Last month Bobby Alu was beamed into 1.7 billion homes, strumming the ukulele to his own song amidst 200 beach-going dancers, at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony. This Thursday (May 9), he’ll be bringing his cruisy Polynesian vibes to Willie Smith's Apple Shed and The Homestead on Friday.
If you like the idea of ‘finding your flow’ and going about your days to ‘the rhythm of your own making,’ you’ll enjoy this drummer and uke strummer live. The Byron Bay singer is coming as part of a huge 2018 Australian and New Zealand tour with his latest single Move. Listen here.
For the last five years, Alu has been touring as Xavier Rudd’s drummer. It’s been quite a ride since the day Xavier asked for a quick jam and then suggested they play a gig. After 20 minutes of rehearsal, Alu found himself performing in front of 10,000 at Byron Bay’s Bluesfest. He’s looking forward to a couple of relaxed days in Tassie, after a schedule that included 35 shows in 34 days across 10 different countries.
“I’d been so busy with Xavier that it feels great to be back writing songs again. Move was fun to make. This is the start of a new album, the first taste of it. It feels amazing to create something, record it and now take it on the road,” says Alu.
This isn’t Alu’s first time to Tasmania. He has performed on Bruny Island, busked at Salamanca Market (getting very sunburnt despite the cold weather) and has travelled up to the Bay of Fires and around the north. He also came at 13, as captain of the Queensland Athletics Team. The aspiring sprinter has fond memories of how good the Hobart tap water tasted in the 90s.
As a young boy he hoped to run in an Olympic or Commonwealth Games. Although he didn’t make it to the Commonwealth Games as a sprinter, he made it as a strummer. His family and friends cheered him on in the Gold Coast crowd. His smooth harmonies and rhythm are inspired by a strong family lineage of Polynesian performance. Alu uses Samoan log drums and instruments handed down through generations.
“My mum is from Samoa,” he says, “She taught me to play the ukulele when I was young and her brothers taught me to play the drums. Dad left Australia on a scuba diving trip in the Pacific, saw mum dancing and not long after I arrived! Mum works in Aged Care, takes her ukulele every day and sings to them.”
When Alu does local shows he’ll often get his Mum up to dance. In the 80s, she flew the flag, a pro dancer in a Polynesian dance group. During performances, young Alu would often drift off to sleep beneath the drums. No surprise why Polynesian rhythm runs deep in his blood.
“I did six months of an engineering degree and hated it,” smiles Alu. “Music took over. It’s amazing to think the ukulele and Samoan log drums have taken me around the world.”
Don’t miss Bobby Alu at Willie Smiths in Grove on the 10th of May and The Homestead in Hobart on the 11th of May. What will you enjoy live? According to his website: Expect a fresh, simple sound with tastes of Polynesian ukulele, Pacific beats, catchy songs, tasty harmony and powerful log drumming on a bed of slick style.
Sounds good to us!
He’s even prepared a cruisy Tassie playlist for us here.
“His chilled out Pacific tunes have a long-lasting feel good effect and his finely crafted songs have instant appeal.”
ABC Radio Australia
“Smooth hammock music genius.”
The AU Review
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Words Alice Hansen
Images: Monica Buscarino
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