When it comes to being organised, or organising others, Lisa Smith has not fallen far from the tree — the now Melbourne-based daughter of Girgarre community icon Jan Smith inspired by her country upbringing to stage the inaugural Showdown at the Soundshell talent quest.
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Lisa, who works in the community planning space, was right at home with the microphone in hand as 19 acts — all aged from 12 to 18 years — showed their talents at the Gargarro Gardens soundshell.
Very rarely is her mother, Girgarre Development Group leading figure Jan, upstaged. But on Sunday it was Lisa’s turn to take centre stage as the co-ordinator of the music competition.
Lisa said the concept had delivered everything she thought it would and she was appreciative of the amount of people who had turned out to watch the event.
“The acts are from Kyabram, Ky Valley, Moama, Shepparton, Bendigo, Gippsland and Melbourne. We had a great response and have come up with an extraordinary range of talent,” Lisa said.
“We have everything from a concert pianist to identical twin singers, a saxophone player and individual performers, including one that plays four instruments as part of her act.”
Acclaimed Dillmac Entertainment singer Indi Gilmore walked away with the first prize of $1000, which was sponsored by Girgarre Development Committee.
As a bonus, she and runner-up Imogen Anderson will be given the opportunity to perform at the Girgarre Moosic Muster in January at the Friday or Saturday night concert.
Rochester musicians Paul Colyvan and Glenda Bancell added their expertise to the event and recruited music store owners Bruce Curnow (Little Music Shop in Shepparton) and Greg Perry (Muso’s Stuff in Bendigo) to act as judges with highly respected music teacher Di Burgmann.
Lisa Smith said the concept of the showdown was to provide young performers with the opportunity to perform.
“While some of the acts have performed before, there are a few who were singing in front of a big crowd for the first time,” she said.
Along with the $1000 from the development group, Rushworth and District Community Bank contributed $250, as did the owners of Gargarro Gardens Café, Leon McAsey and Joel Raglus.
Campaspe Shire Council also assisted in staging the event, with a grant for the production element.
The 19 acts had to go through an application process before being included in the competition.
“We evaluated them all and settled on this group. The fact it is such an eclectic group was just coincidence,” Lisa said.
All contestants involved in the competition had two songs prepared in case they were one of the two finalists to win through the qualifying round. It was, however, Indi Gilmore and Imogen Anderson who battled it out for first prize.
Indi’s first song was Vampire (by Olivia Rodrigo), and she followed that up with Don’t You Worry ’Bout a Thing (by Tori Kelly). Imogen won her way into the final with her rendition of Valentine (by Laufey) and then sang You Say (by Lauren Daigle).
“Giving kids in the country something to do was the focus. We live in a country that doesn’t like to pay their artists, so the prize money is great reward,” Lisa said.
There was one act from Melbourne, three or four from Moama, a pair from Rochester and the remainder were from the Goulburn Valley, including Kyabram.
Zack Wileman and Evie Scoble, from Rochester, performed songs from Bruno Mars and Men at Work, while Ky Valley youngster Ewan Walsh performed Baker Street (by Gerry Rafferty) on his saxophone.
Paul Colyvan explained why he was not involved as a judge, with students of his and Glenda’s Rochester music school involved in the contest.
“Imogen Anderson is also our guitar player’s daughter, so it is an exciting day,” he said.
“It is really impressive what they have put together. Jan Smith (and her daughter) just get things done. I must also mention Andrew Moore’s work as the sound guy.
“We have worked with sound guys from all over the world and he measures up really well.”
In May, Paul and Glenda will return to the United States, where their music is well known in several southern states.
“We have our recording studio back up and running, and I’ve just written a song about the October 22 floods,” Paul said.
“We will record it in our studio and put it to the record company to see if they will promote it.”
The song’s title is 3561, and it is about the 2022 flood experience of their home town.