They offer recognition to the engineers who documented this wealth of genuine Australian music history.

Professor Philip Graham at the University of the Sunshine Coast, in conjunction with QUT and Griffith University, is overseeing the preservation, treatment and mastering of these tapes, which are then to be submitted into the National Film & Sound Archive in Canberra.

All proceeds generated by the Desk Tape Series will be used solely for the betterment of crew. The roadie who’s legacy provided these valuable cultural assets, will receive a share of profit and ARCA will retain 20% to help continue our services, with the balance going directly to the Roadies Fund, established expressly to assist roadies in crisis through our partnership with leading industry charity Support Act.

ARCA was formed initially as a social get together. It rapidly become a well-being service when anecdotes by crew members substantiated studies by Entertainment Assist that crews suffered a much higher rate of anxiety, depression, suicide and drink/drug issues than others in the entertainment biz and, indeed, the wider Australian society.

The association has now swelled to 300+ live production crew and over 200 paid associate members from all aspects of the music industry.

A Roadies Fund was set up via a partnership with music industry benevolent society, Support Act Ltd.

Peel recounts, “135 of us have died, 29 from their own hands. We’ve just lost three more in the last month

“ARCA has had a lot of support from the music industry and the music media.

“But we need more. We need more promoters to come on board with contributions and willingness to add a levy to their ticket sales to go to crews.

“We need more musicians to play benefits for the crews. 

“These tapes will not only help them financially but for the departed ones, it signifies respect and acknowledgement of their contribution to building the music industry.”

The music can be purchased by clicking on:

For more information please contact:
Tony Moran (Project Management) 0400 047 062 or tony@australianroadcrew.com.au
Ian Peel (ARCA Director) 0415 667 221 or info@australianroadcrew.com.au

The Australian Road Crew Association Pty. Ltd.


This article used some material published in the Music Network and Mediannet 
and was provided by ARCA

Emotionworks Cut Opera – Tosca in Pt Lonsdale



In Association With




Bound in Soul, Blues and R&B

On the Lawn in Point Lonsdale
22 Bowen Rd, Point Lonsdale Hall
December 3rd at 4pm. Food and bar from 3:00pm

Bookings (essential): https://www.trybooking.com/SOLW

This fast moving 90 minute adaptation of Tosca is updated and fused with the best classic Blues, Soul and R&B songs reflecting this dark and menacing tale about love, lust, brutality and corruption.  This is Opera Fusion and we believe in integration!

Tosca – An opera diva admired and pursued by the evil and corrupt head of police – Scarpia. Her lover Cavaradossi is imprisoned for hiding Angelotti an escaped prisoner. The story unfolds tragically…..

Puccini’s beautiful music is supplemented with the grunt of the Blues, Soul and R&B – which reinforces and intensifies the emotional drive of the story.


Devised and directed by award winning Opera Australia director Julie Edwardson, who continues to break new ground with her company Emotionworks Cut Opera – bringing opera to new audiences – fusing music genres and cultures.

Featuring some of Melbourne’s best operatic and contemporary voices, the cast includes Jason Wasley (Cavaradossi), Michael Lampard (Scarpia), Justine Anderson(Tosca) and blues performer Richard Woods (Angelotti) accompanied by the Cut Opera House Combo and  the Sassy Soul Sirens.

Tix $40 General Admission, $20 to under 25’s.
(To engage young people in seeing opera and ‘live’ music)

Bookings: https://www.trybooking.com/SOLW
Contact julie@emotionworks.com  Ph: 0408 687 305
Find us on: www.emotionworks.com.au    

This is an outdoor event so bring hat and sunscreen, in the event of inclement weather performance will be in the Hall.

Emotionworks Cut Opera – making opera affordable, accessible, entertaining and encouraging youth to see live music.


Chunky Move – REDSHIFT


James Batchelor is one of Australia’s most exciting and ambitious young dance-makers.