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Motown music revival strikes a chord

About Allen

Journalist and PR guy who loves living in Perth with its fabulous food and wine and wide open spaces.

It's hardly surprising that the up-beat tempo of the Motown music of the 1960s is making a revival at the hands of bands such as the Milford Street Shakers.

While my mum and dad were more of a Val Doonican and Doris Day fanbase than Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles, somehow or other, the sounds of Motown were very much a part of my growing up, first in England, then in Australia during the late 1960s.

Helping lead the Motown revival, the hugely enjoyable Milford Street Shakers.

Helping lead the Motown revival, the hugely enjoyable Milford Street Shakers. Picture: Supplied.

Perhaps it was because the horns and up-beat soul music with a dash of pop were always on the radio. And who wouldn’t sing along to the likes of The Supremes with Stop! In the Name Of Love, or Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ The Tears of a Clown?

It’s no surprise then that discovering The Milford Street Shakers struck a chord.

This band evolved from Stratosfunk, another WA big band. When lead singer Yara Neto left the band to have a baby, Stratosfunk went on hiatus, before drummer and band leader Dom D’Leno brought some of the former members back to form the Milford Street Shakers.

And it seems I’m not alone as people rediscover the glorious big band sound and songs like Son of a Preacher Man, Grapevine, Halleluja, Ain’t No Mountain, or I Feel Good.

When they played at the Parkerville Tavern back in February, the Milford Street Shakers were barely two bars in before the sell-out audience was on its feet.

Earlier in the year, when supporting James Taylor at the Leeuwin Estate concert, the Milford Street Shakers were supposed to be playing as the crowd left. Except they didn’t – more than a 1000 people were still up and dancing as the band finished its set.

The Milford Street Shakers - Perth soul band

The band’s next big gig, Beyond Hitsville: Motown to Muscle Shoals, is at Subiaco’s Regal Theatre on Saturday, July 8.

The band will pay tribute to the toe-tapping soul music, the likes of Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, James Brown and Etta James.

Dom says people of every age seem to love the band’s music, with fans from their early 20s right through to their 70s.

That’s probably not surprising, with music that gets the toes going and the hips swaying.

At the Regal, there’ll be space created to allow people to get up and dance without obstructing the views of those in their seats.

Doors will open at 7.30pm and the Milford Street Shakers will play two sets from 8.15pm to 10.30pm.

Beyond Hitsville features the distinctive Motown sounds of Detroit, to the swamps of Muscle Shoals in Alabama; from Chess Records, where Etta James recorded a lot of her music, to Stax Records, which had a dirtier sound than the polished Motown sound; and Atlantic Records in New York, where Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin recorded a lot of their material.

The show aims to take its audience on a journey from the late 1950s to the early '70s American cities of Chicago, Memphis, New York and Alabama, with the kind of music an audience can’t help sing along to.

Dom says it will be a night that the band will love as much as the audience.

“It’s great hearing the crowd providing the back-up vocals. It adds so much to the vibe and it’s a lot of fun to see things from an audience perspective,” he said.

The Milford Street Shakers go-go dancers will also add to the spectacle.

The band line-up includes Lee Morunga on lead vocals, James Vinciullo on bass, Dominic D’Leno on drums, Imogen Thomson on percussion, Kallan Phillips on guitar, Austin Salisbury on keys, Robert Bresland on trumpet, Glyn MacDonald on trombone and Mark Sprogowski on baritone sax.

Early bird tickets are $58 per person for bookings until Friday May 26, standard tickets are $65 and groups of 10 for $59 per person are available from Ticketek

Adding to the fun of the evening will be an after party at the Regal Attic Bar with music by the Soul Purpose Radio Show DJs, Jim Pearson and Tim King.

I’ll see you there.

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