Nobody’s Business (The Bessie Smith Story) is described as a ‘one-hour portal into a once dangerous, yet liberating world, of wild rootsy jazz music and speakeasy indulgences’ so if you love jazz or Bessie Smith then this is one show not to be missed at this years Adelaide Fringe. John McAll and Molly Georgia have performed the show to audiences around Melbourne and now bringing the ‘early 20th century underworld of raunchiness’ to the Spiegeltent at The Garden of Unearthly Delights.
For those young enough to remember, John McCall has a long list of achievements in the Aussie music scene from being a band member of 80s band I’m Talking to playing with such legendary Australian music artists The Black Sorrows, Vince Jones to Renee Geyer. He answered a few questions for the Hi-Fi Way about the Bessie Smith show and what audiences can expect.
Are you excited to be performing in the Spiegeltent at The Garden of Unearthly Delights?
Very much so, I have done three shows there with the Black Sorrows and I’m delighted to be bringing one of my own creations.
Your show is about the life and wild times of Bessie Smith. What made you create a show about such an amazing jazz legend?
I was brought up on blues and jazz and can remember Bessie Smith singing on the record player from a very early age. After the successful At Last the Etta James Story with Vika Bull, I wanted to go further back into musical history. Bessie is an amazing force, and a ‘no holds barred’ artist who paved the way for so many, including Billie Holiday and Etta herself!
Can you tell us a bit about the show?
Its basically a musical Narrative describing Bessie’s life and times ( and tragedies). Using just piano and voice, and occasionally trumpet or trombone ( just like Bessie) we have approached the music with great authenticity and detail, hoping to transport people to another time! Also to bring attention to the bravery and daring of a woman in a time of enormous segregation and oppression. She wasn’t afraid to “Tell it like it is”. Saying to men “ you’ve got to get it bring it and put it right here” and “ I need a little sugar in my bowl” sums it up really! She was a boss!
Molly Georgia has such a powerful voice and really channels the jazz genre. What is it about her performance that audiences can expect from the show?
Molly has the most amazing voice I’ve ever worked with. And I am qualified because I’ve worked with just about every notable Australian singer at some time. In Melbourne we put the show on at a few small festivals and jazz clubs and we were surprised that they all sold out!! Its almost an upsurge or movement and I think Molly has that charismatic factor that draws people in. There’s a bit of hype and mystery about Molly because she doesn’t come from the standard Jazz schools or circles!
What makes it fun about performing at the Adelaide Fringe?
The many variance of performers, and the slightly burlesque fringey vibe!
As a big 80s fan I hear that you were once part of the band I’m Talking. What was the experience of being in a pop band like?
It was my first foray into National league touring. The band was ascending in popularity very fast and I was on that train. I learned to go clubbing, dance, get up to all sorts of mischief, got to hang out with people like Michael Hutchence, and other Sydney luminaries, a wild ride!
You’ve also worked with some big names in the Aussie music scene like Ross Wilson, The Black Sorrows, David Campbell, Vince Jones and my fav Renee Geyer. What’s it like to work with such an array of talent?
Working with excellent singers and front people comes with a lot of pressure but by the same token its easy because they can really give the audiences a magical experience and know they can; confidence and power!
Beyond Adelaide Fringe, what’s in store for you creatively and musically?
I have a jazz side to me that I like to bring out a couple times a year its called “Black Money”. We also have a growing string of dates for ‘Molly and the Prohibition’, the band name! I also am Musical Director/Producer of a show called Shanghai Mimi, Shanghai Jazz of the 30s, with the brilliant Sophie Koh. And I am part of the Afrobeat scene in Melbourne, I record with Joe Camilleri, actually the list goes on and on, I always have plenty to do!
Interview by Anastasia Lambis
Tickets and show information from FringeTix