During festival time, the people of Adelaide are used to seeing the weird and the wacky taking up the streets. But 200 people walking down Hindley Street on an April evening, lead by a man in a safari suit? That’s unexpected.
“I’ve walked down some brave places in a safari suit,” says Sam Wright, “and yeah, you get that look.”
Wright is the director of Moving Music; a music-gig-meets-walking-tour that started in January 2012. When we spoke, Wright was gearing up for the third Moving Music – and the largest one yet. “It’s this encapsulating bubble that you exist in for a brief three hours and then it’s gone,” he says. “But for this one it’s more than three hours. It’s like 10 hours. Shit. It will work.”
For Wright, Moving Music was the marrying of two ideas: placing musicians on the streets, which he did when producing the web series and then feature length documentary 6 on the Street, and seeing Adelaide in a new light, through participating in en route, a theatre work for one that takes the participant on a tour of their city.
“I thought I knew my city”, Wright told me. “They completely threw upon new light for me and I was like ‘wow’. People from another city can do that for me: I want to be able to do that for the people that live in my city as well. Let them have the same experience.”
In the first two events, Wright and his team kept it relatively small – three bands, three locations, and three hours, with Adelaide design collective Fascination Street working on creating installations at each of the locations.
This January, Moving Music gets a little bit bigger: Wright and Fascination Street will be facilitating the presentation of eight bands in eight locations, and now with eight visual artists thrown into the mix. “My aim in life,” says Wright, “is to push them all together, so the lines are a bit more blurred then just saying you attended an exhibition or you went to a gig. Why can’t that happen simultaneously?
“More and more,” Wright describes,” I’m starting to enjoy the meshing of art forms in our world. I get a real issue with just going into a gallery and just seeing paintings on a wall … Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen some beautiful exhibitions. But I like to think we can still be exposed to different art forms without actually realising that we are, but we can appreciate it in a different sense.”
As Wright elaborates, this might mean, “you walk into a park and there might be a visual artist who has created the backdrop for a group. You know they’re involved so you’re looking for it as well, but you just appreciate it all in the context of what is Moving Music.”
With the newly expanded team, Wright says all of the “actions combined achieve something far greater than the work we could just do by ourselves in our small team”.
The list of visual artists and musicians Wright has brought on board almost reads like a who’s who in Adelaide arts at the moment, showing a beautiful balance between the young up-and-coming and the more established. Wright: “They’re just people I see out there getting it done”.
“Not necessarily in a musical sense sometimes, but someone like Ross McHenry who is part of Hurricanes with Tara Lynch: they’re just really active members in our music scene here in Adelaide, and those are the kind of bands that everyone loves. The kind that champion the idea.”
The idea of championing ideas comes through in much of what Wright talks about: in the musicians and visual artists, in a music festival that is deeply dependent on the participation and willingness of the audience to follow a mysterious path, and on everyone involved and their relationship to Adelaide.
“At the end of the day, if you’re in Melbourne, Melbourne’s got a larger critical mass of people creating projects,” he says. “For me it feels like there is probably a similar ratio of people that are going to see your event if you really want them to, and you push them to come and create excitement about that.”
In the end, Wright smiles and says, “it’s about having fun; it’s about being imaginative; it’s about being adventurous and pleasing the small hungry child in us, I guess.”
Saturday, January 19