Melbourne Music Juggle – AWME 2013

Why don’t I live here?  That’s the question I ask myself whenever I’m in Melbourne. The city is a music lover’s paradise.

Melbourne Music Juggle

On any night or weekend in Melbourne there are a huge number of live music options all over the city – or concerts of international artists only bringing their musical goodness to Melbourne and Sydney – and buskers making the already funky Melbourne streets a better place – or music festivals and expos.

Get yourself there on any mid-November weekend and you’ll find yourself juggling (as I just did) the normal Melbourne gigs + the events of Melbourne Music WeekJohnston St Fiesta and best of all for me, AWME – Australasian Worldwide Music Expo.

2013 AWME Offerings

AWME-2013-www.beaveronthebeats.comAWME is an annual 4-day showcase of quality roots music from the Australasian region and other random countries.

This year saw artists representing Australia, Scotland, Aotearoa/New Zealand, Papa New Guinea, Italy, Ireland, Ethiopia, Fiji, Reunion Island, Vanuatu and Cambodia – playing in a handful of great live music venues close together, in and around Melbourne’s city centre.

I didn’t get to all the AWME concerts this year. I was doing that Melbourne music juggle, and truth be told I probably would have fit more AWME events in if the 2013 program had been different.

I’m quite sure I missed some amazing music. I know some of it was by the Barefoot Divas, a group of 6 beautiful and talented female indigenous artists who performed on Opening Night. I was blessed to catch 5 of the Divas at a live show a few days ago – and they are as incredible as I’d heard they were.

AWME - 2013 - Barefoot-Divas

Aotearoa/New Zealand Represented

On Friday night the Hi Fi Bar hosted 5 acts from Aotearoa/New Zealand: Mark Vanilau – Whiri Tu Aka – Hollie Smith – Sola Rosa – Sons of Zion.

Some of the world’s greatest and most original sounding contemporary music, with its own very unique Pacific flavors, comes out of the 2 small islands of Aotearoa/New Zealand. Artists performing at AWME in past years have showcased that Aotearoa musical originality and greatness in abundance (eg. Electric Wire Hustle in 2010), but this year not so much for  me.

The exception I heard was the set by the indisputably incredible vocalist Hollie Smith – with a band of great keys, bass and drum players.

Hollie Smith

Hollie Smith

Video from Hollie Smith’s Hi Fi Bar gig here…

I enjoyed some Sola Rosa tunes and the soulful vocals of Cherie Mathieson. I might have loved it if a full band was added to the Sola Rosa mix.

Sola Rosa

Sola Rosa

Video of Sola Rosa’s live version of Humanised. You all know this one…

Melbourne Fusion Represented

Melbourne’s The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra, closed AWME at the Hi Fi Bar on Sunday night.

17 band members on stage – including a DJ in the mix yes :). All of them are really talented musicians, singers and dancers. A five-piece horn section in any band is an extra special delight for me. The music is a very cool fusion of afro-beat and hip hop.  Perfect musical ingredients?  For me, yes.

The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra

The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra

Something at the gig was not quite right though, and I don’t know what it was. My friend said to me “Melbourne musicians play too clean and perfectly. The music sounds too polished or something”. Was that it?  Not dirty or raw enough? A fire missing from the Melbourne city venue stage that might more naturally be found by Fela, Femi or Seun playing on an African stage? Maybe it was just the end of a long and tiring (but great) AWME weekend for everyone. I don’t know, but these artists are great –  and the promise of afro-beat/hip hop fusion is so appealing to me that I bought The POAO CD home to try.

The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra

The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra

Check out this video from the gig yourself and let me know if you like it – and I’ll let you know if I like the CD.


NGAIIRE (Papua New Guinea) and her band was the greatest of the musical gifts from AWME to me this year – noting again (sadly), I missed Ngaiire with the other Barefoot Divas perform on Thursday Night.



I loved the music I heard at this gig because it combined eclectic and engaging sounds of the electronic kinds, with live drum kit and piano, all executed perfectly – with the very raw and soulful vocals of the NGAIIRE amongst it. The total of those things was original sounding music, live.

Ngaiire -AWME-2013-


        Video of NGAIIRE live @ the Toff here…

The gift of finding NGAIIRE live was also the gift that keeps on giving, because I bought NGAIIRE’s CD Lamentations home with me to find my music collection has a beautiful new album I want to keep listening to over and over again.

AWME Always

I’d go to Melbourne for AWME any ole year.  I’ll always find quality music there – both in the AWME program and in the rest of Melbourne. I juggle and squeeze in as much of it all as I possibly can, while I can. In each and every moment I’m filled with Melbourne cultural envy of its many diverse musical as well as other arts, culinary, fashion and people delights.

Melbourne music -

P.S.  Thankful I am AWME artists had real CDs for sale at their gigs.

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