Viva La Gong bands: Let us entertain you

Christie Woodhouse has no patience for the boring old ‘‘guitar janglers’’ of the music scene.

Put a costume on, she wants to tell them, or get a few dance moves going. Don’t just stand there, jangling.

‘‘There’s a lot of indie bands that just get up and jangle their guitars,’’ said Miss Woodhouse, of Woonona East. 

‘‘We think that if you go and watch a band, you want to have a good time.’’

 The 20-year-old aspiring actress has spared no such theatrics as frontwoman for Rocking Horse and the Baby Dolls, a seven-piece rock and blues outfit heavy on doo-wop vocals and 1950s-influenced costumes. 

The band is among the newcomers to the Wollongong arts and culture festival Viva la Gong, at MacCabe Park today.

The festival splits music acts across multiple stages, culminating with a performance by returning Melbourne crowd-pleaser Barons of Tang tonight.

The Barons are a rare interstate drawcard, with organisers from Wollongong City Council increasingly directing the festival budget to acts from or with links to the Illawarra. 

Festival director Megan McKell said she and other organisers went to gigs in the region before deciding which bands would make the festival line-up.

‘‘We have so much talent and there’s not much opportunity for many bands to show their skills to a wide audience,’’ she said.

This year’s free festival, at MacCabe Park, includes a stage dedicated to folk music, extra craft and other workshops (rock pets, kites, lanterns, tightrope walking, meditation), and a heavy focus on circus acts under the Circus Monoxide big top.

For the full program, see  vivalagongfestival.org.

Pictured: Hula hoop artist Shona Conacher and contortionist Jem Lewandowski-Porter, with Taylor Cable, Riley Jackson, Christie Woodhouse and Bobby Keys from Rocking Horse and the Baby Dolls.  Photo: ADAM McLEAN  

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