It’s that time of year again folks – the Christmas tree is erected, Love Actually and Home Alone are in your Netflix watch list, – along with all of the other recently added cheesy holiday rom-coms (Vanessa Hudgens – we’re looking at you!) – and Christmas carols fill supermarket radios. This year instead of listening to those carols in the traditional sense, jazz it up a bit at the yearly A Swinging Bella’s Christmas event. Run by renowned musician famous for the Keating! stage show musical composition, Casey Bennetto, Swingin’ Bella’s Christmas is sure to get your bells a-ringing.
“We’ve been doing it now for at least ten years in some form or another. It began as an event at the Valley Union in Trades Hall in Carlton, Melbourne and it was just a Christmas celebration at first. We’d just reengineer carols and turn them into ska songs or swing songs or whatever took our fancy just for the fun of the audience and the joy of the Christmas season,” Bennetto says. “Then we started adding originals to it and bit by bit we’ve developed it up, so the first set of the show is all Christmas originals and the second half is carols and we have special guests each year.”
Taking your Little Drummer Boy, Frosty The Snowman, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town and Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer to funky-town, A Swingin’ Bella’s Christmas is far from the standard Carols By Candlelight celebrations, recruiting outstanding talent from across the region to recreate and reimagine the classics.
“Myself and Geraldine Quinn are the co-hosts of the evening and we have a band that consists of drums, bass guitar, keys and a little horns section of trumpet, trombone, saxophone, and all of whom are terrific players, some of whom will be known to folks all around country Victoria such as Mal Webb who is playing a lot of trumpet and trombone who has popped up in many, many outfits all around Victoria,” he says.
This year the event series, which already boasts three sold-out shows for Melba Spiegeltent will see regular participants, comedy musical trio, Tripod, take to the stage for individual and group performances with their signature comedic charisma.
“Over the course of the last ten years I guess those guests have been everyone from Tim Rogers from You Am I to Debra Conway and Willy Zygier to Paul Kelly has even dropped in to sing ‘How To Make Gravy’ with the band in a strange feel which caught home off guard – we did it as a rocksteady ska number but he was terrific, and Tripod are very regularly participants as they are this year and Eddie Perfect, Tim Minchan – lots of folk,” says Bennetto.
In addition to Melba Spiegeltent, A Swingin’ Bella’s Christmas will be sleighing into Hepburn Springs for a special event at the Hepburn Palais. As a recent resident of the surrounding area, Bennetto is looking forward to sharing the joy with his neighbours.
“This year the impetus was a more personal one in that I have moved, my partner and I have moved to Werona which is just 15 minutes north-west of Daylesford. We’ve just moved out nine months ago and getting used to country life but it meant when we were doing A Swingin’ Bella this year we did want to put one out here so that we could have local fun as well.”
Fun is exactly what A Swingin’ Bella’s Christmas is about so unbox your Santa hats and Christmas sweaters (because let’s face it, this summer hasn’t been much chop so far), and in Arctic Monkey’s fashion, get on your dancing shoes – Christmas has come early!
Tickets to the Hepburn show are on sale now at Oztix. Check out the Facebook event here.
Written by Tammy Walters