Live music back at Potato Shed

Heath Robertson will play at the Potato Shed on December 4. (Ivan Kemp)

By Luke Voogt

Live music is set for a comeback at the Potato Shed next month with five local musicians playing at the opening of a photo exhibition.

“I know the hardship they’ve been through with the lockdown in the performing arts industry,” exhibition photographer Ivan Kemp said.

“It’s been a long time and some of them are doing it really tough, and I’m trying to give them as much publicity as possible.”

Kemp has been the centre’s photographer since moving to Portarlington in 2019, and is holding a free 12-month photography exhibition of some of his favourite onstage shots.

We are Back! – Artists of the Potato Shed begins December 4 and captures moments in the performances of 23 actors, musicians and singers at the venue over the past 18 months.

“In every performance there are some really special moments,” Kemp said.

“You get this anticipation that something is going to happen and you shoot it. When you see some of the photos, you’ll see what I mean.”

Each photo features a bio of the artist or group and the story of how COVID-19 has affected their livelihood.

Joining Kemp outside the shed from 7pm to 9pm on December 4 are local musical family The Von Robertsons and singer-songwriter Jack Meredith.

Many artists had performed in online shows from the shed but Kemp said playing in “front of three or four video cameras” was not the same as a live gig.

“They’re very keen to get going, I can tell you that.”

Currently the shed has a 50-person limit for the event, which will also be live-streamed, according to Kemp.

“It’s subject to council approval and restrictions, as per normal. It looks like it should be OK at this stage but if things change, that will change.”

Von Robertsons member Heath Robertson was thrilled to play live music.

“I’m just looking forward to getting back in front of people again,” he said.

“I think [the show is] great. It’s showcasing the local independent artists that have really struggled through this time.”

The multi-talented instrumentalist said he had created more than a dozen new songs during the pandemic.

“I’ve written an album worth of songs that I’m really happy with and then another five to 10 that I’m not going to use,” he said.

“I’ll be able to get feedback on my new original material and see how it goes down with the audience.”

Heath said his music had “taken quite a turn” from the surfy blues it “used to be” to a more folky and modern sound.

“I’ve been trying to work on my lyrics and melodies,” he said.

The 19-year-old studies sound production in Melbourne – online this year – and plays and records drums, guitar and vocals for his tracks.

“I just record everything that I hear in the song and then mix it,” he said.

“Because I’ve been exposed to music from such a young age, I tend to feel the rhythm and the timing quite well.

“I’ve been very fortunate with the amount of gear that I’ve grown up with.

“[The sound production studies are] perfect because I still want to be in the music industry, even if I don’t make it as an artist.”

Kemp thanked Geelong council and Portarlington and Drysdale Bendigo Bank branches for supporting the event.

The event is free but bookings are required. Details: geelongaustralia.com.au/potatoshed

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