Buskers’ big break

Aleesha and Jessica Viola, Fergus Bateman and Darcy Nichols won Geelong's Best Busker last Friday. (Rebecca Hosking) 205338

By Luke Voogt

Ocean Grove sisters Jess and Aleesha Viola have won Geelong’s Best Busker alongside two new band members they recruited just a month before.

The Violas won the final with new bass player Darcy Nichols and drummer Fergus Bateman, both 18, who they signed on to take their music to “another level”.

“We had all of these original songs that we wanted to transpose to a band and we thought it was time,” Jess said.

The two new members had sparked a burst of song-writing creativity, she said.

“We want to go as far as we can possibly take it.”

Jess, 21, and Aleesha, 19, had previously performed at pubs, bars and Queenscliff Music Festival, with latter earning them an appearance on Channel Nine’s Today Show.

The bluesy quartet played a mix of Amy Winehouse, Kaleo and their own songs to snare the star-shaped trophy last Friday.

The sisters wrote their first original, Thick Thighs, about “embracing the body you live with” after Jess had an argument with their dad.

“I was complaining about my weight and he said, ‘just accept and love who you are’.”

The second, The Other Side, looks at domestic violence from a child’s perspective.

Jess is training to be a social worker while her sister is studying nursing, so they expected to meet with people facing “those issues”, she said.

“We followed the Jill Meagher story and other women that have been followed at night and thought, ‘wow, that’s not OK’.”

Organiser Steve Thew described this year’s competition as one of the best yet, with 500 people attending in total despite “atrocious weather” causing the cancellation of two heats.

The competition’s traditional quirkiness continued this year, with solo busker Leon Conway playing with pet parrot ‘Oscar’ sitting on this head.


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