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Music on the move during Umbrella festival

Festivals

Tram passengers will be entertained with random acts of live music from artists including Timberwolf, Ollie English and Mane when the Umbrella: Winter City Sounds festival returns with a bigger line-up of events and venues.

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Umbrella, launched last year by Music SA to enliven what is traditionally a quieter time of the year, today announced its 2017 program for the two-week festival, which will take place from July 14-30.

It will feature more than 300 music events (compared with last year’s 260) across 100 venues, including not just pubs, clubs and bars, but also trams, carparks and Glenside’s Z-Ward for the criminally insane.

Sharni Honor, who curates the Tram Sessions, says there will be six free sessions throughout the festival, with musicians jumping on off-peak trams (mainly in the CBD loop) and performing for passengers. The times are organised in consultation with the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure, but are kept secret from the public.

“That’s kind of the romance of what it represents – if you happen to catch the tram at that time, it’s a spontaneous, wonderful thing that happens,” says Honor, who also runs the year-round Porch Sessions live music gigs.

“We’re big on handpicking a selection of local artists. We can’t really have a full five-piece band on the tram so we have pulled together a local line-up of folk, blues and indie music.”

The artists will include Timberwolf (below), Ollie English, Mane, Aidan “Jazzy” Jones and Banjo Jackson.

This year, all the Adelaide sessions will be filmed and shared via the Melbourne-based Tram Sessions website (Tram Sessions occur year-round on Melbourne trams and have included artists such Ash Grunwald, Montaigne, British India and Kingswood).

Honor says Adelaideans responded well to the Tram Sessions held last year during Umbrella.

“It’s a pretty amazing thing to watch.

“The great thing about Umbrella is that they are looking at igniting the city for that time that is usually really quiet … and the good thing about trams is that for people who have no idea about music or that a festival is even going on, it just catches them completely off-guard.

“It moves music out of venues in a really digestible, approachable format.”

Music SA general manager Lisa Bishop says the Umbrella festival will transform the city into a “musical melting pot”.

“Umbrella Winter City Sounds is truly an exciting range of musical offerings, with something for everyone from jazz and hip hop, to psychedelic-rock and family-friendly entertainment.”

Other events will include an Oz Hip-Hop Party hosted by Golden Era Records and The Northern Sound System; a family-friendly Aqua Beats event featuring live music in Victoria Square; an “audio-visual extravaganza” called Dark Matter at Glenside’s Z Ward; a late night of Club Rap at the Fat Controller, and the Wintersteady celebration of psychedelic rock featuring gigs at the Crown and Anchor Hotel, The Exeter and The Austral.

This year’s festival also coincides with the annual Australian Independent Record Labels Association (AIR) Awards, which are being hosted in Adelaide and encompass a two-day music industry conference. In conjunction with Umbrella, Music SA has organised an event called Scouted that will showcase to visiting industry leaders – as well as music fans – 15 prominent unsigned South Australian artists across five stages in Adelaide’s East End.

The full Umbrella program is online.

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