Mullumbimby Civic Hall | Friday 31 May | 8pm
The charismatic Harry James Angus brings his show Struggle with Glory to home ground this week. The explosive trumpet-playing singer from The Cat Empire has been touring the country playing house concerts aka parlour gigs to create a very different atmosphere for his solo show. When he brings the show home this time, it’s onstage with some of Australia’s finest jazz soloists and a vocal chorus.
Harry, how did the parlour gigs go? You must have had a few crackers by now. What were the highlights?
They’re all good, all so different really. I played in living rooms filled with expensive sculptures and in patchy share-house backyards, penthouse apartments, farms, empty shops, for Christians, petrolheads, hippies, lawyers, kids’ birthday parties… sometimes it’s VB and Samboy chips, sometimes it’s champagne and a private chef, sometimes it’s fruit juice and smarties. All nice people, all music lovers.
Why did you choose ancient Greek mythology as inspiration for Struggle with Glory?
From the muse Polyhymnia we get the root of the word hymn. Inspire is from the Latin, meaning to fill with breath, breath also being the root for spirit.
So of course you don’t choose your inspiration; if you are lucky (or often
unlucky) you are visited by one of the nine muses, and your pen is quickened or your heart is fired as they breathe their spirit into you, as Athena breathed life into the clay that Prometheus formed humans out of (pretty much the same story as God and Adam in the Bible.)
What are some of the stories you tell?
They are mainly love stories, but kind of messed-up ones usually and perhaps more true to the tangle between love and power than a lot of what has been told since. The story of Persephone and her abduction by Hades, of Selene and her eternally sleeping shepherd, Eos and her ancient cicada, Achilles and his epic rage after the death of his lover Patroclus, Odysseus and his longing for home, and the Minotaur alone in his labyrinth, robbed of his senses, craving human flesh.
What is it about the gospel-style call and response that worked for the stories?
Because the stories are so similar to Bible stories, in their simplicity, bold strokes, and archetypal content, it’s just a good fit. You don’t need much to tell the story. Plus, it’s similar to a Greek chorus I suppose, chiming in all the time.
How do you take the show to stage in a bigger setting?
Add a few more musicians… turn it up. Not that much has to change really.
What should people expect for the upcoming show?
Lots of beautiful harmonies. Killer instrumental soloists. Nice warm old-time jazz and gospel. All the aforementioned stuff about Greek myths.
Harry James Angus plays the Mullum Civic Hall on Friday at 8pm.