There can’t be too many bands like the Stereo Stories band. Their role, their task, is to play parts of other people’s songs in support of other people’s stories about those songs.
That always strikes me (as director who is not a musician) as a very generous gesture indeed, especially given each band member has their own bands and their own songs (and families and lives in general) that merit their time and attention.
In preparing for a show, the band must first learn several new songs. And then place those songs into the Stereo Stories context: playing parts of the song at certain points of the writer’s personal story about the song.
And the band’s take on the song needs to be attuned to the tone (humorous? poignant? both?) and theme (love? grief? travel? mental health?) of the story.
It’s quite theatrical, in an understated way.
It’s quite meticulous, in a scripted, curated way.
It’s quite a commitment.
No two shows of ours are the same, due to guest writers at literary festivals getting involved. We have certain stories, written by band members, that we do regularly, that have become part of our back catalogue. But many a story, certainly too many, we have done once or maybe twice with a guest writer and then our paths haven’t crossed again, more’s the pity.
(Markus Zusak, we’d love to do Neil Young’s Crime In The City with you again! Carmel Bird, here’s hoping we can reprise your Here Comes The Sun story! Emily Maguire, if the planets ever align, we’d be onboard for your Riders On The Storm story. Chris Hammer, we could revisit Hendrix with you. Anson Cameron, Tony Birch, Paul Bateman, Melanie Cheng, Melanie Mununngurr-Williams…)
So, given the curious nature of our shows, and the demands it puts upon the band, it is no surprise that the line-up changes from time to time.
The current line-up is:
Peter Maskell on guitars and vocals
Chris Phillips on vocals
Martina Medica on vocals
David Barton on bass, guitars and vocals
Laura Sheridan on cello
Julie Merritt on accordion and vocals
Matt McGrath on drums.
Other players have included founding members of the band Stephen Andrew, Nils Cusack and the late Salvatore Romita; plus Rob Gador, Anthony Shortte, Luke Davies, and Chris Mangan.
Thank you, everyone.
The band’s next show is Saturday 17 September 2022 at Write Around The Murray, Albury, NSW. Hope to see you there.
See also: the Centre Stage collection has stories on most of our band members.