Blues, burlesque and a whole lot more
in a Doc White theatrical production
By SHIRLEY BROUN
EIGHTEEN months after the seed of an idea first formed in the mind of blues genius Doc White his latest production The Lowdown Hokum Orchestra & Burlesque Revue is set to open to audiences in Melbourne.
The Wonderland Spiegeltent will host the show’s debut performance which Doc says comes after many months of planning and a month of rehearsing the band. “The music is coming together really well and now the dancers are going through the routines with full dress rehearsals this week,” said Doc.
While never having played the venue before Doc says it is perfect for this type of show and believes people will be fascinated by both the space and the production.
The Lowdown Hokum Orchestra and Burlesque Revue is an eight-piece act made up of Doc (Vocals, guitar and mandolin), Nichaud Fitzgibbon (vocals), Peter Howell (Bass), Tony Martin (drums) and Aaron Searle (sax, clarinet and guitar). It also features three of Australia’s most talented and sassiest burlesque dancers in Miss Bettie Bombshell, Mimi Le Noire and Minnie Monroe.
The show is based around the story line that follows two people who meet as teenagers in school and form both a musical and personal connection that begins to deteriorate as they become successful. They lose contact, before a chance meeting 25 years later reunites the pair and they discover they still feel that initial chemistry and want to keep making music (together).
Doc said pulling the show together into such a major production was a collaborative effort which showcases the theatrical magnificence of dance and music.
One of the revue’s key characters, Nichaud Fitzgibbon, said the show would be fun for blues, country and swing fans everywhere.
Doc is also excited about working with some of the industry’s top performers and musical talents in each of the genres, along with a few special guests.
Working with such a big cast is something a little new for Doc. “ I normally work with smaller groups or even solos and trios. There are 10 performers and 4 crew in this latest production and I also hired a theatre producer who will also fill the role of narrator.”
Originally from Adelaide, Doc White has been devoted to Blues since he was a young boy. “I heard a record by American country blues singer,songwriter and musician Lightnin’ Hopkins and the guitar playing and simple directness of the music just got me hooked. “
He moved to Melbourne where the Blues scene was vibrant and happening and flourished amid a strong Blues environment. He was one of only a few to resurrect the mandolin in blues music and his tune ` Cropduster Blues’ was voted Song of the Year at the 2004 Melbourne Blues Appreciation Society VicTas Blues Awards. “I wrote Cropduster Blues in the style of Brian Blake and Blind Boy Fuller who were masters of the single entendre.”
A humble award winner Doc said he’s no Bob Dylan but he loves to write.
Doc sees a big future for blues in Australia. “ Some of the strongest blues clubs are here in Australia and especially in Melbourne. The representative acts we send to events such as the International Blues Challenge in Memphis compete strongly and Melbourne artists have won several times in the past few years.
“ Blues is a strong and growing musical for here and artists like Eric Clapton and BB King keep it alive as well. Dedicated blues fans are like stamp collectors … they know everything about it and others are simply captivated by the music.
“The great thing too is that there are lots of fantastic young musicians who are taking it in a different direction with the use of more sophisticated instrumentation and they are exposing the music to a new generation of kids, especially the teens to early 20s. This new legion of fans will keep it alive,” said Doc White.
Don’t miss Doc and his Lowdown Hokum Orchestra and Burlesque Revue next Saturday, August 16, at Melbourne’s Wonderland Spiegeltent. It’s an event not to be missed.