My wife and I enjoyed the Shakers experience recently as part of a dinner and show package at East Fremantle's outstanding new contemporary speakeasy the Duke of George.
The Duke, which boasts live blues, folk and jazz acts, is in the basement of the heritage listed Brush Factory on George Street, and its elegant blend of old and new styles, as well as its superb acoustics, fitted the Shakers' music like a glove.
After a warm welcome from the packed house, lead singer Lee Morunga, whose smile lit the room and whose personality filled it, launched into the Shakers' version of Wilson Picket's hit 634 5789, her voice as rich, sweet and intoxicating as a fine liqueur.
East Fremantle's new live music venue, the Duke of George, offers value-for-money dinner and show packages.
It was no surprise when I later discovered she'd spent a decade touring with The Lion King.
Picket's classic flowed smoothly into The Supremes' My Guy, and all the onlookers who weren't already dancing were tapping their feet and/or singing along, captivated by Lee's mesmerising vocals and the band's joyful energy.
In fact, the eight musicians accompanying Lee were every bit as entertaining as she was, and were obviously having as good a time as their audience.
At one with their instruments, their easy and comical interplay with one another added to the good times rolling through the Duke of George.
The Shakers' trombonist Glyn MacDonald plays a solo to Lee Morunga backed by percussionist Imogen Thomson, drummer Dom D'Leno and bass player James Vinciullo.
The three-piece horn section – Steve Searle (standing in for Mark Sprogowski) on baritone sax, Glyn MacDonald on trombone and Robert Bresland on trumpet – were a stage act in their own right.
Their mischievous antics and jokes with other band members brought many a chuckle from the audience yet, despite all the tomfoolery, they never missed a note.
I learnt later that all three are music teachers by day, and imagined what fun it would be to be one of their students.
A chat with the Shakers' drummer and leader Dom D'Leno, during a break, revealed that all the other band members – including bass player and musical director James Vinciullo, exquisitely gifted percussionist Imogen Thomson and Lee herself - listed music teaching among their extra-Shakers activities. The Shakers are literally a "School of Rock"!
The audience enjoyed a special treat when vocalist Yara Neto joined the band to sing a few numbers.
Pianist and keyboard player Austin Salisbury was tucked behind the brass section, but there was no ignoring his nimble and innovative fingerwork, while the band's smooth new guitarist Andy Jarvis (aka noted Perth DJ Razor Jack) was in his element, revelling in the music like a veteran Shaker despite the gig being his first with the band.
As 60s hit after 60s hit delighted us – James Brown, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Etta James - the Duke's waiting staff unobtrusively brought out a delectable three-course meal.
This featured a mouth-watering Bloody Mary tiger prawn and crab cocktail starter; a first course of succulent southern fried chicken served with Duke's Salad and bourbon bacon; and a second course of chicken and sausage jambalaya, pulled pork slider and sweet potato fries.
Every dish was beautifully presented, innovative and delicious, making the dinner and show price of $157.93 for two (drinks extra) a genuine bargain in every sense – and for every sense.
The Shakers' cheeky trumpeter Robert Bresland plays up to the cameraman.
By the Shakers' third set the place was really rocking and it was then that we were given an extra treat as former Stratosfunk lead singer Yara Neto joined the band to take over as lead vocalist for a couple of songs.
It was Yara's birthday, but as she sang, ably backed by Lee, it felt as if the audience were getting the gift.
All too soon it was over and we tumbled out into the warm summer night with our heads full of song and our stomachs full of good food, determined to repeat the experience again at the first opportunity.