I'm a QBI (Queenslander born interstate) and like to write about things that inspire me in my adopted hometown. Living by choice in the inner southside of Brisbane.
Published July 9th 2012
I'm going to make a bold claim here: it's institutions like Foco Nuevo that give Brisbane an interesting edge, and bring our local cultural scene alive. And thank goodness for Kurilpa Hall at West End, the perfect venue for all manner of home-grown events!
It's something like a folk club, but it's not really a club. It's simply a regular folk concert, adapted from the concept of the Latin American peņa, featuring performances by local artists, with the final few songs always performed by Jumping Fences.
Foco Nuevo is the brainchild of the duo behind local band "Jumping Fences", Sue Monk and Lachlan Hurse, who have a long association with Latin American music and culture and especially Cuba, which they have visited four times for lengthy stays. Check out the Jumping Fences website for more about Sue and Lachlan, their trips to Cuba and their music.
Sue and Lachlan know many local artists and they select interesting and different ones each month from among these to play for about 30 to 40 minutes at each Foco Nuevo event. I have been to quite a few of these Friday nights and the line-up is always interesting and entertaining.
At a recent Foco Nuevo Friday evening event, the line-up started with Sue Wighton who sings songs and accompanies herself on guitar, also accompanied on this evening by talented Rebecca Wright on cello, which made for a beautiful combination of Sue's warm and confident voice, her excellent guitar playing and the sonorous rich tones of the skillfully played cello.
The songs she sang were a mixture of her own originals and interpretations of ones she likes. Her rendition of Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over" was noteworthy, but I also loved "I Know Where You Live", her own original and witty song fantasizing about getting revenge after someone has wronged you. Sue has a website to check out here.
Next up were Luna Junction. Wow. They describe their music as falling in "the space where folk meets pop". My take is that it's an original mix of gypsy, blues, jazz, world, pop and folk with a distinctive flavour all its own. The audience were enthralled by singer-songwriter Shani Forrester, whose unusual, versatile and pitch-perfect voice delivers professionalism and pure, refreshing joie de vivre across an eclectic mix of songs.
Meanwhile, Shani, besides singing and playing guitar, picks up first a trumpet, then a flute, and to top it off, a tin whistle and every time delivers perfect little solos seemingly effortlessly. Very impressive indeed! Check out their facebook page for more and to see where you can catch them next.
Each Foco Nuevo event is rounded off by Jumping Fences singing their old favourites which regulars know, plus some new songs. Sue sings and plays guitar and Lachlan is the bass player. They are usually accompanied by the talented Robbie Stewart on lead guitar (who has also performed at Foco Nuevo with his own band, "3 Miles from Texas", a few times), along with their regular lineup Ross Gwyther on sax, James Harper on percussion and Dan Simpson on drums.
At $10 full price or concession price $7, it's a very reasonably priced evening, and of course proceeds go to the artists who are all local. Tea, coffee and cakes are available for purchase from the kitchen servery, and everything else is BYO.