Marsala: Camelot, December 31.
If you want sonic fireworks on New Year’s Eve rather than those humdrum ones in the sky, the place to go is Camelot Lounge and the band to hear is Marsala. This is multicultural Australia transformed into plain old fun. No band attracts a diversity of ethnicities and ages like Marsala. If you’ve never heard them before you won’t feel like an outsider for long, as the tide of South American, Balkan, Russian, French, Italian, Spanish and African music engulfs you and sweeps you into the dancing, laughing, clapping, singing mania. Remember: the community that goes crazy together sticks together. Book early…
Camille O’Sullivan: Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent, January 10-13
Anything can happen in a Camille O’Sullivan show, the Irish Chanteuse seemingly drawn to humanity’s darker side like a bat is to the night. She relishes songs by the likes of Nick Cave, Jacques Brel, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen and Radiohead, upon which she unleashes not just her sometimes husky, sometimes spearing voice, but also her quicksilver gifts as an actor. In the process she can be desolate, dangerous, sensual, funny, zany, completely anarchic and sometimes, on a song like Brel’s Amsterdam, so raw she seems to be bleeding. She is one of cabaret’s current queens.
Bridge of Dreams: City Recital Hall, January 12
Jazz and Indian music have been flirting with each other in various guises since the 1960s. Bridge of Dreams takes the flirtation and chaperones it through to the marriage stage. Leading Australian saxophonist Sandy Evans has had a long-term love-affair with Indian music, but with this project she pulls out all the stops, bringing together singer Shubha Mudgal, some truly exceptional Indian instrumentalists and composers, local tabla maestro Bobby Singh, the Sydney-based and the 17-piece Sirens Big Band. The resultant music has the Hindustani and jazz elements opulently intertwined. Step into an enchanted forest of sound.
Mary Coughlan: Foundry 616, February 22-23
Mary Coughlan sings with such simplicity, humility and honesty that there is no veneer; just core. When she completely nails a song – drives 15 centimetres of steel through its heart and soul – she can be as compelling as anyone alive. Like O’Sullivan she’s from Ireland (the secret’s in the whiskey), and by instinct she’s a blues singer, only one who ranges into jazz, r&b, cabaret and more, treating songs like Love Will Tear Us Apart and I’d Rather Go Blind with a gripping juxtaposition of matter-of-factness and searing emotion. She may have limitations, but certainly not in the conviction department.